Here’s the thing about Billy Bush. We never knew much about his personality. He was on some breezy shows with superficial content, which did not require much of his own input. Much like Ryan Seacrest, his job was to move things along in a seamless fashion, and to provide celebrities with an easy forum to promote their content. So when a clip between Billy Bush and Donald Trump gave us a window into Bush’s personality for the first time, he was sunk. There simply wasn’t enough data for push up against this man’s new image, and without that, there’s little to no hope of a career cleanse. Many have pointed out that Donald Trump became President and Billy Bush became unemployed, but I’d need a much longer post to explain how Trump got elected. For now, let’s stick to Billy.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bush is clear about his regret, and he blames his inability to change the subject with Trump to not having the necessary “strength of character.” He claims that the experience left him “gutted” and that he’s done an extensive amount of soul searching in its wake, which includes time with Tony Robbins and a spiritual retreat. He also reminds us that he’s raising three daughters whom he had to answer to, saying:
I’ve come out of this with a deeper understanding of how women can connect to the feeling of having to fight extra hard for an even playing field. The ground isn’t even. Maybe it’s improving, but still it isn’t even. When a woman watches that tape — and this is what really hit me — they may be asking themselves, “Is that what happens when I walk out of a room? When I walk out of a meeting, is that what they’re saying about me? Are they sizing me up?” I can’t live with that. If a moment like that arose again, I would shut it down quickly. I am in the women-raising business, exclusively. I have three daughters — Mary, Lillie, Josie — and I care very much about the world and the people they encounter.
So should we forgive Billy Bush, and is this enough? Though it might be a controversial claim, I like this version of Bush a little better. For starters, I am fundamentally put off by press robots with no personality, and seeing a man at his knees, begging for forgiveness, is good enough to take him out of that space. I believe he’s contrite, and if it took losing a job to do that — then fine. A man’s livelihood is often tied to his job, and even though Billy Bush walked away from all of this a very rich man, he also walked away unemployed. I also believe him when he likens the conversation in question to Andrew Dice Clay. He likely thought Trump was being outrageous for shock value, rather than an actual account of how he physically and literally “grabs women by the pussy.” According to Bush, “if [he] had thought for a minute that there was a grown man detailing his sexual assault strategy to [him], [he’d] have called the FBI.” The issue; however, will always lie in Bush encouraging the host to physically hug Trump AFTER Trump made those comments. That moves his participation from passive to active, which is the key problem. I’d guess Bush knows that, and he does not need me to remind him. Though even in my very young days, I’ve never let a bully win, and I’ve never let my desire to be liked overpower my integrity, I’ve certainly been guilty of saying and doing things of which I’m not proud, and the only thing that has caused substantial character growth is age, experience, and tongue-lashings of my more evolved peers. Fortunately, you’ll never know about those character digressions because I’m not a public figure, and because my peers are a select group of people I trust, not the entire world. I think Billy Bush has had enough. If all our issues left us permanently unemployed, the economy would tank.