If you’re surprised, you weren’t paying attention.
The sudden onslaught of allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump is appalling, yes. They add more detail and depth to the stories about the Republican nominee. But they are also entirely in keeping with everything that the electorate could, and should, have known about Trump before Wednesday night. With the complicity of too many conservatives, Trump’s abuse of women hid in plain sight, dismissed or laughed off for months.
Since The New York Times published a story based on the accounts of Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks Wednesday night, Trump’s surrogates have tried several tactics to push back. One is to question the timing of the revelation, and to argue that they represent a coordinated attack by the Clinton campaign. This is irrelevant to whether the stories are true, and besides, political observers acting affronted that a political campaign would conduct opposition research are as credible to Captain Renault’s expressions of shock about gambling at Rick’s Cafe. A second is to argue that Trump has somehow changed and is no longer the man he once was, but this, too, bears little scrutiny.
Trump adviser A.J. Delgado argued Wednesday night that “any reasonable woman” would have come forward much sooner. Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson accused the women lodging the accusations of having come forward to snag “15 minutes of fame,” a claim that starts to crumble upon the slightest scrutiny: How many women would be eager to thrust themselves into this sort of vortex of attacks? There are ample examples of alleged sexual-assault victims being reluctant to come forward for years, most famously in the Bill Cosby case. With Cosby, the willingness of some women to speak out inspired others to come forward. Something similar seems to be happening with Trump’s accusers now.