Nasty Women

Trump also called Clinton “such a nasty woman” during an exchange about taxes.

How Trump threatened Clinton, women and Democracy.

In the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there were many singular moments. Trump, who launched his campaign for president by calling all Mexicans rapists and murderers, at this final debate called them “bad hombres,” in a stunningly blatant racial slur that is equivalent, as one Latina journalist at ABC said, to calling black men “boys.” It spawned a #BadHombres hashtag just as at the VP debate, Gov. Mike Pence spawned #ThatMexicanThing.

Trump also called Clinton “such a nasty woman” during an exchange about taxes. Several hashtags erupted out of that comment as women all over Twitter declared themselves #NastyWomen and #NastyWomenUnitedForClinton.

Yet the biggest headline out of this debate is the one that left me and many other journalists stunned: Trump refused to accept a fundamental premise of democracy, the smooth transition of power from one candidate to another.

There are some fundamentals of American democracy that we simply cannot contravene.

This is one. In 240 years of American government – even after four presidential assassinations – there has never been martial law, never been a call to violent overthrow of the state, never been sedition. We fought a Civil War 150 years ago to preserve the Union.

Yet at the debate, when asked if he would accept the results of the election were he not to win, Trump said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”


We don’t hold democracy hostage in America.

At a rally the day after the debate, Trump said he would accept the results of the election “If I win.”

This man who has no qualifications whatsoever to be president of the United States, this man who has already embarrassed the country when he hasn’t outright terrified foreign leaders, this man who has told America’s NATO allies to pay up or get out, this man who is cozy with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, this man who has called for a foreign government – Russia – to hack American cyber systems, this man who has called three times for the assassination of his opponent, this man now says he’s going to keep us in suspense about whether or not he will follow the basic tenets of our nation after the election unless he wins.

It’s unprecedented.

The day before the debate, President Obama had told Trump to “stop whining,” because Trump has been asserting that the media, which has given him hundreds of hours of free air time, is “rigged” against him and the “system” which has only allowed men to be elected president over 240 years, is itself “rigged” in favor of the only woman in U.S. history to be the nominee of a major party.

The day after the debate, at a rally in support of Hillary Clinton, Obama was declarative, saying about Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the election, “That is not a joking matter. No, no, no. I want everyone to pay attention here. That is dangerous. When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy.”

Obama said, “Then you are doing the work of our adversaries for them. Because our democracy depends on people knowing their vote matters.”

Obama knows what it is to have Trump delegitimize his own presidency: Trump orchestrated and promoted birtherism – the conspiracy that Obama was born in Kenya, not America and thus couldn’t be president due to the citizen clause in the Constitution.

Trump pressured Obama for so long – and so publically – that Obama released his long-form birth certificate. That was in 2011. Trump continued to pursue birtherism until September 2016 when he just dismissed it as over.

Those five long years of Trump pushing the conspiracy of birtherism had their impact: Michelle Obama said last month it had done damage to her family and hurt her husband.

Birtherism is still believed by nearly half of all Republicans.

Trump is now attempting to de-legitimize Clinton’s ever-more-likely presidency with a different conspiracy theory – all of which devolves from her being female. Trump said at the debate, “She should never have been allowed to run for president.”

There have been many things Trump has said over the past 18 months that have veered scarily into the realm of totalitarianism. At the last debate he said he would jail Clinton after he was president. At his rallies he leads chants of “lock her up.”

At this final debate he referred again to Clinton’s “many, many crimes,” yet not only has she never been charged with even running a stop sign, but she’s been through exhaustive investigations which more and more appear to be related specifically to her being female.

How else to explain how former President George W. Bush “lost” 22 million emails and both his secretaries of state used private email servers and one, Gen. Colin Powell, advised Clinton to do the same, yet none of these people were investigated? The worst non-wartime attack on American soil happened under Bush’s presidency yet he was interrogated by Congress for one hour. Clinton was interrogated for 11 and a half over Benghazi.

Women journalists covering this election are considered suspect when we raise the specter of misogyny, yet it has stalked this election cycle as blatantly as Trump stalked Clinton on stage during the second debate. How else to explain so much of what Trump and his campaign say about Clinton? In the second debate Trump actually called Clinton “the Devil.” Last week Obama joked about the comments, but the mere fact he raised it meant he felt it needed to be addressed.

Trump’s “such a nasty woman” comment was extreme, but his tirade about how Clinton should not be allowed to be president was far worse, even though it didn’t get media coverage, over-ridden as it was by his comments about the election.

Except both these statements, in tandem with Trump’s weeks’ long rants about how the election has been “rigged” by Clinton are the new birtherism.

“I’ll tell you one other thing: she shouldn’t be allowed to run,” Trump said at the debate with no interjection from Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace. “She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect, I say it’s rigged, because she should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails and so many other things.”

Except Clinton has not been found guilty of any crime and never has been. With regard to her use of a private email server, the exhaustive FBI investigation was resolved. FBI Director James Comey recommended against any criminal charges. Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” could “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges.”

Trump implies otherwise and his inferences are damaging.

Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, did not contradict Trump nor did he question him about what these alleged serious crimes were – a significant lapse which may have had to do with Wallace’s Fox affiliation.

When the debate ended, Trump’s refusal to accept the election results was the main topic of conversation among the punditry. Yet that post-debate debate excluded the focus: Hillary Clinton, first woman nominee for president, being de-legitimized before she ever takes office.

Trump’s disrespect for women is legendary, despite his saying at the debate that “No one respects women more than I do. No one.” The audience laughed so loudly, they were admonished by Wallace.

Trump’s assaults on women–literal as well as linguistic–are a matter of record. He’s been calling women names for decades. And Trump’s response to recent sexual assault claims against him has been to assert the women making the accusations aren’t attractive enough for him to have sexually assaulted them.

“Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” he said of one. Of another, “You understand me for a lot of years, O.K.? When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don’t think so. I don’t think so.” He previously referred to Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, as an “eating machine” and “Miss Piggy.” 

Clinton raised these issues again at the debate and Trump dismissed her, saying “wrong” and “I never said that,” in response.

But there’s videotape of Trump saying all these things, which was rolled out immediately after the debate by fact-checkers for various networks.

Since the news of the alleged sexual assault victims hit, Trump has dropped in the polls. Clinton now has a seemingly insurmountable lead less than three weeks out from the election.

Last week a Washington Post/ABC News poll asked whether Trump “probably has or has not made unwanted sexual advances toward women.” Of the registered voters asked, 68 percent said he had. A mere 14 percent thought he had not. Yet within that margin, 43 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Trump.

Apparently, supporting Trump means many of his supporters accept he could have sexually assaulted women. And don’t care.

This disconnect is linked to Trump’s relentless drumbeat that women are evil which resonates with his majority male supporters and with the women who support him who are mostly not college educated and who Trump has convinced Clinton holds in contempt. It’s medieval stuff, this level of misogyny: Clinton is “the Devil,” “a witch” (during the primary Sanders held “Bern the witch” events). She’s “crooked” and “rotten.” T-shirts abound at his rallies that read “Trump that Bitch” and “She’s a cunt, vote for Trump” and “Hillary for Prison 2016” with Clinton’s own campaign logo.

So when Clinton left the stage after the debate, smiling and confident in her white suit in honor of the suffragists she never ceases to revere, she was triumphant. She had trumped Trump – bested him on the facts of foreign and domestic policy. Stood strong for women’s rights and reproductive rights. Enumerated her long and impressive resume when Trump asked what she’d been doing for 30 years as a public servant – trying once again to de-legitimize her achievements.

Clinton: He raised the 30 years of experience, so let me just talk briefly about that. You know, back in the 1970s, I worked for the children’s defense fund and I was taking on discrimination against African-American kids in schools. He was getting sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his apartment buildings.

In the 1980s, I was working to reform the schools in Arkansas. He was borrowing $14 million from his father to start his businesses. In the 1990s, I went to Beijing and I said women’s rights are human rights. He insulted a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, and called her an eating machine.

Trump: Give me a break.

Clinton: And on the day when I was in the situation room monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting The Celebrity Apprentice. So I’m happy to compare my 30 years of experience, what I’ve done for this country, trying to help in every way I could, especially kids and families, get ahead and stay ahead, with your thirty years and I’ll let the American people make that decision.

Trump: Well I think I did a much better job.

Trump has done a better job – of daily attempting to undermine his opponent while she has propelled herself forward with policy and purpose. But all the pundits lamenting his refusal to play by the rules of accepting the election results? Those same pundits have participated in both his rise and in the de-legitimizing of Clinton.

If – when – Clinton is elected America’s first woman president, she will be tasked with healing a nation divided by Trump and his rhetoric. The question is, will the same people collectively horrified by Trump’s refusal to play fair finally give her a fair shake? Or will she be forever shackled by what Trump has sown? The idea that she “doesn’t look presidential” or shouldn’t have had the “right” to run for president is as blatant as saying the black president must have been born in Africa, not America.

Every American president has been male. There is no precedent for what a powerful woman looks like in American politics. The same pundits so appalled by Trump not playing by the rules established centuries ago by white men are the same pundits who have held Clinton to a different, higher, harder standard.

Many of these pundits say Clinton would be flailing against a “real” candidate – forgetting that those “real” GOP candidates couldn’t beat Trump and she’s the only one in America who has taken him on and beaten him every time.

Trump is furious he’s been bested by a woman. But so, it seems, are many of the pundit class. Her strongest supporters are people of color – led by President and Mrs. Obama who have been her staunchest, most vocal allies and supporters.

Why is this Clinton’s base? Because people of color (and women and LGBT) have been de-legitimized throughout American history by the same lies Trump promotes against Clinton. We know as we watch the spoiled, whining, bratty entitlement of Trump, that the system has indeed been rigged for generations – against us, not for us. Clinton has made herself our champion and Trump thinks he can call her a cheater and it will be enough. 

We know who the cheater is. We know who the system is rigged for.

It is not Clinton.