There were actually two shocking things about the Rob Porter story. The obvious one was that President Trump kept as his staff secretary a man known to have physically attacked both ex-wives and a former girlfriend. The other was that Hope Hicks, occupying the high-ranking job of Trump’s communications director, thought it OK to become romantically involved with Porter.
The FBI would not grant Porter a full security clearance. Outside Trump world, that would have disqualified him from having access to sensitive documents reaching the president’s desk. Some argue that Porter’s past left him vulnerable to blackmail. A simpler worry is that a psychologically screwed-up individual was serving as a right hand to a mentally unstable president.
Add in the now-dismissed chief strategist Steve Bannon, accused by one of his three ex-wives of having roughed her up. Add in David Sorensen, who just quit as one of Trump’s speechwriters after his ex-wife said she told the FBI that he had thrown her against a wall and extinguished a cigarette on her hand. You see the pattern — and without getting to Trump’s own ungentlemanly brags about grabbing women’s privates without permission.
So no, it was not shocking to hear Trump defend Porter. “As you probably know, he says he’s innocent,” Trump declared, notwithstanding graphic evidence that he isn’t.
As usual, the Catagory 4 winds of social disorder in Washington will drown out the latest howls of disapproval. That leaves one remedy: to vote Trump’s enablers out of office and eventually the grabber himself.
That settled, what about women who admit violent men into their lives?
Recall Devin Patrick Kelley, the monster who massacred over two dozen people at a church in rural Texas. Some woman had married Kelley, even after the Air Force court-martialed him for not only beating up a former wife but also breaking the skull of his infant stepson.
Stories of women who pair up with abusive men extend all the way up the socio-economic ladder. Surprisingly, the women are often strong, confident and successful. Which leads to the question: Why would someone such as Hicks hitch up with the likes of Porter?
Sure, he’s a former Rhodes scholar, good-looking and undoubtedly smooth. But he does have that history, now confirmed by the photo of his battered wife and her black eye.
How do such men attract women? Abusers are clever about showing love at times. An alcoholic might show remorse the morning after a rampage by turning up with an armful of flowers. The woman becomes a prisoner of her hope.
I have no idea whether Porter ever abused Hicks either physically or mentally (something highly articulate people can do). It’s entirely possible that working in Trump’s funhouse of wavy mirrors distorts one’s idea of what’s normal.
There are many reasons to want the Trump era to promptly end: The savaging of the public’s safety net, starting with attacks on health care and headed for Medicare and Social Security. The stoking of raging deficits that will lead to ruinous federal debt. Destruction of democratic norms and attacks on venerated institutions. The collapse of decency.
You don’t have to buy into every #MeToo claim to see female dignity regularly mocked at the highest levels of government. And a president who would endorse a man banned from a mall for preying on girls for the U.S. Senate has lost the right to shock.
So drop the shock. You don’t want the swamp’s bottom feeders making policy affecting women or, really, anyone else. That greatly simplifies the mission for those wanting to restore honor in American political life. Just throw the creeps out.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. Email her at email@example.com.