Maureen Dowd: Trump defies emotional, vain gender myth
White House hopeful’s gossipy, shrewish character traits have been on show for years
Doanld Trump unravelled after the first debate and has continued to do so since. Photograph: Getty Images
Let’s stop being so hard on Donald Trump. He has done us an enormous public service. After this down-and-dirty battle of the sexes, we will never look at gender in politics the same way.
For centuries, women were seen as unfit to hold public office. Ambition, power and business were the province of men. Unlike gossipy feminine chatter in the parlour, manly discourse was considered impersonal, unemotional, forthright and reasonable.
Every minute of every day, Trump debunks that old “science” when he shows that the gossipy, backbiting, scolding, mercurial, overly emotional, shrewish, menopausal one in this race is not the woman. Trump is surrounded by a bitchy sewing circle of overweight men who are overwrought at the prospect of a distaff Clinton presidency.
Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Roger Ailes and Rudy Giuliani are the Really Desperate Housewives of Trumpworld. They are so shrill that Trump sometimes needs to remind them that he’s the Queen Bee. Gingrich defended Trump after Alicia Machado described her humiliation after the mogul dubbed her “Miss Piggy.”
“You’re not supposed to gain 60lbs during the year that you’re Miss Universe,” said the pudgy Gingrich in a hissy fit last week. Giuliani declared Hillary Clinton “too stupid to be president” if she did not immediately know that Monica Lewinsky was telling the truth. And he was in true Mean Girl form when he catcalled the press to “go online and put down ‘Hillary Clinton illness’ ” if you wanted to see alarming videos.
Ailes was supposed to help prep Trump for the first debate, but he was too busy pouting on his fainting couch about losing his job. No one worries that Clinton is not tough enough to be president. We know that she can pull the trigger, but does she know where to aim? A Washington Post story about Clinton’s history of waging aggressive defences against women who claimed that they slept with her husband painted her as stoic and relentless in trying to destroy the women’s stories.
Her longtime Arkansas friend Jim Blair told the paper her response to “bimbo eruptions”, as they were called, was: “These people are not going to run over us.” This, even though in case after case, Bill Clinton would later admit the women were telling the truth.
‘Swallow her doubts’
As former Clinton consigliere George Stephanopoulos wrote in his memoir: “She had to do what she had always done before: swallow her doubts, stand by her man and savage his enemies.”
Usually women candidates have the so-called virtue advantage, but Hillary Clinton does not because of her reputation for being shifty. Although women are often portrayed as the vainer sex, Trump has swept away that cliche. He has forced the Republican Party to contort its historical wary posture toward Russia, simply because he got a compliment from the buff, bare-chested Vladimir Putin. And his hair care is so elaborate and mystifying that it instantly eclipsed the fascination with Clinton’s hair.
Women are known as having more tender feelings, but no one on the planet is more thin-skinned than Trump. His team is tiptoeing around him, trying to figure out how to persuade him that he lost the debate and how to make him work harder for the next one.
Trump’s team wants to prepare him for the second debate with an actual rehearsal – as opposed to coming up with zingers over cheeseburgers and Cokes. They want to toss him questions that will get under his skin, so that next time he doesn’t let his emotions get the better of him and go all PMS [Premenstrual syndrome].
After working with psychologists to figure out how to goad Trump into an outburst in the first debate, the commanding Clinton saved the Machado provocation until the end. Trump unraveled and kept unraveling all week.
It culminated with a bout of hysteria and a series of middle-of-the-night tweets, including a supremely catty one at 5:30am urging people to check out Machado’s sex tape – offering no evidence that one exists – and her past. (Trump wasn’t so offended by sex tapes when he told Howard Stern in 2003 that Melania had shown him Paris Hilton’s sex tape and when he suggested in 2009 that a Miss USA contestant release her sex tape.)
Do you recall when Trump sent out a blizzard of six tweets in 2012 about the breakup of Twilight stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson? One read: “Everyone is asking me to speak more on Robert & Kristen. I don’t have time except to say ‘Robert, drop her, she cheated on you & will again!’”
We should have known then that Trump was really a 13-year-old girl.