After a relatively smooth opening act, Donald Trump unraveled toward the end of Wednesday night’s debate. He’d been swallowing his cattiest insults for an hour when he finally let one loose.
“Such a nasty woman,” he said, almost under his breath, while Hillary Clinton was in the middle a dry explanation of Social Security contributions. She’d insinuated that Trump could find a loophole to get out of that tax. He was displeased.
So he called her a “nasty woman,” a phrase whose undeniable sexual undertones made Trump’s remark sound sleazy and out of place on a debate stage.
It was a fitting coda for a Trump performance that blamed Clinton for just about everything that’s gone wrong in his life and campaign. He said she caused violence at his rallies and made women accuse him of sexual assault. When she criticized him for not paying taxes, he said Clinton “should have changed the law” when she was a senator if she had a problem with it. To back up his argument, he noted that John Podesta said she had “terrible instincts” in an alleged leaked email.
This is a picture-perfect cross-section of Trump’s misogynist worldview, where his sense of entitlement meets his disdain for women. Trump sounds like a petulant toddler who’s convinced his mother is responsible for his every discomfort and sadness. He projects his insecurities onto women, and if anything in his universe falls askew, women make easy vessels for his blame.
They’re always doing things to make him mad: getting fat, rejecting his advances, accusing him of assaulting them, asking him tough debate questions, running against him for president. They single-handedly make the tax laws, then criticize him for not paying any. He’s the victim here! In Trump’s mind, women are conniving manipulators, at once incompetent and all-powerful. That’s why, as Trump once said, he likes to “treat ‘em like shit.” Exerting whatever control he can muster over them—insults, public attacks, forced physical contact—makes him feel better about himself. Women are nasty; he’s just being nasty back.