On Friday, undermining an earlier (and absolutely unconvincing) defense that his behavior could somehow be excused because of his age or the Parkinson's disease from which he suffers, a fourth woman has come out to accuse former President George H. W. Bush of groping her—years before his illness placed him in a wheelchair.
The latest woman to accuse Bush, Amanda Staples, published a post to her Instagram account in which she recounted the behavior of the former president in 2006 when she was running as a Republican state senate candidate in Maine, where the 41st president lives most of the year. Just 29-years-old at the time, Staples was posing for a picture, she explained in the post, when he "grabbed my butt and joked saying 'Oh, I'm not THAT President.'"
As the local Bangor Daily News reports, this latest accusation, which follows testimony by three different women who shared similar stories, "pokes a hole in Bush's initial explanation for the behavior, as a spokesman said that because he's been wheelchair-bound for five years, his arm 'naturally falls on the lower waist of the people with whom he takes pictures.'"
Earlier accusations by the three other women—Heather Lind, Jordana Grolnik, and Christina Baker Kline—included a joke that Bush apparently likes to deploy while making his unwanted advances. "Do you know who my favorite magician is?" the president would reportedly ask. "David Cop-A-Feel."
According to Kline, who spoke with the Portland Press Herald about her experience, "when [Lind and Grolnik] came forward and the Bush response was that he was trying to put people at ease because of this joke, or that that was where his hands fell (from his wheelchair level), I knew because of what had happened to me, with exactly the same line, that this was such a distortion of what actually happened and was such a callous refutation of their testimony that I ultimately felt I had to say something.... If we want to try to change the dominant culture, this feels like a moment for people to step forward and say we're not OK with this anymore."
And while MSNBC journalist Andrea Mitchell was blasted this week for defending Bush Sr. for his appalling behavior, many argued that neither age nor his illness—and certainly not his position of stature—should be allowed to stand as an excuse.
In her post on Instagram, Staples wrote, "I can only imagine how many women have had their butt grabbed in a photo op," and added that if she had a daughter, "I'd never tell her to shrug it off because he was president."
She concluded, "This hasn't left me jaded or damaged but it has made me think about the abuse of power." She signed off with the hashtag: "#HandsOff."