They Must Be So Pleased

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Veterans Memorial Building, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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So yesterday Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton going to the bathroom is “disgusting” and that she was knocked out of the 2008 primary race by an over-sized penis.

For my money, the comment about Hillary going to the bathroom is more offensive than “schlonged.” But obviously there’s plenty to choose from. Regardless, I’m sure the GOP operatives charged with winning the general in 2016 are just amazingly happy about this.

This article in the Post notes that there is a method to Trump’s madness with these kinds of lines, calling this a “clever trick.” And that’s right as far as it goes. As I’ve argued, there is a genuine brilliance. But the article doesn’t note clearly enough that this is ‘clever’ if you are trying to build support with a relative small portion of the electorate that is extremely conservative, very angry and inclined to see as shameful and “disgusting” a woman doing something all of us do every day. Most people simply do not think this way. Indeed, there are probably quite a few people who think it’s overreacting to get too bent out of shape that Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe her 2008 loss. But saying it’s “disgusting” that a woman uses the restroom?

All of this stuff, whatever political or gender analysis gloss you put on it, is simply toxic if you’re trying to win a national election, particularly if you’re trying to win in states that aren’t very, very conservative. And to be clear, I’m not saying all conservatives support this kind of behavior – only that you need strong ideological commitment to counter distaste for it.

We should also note that if this turns into a Trump/Cruz race, that is simply a disaster for the GOP. It’s not just bad for their White House chances, but it’s also a real danger sign in numerous Senate elections around the country. I’m not sure Cruz has the staying power to hold on as a close second, let alone go ahead of Trump. But I don’t doubt that he may be able to. Indeed, unless Marco Rubio starts to make a move in the next six weeks or so, Republicans will need to make a decision about which candidate is more palatable: Trump or Ted Cruz.

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