Sexual predator. The phrase popped into my head while listening to Donald Trump and Billy Bush’s so-called locker room banter. Except this wasn’t harmless locker room banter. This was a textbook illustration of rape culture.
Trump: You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
Bush: Whatever you want.
Trump: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
Note that Trump is literally bragging about sexual assault: Non-consensual kissing and grabbing of women’s genitals.
The revelation has gravely injured the Trump campaign. Numerous Republicans have withdrawn their support. Trump’s numbers with women were already appalling. We can now expect them to collapse. This may well turn out to be the arrow that slayed the monster.
Was the Clinton campaign behind the story?
Whosoever had this tape must’ve been sharply aware of its explosive potential once Trump started dominating the Republican contest. But they sat on it even as Trump secured the GOP nomination. This means that the original source’s sympathies did not rest with Trump’s Republican adversaries. That they released it at all means that their sympathies did not rest with Trump either.
Even after the general election campaign started in earnest, the source sat on the tape. What were they waiting for? Why release it on Friday, October 7?
Modern presidential campaigns have extensive operations to dig up dirt on their adversaries. Since they have the greatest stake in the matter they hire armies of sleuths and devote considerable resources to the effort. If there are skeletons to be found in the closet of their adversary, there is a good chance a priori that their black ops team would find them.
Assume that the Clinton campaign had discovered the tape. What would be the ideal time to surface it? If I were a strategic advisor to the Clinton campaign, I would advise them to hold it in reserve and use it as a defensive weapon when the campaign was at a serious risk of being harmed. In particular, I would hold it in reserve to use against any “October surprise.”
Now, Assange had been promising a game-changer for a while and more recently dropping hints of a major dump this week that would hurt the Clinton campaign. Here was the “October surprise” that Clinton strategists had been waiting for.
The unnamed source who had the tape called Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold around 11am on Friday, October 7. The Post published the story at 5pm on the same day. At 6pm, Wikileaks dumped a treasure trove of Clinton campaign emails online.
It seems that the Clinton campaign timed the release of the Trump tape absolutely perfectly. The operation ensured that the sordid Trump story would drown out the Wikileaks dump. It was straight out of The Art of War. I can almost hear the champagne popping in Brooklyn.
This may sound like a criticism of the Clinton campaign’s machinations. Far from it: The affair demonstrates the strategic superiority of the Clinton campaign. Not only do they have a bigger war chest and a superior ground operation, even their strategists are more cunning. The Policy Tensor is impressed.