In “Donald Trump’s Lack of Discipline and Discernment” Mr. Blow says according to his own words, he objectifies women, prioritizes fighting and fetishizes adoration. Ms. Collins, in “The Dark Days of Donald Trump,” tells us how the half-minute candidate takes care of business. Here’s Mr. Blow:
Yes, we’re still talking about sex. Sigh.
On Tuesday night, during a fiery — and quite frankly, bizarre —interview on Fox News, the Trump supporter, walking contradiction and inflated ego Newt Gingrich yelled at the host, Megyn Kelly, about Trump’s own statements about sexually assaulting women and multiple women’s accusations that he had assaulted them.
When Kelly began a question with the phrase, “If Trump is a sexual predator…,” Newt went nuts, said Trump “is not a sexual predator,” chastised her for “using language that’s inflammatory” and claimed she was “fascinated with sex.”
This was an obscene spectacle, and not only because Gingrich has confessed to cheating on his wife at the same time that he was leading impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice related to having an affair. It was also obscene because of the continued tone deafness and abject ignorance within the Trump campaign and among its allies about the canyon of difference between sex and assault.
Sex, in all its range of expressions, including kissing and intimate touching, is consensual. Any forcible touching of another person’s body is sexual assault.
One should always be wary of people who don’t intuitively recognize that difference.
But this would have been a blip, a curiosity, merely an act in the media circus, if it had simply remained a squabble between television personalities. But, of course, it didn’t. On Wednesday, Donald Trump couldn’t help weighing in, once again turning attention away from issues that could strengthen his struggling campaign and back to his monthslong quarrel with Kelly and his history of issues with women.
At the grand opening of his new Washington, D.C., hotel, Trump complimented Gingrich for his finger-waving tantrum, saying:
“By the way — congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview … we don’t play games, Newt, right? We don’t play games.”
With that statement, Trump elevated and endorsed Gingrich’s behavior and reignited the debate about Trump and his campaign’s dismissal of the very idea of sexual assault. With that statement, every woman and every parent of a daughter and sibling of a sister is forced to bring Trump’s braggadocio about kissing and groping women back to the fore. With that statement, everyone is forced to consider the vindictive side of the man who has — to put it mildly — a spotty track record with women.
Trump, according to his own words, objectifies women, prioritizes fighting and “winning,” and fetishizes adoration.
We’re putting aside for a moment weighty issues like his severely challenged grasp of foreign policy, his reckless comments about nuclear weapons, his blockheaded comments about abortion, his xenophobic comments about Muslims, his ethno-bigoted comments about Mexicans and his condescending comments about the plight of black people in the “inner city.”
Let’s instead focus for the purposes of this discussion on character, or the lack thereof. Let’s focus on what we know about this man from the words that have come out of his own mouth. Let’s focus on the clarity of his darkness, his illusory deceptions, his insatiable avarice and his colossal conceit.
When you view the man with clear eyes, he shrinks and withers.
What is left when the facade is removed is a shallow narcissist who is also a misogynist, bigot, nativist and xenophobe. That keeps coming up, but that’s the root of the thing. We can never tire of saying that because it is in fatigue that hatred and intolerance gain a foothold that can quickly morph into a stranglehold.
Vigilance is not optional; it’s obligatory.
Just this week, The New York Times reported on tapes of Trump recorded by the biographer Michael D’Antonio. To hear the accompanying podcast in which portions of the recordings are played, along with a discussion with D’Antonio, is to descend into the mind of an egomaniacal fame addict who is painfully un-self-aware even as he boasts of his own personal achievements.
In part one of the podcast, D’Antonio makes this startling assertion:
“I think he doesn’t want to be understood because that would make him vulnerable, but I also think that he doesn’t even know himself well enough to share what he considers to be genuine. His genuine reality is the most superficial one that you can imagine.”
But, in part two of the podcast, D’Antonio delivers a devastating assessment of the man he interviewed, recorded and captured in biography:
“Donald Trump is a bottomless pit of need, and the presidency was the only object big enough that he could imagine seizing to fill up that hole.”
Mr. D’Antonio continued: “It’s not going to be enough, were he to win.”
Yes, this is one man’s assessment, but it feels to me like an astute one, and a fundamentally frightening one.
And this brings us back to his inability to resist patting Gingrich on the back for his verbal tirade against Kelly. Trump lacks not only self-awareness, but also self-control. He could have let that television exchange pass without comment, and he should have, but he didn’t.
Everything in him is so caught up with the idea of who he’s fighting with that he doesn’t seem to have a principled grasp on what he is fighting for. That’s not someone who should be a great nation’s president; that’s someone who would benefit from being a great therapist’s patient.
And now here’s Ms. Collins:
Do you think Donald Trump has given up?
It was a little strange to see him campaigning Wednesday in that critical swing state of … Washington, D.C.
“He’s coming to open a hotel that’s under budget and ahead of schedule,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, insisting it was all a part of the presidential sales pitch.
Blitzer noted mildly that the hotel has actually been open for some time.
“This is the grand official opening,” Conway insisted.
Aren’t you beginning to feel a little sympathy for Kellyanne Conway? Until recently she was just that terrible Trump talking head, but now she seems like a woman laboring valiantly under an impossible burden.
“Saturday Night Live” recently did a parody of her day off, in which Kellyanne eagerly tried to do yoga or cook dinner, but kept getting dragged back to CNN to recalibrate some new awful tweet from her candidate. (“Of course Mr. Trump thinks that Mexicans can read, and actually what he wants them to read the most is Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”)
Conway herself once admitted that the campaign was behind, but then had to spend days trying to pedal back from the obvious. In — yes! — another CNN interview, she said that she had reprimanded Trump for sounding as if he thought they were going to lose. And that Trump responded: “O.K., honey, then we’ll win.” That was probably her best moment of the day, and it was an “O.K., honey.”
Trump is doing more last-lap rallies than Clinton. He definitely wins the stamina competition, as long as the task at hand does not involve having to listen to anyone else, or concentrate for more than about 30 seconds.
Still, his schedule does seem to have more and more to do with the businesses he’d have to resuscitate as a private citizen after Nov. 8. On Tuesday, he dragged reporters off to admire one of his golf courses in Florida and listen to the workers tell their boss how much they loved him.
“All of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare,” Trump ad-libbed.
Well, Obamacare was the issue of the day. Except the workers in question had employer-covered health plans. Whoops. Somebody must have violated the 30-second rule on the flight in.
It’s still possible to get a drooping candidate exercised, as long as you stick to the personal. Witness Joe Biden’s recent comment that he’d like to take Trump “behind the gym if I were in high school.”
“Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn?” Trump demanded, starting off with his signature inability to get any fact right, including the proposed location of the fight. “Me! He wants it, I’d love that! I’d love that! Mr. Tough Guy. You know, he’s Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy? When he’s standing behind a microphone by himself!”
O.K., not the man you want negotiating an arms reduction treaty.
Do you think Clinton thinks she’s a shoo-in? Publicly, she’s not talking that way. And there’s no reason to get overconfident. Florida seems to be tightening. There’s no telling what might happen, given the fact that we live in a country where Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president.
But you’d definitely rather be the campaign with Barack and Michelle Obama rallying the troops than the one that has to rely on Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. The men who give a whole new frightening image of the Three Amigos.
Of the trio, Newt is clearly the winner. Having come into the campaign as political wreckage, he’s the only one who doesn’t cause people to shake their heads and say, “My God, what happened to him?”
This week Newt was in the news once again when he got into a vigorous tussle with Megyn Kelly on Fox, about whether the media was devoting too much time to the Trump groping issue. Gingrich accused Kelly of being “fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.”
At the end Kelly suggested Gingrich “take your anger issues and spend some time working on them.” And the whole world cheered.
However, Newt did have a point. Speaking on behalf of the nation as a whole, I would say that yes, we are sort of fascinated with sex. Normally at this point in a presidential campaign we would also be spending a lot of time on policy. However, when one of the candidates has that 30-second problem, it’s hard to figure out what his side of the argument is.
The only issue we can really grapple with is whether a President Donald Trump might get peeved one day and drop a nuke on one of our trading partners.
If you have to ask the question, you’ve already got the answer.
On Wednesday, Trump congratulated Gingrich on his “amazing” performance. This was during the new, official ribbon-cutting at his D.C. hotel. Which he was doing not to prop up his flagging brand, but just to remind people that he will run the country like his businesses. With lots of tax deductions and Chinese steel.