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JOAN VENNOCHI

Trump’s enablers share blame, too

In this image made from video, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters outside Trump Tower in New York on Saturday.EZRA KAPLAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Donald Trump is fine with enabling when his own spouse is doing it.

In a statement released after the now-infamous “Access Hollywood’’ tape, Melania Trump said the words her husband used “are unacceptable and offensive to me” but do not “represent the man I know. He has the heart and mind of a leader.”

The third Mrs. Trump asked voters to forgive him as she has — and Trump is enough of a narcissist to believe they will.

Let’s hope he’s wrong.

I don’t want Trump to drop out of the 2016 presidential race — not that he’s planning on it. Better he should to lose to Clinton in a November 8 landslide.

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That would send the message Trump and the Republican Party really need to get. Humiliating defeat would mean Trump’s base of supporters don’t represent an oppressed majority, just a slice of whiny losers. And it would expose party leaders who bowed to it as the cowardly enablers they are.

The “Access Hollywood’’ tape shows nothing but the real Donald Trump — the one Republicans knowingly picked as their nominee and party leaders were afraid to reject. Now some gross talk from 2005 is supposed to take Trump down? Don’t give the GOP such an easy escape hatch.

No voter or pundit is surprised by the crudeness of the conversation between Trump and television personality Billy Bush. Sure, it reveals the disgusting extent of Trump’s sense of sexual entitlement, and crosses a line into talk of actual, genital-grabbing assault. But Republicans who lined up behind Trump already knew he is a power-hungry, self-absorbed misogynist, with a passion for dividing the country by race and religion. It was the essence of his appeal.

Everyone also knows that insult and mockery were Trump’s weapons of choice during the primary season. Even those who felt their sting, like Senator John McCain of Arizona, stood by Trump as he dragged the 2016 presidential election as low it could possibly go. Now McCain is finally withdrawing his support because of Trump’s “demeaning comments” about women. What about all the demeaning comments about Mexicans, Muslims, and people with disabilities? What about the chants of “lock her up” and Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” tweets?

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Presidential elections are supposed to be about the country’s future, but Trump cheated us out of that.

This campaign has been all about the personal, the petty, and the past. Trump’s 20-year-old tax returns. His fat-shaming of a beauty queen. His lewd talk of grabbing and groping women whenever he wants, because he possesses the power of celebrity.

Trump was fine with the mud because he believed it was the way to destroy Clinton. He didn’t release his taxes, but she didn’t release her emails. In Trump’s mind, Bill Clinton’s predatory behavior with women would cancel out his own, and Hillary Clinton’s reaction to those women would expose her as an unelectable enabler.

Trump owns all the ugliness and Republicans own him. They are his enablers and unlike a spouse, they have no excuse.


Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.