Earlier this month, much of the Republican establishment, even here in the Heart of Dixie, recoiled with the release of the now-infamous tape of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about his ability to sexually assault women. With that revelation, mainstream GOP politicos such as Congresswoman Martha Roby disavowed their own party’s nominee, saying that the bombastic real estate mogul had finally gone too far.
Roby and other public officials who made the same move but later backed off — like Congressman Bradley Byrne — have moral room to make such an argument. To be clear, I personally disagree with both Byrne and Roby on most policy issues, but they’re both good people. I’ve met Byrne on multiple occasions. He’s a nice, respectable guy. Even most of Mobile County’s Democrats will give you that.
That’s what most of us thought of our governor too, until earlier this year when we found out the reality: he’s the Yellowhammer State’s philanderer-in-chief. So now we know. The Luv Guv doesn’t have the moral high ground anymore and he knows it. That’s why Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley should’ve zipped his lips when Touchy Trump’s genital-grabbing gaffe made headlines. But he didn’t. So now he’s getting what he’s asked for.
Gov. Bentley was doing something he knew he would get criticized for when he attacked Trump at an event in Madison County. Bentley began by addressing his condemnation of the GOP nominee and the comments he’d made on the Access Hollywood bus all those years ago.
“When I did this and when I thought about it, I said ‘they’re going to mock and they’re going to make fun of me’ because, honestly, I said something a few years ago I shouldn’t have said, and I admit that,” Gov. Bentley told the Madison County audience. “But let me say: I don’t have a pattern of being derogatory and degrading women, I don’t have a pattern degrading those who are disabled, those who have cerebral palsy, those who are not of the same color that I am, those … I don’t have that attitude and I don’t think the leader of this country ought to have that attitude.”
Wow. That’s a lot of hypocrisy in just one breath. Luv Guv Bentley — who admitted to not talking about grabbing someone, but actually doing it — comes out against Trump on moral grounds? Unbelievable. Bentley doesn’t “have a pattern of being derogatory and degrading women?” Who knew … you’d think that cheating on your wife in a relationship with an employee would be considered derogatory and degrading. And not once, but over and over again, with taxpayer dollars facilitating the entire affair.
Reports are that during her marriage to the governor, former First Lady Dianne Bentley would call ahead to Montgomery to make sure that Rebekah Caldwell Mason wasn’t around her husband when she visited the Capitol.
When the governor and the former first lady fought, and the governor left his wallet hundreds of miles away, he had ALEA, the state’s law enforcement agency, fly its helicopter to pick up the wallet and bring it to him. The public didn’t find out some of the nitty-gritty logistics of the affair until Best Buy employees approached the press about the multiple burner cell phones the governor would buy in the electronics store from time to time. The entire state of Alabama had to listen while the nation played sex tapes of our top elected official describing how he needed to move his secretary’s desk so he and Mason could do whatever it is they did in more privacy.
But none of this forms a pattern of degradation? None of this is degrading? I asked my wife. She disagrees, and I do, too.
Sadly, Bentley’s pathetic argument didn’t end with women. Bentley called Trump out for even more.
“I don’t have a pattern of degrading those who are disabled, those who have cerebral palsy.”
Sure, governor, you haven’t mimicked them in front of a national office. But you refuse to expand Medicaid, which would instantly give millions in funding for health care to those most in need, including funding to programs particularly helping those who are disabled, including those with cerebral palsy. Not Trump per se, but not too far off.
“I don’t have a pattern of degrading … those who are not of the same color that I am.”
Sure, governor. I’ve never heard you say the n-word. Not straight out. But you closed the DMVs in nearly every majority black county at the same time you implemented the state’s voter ID law. When the Legislature (almost) unanimously passed a bill to reverse the closures, you pocket vetoed it. Degrading those not of your color doesn’t just mean putting up with them. Tolerance isn’t just skin deep.
So, governor, you’re right. We’re going to mock you. We’re going to make fun of you. You brought it on yourself. Freedom from criticism is only a resignation letter away. But until then, remember: when it comes to championing women, I don’t think you’re the guv for the job.