• Daniel Ethan Finneran

The Pervert and His Patron Saint

February 2018

Every man worth his sanctimonious salt carries with him a patron saint. So necessary an intermediary between heaven and hell, between the ethereal above and the infernal unknown is this pervasive amulet of religious yearning and of human hope.

His, and in very few cases, hers, is the angelic memory upon which a history of desperate Christian men rely. Depending on your own willingness to believe, your own tendency toward this now ancient creed, you might think this saint one of two things: a delusional abstraction or an actual incarnation. If you’re so credulously inclined to think the latter true, the patron saint is for you not only a daily, but an intimate, and forceful presence in your life. Should you opt for the former, the saint is but another façade draped upon a world of unamiable truth.

At your service, the saint arrives with a whisper, a plea, a humble supplication. Best of all, though, this specifically-beckoned saint is actually one of many; he’s part of an endless, oddly pagan-like pantheon of demigods and beatified spirits. He counts himself among many in a deep, canonical roster of angels, saviors, and the cherubic like. And because he’s one of many, and because men are of divers needs, he’ll always be there in one form or another to fill every heart and need. Every man has his favorite saint, and all choose as his own one saint above the rest.

For their respective saints, the Teutonic Order claimed George, the Hospitallers Julian, and that island of inebriates (by which I mean Ireland), St. Patrick. The first was a martyr, the second a healer, and the third a liberator (and, eventually and more importantly, an excuse for excess around the ides of this very month). You can see then that every man in every epoch comforts and consoles himself in the godly oversight of his handpicked saint.

If all others can claim as their own this or that patron saint, particularized to their unique needs, what’s stopping the man accused of sexual misconduct from following their lead? Is he restrained from turning to the skies, thrusting upward his gaze, and looking for guidance and a saint of his own? If, after all, depraved crusaders, rapacious kings, and gruesome inquisitors can declare for their own possession and deliverance a saint, why not the equally morally dubious lout?

Who then, can such a lecherous brute turn to for guidance? Does there exist for the virile sexual deviant (of whom, as of late, we’ve become shockingly aware) an accompanying patron saint? If so, will he, with his heavenly aura, see to the man in his time of need? Will he come down to Earth, Hollywood, New York, and D.C. just as his previously unpunished moment’s “time” is up?

Worry not, for it appears such a saint exists. He does so in the person of Donald J. Trump. For many a fallen, forlorn man—among whom we count Robert Porter, Roger Ailes, Roy Moore, Bill O’Reilly, and, from the not so distant past, William Jefferson Clinton—President Trump has become what George was to the Crusaders and what Patrick was and is to the Irish. He’s become the defender of the fornicator, the champion of the libertine; he’s the protector of the philanderer as he holds up the rearguard for the rake. He’s the man to whom all womanizers can turn, the last refuge of the reprobate. He is, in a word, the pervert’s patron saint.

Every man aforementioned, President Trump not excluded, has brought upon himself ignominy in a sexually obscene way. Porter did so most recently after news broke that he’d physically abused two ex-wives. Ailes and O’Reilly forever tarnished their names when it came to light that they’d settled, on the scale of millions of dollars, sexual misconduct claims with Fox News colleagues and underlings. Roy Moore’s pedophilia still induces a cringe as if it were a fresh wound and Clinton’s, how shall I say, indecent, profligate, untoward extra-marital affairs need no recount; he stood in his time before peers and public opinion an impenitent politician, guilty of numerous sexual crimes. Likely, in so doing, he set the standard for the sexual mischief we’ve seen in our nation’s capital today.

All of these men sinned, howsoever ill-deserved they considered their guilt, but from the first to the last, they all had in Donald Trump a defender, an apologist, a patron saint. Clinton, last listed but first in time, found in the present Commander-in-Chief an unexpected comrade when his indecency was revealed. The year was 1998, and Kenneth Starr had just laid bare what was to become the new blight on Clinton’s presidency—that is, his venery. Shorn of all scruple, Clinton was forced to admit before a congressional committee and an embarrassed American audience his sexual faults (refraining, of course, from acknowledging the more egregious, earlier claims brought against him by Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey and company). He ultimately did so, but not before first exhausting all avenues of denial, misdirection, and equivocation.

Throughout all of this though, up until the very end, Donald Trump stood by the president and his future predecessor’s side. Trump held the minority and inflammatory position that Clinton was, in fact, the “real victim” in the fall-out of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Ever the defender of the feminine position when it comes to things sexual and perhaps even criminal, Trump lambasted Clinton’s accusers by calling them a “really unattractive group” and “terrible” before going on to offer is open sympathy with the now-embattled Clinton.

Trump went on to offer similarly misogynic defenses of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. The former, after his ignominious departure from the conservative network he helped to create, found succor in Trump’s embrace. Trump lamented Ailes’ leaving Fox News as “too bad” a thing to happen to too good a man, notwithstanding the more than half a dozen employees—including well-known, commercially and professionally successful reporters like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly—who credibly alleged him of improper sexual advances and criminal sexual assaults. He seemed to impugn the women—the victims—for being ungrateful to such a luminary television executive and idol and inconsiderate regarding the career opportunities he had secured them.

Doubtless, Trump was friendlier with the relatively younger Bill O’Reilly than he was with the elder, ailing Roger Ailes. The two enjoyed a relationship that was at once personally convivial and professionally symbiotic. As Trump’s fledgling popularity rose in the earliest days of his campaign, so too did O’Reilly’s ratings whenever one basked in the other’s light. Trump found at the ends of The O’Reilly Factor’s airwaves an irascible audience eager to be galvanized, prodded, and moved to the polls. The relationship was useful, insofar as it bestowed upon each man success in the intermingling circles of politics and punditry.

Just at that moment, though, when the future and present looked as though it would be nothing if not auspicious, O’Reilly came under fire. A recidivist of sorts (he’d been alleged of sexual misconduct in 2004, for which he paid out of court $9 million), he was again accused of sexual harassment by five women at Fox News. Like the now disgraced and since deceased Ailes, his former executive and boss, O’Reilly maintained his innocence before settling with the women, quietly and out of court, to the tune of $13 million. There are ways, I should think, less expensive in kind by which an actually innocent man might want to spend his wealth: $13 million to settle empty fabrications seems excessive to me.

However, to O’Reilly’s defense rushed President Trump (during the newly-minted “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month”, no less. Humor might’ve died, but irony, it seems, is alive and well, healthfully thriving in this era of Trump). With a defense, reminiscent of that offered to a previous “Bill”, President Trump said that he didn’t “think Bill (O’Reilly) did anything wrong”, that O’Reilly is beyond a reason of a doubt “a good person”, and that “he shouldn’t have settled” with those libelous, rapacious femme fatales accusing him of his sin. Tooth and nail, in President Trump’s opinion, this pundit friend and public fiend should’ve fought back against the growing onslaught of women who sought his demise.

Thence, nearing closer our present moment, President Trump came out at first tepidly and then vociferously in his defense of Roy Moore. Accused credibly and repeatedly of sexually preying upon the flowering belles of Alabama at local shopping malls, Moore was cast aside as morally unpalatable by neigh every conservative group. The RNC distanced itself from the former fire and brimstone judge and slowed to a trickle what once constituted a torrent of campaign investment. Other Republicans, once ambivalent about the man, found themselves now filled with disgust. They not only disagreed with such egregious conduct, they resented what he was doing to their Republican “brand”.

In effect, Moore was ostracized, but like so many a lecher before him, he could count on President Trump to stand resolute by his side. While the nation waited anxiously to see what Trump might do (specifically, whether he would choose to denounce or to defend Roy Moore), his decision might as well have been preordained. We’d hoped that the president might venture into another famous volte-face and take, in this of all instances, the ladies’ side. Alas, we were left wanting and morally worse for the wear. President Trump stayed true to his scruple of defending the predators, the womanizers, the justly accused.

The latest example of Trump defending the abuser instead of the abused came on the heels of the Rob Porter fallout. It’s a story too recent to be novel with a plot too predictable to stir us. Porter, a chief administration aid and important White House confidante, was accused of having physically assaulted two ex-wives. Fully abridged of his bestial, despicable conduct for at least one year, the White House did nothing to remove Porter from his office. When finally it did, President Trump, in a downcast remark to reporters, called Porter’s departure “very sad” and reflected sorrowfully on the reality that “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused”. He concluded by questioning, rhetorically and melancholically, whether or not there still exists in this country due process of the law.

Each man, for all intents and purposes, is history: Porter has been ousted from the White House cabinet, Moore was excluded from Capitol Hill; Ailes has departed this world for the next after seventy-seven years, and O’Reilly is now confined to an inconspicuous corner of the internet away from the once profitable, now inhospitable desk at Fox. Clinton, and the leniency with which he was treated, has been a matter of reckoning and of re-examination in the minds of politicians and journalists on the left. At the cost of their cognitive dissonance, they’re just now coming around to answer for their silence during the Clinton years (when they, as the news media writ large, took Trump’s side, or when Trump took theirs) as the “MeToo” movement gathers strength and carries on. While they’ve secured their places in an ugly, sexually-exploitative, and indecent history, Donald Trump has secured his in the stained-glass of hagiography. As if Eros met an eremite, Trump is for all men for all time, the pervert’s patron saint.

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