Back in August, which seems like eons ago, Politico senior media analyst Jack Shafer had a column about Donald Trump that was both funny and on-point.
Trump, Shafer opined in the first line of the piece (titled “Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader”), “isn’t a simpleton, he just talks like one.”
Regardless of your views of Trump as a political candidate, there is no denying the simplicity of his spoken language. This may seem at first blush like a political liability, but Trump, if elected, would not be the first president lacking in oratorical polish. The same was true of Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama — to the degree he is actually the silver-tongue orator fans early on made him out to be — has demonstrated that command of the language is far less important than command of respect from the American public.
All of this is a roundabout way of saying that Trump of late has been searching for the appropriate word, which may or may not be on the tip of his tongue. That word is womanizer. And the womanizer who is much on Trump’s mind is the husband of the Democratic front-runner.
The day after Christmas, Trump tweeted this:
Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE'S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2015
Last Sunday, Trump was a guest on “Fox and Friends,” where he further developed his argument that Bill Clinton was a “liability” when Hillary ran against President Obama in 2008, and that this election cycle will be no different:
His presidency was really considered to be very troubled, to put it mildly, because of all of the things she’s talking … about. She’s actually mentioning sexism.
Katrina Pierson, a spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign, has also been hammering home the fact of Bubba’s insatiable appetite for sex during his presidency with women whose first name was not Hillary. On CNN Pierson executed a bank shot that hit both Clintons with a single stroke:
Hillary Clinton has some nerve to talk about the war on women and the bigotry towards woman when she has a serious problem in her husband. I can think of quite a few women that have been bullied by Hillary Clinton to hide her husband’s misogynist sexist secrets. So we can actually go there.
The big question, however, is not what Trump and his handlers think but what the voters will think. Will they find the Clintons’ hypocrisy a greater sin than Trump’s crass manner? So far the punditocracy is split on this.
The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, a liberal, has choice words for both Trump and Bill Clinton, though she finds the former president to be the more flagrant offender:
Trump has smeared women because of their looks. Clinton has preyed on them, and in a workplace setting where he was by far the superior. That is uncomfortable for Clinton supporters but it is unavoidably true.
Another female columnist who leans left, Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe, cautions her fellow Dems to be careful what they wish for. Like Marcus, she begins her column by venting her spleen on Trump:
Donald Trump may seem like the ideal Republican to run against. As a presidential candidate, much of what he says is crude, ill-informed, or deceptive — and often racist and sexist. In a general election campaign, his remarks would be offensive not only to women, Muslims, and assorted minority voters, but to anyone who puts thoughtful debate ahead of juvenile name-calling.
Then comes the warning:
Yet some Trump declarations do ring true. For example: As Trump suggests, Hillary Clinton does have a Bill Clinton problem.
[T]here is always the dark side of Bill Clinton’s years in office — his affair with Monica Lewinsky and the accusations of sexual assault and harassment that trailed him over the past quarter-century. Whenever Hillary Clinton criticizes Republicans for an ideological “war on women,” critics point to Bill Clinton’s even more personal “war on women.”
But then there is the masculine, almost pugilistic-sounding headline of an article out yesterday by Brent Budowsky, of The Hill: “Bill Clinton will crush Donald Trump — with a smile.” Budowsky, also a liberal, writes:
When I was growing up in New York, I wanted to be a professional boxer, but was smart enough to know that if I entered the ring with Muhammad Ali — then heavyweight champion of the world — they’d have to bring out the smelling salts within seconds and the ambulance would soon arrive to cart me away on a stretcher!
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump should consider such thoughts as he ponders his plan to go mano a mano against Bill Clinton, the most popular living former president and the heavyweight champion of American politics today…. Bill Clinton is the heavyweight champion of American politics because his presidency is fondly remembered as a time when the nation was blessed with rising prosperity and tens of millions of new jobs and a widespread optimism that America was on the right track and tomorrow would be better than today.
While Clinton was promoting the policies that created the prosperity that lifted the national economy — with current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by his side as his first lady and closest confidant — Trump heaped lavish praise on the highly successful president and the policies he advanced.
The part about Hillary being the president’s “closest confidant” may have the paradoxical effect of reminding voters that her signature achievement as first lady, Hillarycare, was — in the words of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber — “to the left of Obamacare.”
As for the current “love triangle,” the “Battle of the Sexists” will be interesting to watch as it plays out.