A Grain of Saul is a weekly column that digs into some of the biggest issues we face as a nation and as an international community in search of reliable data, realistic solutions, and — most importantly — hope.
As the newsroom at A Plus watched a just-surfaced tape of Donald Trump, a married man, describe the sexual things he wanted to do to a married woman, a scary thing happened.
Some of my female colleagues — shocked as they were to hear the lewd things Trump was saying in the 2005 video — suggested that this might just be how some guys talk. Isn't this what men discuss when they're together?
In the video, which The Washington Post released on Friday afternoon, Trump is heard talking about hitting on actress Arianne Zucker on a tour bus with Billy Bush, who at the time was the host of Access Hollywood.
"I did try and fuck her. She was married," Trump tells Bush.
The now-presidential candidate goes on to describe how he moved on her "very heavily" before Trump and Bush notice Zucker outside the bus, waiting to escort Trump onto the set of a soap opera for a cameo. Trump, who had married his wife three months before, then says he plans to eat a Tic Tac in case they "start kissing."
"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women — 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," Trump says. "You can do anything."
"Whatever you want," says Bush.
"Grab them by the pussy," Trump says. "You can do anything."
These are the conversations that women in my office think all men have. And maybe they think that because we allowed a man who did have these conversations become a serious contender for the presidency.
Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock.com
Let me be clear: this is not what normal men sound like. It's not what "bros" sound like in the locker room and it's not what men sound like when they're married.
I would know: I played high school basketball. I grew up playing football and lacrosse and ultimate Frisbee, went to a state school for four years, and was raised with two older brothers. I've been in these conversations, in those locker rooms, around thousands of stereotypical heterosexual men, and I want to assure you — and all women — that Donald Trump's behavior would not be acceptable in any of those environments. That it would not, I hope, be acceptable to those men.
Yes, I've seen a beautiful woman and said, "whoa!" like Trump and Bush both exclaimed. But I was also 14. I've heard men recount a sexual encounter with a woman and explain how they made their move, but none with the gall, arrogance or creepiness of Trump. I've even heard my friends talk about trying to hook up with a married woman, but never when they were married themselves, never when they knew she was married before they engaged her. And not once, never in all those conversations, have I ever heard anyone suggest they could "do whatever they wanted" with a woman.
And this isn't some "holier than thou" opinion column, this is important: millions of people are going to hear a man one step from the White House describe how his fame means "you can do anything" when interacting with a woman. Those people need to know that Donald Trump's behavior isn't presidential, and it's not remotely OK.
Once Trump exits the tour bus, he and Bush share one final, disgusting joke between the two of them. As Bush meets Zucker, he suggests she give Trump a hug. Innocently. As if the conversation they'd just finished had never happened.
I'm sorry that this man might become president. I'm sorry he might do it by beating the most qualified woman to ever be on the ticket. I'm sorry if, like Zucker, you've ever worked with a man like Trump in a professional context. I'm sorry that every additional piece of evidence seems to show that Trump has no care, respect or interest in women other than his interest in having sex with them. And I'm sorry that, despite that, he's been tapped to potentially represent 150 million American women on the world stage.
What a real man would have done, what Billy Bush should have done, was stop Trump mid-sentence. He should have asked, "Didn't you just get married?" He should have said, "You know you can't just touch a woman without her consent if she kisses you, right?" He should have said, "Relax, man, you sound like a horny teenager." Or even: "Relax, man. You sound like a rapist."
That's what real men would have said. That's what real men do say when they're confronted with someone like Donald Trump.
Because there is no excuse, no press release, and no tweeted apology that makes what he said OK.
You can follow Isaac Saul on Twitter at @Ike_Saul