Just hours after a 2005 video tape was released showing Donald Trump making lewd and graphic comments about winning, the Republican presidential nominee issued a video apology.
A South Jersey politician told his constituents he’d do something, and then did the exact opposite.
No, we’re not stopping the presses on that one.
But we aren’t ignoring it either, because the politician is Frank LoBiondo. And because the seriousness of the promise he broke and the overwhelmingly deceptive way in which he broke it are appalling.
It all started Oct. 7, the day a 2005 recording was released in which Donald Trump is heard saying vile, obscene and absolutely unacceptable statements about women.
It includes the future president-elect in this exchange with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush:
Trump: “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. 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 ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
It was one of those moments when leaders were called upon to take action against something so shocking and utterly insulting to women. It was a call to arms in defense of decency.
LoBiondo, the Republican congressman with a long history of trying to sound sort of like a Democrat whenever his party gets too nasty, spoke up that same day.
“There is an expectation – a requirement – that candidates conduct themselves in the manner that brings dignity to the Oval Office," he said in a statement. "As a husband and father of two daughters, I find it reprehensible when anyone speaks about women with inexcusable disrespect.”
The next day, on Oct. 8, LoBiondo went even further with a second announcement that read, in part:
“It is clear that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton can unify a deeply divided country. I have repeatedly and strongly spoken out against Mr. Trump when he degrades and insults women, minority groups and Gold Star military families. I will not vote for a candidate who boasts of sexual assault. It is my conclusion that Mr. Trump is unfit to be president. … I cannot support and will not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States. I will write in Gov. Mike Pence for President.”
This might be a good time to mention LoBiondo was up for re-election last week.
Those who are cynical might have thought LoBiondo was just pandering to voters so they wouldn’t link him to his fellow Republican at the moment the presidential contender seemed most toxic.
But those who are quixotic might have thought it was a turning point in an election that tested our tolerance. They might have thought LoBiondo showed strength and leadership, bucking his own party in a noble stand to defend women and decency.
When Election Day arrived, we found out the score: Cynical 1, Quixotic 0.
It was on Election Day that LoBiondo’s spokesman, Jason Galanes, dropped the bomb that his candidate had decided to vote for Trump after all. LoBiondo had a last-minute change of heart, Galanes said.
Did he wait to tell folks until the last second because he didn’t want to hurt his re-election chances? Probably. But we can’t say for sure, because LoBiondo has refused to be interviewed by The Daily Journal to explain his flip-flop.
Galanes isn’t doing a great job of trying to illuminate the inexcusable either. He said LoBiondo made the last-minute about-face because of unresolved questions regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails. But that explanation makes no sense – LoBiondo had said he was going to vote for Pence, not Clinton. Looks like even the congressman’s own mouthpiece can’t make sense of what his boss is doing.
No matter. The damage is done. LoBiondo misled the good men and women of South Jersey just long enough to get re-elected to his 12th term in Congress. (Which is pretty good for a guy who promised, in his first election, to serve no more than six terms. But that’s a different broken promise for a different day.)
It’s an understatement to describe father/husband LoBiondo’s decision to support Trump as disappointing, after the congressman practically told South Jersey the candidate was an unfit, anti-woman, sexual-assault-supporting sorry excuse for a human being.
In the end, it is LoBiondo who has proved himself unfit to represent the values of South Jersey. It wasn’t always that way. Perhaps LoBiondo and Trump go to the same tanning salon, one that turns your skin too orange while slowly burning the soul inside you.
South Jersey deserves better. We are decent people who believe women should be treated with respect, not grabbed by the genitals. Or, as we hope it becomes known, “grabbed by the LoBiondo.”
LoBiondo put self-preservation above principle. What a loser.
Donald Trump blurted out lewd and sexually charged comments about women as he waited to make a cameo appearance on a soap opera in 2005. The Republican presidential nominee issued a rare apology Friday. (Oct. 7) AP