Donald Trump took something of a beating at last week’s debate, there’s little doubt about that, but he’s still riding high in the polls. In spite of that, the post-debate narrative has centered on Carly Fiorina’s “success” on the GOP debate stage (the lowest bar imaginable), and her response to Trump’s crack about her appearance. That moment has propelled Trump’s latest attempt to regain control of the narrative by reigniting his feud with Fox News, this time over a comment that National Review editor Rich Lowry made on Megyn Kelly’s show Wednesday night.
Liberals probably know Lowry best for his super-uncomfortable impression of a Cialis commercial during the 2008 vice-presidential debate, but instead of euphemistically describing his own boner, this time Lowry delivered a graphic description of another man’s wedding tackle activity. Specifically, he told a Kelly File panel that Carly Fiorina had “cut (Trump’s) balls off with the precision of a surgeon.”
Now, everyone’s having fun laughing at Trump and his reaction to the remark, and while they’re at it, not bothering to point out the toxic sexism of Lowry’s remark. Not that Carly Fiorina would mind, since she poses herself as some kind of empowered anti-feminist, but attributing the power of castration to an influential woman is not a compliment. It’s a stereotypical, misogynistic expression of fear and hostility toward women. Lowry obviously meant it as a compliment, unlike, say, the creators of the Hillary Clinton Nutcracker, but in “complimenting” Fiorina, he demeaned all powerful, assertive women.
What’s arguably more disgusting than Lowry’s remark is the fact that in their haste to pile on the reprehensible Trump, no one is bothering to call out Lowry’s misogyny. In fact, on Wednesday night’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, the dudes on the panel threw in their own sexist garbage. Everyone was laughing it up when Republican strategist Rick Wilson compared Trump and Fox News to “tween girls,” which prompted a joking rebuke from the lone woman on the panel, Voto Latino‘s Maria Teresa Kumar. Later in the segment, Kumar actually had to good-naturedly tell the guys to lay of the women when Vox‘s Jonathan Allen compared Trump to a contestant on The Bachelorette:
Wilson: “I’ve got to give props to my friend Rich Lowry. I thought I set a pretty high bar by calling Trump an epic douchecanoe. I have to step my game now…”
“…I think we’ve reached a point now where the shenanigans and the name calls and the temper tantrums, like a ‘tween girl –“
Kumar: “That’s not fair to tween girls.”
…Martin: “This guy has the thinnest skin I’ve ever seen on a politician. I’m not sure how he’s expecting to win the presidency. He’s like one of these Bachelorette candidates…
Kumar: “Why does it have to be the women being thin skinned? Come on, guys.”
Martin: “Or The Bachelor, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to be sexist. It’s getting, as Fox said, a little tiresome.”
I’d be the last person to argue that Donald Trump is not a pig, but that doesn’t mean we should cheer on some other pig just because he’s attacking the first pig. More to the point, though, it’s very revealing to see how easily men slip into offhand sexism when they think they’re attacking a “safe” target.