How Pussy Won

It beat everybody, including the Russians

For a few weeks in 2016, most Americans were quite convinced that pussy had cost Donald Trump the election. It turns out that we were wrong. The opposite happened. Pussy is how Trump won.

Let’s go back in time to that fateful day, October 7, 2016 when we heard the instantly infamous “grab her by the pussy” tapes. It’s like the moon landing, Michael Jackson’s death, or the first time you saw Rick Perry try to look smart by wearing glasses. You’ll never forget where you were when it happened.

But it turns out that you are remembering that day for all the wrong reasons. As Clinton Campaign Comm director Jennifer Palmieri reminded us on MSNBC, October 7, 2016 was also the day that the NYT’s David Sanger and Charlie Savage broke a massive story with this headline: U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections.

Without the pussy story, that headline would have owned the day’s news cycle (or about 3 tweets) and put intense pressure on the Obama administration to release more details — which would have meant more stories.

Instead we fixated on Donald’s dirty talk. And that scandal led to another and to another, and so on. Well, it turns out that having a different scandal to target each day isn’t all that optimal for a presidential campaign. In the weeks prior to the tapes, the Clinton team was locked in on effective message: He’s not fit for the office. When they realized that he’s also not fit for a bus ride with Billy Bush, the Dems lost their message discipline. And as we know, Trump never lost his focus on Crooked Hillary (a strategy that proved fake biographies can be even more powerful than fake news).

On that day in October, the voters lost a vital news thread that could have meant a massive shift towards towards Clinton. We also lost the ability to ever again properly digest whatever food we were eating when we first heard the recording.

October 7, 2016 may have been the most important day in the most interesting political story of our time. The day locker room talk became Oval Office talk.

Dave Pell writes on pussy and other matters at NextDraft.