“It’s locker room talk and it’s one of those things.”
Well then. Methinks this business of locker room talk, as Mr. Trump dismisses it, bears some additional scrutiny.
Let’s begin by stipulating that language of this type does in fact occur from time to time. It’s not uncommon to find inelegant sexual innuendo in the seventh grade, for example, just as prepubescent boys begin to measure their fingers, or over at Jim-Bob’s Dive Bar and Grill at half past stupid o’clock after five hours of beer pong and beer nuts and some back-alley braggadocio. Bluster is a time-honored cover for inadequacy and sheer ignorance in these matters, and schoolyard bullies in particular learn the lesson well, even as their skinny sidekicks snicker and belch and yawn in triplicate technicolor. But guttural drivel invariably evaporates in the presence of a grownup, because even seventh-grade schoolyard bullies and punch-drunk picklebrains eventually learn that it is mean spirited, unkind, and utterly indefensible. They may be ignorant of the matters at hand, and they may be inexperienced, but they are generally smart enough to know that they should not be proud of it. Beer pong helps in this regard.
Not every gherkin-fingered twit manifests this particular brand of crass, of course; it is only the unfortunate few—those who suffer from poor self-esteem, perhaps, or poor parenting, or who lack appropriate role models in how to properly treat women. Poor parenting is obviously in play here, as anyone who has seen PBS’s The Choice will invariably conclude. One detects all of this in Donald Trump, who at age sixty—way, way, way past the point at which carnal knowledge should have dispensed with the adolescent ugliness on offer—is proudly invoking language that fills honorable men with disgust, and honorable women with the urge to take matters into their own velvet-gloved fists.
I have never once in my life heard locker room talk that even approaches what The Donald claims as commonplace, and I don’t know anyone who has. Even professional football players demur. School teachers recoil in horror. Behavior like that will get your thrown out of a strip club—although it appears to be perfectly welcome over at The O’Reilly Factor, and Jon Voight, predictably, still has his head up his ass. As such, it raises questions about what else is commonplace in The Donald’s world. It raises questions about the commonplace vulgarity that Dear Old Dad has inflicted on his own children. And it reinforces the now well-established sociological truism that the wealthy tend to be less compassionate, less generous, and less empathetic than the rest of us jejune folk, even when we’re white-toweled and wet.
The matter of poor parenting is salient in another way as well. When pressed, Hillary Clinton offered unequivocal praise for Donald Trump’s children. This was clever, because cradles and graves are something that everyone understands intuitively. We may not all be parents, be we were all children, and every one of us relied on the giants for life lessons and love. Most of us grew out of our childhood—but of course there yet remain pickelbrains and Presidential candidates and the occasional actor with his head up his ass. Plus it turns out that Mexicans and Muslims have children too, and this is in fact true all over the world, whether or not they sport an orangutang coif.
It has been widely reported that Donald Trump was largely in absentia as a father, and the lion’s share of the credit for raising his children does not belong to him. This is surprising to no one on Earth, and no doubt his children are grateful, seeing as how sexual assault is, you know, commonplace. Clinton’s clever compliment, then, is nothing of the kind, and a blistering illustration of just how far afield these two competitors are. Different genders, different teams, different leagues—different worlds.
It must be said that three marriages and five kids is no small accomplishment, and Gherkin Don thinks he’s a big man indeed, even when he’s not fouling the locker room from both ends at once. But what really grabs the attention is just how tiny he turns out to be when you step back, step up, and stop talking to the hand.