In “Sexism: Let’s Deconstruct Donald” Ms. Collins says there are insults, and then there are insults. Here she is:
Are Donald Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton sexist? To be fair, Trump is a guy who makes insulting personal remarks about everyone he disagrees with, regardless of gender. Let’s not jump to conclusions. This deserves a serious breakdown.
Trump frequently complains that Clinton yells too much. “That’s why I turned her off last night … I just couldn’t stand it. I got such a headache,” he told a rally earlier this year. “But I won’t say it, because I’m not allowed to say it, right?” He added that he had “great respect for women, believe me.”
Rule No. 1: When grading a candidate’s level of sexism, add one point for every time he says that what he just said is not politically correct. Add two if he interjects that he has great respect for women.
Voice is a sensitive issue. We heard for decades and decades that a woman could never be a TV news anchor because viewers would not — in the words of one NBC executive — “accept the news from a woman’s voice.” And Trump yells all the time. If this were coming from someone like, say, Mitt Romney, we could have a discussion about whether the comment was sexist, or just irritating. But Trump is basically saying that only guys get to holler.
“She looks sick,” said Rudy Giuliani on Fox News. Giuliani, Trump’s top surrogate, spent the summer arguing that there was something very, very wrong with Clinton’s health. He urged people to just go online “and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness.’ ” No better proof that something is true than the fact that you can find it on the internet. It’s like making the case for a space invasion by telling people to Google “aliens among us.”
Clinton does have allergies that sometimes send her off into fits of coughing. There’s also a video of her tripping and being helped up by a flight attendant — an incident that seems to be what Giuliani is referring to when he says she had to be “lifted onto airplanes.”
Trump has been on this one as well. “Mainstream media never covered Hillary’s massive ‘hacking’ or coughing attack, yet it is #1 trending. What’s up?” demanded the man whose own released medical information consisted of a four-paragraph letter that started off with “To Whom My Concern.”
This is nuts, but not necessarily sexist. Trying to start rumors about an opponent’s health was a staple of presidential politics long before we had a woman in the race. Ronald Reagan called Michael Dukakis an “invalid.” A top Democrat discussing Reagan in 1984 said, “Well, he didn’t quite drool.” Obama supporters tried to raise concerns about a reoccurrence of melanoma in John McCain, but McCain answered the question by releasing a huge medical report from his doctors.
Actually, both of our current candidates ought to follow McCain’s example.
Trump likes to describe Clinton as “weak.” He’s gone on and on about how she doesn’t have “the strength or the stamina to be a good president.” This is the guy who’s flying around the country in a massive, super-comfy personal plane, doing an event and then flying home so he can sleep in his own bed every night.
“I think he projects his own weaknesses onto other people,” said Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri.
Nobody — at least until now — has ever accused Clinton of being short on stamina. But on this subject Trump is arguably an equal opportunity insulter. Just ask Jeb “low energy” Bush.
DOESN’T LOOK PRESIDENTIAL
“We talk about presidential. Do I look presidential?” Trump demanded at a rally, clearly expecting a positive answer. “Do you think Hillary looks presidential? I don’t think so. And I’m not going to say it, because I’m not allowed to say it because I want to be politically correct.”
Remember Rule No. 1.
Trump has gone there before. During a visit to an American Legion post in Cleveland, he chatted with a dozen men — there was also one woman — about how tough he’d be in the White House. As Ashley Parker reported in The Times, he then turned to the subject of Clinton, asking, “And she looks presidential, fellows?”
Sexist? Well, duh.
FAILURE TO SMILE
“@HillaryClinton was angry + defensive the entire time — no smile and uncomfortable,” tweeted the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, after this week’s presidential forum.
The smile critique was most definitely sexist. Trump didn’t do a whole lot of beaming at the forum himself. And it’s hard to think of a male presidential candidate taking the heat for not looking cheerful enough. This is a country that once elected Calvin Coolidge.
Priebus’s comment was so awful, the Clinton people loved it. “People. Reince actually said HRC needed to smile more. This is real,” tweeted Palmieri.
“Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like,” Clinton tweeted, presumably with a big grin.