MELTDOWN MADNESS: We’ve come a long way, baby. Twenty years ago, it would take The Vagina Monologues to crack the code of silence on the V-word in polite society. This past week, Donald Trump infamously followed suit — spectacularly self-destructing by taking the P-word’s name in vain — obliterating in the process the last vestiges of what once was a Republican Party by boasting how he could do anything to women and get away with it. “Grab them by the pussy,” he crowed in front of a live camera 11 years ago. “You can do anything.”
The bad news is — as way too many women can attest — he’s absolutely right.
The great news is — at least this time — he’s dead wrong.
The Donald may no longer have any casinos in his quiver, but that didn’t stop him from doubling down. At this Sunday’s presidential debate, Trump’s wife, Melania, showed up wearing a red Gucci blouse known technically in the fashion trade as a “pussy bow.” And Trump’s first whistle-stop after the debate took place in a place called Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Such observations, no doubt, are inexcusably juvenile. If so, I make no excuses. In the same vein, it’s worth noting that the only reason Bill Brown is now sheriff of Santa Barbara County is because his predecessor, Sheriff Jim Anderson, sat idly by and did nothing while one of his Big Donors “bitch-slapped” another of his Big Donors. Had any descriptor been used by the reporting party other than the B-word, the story would not have had such long and sturdy legs, Anderson would not have looked so feckless, and Brown would no doubt still be police chief of Lompoc. Just this week, it should be keenly noted, Brown broke ground on a new jail for North County. By the standards of Santa Barbara County, this is a monumental accomplishment on par with Moses parting the Red Sea. Neither of Brown’s two predecessors ever came remotely close, and not for any lack of trying.
History is weird.
Humans are weirder.
The most immediate beneficiary of Trump’s spectacular political suicide in Santa Barbara is congressional candidate Salud Carbajal, still smarting from his anything but smart remarks equating Lompoc and armpits. (I understand armpit lovers were incensed by the comparison and may sit this election out.) When news of the Trump tape broke, Carbajal went on the attack, demanding his Republican opponent — Justin Fareed — disavow Trump and all his works.
For all his outsider talk, Fareed danced around this like the consummate insider he’d like to become. Throughout the primary, he spoke Trump-code speak without talking Trump. On immigration, for example, Fareed vowed to fix “the leaky pipe” when talking about the border but shied away from Trump’s vast border wall. Throughout the primary campaign, Fareed took pains to stress he’d support whichever candidate his party nominated at the convention in Cleveland without expressing fealty to anyone.
But Fareed ultimately tipped his hand — or had his hand tipped — by Jim Buckley of the Montecito Journal. Buckley and the MJ endorsed Fareed in the primary, and in so doing, Buckley wrote, “Fareed supports Donald Trump for president, opining, ‘He’s an executive. We need someone who is an executive in the Executive Office.’” At the time — still before the convention — Trump had already clinched the nomination.
Fareed may be bursting with “fresh” ideas and “fresh energy,” but efforts by area reporters trying to divine his thoughts about the multitude of outrageous comments emanating from Trump’s oral cavity since the convention found themselves “fresh out of luck.” But when the tapes were released showing Trump confessing to being a serial sexual predator — Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley stated that touching a woman’s clothed butt, groin, or breasts without consent constitutes misdemeanor sexual battery and that those convicted can be required to register as sex offenders — Fareed ran out of dancing room.
Even before the Trump tapes, Carbajal was painting Fareed as Trump Lite; after all, wasn’t Fareed’s middle name “Donald”? Last Friday evening, Fareed’s campaign issued a terse, two-sentence statement, describing Trump’s statements as “disgusting and inexcusable.” Women, he added, should be treated “with the highest regard and respect.” As to whether Fareed continued to support Trump, however, the silence was deafening. In response to obvious follow-up questions from the media — not to mention jeering cat-calls from the Carbajal campaign — the Fareed campaign sent out Response Two the following day at 3:34 p.m. “I have never endorsed Donald Trump, and I will not be supporting him or Hillary Clinton for president,” he declared.
What about Fareed’s statement of support quoted verbatim in the Montecito Journal? What about his multiple vows — on the record — to support the party nominee?
For someone looking to shake up the status quo, young Fareed sounds as if he can split hairs with the most grizzled of Washington insiders. For the record, there are no statements in which Fareed affirmatively endorsed Trump by name. So, technically speaking, he is correct.
It’s worth noting, however, that in the immediate aftermath of the Montecito Journal article, Fareed did not call up and demand a clarification. By way of comparison, when I described Fareed as a Montecito resident in an article a few weeks ago, I got a quick call from his campaign spokesperson, Christiana Purves, correcting me. Fareed, she stated, is a resident of Goleta, not Montecito. When I was a little slow getting the correction posted online, Purves brought that to my attention, as well.
In stark contrast, it would not be until October 10 — this past Monday afternoon — that the Fareed campaign got around to notifying Buckley and the Montecito Journal that what he wrote about Fareed endorsing Trump before the June primary was not quite right. Buckley, for the record, stands by the quotes he attributed to Fareed regarding the need for executives to occupy the Executive Office but acknowledged it was he who wrote, “Fareed supports Donald Trump for president.”
As a practical matter, it doesn’t really matter. Fareed’s goose appears to be already cooked. Trump is a political albatross few Santa Barbara candidates could hope to survive. That being said, it’s worth noting Santa Barbara boasts some high-powered Trump supporters, none more so than Tom Barrack, owner of Happy Canyon Vineyard but more significantly Jefe del Mundo for Colony Capital, a multibillion-dollar investment juggernaut out of Los Angeles. Not only did Barrack speak on Trump’s behalf at the convention, but he also helped start a super PAC — Rebuilding America Now — to get Trump elected. Barrack initially announced the super PAC had $32 million in donations committed, but as of the last reporting period, only $2.1 million were actually in the bank. Barrack was recently on Charlie Rose explaining why the man we all saw on the Trump videotape and at the debate isn’t the real Donald Trump. Barrack is an exceptionally convincing man, but there’s only so much even he can do.
As a footnote to history, it was former Santa Barbara county supervisor Mike Stoker who got the “Lock ’er Up” chant going at the GOP convention. Stoker was a whip in charge of about 70 California delegates, and when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started his prosecutorial call-and-response about Hillary Clinton and the emails, Stoker leaped in with his chant. First it was 70. Then it was 256 delegates. Pretty soon, it was the whole hall.
Since the primary, Fareed has failed to kiss and make up with Republicans partial to State Senator Katcho Achadjian, the candidate favored by party graybeards whom Fareed slimed with a last-minute attack ad calling out Achadjian’s ethics in a complicated water deal. Katcho demonstrated himself to be a horrible campaigner and a man of little fire. But among Republicans over 40 years old, Katcho is revered — not just liked — as a paragon of human decency. For him to be attacked this way by a fellow Republican was just not right. He deserved better. Larry Lavagnino, the Republican former mayor of Santa Maria and father of County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, has endorsed Carbajal, even though he’s a Democrat. Brooks Firestone, grand pooh-bah of the Republican Establishment and a close friend of Katcho’s, was positively withering when asked if he’d endorse Fareed. “I’m not giving much thought to the 24th District race,” he said. When pressed, Firestone displayed uncharacteristic impatience. “I already answered you. I’m not giving any thought to this race.”
On the flip side, the Democrat Machine has left few stones unturned registering new voters. The numbers are striking. Typically, Democrats enjoy a 3 percent advantage in registered voters in the 24th Congressional District. A month after the June primary, the registration gap was twice that — 6.3 percent. Today, it’s 8.25 percent. If present trends continue, it could be 9 percent come Election Day.
Like I say, we’ve come a long way. But not nearly as far as we’re going to get.