Want to beat Trump in 2024? Learn from E Jean Carroll

Democrats need to put the tissues and tantrums away, and fight the way Carroll did, if they are to defeat Trump.

Advice columnist E Jean Carroll leaves federal court in New York
Advice columnist E Jean Carroll leaves federal court in New York, on May 8, 2023. On May 9, a jury held Donald Trump guilty of sexually attacking her in a department store in 1996 [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

Flash: E Jean Carroll shows skittish Democrats the way to beat Donald Trump.

Unlike Carroll, who is the definition of dignity and resolve, Trump is the human equivalent of a slug who leaves behind a trail of slime every time he opens his big, foul mouth.

Carroll’s dignity and resolve were on display before, during and after a New York jury found that the writer had been sexually assaulted and defamed by the aforementioned slug.

If my use of the short, sharp word “slug” to describe the 45th US president offends, or your fragile sensibilities prompt you to dismiss it as a crude, ad hominem attack, then you have not been paying attention to a lifetime demonstrating he is precisely that: a slimy slug.

So, it seems to me that you now have two options: opt for gentler columnists who prefer polite euphemisms or continue reading.

Up to you.

Remarkably, it took a jury under three hours to side with Carroll and confirm that she had, all along, been telling the truth about the horror of what happened to her in an upscale Manhattan department store changing room in 1996 at the grimy hands of a sexual predator and serial liar.

“I’m overwhelmed, overwhelmed with joy and happiness and delight,” Carroll said.

Carroll has earned that joy, happiness and delight. Rather than recoil from the battle, she faced it head-on. Rather than wilt in the face of a tornado of lies and blasphemies, she stood firm and showed, by her extraordinary example, that courage will always prevail over cowardice. Rather than keep mum, she spoke up, all the while pointing an accusatory finger squarely at the shameless sod who violated her body and good name.

“Here is the astonishing thing about this win,” a beaming Carroll said on NBC, as she pounded her palm with a fist. “One 79-year-old advice columnist beat Donald Trump in court.”

Indeed, you did, madam. Indeed, you did.

Carroll’s persuasive victory was not only hard and patiently won, but it was a resounding clarion call: to defeat a bully, you must confront the bully.

It is a lesson that restive Democrats and others should heed as the 2024 presidential election approaches and the congenital liar Carroll trounced dominates the race to become the Republican nominee for a third time.

Beyond a refreshing dose of clarity and honesty when, on the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, President Joe Biden excoriated Trump as a dangerous extremist who “holds a dagger at the throat of democracy”, he and too many fellow Democrats have reverted to predictable, timid form.

Asked to comment on the jury’s unanimous verdict in Carroll’s favour, Biden played dumb. Apparently, he was too preoccupied with the debt-limit pantomime held at the White House on that historic day to notice that a former president had been judged liable for sexually abusing and defaming a brave, determined woman.

“I heard that as I’ve been walking from room to room,” Biden muttered. “But I can’t comment.”

Of course, he could.

That Biden chose not to applaud or congratulate Carroll for doing what a missing-in-action attorney general and the Justice Department have, to date, failed to do – hold Trump to a tangible and costly measure of account – was not only a squandered opportunity, but proof that Democrats continue to tip-toe around calling a slug a slug for fear of alienating independent voters.

When the moment demanded plain, blunt talk, Biden and his surrogates demurred. Rather than lauding Carroll, Biden and company turtled.

They should have denounced Trump as an unrepentant sex offender who compounded that outrage by lying in signature vulgar terms about the character of the steadfast woman he attacked.

Biden should have unleashed a double-barrelled broadside against a sick excuse of a presidential candidate whom Carroll and the 11 witnesses who testified on her behalf had exposed as being unfit for any public office, let alone the presidency.

Biden’s failure to use the bully pulpit with a presidential seal to condemn a contemptible bully was unforgivable.

Sure enough, a day later, news that another career fabulist, Republican Congressman George Santos, had been charged with a litany of felonies, consigned Carroll’s triumph to the rear view – such is the squirrel-like attention span of much of the US establishment media.

Then, Trump was invited on CNN. The floundering network’s prostrate bosses and a blundering host helped stage a MAGA pep rally, where sexual assault was considered a joke and Carroll had to endure being defamed again by a chortling slug and the hand-picked cultists who made up the rabid, partisan audience.

Carroll, to her credit, was having none of it. Her lawyer suggested that she was prepared to sue and beat Trump a second, perhaps even more satisfying, time.

Bring it on, I say.

If only Democrats and a host of fretting columnists had a smidgen of Carrol’s formidable spine and indefatigable spirit.

Instead, their default position is doubt and pessimism which translates into column after column about the gloomy prospects of defeating Trump next November.

Exhibit A: Trump was indicted and anxious Democrats and a bunch of wimps on TV and in various “elite” opinion pages turned what should have been a celebration into a wake.

Oh, my goodness, they wailed, he is going to leverage the indictments into martyrdom and emerge as an even more potent political force.

All is lost.

Exhibit B: a Washington Post/ABC News poll showing Trump six points ahead of Biden in a head-to-head match-up prompted an apron-over-head-like fit of hysteria.

All is lost, part two.

Buck up, perpetual worry warts. Put the tissues and tantrums away. Don’t curl up into a ball of angst in a dark room listening to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. And, please, stop the incessant handwringing and wallowing in the mire of discontent.

Do this: fight like E Jean Carroll.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.