This is fucking unbelievable. A top-tier candidate for the US presidency has gone on national television to accuse a perceived political enemy of menstruating. Even for a notorious blowhard entertainer like Donald Trump it’s over the top. Some weaselly apologists have been saying that Trump actually said “out of her–whatever,” even though he very clearly said “wherever,” or that the latter formulation, which he actually used, referred to some other part of Megyn Kelly’s body, probably the nose. These are patently bogus arguments, especially the first, which is contradicted by widely replayed CNN audiovisual recordings. It doesn’t take a very astute student of low-class rhetoric to infer that Trump was not accusing Kelly of having a nosebleed.
There is a powerful, unambiguous difference between punching up and punching down. There is a powerful, unambiguous difference between pointed, vigorously adversarial debate between equals and wanton, deliberately inflammatory verbal cruelty concerning an adversary’s bodily functions. Trump crossed very clearly to the wrong side of both lines Friday night. Whether the men piling on to accuse him of indecency are white knights, manginas, thirsty beta schlubs, and cuckservatives is immaterial. Regardless of their psychosexual success or failure, their suaveness or their clumsiness, in this case they’re absolutely right. Erick Erickson may be a beta dork, but he’s right to assert that Trump’s comments were beyond the pale and to do what he can to marginalize him within the Republican Party. Trump’s comments were outrageous and disreputable. They bordered on immoral. No reasonable person of goodwill would say what he said about Megyn Kelly in public. If they were made in private they would still be inappropriate and indicative of bad character.
That these foul comments have resulted in such widespread and heartfelt antagonism towards Fox News, Erickson, and Red State from Trump supporters speaks to a powerful psychosexual pathology in the modern American psyche. The nine other mostly tall, handsome, wellspoken, confident men sharing the stage with Trump aren’t manly enough for these creeps. They will settle for nothing less than a goofy-looking blowhard with a singularly ridiculous haircut because he refuses to make any concession whatsoever to the generally agreed-upon norms of civil behavior that keep public manners from degenerating into a the verbal equivalent of whack-a-mole street brawls. On the ground in a real society, not television, Trump’s style of rudeness would quickly lead to literal street brawls as well. He traffics in fighting words. People admire him because he gets away with that shit. He gets away with accusing Mexico of being a national den of criminals. He gets away with announcing that he’ll bill the Mexican government for a new border fence. He gets away with hitting below the belt, and hitting a woman at that, by suggesting that a debate moderator’s hostile line of questioning was the result of her having been emotionally destabilized by menstruation.
How the fuck does this garbage pass for manliness? Smacking down the debate moderators and his fellow candidates for the tone and content of their comments was fine. Being assertive, even aggressive, in defending his own record and impugning the records and motives of everyone else on both sides of the stage was fine. Trump injected much-needed intellectual diversity, honesty, and vigor into an American political discourse that has been severely degraded for most of the television age. At long last, he was using his bombast against powerful people who needed to be held accountable. He finagled excessive overages on his allotted speaking time from the moderators, but this is a venial sin indeed in the context of a political culture that has taken to catering to the worst sorts of mealymouthed shitheads. Going head-to-head with Megyn Kelly for what he perceived as her bias against him was tolerable, if a bit excessive. Accusing her of menstrual hysteria was not. Period. (Fuuuck. I’ll try to keep the puns in line. Maybe.) This is the sort of comment that a man might easily be punched out for uttering in a bar, and for some good reason. These are fighting words, and anyone with the half of the brain Dr. Carson didn’t remove knows it.
Trump has stooped to the level of lowest-common-denominator male bonding shtick. There are dipshits who make prejudiced comments about the inability of women to control themselves during PMS and menstruation. There are also dipshits who provoke bar fights for the lulz. The existence of such people doesn’t mean that one of them is fit to hold political office. They’re disgraceful. We’ve had enough disgraceful politicians already. We don’t need one who makes Bill Clinton look like he has the manners of Fred Rogers.
People fall for this shit, apparently. It’s scary. Maybe we really are that deranged as a polity. Look at it this way: many women suffer from menstrual and premenstrual difficulties, but most women are able to cope adequately with these difficulties and function normally enough. Only a lunatic or a bigot would accuse a woman as on-point as Megyn Kelly of being emotionally debilitated by her period, and Trump is no lunatic. He’s as lucid as they come. I don’t think I’ve yet seen the segment of the debate in which Kelly notoriously lost her cool (I’ve only seen the second half and a bit so far, and hope to watch the rest), but it’s understandable that a moderator would become visibly peeved and short-tempered in the midst of a high-stress live television debate that is being hogged by one of the most notorious showboating blowhards on earth. Maybe the debate moderators had it in for Trump; I’m open to the idea, although I thought they did all right and certainly didn’t come close to humiliating or discrediting him, regardless of their intentions. It was only the following night that Trump came into discredit, and he brought it on himself.
That’s how Donald Trump treats a nationally syndicated television anchor. All these wannabe alphas with a chip on the shoulder expect this turd-hurling bully to treat them well because he claims to be on their side.
Delusion springs eternal.