Donald Trump, sexism’s enabler-in-chief

In a foreshadowing of what Hillary Clinton can expect thrown at her in this fall’s general election, Donald Trump yesterday threatened to expose a deep dark secret about Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi.

What raised Trump’s ire was a new ad from an anti-Trump Super PAC that included a photo of Trump’s wife Melania posing nude.

Back in 2000, Melania, a model, had posed for GQ in a James-Bond-esque nude photo shoot.

Trump last night blamed the ad on Cruz, and then went further — in classic Trump style, or lack thereof, threatening to attack Cruz’s wife.

trump-wife

Cruz then denied it, and called Trump a “classless coward.”

cruz-wife

While Trump is widely disliked by the public at large — his unfavorable rating is at a record 61%, and rising (see below) — he still poses a unique challenge to Hillary Clinton, in that Trump is willing to say things, especially sexist things, that other candidates wouldn’t dare. And while the public at large won’t be thrilled with such attacks, the attacks themselves are still wildcards — they’re things so outlandish that candidates don’t usually prepare for them, so it’s not entirely clearly how a candidate caught so off-guard will respond.

In Hillary Clinton’s case, Trump will likely attack her for remaining married to her husband, the former president. In January of this year, Trump said that attacking Secretary Clinton for her husband’s peccadilloes was “fair game” because Bill Clinton is campaigning for his wife.

And while it’s true that Bill is campaigning for Hillary, all spouses campaign on behalf of their husbands or wives. So, if it’s fair game to talk about Bill’s private life, then Trump must think it’s fair game to talk about Melania’s nude photo spread — and to investigate her sex life, and the proclivities of Trump’s previous wives as well (he’s been married three times).

In fact, none of this tells us anything about the job the candidate might do in office.

What’s motivating Trump in all of this isn’t simply retaliation for attacks on Melania. Trump has a growing record of tolerating intolerance, especially as it concerns women.

In just the past week, we saw Trump cyber-stalking Fox News personality Megyn Kelly. Things got so bad that Fox News publicly called Trump out for “sexism.”

trump-megyn-kelly

We also saw Trump’s boorish behavior at an editorial board meeting at the Washington Post, where a young female reporter asked Trump a policy question, and he told her she was “beautiful.”

Then there’s the case of Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

In addition to fending off accusations of having assaulted conservative reporter Michelle Fields at a Trump event, and grabbing a male protester at a second event, Lewandowski now faces new charges, which he denies, of making numerous sexually inappropriate comments to women with whom he worked, including reporters on the campaign trail.

The charges came in a long story this week from Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins and Rosie Gray. The Trump campaigns denies the accusations, and is now threatening to sue Buzzfeed, while the publication stands by its story.

Ironically, one of Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton is that she allegedly “enabled” her husband, and thus Hillary is “bad for women.” (A rather ridiculous claim.) But what of Trump-the-enabler? We’ve seen how Donald Trump has coyly embraced the violence at this own campaign events, by first denying it even existed, then claiming it was the fault of Democratic agitators who had it coming — all the while, Trump whips up his supporters even more.

And we’ve seen how, after being called out on his sexist treatment of Megyn Kelly, Trump doubled down and issued even more tweets attacking the Fox reporter.

And finally, there’s Lewandowksi. Any other campaign would have been terribly concerned about repeated accusations of aggressive physical behavior by its campaign manager, especially when that behavior involves women.

Not Donald Trump.

While Lewandowski was facing many of these accusations, Trump put the embattled campaign manager front and center on stage with him at this big event in Florida, as if to say, “atta boy.”

Now who’s the enabler?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in New York City, and is the cofounder of TimeToResign.com. Bio, .

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  • Robert Pagliaro

    Clinton always seems to be in the position of saying that, even though in your heart, Bernie’s right– still, vote for me because I will defeat the gop, be true to blue. It’s annoying that her strategy kind of works. To me, socialism seems a lot better than the creeping fascism that the Republicans espouse or the dang new and improved status quo that Clinton seems to prefer. Bill gave us lukewarm gay,immigration, and immigration laws, Hillary’s positions are farther to the left now (Due to Sanders) and I dont really think the status quo is what we want.

  • Badgerite

    Well he certainly hasn’t helped the GOP maintain their image much.
    I find that people I know who loved his anti immigrant stuff are starting to be a little bit embarrassed by his obvious and not very well disguised bigotry, narcissism, misogyny, and lack of ,well, seriousness.

  • We’ve been saying that since October.

  • Badgerite

    I think he is reaching his sell by date.

  • Everything on Trump is supposed to backfire but it hasn’t so good luck with that.

  • Badgerite

    That is why they need to lose the Senate and someday the House. All they do is throw vilifying crap at anyone who stands between them and power.

  • Badgerite

    Hilary Clinton has been subjected to the Republican hate machine for almost 2 decades now. They haven’t even started on Sanders yet. And that is why the polls matter. If you ask people about Sanders, probably very few of them really know about his vulnerabilities to attack. But the GOP sure as hell does.
    And trust me, they are licking their chops in anticipation. I think Trump attacks on Hilary will backfire. I think Trump attacks on Sanders will have some traction. Most of the country does not view Henry Kissinger the way you do.
    It is just a fact.

  • Badgerite

    I think you are being overly optimistic in claiming that most American’s would be on Eugene Debbs ‘side’ in his anti war and union organizing efforts. I don’t know that that is the case. But you are absolutely correct about the rest of it.
    And that smear would be effective to . That is the thing.

  • gratuitous

    For some reason, I suspect that Hillary Clinton will be quite prepared for anything the Trump camp throws at her, no matter how sexist or gutter politics. She’s had YEARS to listen to this sort of garbage.

    And yes, Trump will take the lowest road he can find if he gets the nomination.

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  • Doug105

    Inless one of their Kochroaches gets POTUS it’s going to be like that in any case which is why they most be voted out and damn that, They’re all the Same BULLSHIT.

  • Trump like most of us …………many of us , saw very clearly how Bush and his gang were able to steer the American people into a war with a country that was no threat to us. I remember clearly the call of “unpatriotic” for anyone who voiced opposition to his desire to go to war as well as many other techniques used to move the country. And it worked . Trump knows this. If the wingnuts , rednecks , and white supremacy people were into twinkies , Trump would deliver them by the bushel. He is relentlessly punching their nerve and appealing to the lowest emotions. And that also is working.

  • My concern is a bit different John. I believe Hillary will be president. But I will not be sighing with relief for long. After the show the republicans gave with President Obama , I do not believe they will go any lighter on Hillary. There will be investigations , veiled character assassinations , filibusters , and out and out lies . The next four years are going to be tough any way you slice it.

  • sophie

    There was nothing reasonable about Kissinger, nor was he exactly representative of the “middle.”
    Really becoming tired of so called progressive blogs posting thinly veiled pro-Hillary propaganda, as excuses for her statements are becoming far too prevalent.
    And it’s far past time to stop running scared of an obnoxious sociopath by the name of Trump. The Melania silliness is just more faux outrage from the liar extraordinaire-as if he’s not aware of his wife’s former “career.” It’s surprising he hasn’t had all of her semi pornography pics expunged from the interwebs. Every single thing Trump says and does is calculated for maximum effect, including his ludicrous tweets.

  • What I really worry about is that we get attacked before the election and people become scared – and they think Trump will just bomb them, and will thus feel safer. And forget about all this crazy anti-feminist rhetoric, etc.

  • I do wonder how all of this will play in the general election for Trump. Often talk about how only a lunatic can win the GOP nomination. But then that same lunatic can’t do well in the general election. I’ll be curious to see if trumps Teflon skin serves him well once he gets into the general. It may, it may not.

  • Just like her stating Nancy was great at raising AIDS awareness wasn’t a glitch – she’s trying to play both sides of the fence. As always.

  • Hillary has been mentioning Kissinger on purpose. It’s not a glitch, it’s a feature. I suspect she did it to show people in the middle that she’s not simply far left, that she actually is reasonable and foreign-policy, can reach across the aisle. It’s simply not to do the damage to her in the election that being a socialist will do the Sanders.

  • Phil in FLL

    He has no impulse control, no internal limits.

    Nor do so many of his supporters, which is why he has gotten so far.

  • We’ve had plenty of sleazy politicians. Corrupt politicians. Criminal politicians. Pols suffering from advancing senility and dementia. Basically incompetent ones, including Obama’s immediate predecessor.

    Donald Trump would be the first to run for President as a major party front-runner who could not pass a basic mental fitness and competency test. There is NOTHING Trump will not do or say in service to his ambition and his out-of-control manic narcissism. He has no impulse control, no internal limits. He’s already — and repeatedly — made unambiguous promises to commit multiple “high crimes and misdemeanors” as defined by the U.S. Constitution, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. But hey, if he’s elected, we here had best get all this stuff here out of our systems because he’s also promised to make criticizing him personally a prosecutable crime.

    Look, if Sanders is the nominee, expect Trump to go anti-Semitic and to lay in with the Commie-baiting. If Clinton is the nominee, expect Trump to go all in with the unadulterated misogyny and sexism, as comes natural to him.

  • I keep hearing how Bernie can’t win from many people who like him, which makes me sad. Anything is possible – even Hillary mopping the floor with Trump’s butt (which I sincerly hope she does if she gets the nomination even tho I’ve never been a fan of hers). But these things can only happen if we encourage them to happen. Pragamatism is important but it shouldn’t get in the way of making things possible.

  • Phil in FLL

    …polls are showing Sanders has a better chance at winning than Hillary…

    That is true now, but I don’t think it would be true after the onslaught of Republican “Debs-Lenin-Trotsky-Sanders” TV ads. I say that as someone who would love to see a president with as much honor and integrity as Bernie. In fact, there is no candidate running who has anywhere near as much honor and integrity as Bernie.

  • Well, Eugene Debs, fair enough but Hillary’s hero is Kissinger, which will serve her well with the GOP. The whole thing about your nice essay here is that the polls are showing Sanders has a better chance at winning than Hillary – against all GOP contenders – and have been for months, and they continue to get stronger in Bernie’s favor. Now comes the time when you tell me that those polls don’t matter except for when you point out the ones that favor Hillary. Regardless, Hillary OR Sanders will have a hard time against the GOP because they are monsters and breed on hate and fear which the country seems to be really into these days and that’s what is the scariest thing to come out of all this.

  • Phil in FLL

    Bernie is an honorable man, but yes, the Republicans would eat him alive on the basis of what Eugene Debs said in the most important speech of his life. You may ask “Who in the wide world of sports is Eugene Debs?” Eugene Debs is Bernie Sanders’ all-time hero. He is a famous early 20th century union organizer who also ran for president on the Socialist Party ticket in the same 1912 election in which the Republican Party split in two (Teddy Roosevelt vs Harding) and lost to Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats. Eugene Debs got a respectable six percent of the vote.

    Bernie Sanders has a picture of Eugene Debs hanging in his Senate office, but more to the point, Sanders made a 1979 documentary film about Debs’ life using his own personal funds. Debs was a great union organizer, and for that today’s American public would be on Debs’ side. He made a speech in Canton, Ohio in June, 1918 urging resistance to the military draft of World War I, for which he was arrested for sedition, tried and imprisoned for two years. Here too, today’s American public would be on Debs’ side because it was his right encourage conscientious objectors in a war that was, in hindsight, an unnecessary disaster that did more harm than good.

    However, in that very speech of June, 1918 is an ill-considered judgment that today’s Republicans would hang around Bernie’s neck and include in every single TV ad. Here is the excerpt in question:

    Yes, my comrades, my heart is attuned to yours. Aye, all our hearts now throb as one great heart responsive to the battle cry of the social revolution. Here, in this alert and inspiring assemblage our hearts are with the Bolsheviki of Russia. Those heroic men and women, those unconquerable comrades have by their incomparable valor and sacrifice added fresh luster to the fame of the international movement. Those Russian comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on earth; they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world. [emphasis mine]

    Further on, Debs specifically praises Lenin and Trotsky. The problem with all of this is that Debs’ speech was seven months after the Bolshevik Revolution of November, 1917 in which Lenin and Trotsky stunned the world by establishing a one-party dictatorship and immediately arresting the parliament members of all political parties other than the Bolsheviks (and their supporters) and sending them to prison of Siberian labor camps.

    Although Eugene Debs did great work as a union organizer, his questionable assessment of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks in the most important speech of his life is an albatross that the Republicans would hang around Bernie Sanders’ neck… over and over and over again. Bernie’s hero worship of Eugene Debs is undeniable. It’s not just a picture hanging in his Senate office. It’s a film documentary of Debs’ life that Bernie made in 1979 with his own money. In sum, this world is a better place for the union organizing that Eugene Debs did, but Debs’ assessment of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks—7 months after the fact—is a Republican TV attack ad that writes itself. You say in your comment, John, that you fear the Republicans would eat Bernie alive. Now you know why.

  • Not trying to start a Hillary/Bernie fight (although I do disagree with what you said there, but not getting into that)! I’m simply saying that it’ll be interesting to see if his insults get any headhway because nothing he does seems to cause him much damage. So will it infuriate people enough to stop backing him or will it just sort of make a few waves here and there and not amount to much?

  • Trust me. The people who are going to vote for Trump have no love for a socialist either. Sanders does well in the polls for the general because nobody knows who he is. I fear the Republicans would eat him alive. So there’s an unknown there. With Hillary, you pretty much know the attacks you’re getting. And in any case, with either candidate, the goal is getting the rest of the Republicans to cast a their party vote.

  • If Hillary should win the nomination, she’s got a long road ahead of her should this douchebag also get the nomination. Hopefully she’ll be able to spin his biggotry in her favor, but Hillary is already not well-liked among the people who would vote for Trump anyway so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

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