Rob Porter could not get a security clearance from the FBI because of accusations from two ex-wives that he physically abused them. Neither his conduct nor his lack of a clearance mattered to the Trump White House. He was given a critical position -- staff secretary -- in which, as oval office gatekeeper, he reviewed everything that reached Trump's desk. (Assuming most of these documents were more than a couple of pages, in a regular-sized font and not filled with graphs and pictures, he read a whole lot more than the president himself.) Chief of Staff John Kelly and others in the Administration knew about Porter's proclivity for thrashing his wives but even after it became public, they continued to praise him effusively and vouch for his stellar character ("“a man of true integrity” about whom Kelly could not say “enough good things.”) Kelly reportedly asked him to stay on until public outrage -- and a photo of one of Porter's wives with a black eye -- left the Administration with no choice but to push him out.
There is so much wrong with this story. It provides yet another example of the degrading of the office of the presidency. It reminds us as if we need reminding that this White House is stocked with a remarkably awful collection of human beings. One would like to think that those who assault women -- or for that matter, those who are racist or corrupt or xenophobic or anti-Islam or anti-LGBT -- would have no place in the White House. With this presidency these seem to be bona fide job qualifications.
There has been no proper vetting of any of them. Indeed, who knows what salacious dirt is out there on the rest. As with Michael Flynn, Porter's behavior could have subjected him to blackmail, creating a national security risk. But they don't care. Their disregard for national security concerns is further shown by their blithe attitude towards security clearances -- Jared doesn't have one either.
As with Roy Moore (and President #Shithole himself) there is a knee-jerk defense of white men accused of physically and sexually assaulting women. It took a fucking photo before they would concede that Porter had to go -- and only did so because the photo was publicly released.
For Trump and his inner circle, it didn't matter that Porter was violent and abusive to women. What mattered was that he was good at his job. Kelly relied on him as a critical ally in bringing order to the chaos. Trump apparently was fond of him (birds of a feather, I suppose).
Which brings me to the non-troglodyte Republicans in Congress and Trump's non-deplorable supporters (i.e., those who continue to support Trump although they are purportedly not misogynists or racists themselves). If they are at all honest, they will acknowledge, if minimize, the disturbing truth that Trump has groped, assaulted and insulted women, that he has a long history of racist behavior, and that he is intolerant of non-Christian religions and non-heterosexuals. But, just like the way the White House viewed Rob Porter, these Republicans are willing to overlook the more unsavory aspects of his character. They will put up with Trump's misogyny, racism and bigotry -- and his other odious qualities -- because of the positive things they think he can do for them -- cut taxes, appoint right wing judges, deregulate industry.
But this requires failing to take sexual and physical assault and degradation of women seriously and ignoring not just the legacy of racism in this country but how it continues to fester. It overlooks that this is a feature of Trumpism, not a bug. And therefore it means acquiescing to some pretty dire consequences for public policy -- from undermining women's health, reproductive rights and pay equity to rolling back civil rights enforcement and exacerbating mass incarceration to brutally harsh and nativist immigration practices. Republicans might be able to live with that. The rest of us cannot.
Finally, what this sorry episode with Rob Porter has really shown us is that Trump has created an Administration in his own image. They are an unprincipled bunch of miscreants who apparently can only be stopped if there is a photo proving their malfeasance -- or a pee tape perhaps?
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