Dean Obeidallah: Google makes it difficult for Donald Trump to escape past comments
Trump can change his tone and stop cursing, but past comments are a quick search away, he says
Poor Donald Trump. He really, really wants to leave behind his brash, vulgar, sexist and bigoted comments and be seen as presidential.
Trump told reporters as much last week, noting how easily he can pivot to be more presidential. “I’m very capable of changing to anything I want to change to,” he said. He also vowed to “never” use “foul language” again on the campaign trail.
What has brought on this sudden change of heart?
Apparently Trump, much like countless past presidential candidates before him, wants to begin pivoting from more partisan positions in the primary to more moderate ones to help in the general election. Only in Trump’s case, we are not talking a change in policy, but a change in persona.
Here’s the thing, though: Trump could suddenly start acting like Prince Charming complete with white horse, but there’s one big problem standing in the way of this chameleon transformation – Google. Of course, YouTube and Twitter don’t help him too much either, but Google is truly Trump’s kryptonite.
And I’m not even talking about the incendiary comments Trump has made since he launched his campaign, which most of us can still remember. No, where Google is really helpful is in tracking down comments from years ago, even before the Internet. This means that searches that once would have had reporters spending hours in a library looking at microfiche can now be done in minutes.
For example, if you simply type the words “Trump” and “women” into a Google search, the very first article Google delivers is titled, “18 Real Things Donald Trump Has Actually Said About Women.”
As you would imagine, Trump was not explaining the importance of women getting paid the same as men. No, this list includes Trumpisms like this one from 1991: “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Trump discussing women. The very next article listed by Google is titled, “The history of Donald Trump’s insults to women.” This one includes some Trump “classics” such as his 2012 tweet stating that Arianna Huffington “is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
Or search the words “Trump” and “discrimination” and the top article is a 2011 piece that documents Trump’s real estate company being sued by the federal government in the 1970s for allegedly discriminating against black renters in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
In response to the lawsuit, Trump held a press conference attacking the Justice Department for trying to force his company “to rent to welfare recipients.” Trump reportedly added, if such people were allowed in his buildings, it would cause a “massive fleeing from the city of not only our tenants, but communities as a whole.” Trump ultimately reached an agreement with the Justice Department under which he did not admit guilt, but agreed to take steps to ensure more black tenants could rent in his buildings.
Does a lawsuit about Trump allegedly discriminating against blacks from the 1970s really matter in today’s campaign? Maybe, maybe not. But thanks to Google, it’s readily accessible.
And the list goes on and on. Just search words like “Trump” and “disabled” and one of the first things you get is a CNN video clip of Trump making fun of Serge Kovaleski, a reporter who suffers from a congenital joint condition. Next up, there’s the article, “Donald Trump’s war on people with disabilities” documenting Trump being sued years ago for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as his mocking of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who is paralyzed from the waist down, as “a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants.”
A Google search of “Trump” and the word “Mexicans” gives you this article in the number one spot, “9 Outrageous Things Donald Trump Has Said About Latinos” And I’m pretty sure you can guess what happens if you Google the words “Trump” and “bigotry”? It’s pages of articles with titles like, “Trump brings bigots out of hiding” and “The bigoted elephant in the room,” which document Trump’s extensive history of hateful comments.
I think you get the idea. Trump can change his tone, stop cursing, drop the incendiary comments or even give Jeb Bush a back rub during the next debate, but his past antics will remain only one quick Google search away.
Of course, the big question is whether Trump’s history of bigoted, sexist and other inflammatory comments matter to voters? That’s unclear. But what’s certain is that while memories may fade, Google always remembers. And that’s really not good for Trump.