To put it mildly, Donald Trump is not a women-friendly candidate.
But some Honolulu professionals still like him despite his lewd and mean comments about women.
Family law attorney and former deputy city prosecutor Adrienne King says she’ll stick by Trump, no matter what.
She is undaunted by the 2005 audiotape in which he brags about assaulting women and getting away with it, gloating, “When you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
King is also unpersuaded by the half-dozen-plus women who say Trump sexually manhandled them. She says, “I am not electing the pope. This is about electing a president. Trump is a man who will kick ass.” To Trump’s accusers, King says, “Grow up.”
King was one of Hawaii’s 11 delegates for Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.
Even as more and more women come forward to claim that Trump sexually assaulted them, King remains skeptical.
“All this women stuff doesn’t bother me. I am more bothered by what Hillary represents. She scares me more.” — Adrienne King
She says, “I don’t know how much of it is true. And how do we know they didn’t mind being groped by Trump? They might have liked it. Some women throw themselves at men.”
King thinks the woman suddenly coming forward is a sign of the Democrats’ desperation.
“I wonder if they are pulling this out because they think they are going to lose,” says King.
But Hillary Clinton is far from losing. New polls of likely voters conducted after the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape show Clinton leading Trump from 4 to 11 percentage points.
A new CBS poll shows Clinton gaining ground with likely female voters. In that poll, seven out of 10 women said they did not think Trump respected women.
King says, “All this women stuff doesn’t bother me. I am more bothered by what Hillary represents. She scares me more.”
“Trump will make people proud once again to be American. He has the country in his heart. He has put himself in the gladiator’s pit because he cares about the country.”
Political analyst Neal Milner calls this tendency of Trump’s women supporters to minimize his lecherous behavior cognitive dissonance.
That is the psychological ability to unconsciously brush aside information that conflicts with a person’s core beliefs in order to maintain mental calmness.
Voters do it all the time. Witness Democrats minimizing the importance of Hillary Clinton’s lies and deleted emails. Or Bill Clinton’s supporters replacing memories of his infidelities and his humiliation of his wife with thoughts of his political accomplishments.
Peggy Regentine is another Hawaii resident whose support for Trump is unwavering, despite Trump’s leering sexual remarks and alleged aggression toward women.
Regentine says, “I am more concerned about ISIS than about who Trump kissed. Why is the media pulling up a person’s past now?”
She says women make similar sexual remarks about men all the time.
Regentine is far from being what anyone would call “deplorable” — Clinton recently referred to the “basket of deplorables” supporting Donald Trump. Regintine is a triathlete who has crossed the finish line in two Ironman triathlons in Kona and a retired University of Hawaii computer science professor who teaches Microsoft skills and theory at Leeward Community College.
She says she is behind Trump for larger reasons: She thinks he has the power to revive the greatness of America, and that he can create jobs and better protect us from terrorists.
Regentine says, “I admire strength. He is strong and our country is weak.”
What affected me personally about Trump’s lewd conversation is the boorish way he tried to minimize his remarks as no big deal, just “locker room talk.”
I find particulary “ugi “ — a pidgin English word meaning disgusting in a slimy way — the joking, casual way Trump portrayed women as property to use for his pleasure, as he talked to television personality Billy Bush. This brought home what most women already know: that there is a male power culture still out there generated by jerks who think it is okay and even funny to demean women or try to use them at will as sexual toys.
Trump’s snickering conversation about women existing primarily to please him has prompted a flood of personal stories on social media. Women are sharing their memories of sexual misconduct they have kept private out of concern they would be disrespected or blamed for encouraging the predatory behavior.
“I am more concerned about ISIS than about who Trump kissed. Why is the media pulling up a person’s past now?” — Peggy Regentine
It is not just horrific acts like rape but the small, everyday ways women and girls have been undermined by men and boys who treat them like property.
For me, it brought back memories of being the youngest student in the advanced speech class at Punahou School, minding my own business, giving my speech while two older boys in the front row, in soft voices so the teacher couldn’t hear them, evaluated my body parts, starting with “I guess you don’t shave your legs yet,” and then going higher and higher up the body.
I was too timid to make them stop or tell my teacher, A.D. Breneman, or to tell anyone, even my parents. My face got redder until it felt like it was burning as I stumbled through my speech. They repeated this riff a couple of times more when I had to give a speech. I occasionally run into one of my tormentors today. He is a prominent attorney downtown.
Despite all the personal memories of bad male behavior now being freely shared, Trump’s female core base seems impervious, standing behind him as strongly as ever. Call it cognitive dissonance.
You would think a self-described evangelical such at Rita Kama-Kimura of Mililani would find Trump appalling. In some ways she does.
Kama-Kimura says, “He says some things that make my eyes roll. I want to slap him. He is not a polished politician. Some things he says make us cringe.”
Kama-Kimura originally supported Ted Cruz. She says she supports Trump now because of her deep concern about what she sees as an eroding of religious freedom, especially after the legalization of same-sex marriages.
“We need to look at where he came from, where he is today and where God will take him tomorrow. We pray about it.” — Rita Kama-Kimura
She is a strict constitutionalist and worries if Clinton is elected the Supreme Court will become more liberal.
Kama-Kimura hopes that with a more conservative court, abortion rights will be revoked.
“As an evangelical, my greatest desire is to get rid of Roe vs. Wade,” she says.
At Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, where she worships, some of the faithful are upset by Trump’s admitted adultery and lewdness, but she says as Christians their message is to forgive and to understand that people change.
“We need to look at where he came from, where he is today and where God will take him tomorrow. We pray about it,” she says.
My Punahou School classmate, Diane Ackerson, takes a different approach to defending her support for Trump: She blasts his detractors.
“It boils my blood. Why were the women so helpless and stupid? Why didn’t they speak up earlier?” says Ackerson.
She has particularly harsh criticism for Jessica Leeds, the woman who claims Trump groped her on an airplane, putting his hands all over her “like an octopus.”
Ackerson says, “This happened in the beginning days of feminism when women were unafraid to speak up for their rights. She could have said loudly for everyone to hear on the plane, ‘Stop!’”
She had this to say to Jessica Leeds: “You know, broad, you are way off base.”
Ackerson is a real estate broker and a Hawaii Kai resident. She doesn’t think either Clinton or Trump is a top-notch candidate, “but I would rather support him with some doubts than her.”
She calls Clinton, “a fricking liar who gets away with it.”
She says with Trump, parents will have a stronger say in public education and there will be a more thorough vetting of immigrants and a return to law and order on the streets.
“I would love to see him shake things up,” she says.
I am breathing a sigh of relief. Because now it seems certain things will be shaken up, but not the way my classmate Ackerson hopes.
Trump, by demeaning and objectifying women, seems to have awakened the undecided and cleared the way for the first woman in history to become the President of the United States.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni gloated over the irony: “How perfect … After being treated by Trump as if they are disposable, women will dispose of him.”
In a “Saturday Night Live” skit, actress Kate McKinnon, playing Clinton, said it all when she was asked what she liked about Trump and said, “Donald Trump and I disagree about almost everything. But I do like how generous he is. Just last Friday he handed me this election.”