Vol. XVIII, No. 208, April 2019​​​​

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Donald Trump!

​​​​​By M. P. PRABHAKARAN

President Donald Trump (left) and former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr.




​​​​​​When President Donald Trump mocked at the way former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. greeted and interacted with both women and men in his social and political circles, it evoked contemptuous laughs all around the world. Trump has no moral authority to do it if the question is of a man’s alleged trespassing on, and lack of respect for, a woman’s space. We’ll come to how Trump did the mocking in a minute. Let’s first put the story in context.
 
Over the years, we have seen the touchy-feely way Biden greeted and showed his affection for people whom he felt close to. We have seen him hug, kiss and caress people at political and social functions and on campaign trails. My friends and I were often amused by it. We laughed it away as “teenagerish.” Never had we thought that it was invasive of the privacy of the person at the receiving end of his affection. Not once did we think that Biden was behaving like a dirty old man. (He is now 76 years old.)
 
That’s why we were surprised when a few women disclosed the other day that the manner in which Biden showed his affection for them years ago had made them feel uncomfortable. The first woman who did it was Lucy Flores, a former Nevada State legislator. In an essay published in The Cut, an online sister publication of New York magazine that focuses on women’s issues, she says that at a campaign rally in November 2014, Biden “inhaled my hair” and planted “a big slow kiss on the back of my head.” Flores was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada and Biden, vice president of the country at the time, had gone to Nevada to lend a helping hand to perk up her sagging campaign. (That she lost the election despite Biden’s help is irrelevant here.) The recipient of the help now says that what he did at the rally had made her feel “uneasy, gross and confused.”
 
Biden issued a statement addressing her accusation. The statement said, “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
 
His explanation did not put the controversy to rest. Taking advantage of the trend in the present #MeToo era, a few more women – the number has reached seven at this writing – came forward saying that they too had felt uncomfortable by what Biden did to them. Amy Lappos of Connecticut is one of them. She says in an interview with The Hartford Courant that at a fund-raiser in Connecticut in 2009, Biden “put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me.” The overture “wasn’t sexual,” she adds. The reason for her complaint is that there was “a line of respect’’ which she says Biden crossed. She also says that she “never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody.”
 
It is important to note that none of these women have attributed sexual motive to Biden’s behavior. In matters like this, however, how the person at the receiving end feels is all that matters, not the motive of the person showing the “affection.” That’s the case even with sexual harassment. It is a welcome romantic overture if the other party likes it; sexual harassment if the other party doesn’t.
 
That said, a question that can legitimately be asked is: Why didn’t these women disclose their discomfort when it occurred. If only they had done it, say those who know Biden well, he would have apologized to them and found other ways of showing his affection. If it was Biden’s position as vice president that made them keep quiet, they could have at least shared their experience with some of his close associates. Or they could have made their friends do it for them. If they had shared their experience with some of their friends, why did those friends keep quiet all these years?
 
The fact that these women chose to come out of the woodwork and throw this bombshell when Biden became the most likely Democratic candidate in the next presidential election makes their motive suspect. Though 95 percent of the people, two-thirds of them women, questioned in a recent survey don’t find the allegations so serious as to disqualify him from entering the race, some of the Democratic contenders for nomination have seized on them and demanded that he account for his behavior.
 
Biden's Apologetic Video

Biden released a video doing precisely that. The video shows him in a somber mood and saying: “Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”
 
Most women, including most commentators on TV news channels and talk shows, have accepted Biden’s explanation and decided to move on. But there is one person who is not willing to do it: President Donald Trump. It seems he has already decided to take advantage of Biden’s alleged faux pas and make it an issue in his reelection campaign, which he has already begun.
 
He tweeted a video of his own mocking at Biden. It’s a doctored version of the expla natory, apologetic video Biden had posted a day earlier. The doctored version – with a “WELCOME BACK JOE!” caption – shows Biden speaking to the camera. As he does it, another image of Biden, a cartoonish one, pops up, massaging the shoulders and smelling the back of the head of Biden in the original image. Watching it, one couldn’t help thinking: Isn’t it how high school bullies settle scores with their adversaries? The Trumpian prank may have warmed the heart of Lucy Flores, whose accusation against Biden it is trying to convey. But most people in the country, and in the whole world, find it hypocritical and shameless.
 
Here is a man who has been accused by several women – the number is 19, by the latest count – of sexual misconduct and assault. An unwritten rule in the American legal system, which says that a sitting president should not be indicted, stands in the way of their suing him now. They are waiting in the wings for his tenure as president to be over, the womanizer-in-chief may please note.
 
Hush Money Paid to Trump's Mistresses

The juicy details of his extramarital affairs with two of them, which provided grist to the gossip mill for weeks, had nearly derailed his 2016 campaign. The first one, Stormy Daniels, was a pornographic film actress; and the second, Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model. Trump arranged to buy their silence with bribes. Daniels was paid $130,000 and McDougal $150,000.
 
Extramarital affairs, though immoral, are not illegal. Even buying silence of the women involved in them is not illegal. But if the payments made to buy their silence were aimed at influencing the outcome of an election, they were illegal. They broke campaign finance laws. Trump’s campaign survived, eventually leading to his victory, because, the smooth operator that he is, the sources of the hush money could not be traced directly to him.

In the case of Daniels, it was paid by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, also known as his fixer, who at the time said that he used his own money to do it. The fixer has since fallen out with his client and partner in crime and become a prosecution witness. Right now, he is cooperating with federal and state prosecutors in New York in return for possible reduced sentences for all the crimes he committed on behalf of Trump.
 
The payment to Playboy model McDougal was done in an ingenious way. Trump’s friend David J. Pecker, who is also the publisher of National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to her for exclusive right to publish the salacious story about her affair with Trump and never published it. In the world of yellow journalism, this sleazy method is known as “catch-and-kill.” McDougal was very upset. We will know more about the real source of the hush money paid to her and Daniels as the cases now pending in courts against Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization move forward and, more important, if and when pecial counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report on Trump's 2016 campaign is released in its unredacted form.
 
To Trump, women are just sex objects. Who can forget the remarks he made about them, which were captured on the by-now-infamous “Access Hollywood” tape? When the tape went viral, he even contemplated withdrawing from the presidential race. On the tape, he was heard bragging about using his fame to grope women without their consent. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” he was heard saying. According to him, when one is famous, one can do anything to women, even “Grab ’em by the pussy.”
 
And what about his comments about his own daughter Ivanka – that she was hot and that if she weren’t his daughter, he would date her? That must have made many parents throw up.
 
In Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House, he is quoted as saying that his advice to friends who were the targets of sexual-assault accusations was: “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women.” That’s what he did in the wake of the controversy that erupted when the “Access Hollywood” tape went viral. Though he first said that what he said was just “locker room talk,” he later denied having said it. He even went to the extent of saying that the voice on the video was not his.
 
Deny, deny, deny – that’s what he has been doing in response to all the charges leveled against him by the victims of his promiscuous behavior. Though former President Bill Clinton is no saint when it comes to making sexual advances toward women, Trump should be the last person saying this about him: “There’s never been anyone in the history of politics, in this nation, that’s been so abusive to women.” He said it at a press conference in October 2016, just before his debate with Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the presidential race. His purpose, obviously, was to humiliate Hillary.
 
The man with this much baggage is now mocking at Joe Biden because a few women, for reasons they alone know, have said that years ago, he had interacted with them in an improper manner.
 
Hypocrisy, thy name is Donald Trump! How else can one explain the bizarre behavior of this accidentl president of America?

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(First published on April 14, 2019. It has since been slightly edited.)

(Comments from readers are welcome. Send the comments to 
[email protected])






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Stormy Daniels (left) and Karen McDougal. Ms. Daniels is a pornographic film actress and Ms. McDougal a former Playboy model. They claim that Donald Trump had extramarital affairs with them years ago. During his 2016 presidential campaign, they were paid hush money on his behalf to buy their silence about their affairs. (Daniels's picture is reproduced courtesy Wikipedia and McDougal's courtesy CNN.)

​​Books by M. P. Prabhakaran​​

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