At the very end of a news conference commemorating his absurdly dominant Tuesday night performance, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of playing “the women’s card” and said, “If [she] were a man, I don’t think she’d get five percent of the vote.”I don't think this is Trump simply refusing to adjust his tone even though he knows he has to make changes as a general-election candidate. I think he thinks he is making changes -- but in target rather than in tone. If I'm right, his idea of a "pivot to the general" involves a ratcheting up of sexism, directed particularly at Clinton. I think his belief is that establishment types are wrong to think this won't work -- after all, they're the ones who said he couldn't get away with describing Mexican immigrants as rapists or calling for a ban on Muslims. Trump, I suspect, thinks talk like this is taboo only because of "political correctness," not because it actually is politically counterproductive.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe [today], Trump was asked about Clinton’s comment during her own Tuesday night victory speech that “if fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!”
Trump responded by trotting out the sexist “shouting” trope that is often deployed against Clinton.
“I haven’t quite recovered, it’s early in the morning, from her shouting that message,” Trump said. “And I know a lot of people would say you can’t say that about a woman because, of course, a woman doesn’t shout, but the way she shouted that message was not -- ooh. I just, that’s the way she said it.”
On ABC’s Good Morning America, Trump recycled another sexist line from his Tuesday night speech -- that if Clinton were a man, she wouldn’t be doing as well as she is.
“It’s not sexist, it’s true,” he said. “It’s a very, very true statement. If she were a man, she’d get five percent.”
Finally, on CNN’s New Day, Trump offered up this doozy -- “When I came out, I was competing against 17 very capable people… and a woman.”
“I haven’t even started on [Clinton] yet," Trump told Jimmy Fallon back in January. In March, he said the same thing on Fox & Friends: "I haven't started on Hillary yet. That will be interesting." Last week on Fox & Friends, Trump's son Eric said of his father and Clinton, "He’s going to go after her in a way that no one has gone after her before.”
Trump thinks the vast majority of us hate Hillary Clinton, and hate her in a sexist way -- we just won't say in public that we think she's a hag and a shrew and has an annoying laugh and a shouty voice, at least until he breaks the taboo and says it all for us. (Also: Benghazi! Monica! Emails!) I don't know at what point he's going to realize that "political incorrectness" works best in all-Republican environments. I hope that doesn't dawn on him until the night of November 8, 2016.