If last Thursday’s Republican debate was a trap, intended to lure Donald Trump into finally bringing his embarrassing campaign to an end, then Megyn Kelly was the perfect bait. Blonde, pretty, and impertinent: The only way she could have pushed Trump’s buttons harder is if she’d asked him a question about alimony. She pressed him on his history of misogynist comments, no doubt knowing that the best way to send a sexist twit into a tantrum is to point out that he is a sexist twit.
Trump’s predictable meltdown, in which he claimed that Kelly asked him tough questions because she had “blood coming out of her wherever,” was both spectacular and tedious—really, a “she’s on the rag” joke was all he could come up with? Trump claims that his comment is being misrepresented—and was intended as some kind of convoluted boxing metaphor—although his pushback on Twitter this morning muddies the issue further.
But it doesn’t matter! Whatever Donald Trump meant by the comment, the opportunity is ripe for various Republicans to strike offended poses about the evils of misogyny.
Those poses have been awkward, to say the least. Take, for instance, Scott Walker, who tweeted on Saturday that “there’s no excuse for Trump’s comments.” Walker also explained during Thursday’s debate that women should be denied abortions even at the risk of the woman losing her life. Trump has a nasty mouth, but hey, at least he doesn’t think pregnancy should carry a potential death sentence.
Or take Jeb Bush, who fumed, “Give me a break. Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters? What Donald Trump said is wrong.” Bush arguably insulted 53 percent of all voters when, as Florida governor, he muscled in on two cases to prevent a mentally disabled rape victim and a 13-year-old ward of the state from obtaining abortions, because one of the tenets of a “culture of life” is that children and the disabled be forced to give birth after being raped. But no period jokes!
Perhaps the most hilariously hypocritical posturing came to us courtesy of RedState founder and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, whose newfound anger over the existence of misogyny is so transparent that birds are flying into it. Erickson disinvited Trump to the annual RedState conference because “there are even lines blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross.” But as Max Fisher at Vox pointed out, Erickson’s Twitter history shows that he loves crossing that line, especially to express anger at women he perceives as defiant. Erickson frequently derides feminists as “dateless,” “too ugly to get a date,” and, on one occasion, in need of a shave.
The sad news for Republicans, however, is that Trump’s antics don’t seem to be hurting him in preliminary post-debate polls. Is that really so surprising? For the past few weeks, Republican politicians have been crawling over each other to declare that abortions—and by implication, the nearly 1 in 3 women who will get abortions in their lifetimes—are “disgusting” and “gruesome.” If you determine a woman’s character on the basis of the bloody stuff that comes out of her uterus, you can’t be surprised when your followers run with that logic.