Call it a tale of two elevators, featuring a subway groper and a woman victim as well as the president-elect and a senator.
Oh, and with the Naked Cowboy in a minor, altogether innocent role.
One elevator is at Trump Tower. On Friday afternoon it carried U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota up to become the latest personage to trade principle for the favor of a president-elect who once bragged about kissing and touching women whenever he wanted.
The other elevator is at the Jay Street subway station in downtown Brooklyn. On the early morning of Nov 22 it carried a 50-year-old woman who was assaulted by a man of similar age in a leather jacket and a blue baseball cap who appeared to be acting out Donald Trump’s boasts on the Access Hollywood tape.
“An unidentified individual approached the victim, kissed her and touched her private area,” reads an NYPD summary of the incident.
A surveillance video shows the man coming into the elevator behind the woman. He reaches with his right hand to touch her as the door closes. She backs away and he moves sideways so as to corner her. He then leans in to kiss her. She rebuffs him with enough force that his baseball cap is knocked off his head. He catches it and dons it again. The door reopens.
“The victim exited the elevator while the individual fled in an unknown direction,” the NYPD summary says.
As of Friday, the suspect was reported to be still at large. He is one of at least nine men sought for committing forcible touching in the New York City subway system in the past month. That translates to at least nine more women victims.
And this comes at a time when crime both below and above ground in New York is at historic lows. Gropers persist in the New York subway, but the same must also be true everywhere else in America, where crime in general is on the increase.
And of course it is the victims who make it so wrong, so much worse than just locker-room talk for Trump to have spoken about pussy-grabbing and to have behaved in the ways he is accused of behaving by more than a half dozen women. Trump denounced them all as liars and pledged to sue them, but that appears to have been an empty threat.
The women in positions of power and influence who condemned Trump’s hideous boasting prominently included Heitkamp. She told the press, “These vulgar and offensive comments reaffirm the extraordinary disrespect toward women—as well as many others—we have already come to expect from Donald Trump, but they’re not what the American people deserve, and they’re not what North Dakotans should accept in a presidential candidate.”
Then came Election Day. Trump won North Dakota with 63 percent of the vote. He had only to summon Heitkamp to his tower and she arrived in the lobby on Friday afternoon with a big smile.
“Senator Heitkamp is coming shortly!” an aide announced to the CSPAN live video crew.
A beaming Heitkamp paused just inside the entrance to pose for a cellphone photo with some constituents who were in New York to root for the University of North Dakota at the 2016 College Hockey Showdown at Madison Square Garden. Heitkamp immediately posted the picture on Twitter with the message:
“Just walked into Trump Tower and ran into some fans from Fargo. Looking forward to tomorrow’s game!”
By chance, the world renowned Naked Cowboy was in the Trump Tower lobby, guitar in hand, a red, white, and blue robe over his famous tighty whiteys. He happened to step into the elevator just as Heitkamp and the aide hurried to get aboard. The Cowboy stepped back to accord them room as the doors closed.
“Cowboys are my people—even if they aren’t from ND,” the senator then tweeted.
Wherever the Cowboy might have been headed, Heitkamp was on her way up to meet with a guy who had bragged about treating women in ways too much like the guy in the blue baseball cap in that other elevator in Brooklyn.
In myth, the sale of your soul often presages a decent to The Devil’s realm. But in our sudden new reality, it precedes an ascent to The Donald’s penthouse. Heitkamp was hardly the first.
Mitt Romney had already sold his soul back in 2012, when he hoped to be president himself and embraced Trump, who had continued as birther-in-chief long after Obama had released his birth certificate. Romney seemed to imagine he could unsell his soul during the 2016 campaign by indignantly denouncing Trump as a con artist and a fraud.
Romney is now desperately trying to resell a soul he no longer possesses in exchange for becoming secretary of state. His only hope is that Trump is himself so soulless that he might go for Romney because, as an aide quotes him saying, “He looks the part.”
Were Rudy Giuliani not Rudy Giuliani, you could almost feel sorry for him. He parted with what remained of his soul by going along with Trump’s lies about charitable giving to 9/11 families only to be left twisting because he does not look at all like he was sent by central casting.
By some reports, Heitkamp is being considered for a cabinet position, perhaps as energy secretary. She is a Democrat, and should she leave the senate she would almost certainly be replaced by a Republican, tipping the balance of power even more toward Trump.
At least she rode in the elevator with the Naked Cowboy and not some groper who acts like our president-elect has said it is OK to behave.