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“First They Must Take A Stand”: Who Can Save The GOP From Trump? Women

Donald Trump is the kind of man women are taught to avoid.

He’s arrogant. He blusters about physical violence. Listening is not really his thing, because his mouth is usually running full steam. And, worst of all, he has a special loathing for women who are intelligent, accomplished and not deferential to him. When challenged on this, he veers to smarmy protestations that he loves women.

These are the attributes of a toxic male acquaintance, boss or leader (not to mention husband or boyfriend).

This is not to knock his current wife, Melania Trump. She is everything that Trump wants women to be: unquestioningly devoted, strikingly gorgeous and willing to have sex with him.

Unfortunately for Trump, women who do not share this profile comprise virtually the entire female electorate. And that, in turn, is a problem for the Republican Party. Women are 53 percent of all voters, and Trump has a 73 percent negative rating among those who are registered.

Two questions present themselves: How much damage is the GOP willing to let Trump do to the party’s image with women? And what can it do to stand up to him on this issue?

This week, there was a sign that Trump has reached the limit of tolerance within his party. A recent convert to the pro-life point of view, Trump made a gaffe that embarrassed the entire movement when he busted out the idea that women who have an abortion should be punished if the procedure is ever outlawed.

No, no, no, Donald. One doesn’t say such things in public. Uncharacteristically, he retracted his remarks. Even he sensed it was a blunder on the order of the musings on rape and pregnancy that sank Republican frontrunners in two 2012 Senate races.

Add that screed to The Donald’s on-going attacks on Megyn Kelly, the putdowns of Carly Fiorina and so many other women who have dared to displease him, and it is easy to imagine a cumulative effect that spells crushing defeat in the general election if he is the nominee.

So far, the men of the GOP have been subdued in their response. Note the vile scuffle between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz over their wives. It wasn’t until Heidi Cruz was personally attacked that her husband reacted strongly and defended her, as he should.

One would imagine that at some point a cohort of leading Republican women would take a principled stand, calling out Trump for betraying the party’s supposed commitment to gender equality. But, alas, they’ve been eerily silent, apparently too fearful of crossing their party’s likely nominee.

Some, like Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, are in re-election campaigns and may fear losing support from Trump voters. (Comstock at least had the good sense to re-gift a $3,000 Trump donation to her campaign, buying a little bit of distance from him.) What a lost opportunity to stand up to sexism!

The Democrats will not waste the opportunity.

Recall the politically charged Senate judiciary hearings in 1991 to consider the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was controversial from the start, owing to Thomas’ positions on a range of issues. But when testimony was reopened — and televised — after disclosure of Thomas’ alleged history of sexual harassment, things exploded.

The hearings turned to belittling questions and overt displays of sexism by the panel of male senators, as they grilled Anita Hill, Thomas’ accuser, about her allegations.

Women were outraged by what they witnessed. As a direct result, they became politically motivated to increase their numbers in the Senate. The following year, four women — all Democrats — were elected to the Senate, tripling female representation in the chamber.

Women in Congress remain overwhelmingly Democrats. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, the U.S. Congress is about 19 percent female. Of the 104 women, 76 are Democrats and only 28 are Republicans. Moreover, the women in Congress who have been given plum committee posts tend to be Democrats. In the U.S. Senate, there are only six Republican women, compared to 14 Democrats.

And although Republican women tend to fare well in state politics, their more moderate voices haven’t been able to make it through the increasingly conservative primary process to reach national office.

There couldn’t be a better time for women to demand a greater role — and be the voice of reason — in the GOP. They have a compelling pretext to halt a candidate who almost certainly will damage their party. And even if they cannot derail him on his path to the nomination, they may be able to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the election.

But first they must take a stand.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, April 1, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Women | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Suddenly, Ted Cruz Seems Like A Gentleman”: Into What Kind Of Weird Cosmic Rat-Hole Have We Let Ourselves Be Dragged?

Pinch yourself, hard.

The unthinkable, the unimaginable, the impossible is happening.

People are actually feeling empathy for Ted Cruz.

What does this say about our beloved America? Into what kind of weird cosmic rat-hole have we let ourselves be dragged?

One of the coldest, most despised figures in the Senate, Cruz is endeavoring to appear human. The same snide jerk who led the costly, unpopular Republican shutdown of the government is now warming hearts for the way he rushed to the defense of his wife, Heidi.

For this Frankenstein turn of events we can thank Donald Trump.

In case you hadn’t heard, the spouses of the two GOP presidential front-runners were the hot topic in the race last week. Second were the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The wife feud ignited when an anti-Trump super PAC republished a naked photo of Melania Trump, a former model.

Before you stop reading and go Google the picture, you should know that the anti-Trump super Pac is called Make America Awesome Again. It is run either by hapless idiots or evil geniuses.

Cruz adamantly asserts he had nothing to do with the political ad featuring the future Mrs. Trump, posing 16 years ago for the British edition of GQ magazine. The Melania photo was supposedly dredged up to target Mormon voters, who would be so offended by her nakedness that they’d turn to Cruz instead.

The idiot theory holds that some bozo working for this PAC actually stood up and said: “Hey, I’ve got a fantastic plan to stop Donald. Let’s publish a picture of his incredibly beautiful wife with no clothes on!”

However, the genius theory says this ad wasn’t really designed to stir up the Mormons. It was meant to provoke the Big Orange Trumpster.

Under any other circumstances, Trump would have been elated to see a nude photo of Melania splashed all over the media and Internet. He brags about her physical attributes to just about anyone with a microphone.

And if he had a serious brain under that teased monkey pelt on his head, he would have laughed off the ad, printed up T-shirts with the picture and started selling them at his rallies.

But no, that would have been way too cool, way too smart. Instead, Trump impulsively launched into one of his spluttering Twitter attacks, threatening to “spill the beans” about Cruz’s wife, Heidi.

Nobody knew what on Earth Trump was babbling about. Heidi Cruz is an executive at Goldman Sachs in New York, and one of her husband’s top fundraisers.

Rather, his next move was to re-tweet a nasty post by one of his followers. It was an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz positioned side-by-side with a glamour shot of Melania. The meme caption: “No need to ‘Spill the Beans.’ The images are worth a thousand words.”

And with that Trump once again answered the question that many millions of Americans wonder daily: Could he possibly be more loathsome?

Cruz shrewdly responded by taking the high road, or what passes for a high road in this gutter-fest of a campaign:

“Donald, real men don’t attack women,” he tweeted. “Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life.”

Aw. Meet sweet, calm, tender Ted. Where’s he been hiding all these years?

After seeing his wife coarsely mocked in public, he reacts with a gentle scold, a compliment to Mrs. Trump and reiteration of his own devotion to Heidi.

Trump ends up looking like a pig, while Cruz ends up looking almost like a gentleman.

If you’re Donald, it must feel like you’ve been schooled.

Cruz’s denials notwithstanding, he is more than slippery enough to have masterminded this whole scenario, knowing Trump would overreact in the lowest, meanest way.

That’s the genius theory — Cruz knew in advance about the nude Melania attack ad, and he threw it out there as bait.

The idiot theory says Cruz didn’t know — it was simply a campaign screw-up that turned into a golden gift.

Either way, presidential politics has entered a new rodent phase that can only drag us deeper and dirtier. November can’t come soon enough.

OK. Now go Google that silly photo if you want.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for the Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Internet Woman-Haters Flock To Daddy Trump”: Donald Trump’s Heidi Cruz Attack Excites Men’s Rights Activists

Once again, Donald Trump is amplifying the voices of people who have been marginalized for good reason, electrifying the angry who have felt shut out of the mainsteam conversation.

He’s done it for white supremacists by sharing bogus, racist crime statistics, and having black students barred from his events. And now he’s doing it for misogynists.

A little before midnight on Wednesday, Trump manually retweeted an image juxtaposing an unfortunate picture of Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi, with a clearly posed image of Trump’s own wife, Melania, who happens to be an internationally recognized model. “A picture is worth a thousands words,” it reads, with a caption on the image saying “No need to Spill the Beans,” referencing a threat Trump had made the night before on Twitter, his 24/7 live feed to cable news.

So-called men’s rights activists applauded, praising Trump for his virility and the attractiveness of his wife, and cheering that their ideas were at last getting a wider hearing. Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, leader of the “pro-rape” organization Return of Kings, told The Daily Beast that the tweet was warranted.

“Trump’s actions are justified self-defense,” he said. “Cruz got one of his Super PAC’s to denigrate Melania and so Trump did the appropriate thing in defending his wife’s honor by retweeting an image made by a supporter. If a man goes after your wife, I hope you have the balls to defend her by attacking back.”

When informed that Cruz had nothing to do with the ad in question and told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that he condemned it, Valizadeh would not be moved.

“That doesn’t appear to be a proven fact,” he said. “Even if it is, for Cruz to be completely unaware of the actions of his campaign network shows incompetence and a lack of awareness that is not at all presidential. The last thing we need is a president who passes the buck when something goes wrong on his watch.”

This sort of implausible deniability is a common trait in some Trump supporters. When it comes to inciting violence, encouraging racist narratives and—in this case—demeaning women, it’s never Trump’s fault. It’s the politically correct left-wing media that misinterprets his actions. And for them, Trump is the mainstream funnel for ideas that have long been relegated to private computers in American basements.

“So, is it really an ‘attack’?” a spokesman for Men Going Their Own Way—a group that preaches the preservation of male sovereignty at all costs, including by staying away from women entirely—asked rhetorically. The spokesman, who didn’t give his name, continued:

“If someone feels ‘attacked’ by a tweet… they should probably get off the Internet.”

As to Trump’s initial threat to “spill the beans,” he said he presumed it was in reference to a 2005 incident in which Heidi Cruz, struggling with depression, was found on the side of a Texas highway, which he referred to as her “nutcase meltdown.”

He also, unprompted, brought up an online campaign from women threatening to withhold sex from Trump supporters, and shrugged: “As if vagina is more important than America.”

Others tied to the loosely organized MRA movement seemed similarly excited by Trump.

“People who have ugly wives should not comment on other men’s wives,” one user in a private chat room for MRAs said in response to a question from The Daily Beast.

The group hosting the conservation, in which The Daily Beast participated, is meant for believers in The Red Pill, an Internet-generated ideology that purports that men are oppressed and women are not.

“For what it’s worth, I think Trump handled it wrong,” another user chimed in. “His response was defensive, whereas I think the much better response would have been ‘sorry my wife is attractive’ or something along those lines in Trump language.”

“Looks like a good first lady to me, Clinton wouldn’t have been getting blowies by secretaries,” said one.

“She always looks like a dog ready to be put down,” another said of Heidi Cruz.

These are people hiding behind usernames who have never seen their ideas validated by a major political figure until now. There’s an entire section of the The Red Pill subreddit that seeks to explain how Trump’s ideas align with theirs.

It uses Trump’s attack lines against Megyn Kelly, viewed by many as abhorrent and disgusting, to explain the group’s life philosophies.

“Let’s say you are flirting with a hot girl at a party. Maybe you say something uncalibrated and she takes offense. She then calls you out on it. Ask yourself, ‘what would Donald Trump do?’ would he apologize? Nope! Even if you make a mistake, NEVER apologize to a girl. Especially when you’re in public. Sometimes you need to welcome the incoming conflict that develops. Don’t run away from it with the excuse of ‘I don’t want to rock the boat’ or ‘I will look like an asshole.’ This is EXACTLY what the girl wants you to do and think.”

But what more could one expect of a guy who once wrote in his 2007 book Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life: “The women I have dated over the years could have any man they want; they are the top models and most beautiful women in the world. I have been able to date (screw) them all because I have something that many men do not have. I don’t know what it is but women have always liked it.”

Trump, who says things about women like “you have to treat ’em like shit,” and does things like pouring wine on female reporters or bearing witness as his campaign manager physically grabs them, sounds a lot like the Internet commenters in their basements.

It’s just that he’s the leading Republican presidential candidate.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Best, March 26, 2016

March 27, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Misogynists, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Glorious Pageantry Of The GOP Process”: Ted Cruz And Donald Trump Are Fighting Over Their Wives. This Was Inevitable

Throughout the political world, people are expressing shock, dismay, and disgust at the argument that has broken out between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives. But this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. In fact, it was all but inevitable.

To catch you up briefly: First an anti-Trump super PAC put out an online ad directed at Mormon women in Utah with a picture of Trump’s wife Melania posing nude, on the absurd grounds that it constituted a reason to vote against Trump. Then Trump accused Cruz of orchestrating the super PAC ad, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi. Then Trump retweeted a picture of Melania looking like the professional model she was next to a particularly unflattering photo of Heidi, with the caption, “The images are worth a thousand words.” Then Cruz said, “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.”

Truly an inspiring moment in the glorious pageantry of the democratic process. But this is what you get when you make Donald Trump the frontrunner of your party. If you know anything about Trump, you should have known that it was going to come to this.

As he does so often, Trump takes what is ordinarily implied in politics and makes it literal. Republicans have long insinuated that their candidates are more manly than their Democratic opponents, whether it was saying that John Kerry “looks French” or mocking Al Gore for wearing “earth tones.” Trump, on the other hand, just comes out and suggests that he has a big penis and his wife is hotter than the other guy’s.

You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to discern that Trump views women largely as objects whose purpose is to demarcate, through their physical appearance, the relative positions men occupy in an eternal contest for domination and status. Just look at his marital history. He married his first wife Ivana, a Czech model who was a mere three years younger than him, when she was 28. Fourteen years later, when Ivana was 42, he divorced her and married Marla Maples, with whom he’d been having an affair. Maples was 29 at the time, and 17 years younger than Trump; a few years later he divorced her as well.  Then he married his current wife Melania, a former Slovenian model who is 24 years his junior. Melania is now 45, and if I were her I’d be looking over my shoulder.

Trump has a long history of misogynistic comments directed at women who cross him (Franklin Foer documents many of them here), and one common strain running through them is the presumption that women’s worth is a function of their appearance. When he wants to be nice to a woman, he tells her she’s beautiful. And when he tangles with another man, he’ll sometimes seek to establish his superiority by asserting that he’s had sex with more women than his opponent; in other words, he has more trophies, so he’s the dominant male.

There was simply no way that Trump was going to get into a one-on-one contest with another candidate and not eventually try to puff out his chest and claim this kind of sexual primacy. Up until now he’s done it to other opponents in slightly more subtle ways (calling Jeb Bush “low energy,” referring to Marco Rubio as “little Marco”), but as the stakes get higher and we near the end of the primaries, his more base instincts and impulses are obviously coming out.

As I argued last week, if Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nominees, this election will likely produce the largest gender gap in American political history. Trump’s unfavorable ratings among women have already hit 75 percent in some polls. And it’s important to understand that controversies like the one with Cruz, where Trump says or does something that women (and plenty of men) immediately understand as sexist, are going to happen again and again, particularly with Clinton as the Democratic nominee. That’s because Trump can’t help himself, and doesn’t even seem to realize what he’s doing. For instance, consider this incident:

“I’d hit you the same way,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in February when pressed on the issue. “I mean, you are the perfect one to ask that question — you have been, you know, under fire from me for a long time, and you are far from a woman.”

“I think there are some women — there’s one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress. You see that woman over there? I have great respect for that woman over there,” he said, as Todd clarified to viewers that Trump was talking about veteran reporter Andrea Mitchell.

The lack of self-awareness on display here is truly spectacular. Trump thinks that he should be exonerated from the charge of sexism because he attacks men too. And then as proof, he points to Andrea Mitchell, one of the most recognizable journalists in America, and refers to her as “one sitting right over there in the beautiful red dress.” I’m sure he thought he was complimenting her by noting her appearance approvingly. He just doesn’t get it.

As soon as he has the nomination in hand, Trump will start pivoting to the general election in many ways, by changing his emphasis and moderating some of his positions. I’m sure he’ll say, as he has before, that he’ll be great for women because nobody values women more than he does. He may even point to a couple of policy positions, like his opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood, as proof. But every time one of these controversies happens, it digs him deeper and deeper into a hole with women voters, one that’s going to be almost impossible for him to climb out of. And there will be a lot more of them.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Women | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Give Me Lipitor Or Give Me Death”: Last Call; Ted Cruz Signs Up For Obamacare

A day after announcing his White House bid – which included beating on the Affordable Care Act, his favorite punching bag – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he’s signing up for Obamacare.

Yes, you read that correctly: The man whose signature applause line is a promise to “repeal each and every word of Obamacare,” went on Healthcare.gov and got himself some benefits. Hypocrisy? Sure, but not in the way you might think.

Cruz had been covered through his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs. If some insurance plans are Cadillacs, hers was a chauffeured, solid-gold Fleetwood, reportedly worth some $20,000 a year — around half of Texas’ median income. Heidi Cruz is taking a year or so of unpaid leave to help him on his campaign, though, so her health care coverage evaporates along with her likely very substantial  paycheck.

Now, the senator – or maybe an aide, or an intern or campaign volunteer or someone – will schlep to the computer, log on to Healthcare.gov and hunch down over the keyboard to do the Obamacare two-step to get coverage for the upcoming year.

Cruz says he had to get health coverage Obamacare, and he’s right: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, inserted an ACA amendment that requires all members of Congress to sign up through the federal exchange. That means Cruz has to if he wants health insurance, although, unlike a lot of Obamacare enrollees, his $174,000 annual Senate salary covers the premiums.

“Well, it is written in the law that members will be on the exchanges without subsidies just like millions of Americans so that’s – I think the same rules should apply to all of us,” Cruz told the Des Moines Register. “Members of Congress should not be exempt.”

Cruz has come up with his own Obamacare alternative, a plan which shifts a lot of control to the states — including ones like Texas, that opted out of Obamacare and all that federal money that went with it. If it were available, he probably would have signed up for Cruzcare instead.

Cruz: 2, Hypocrisy: Undecided. Still, let’s take a closer look.

If Cruz wanted to stand on no-Obamacare, no-way principle, however, perhaps he could opt out of government-sponsored health care entirely, just like the 6.3 million Texans who don’t have health insurance — in part because his state, and his party, decided to block it. That includes 1.2 million children just like Cruz’s two little girls who can’t get health care if they get sick.

That’s made Texas the state with the highest number of uninsured people, nearly twice the national average.

Further, if you squint, the changes the Cruz family are undergoing — loss of a job or a dramatic life change that reduces income — are the top reasons people lose health insurance, and among the reasons Obamacare exists in the first place. And if a parent or spouse gets sick without insurance, it can lead to some serious financial hardship.

It’s perhaps safe to say Cruz understands that intuitively, even if he probably would never say so explicitly. Which is probably why he signed up, and where the hypocrisy comes in.

Even though it exposes him to a modicum of ridicule, allegations of hypocrisy and getting the stink-eye from some of his die-hard supporters, Ted’s Excellent Obamacare Adventure speaks more loudly than his “repeal every word of Obamacare” applause line. When it came down to brass tacks and he lost his wife’s coverage, he opted-in.

He may be a fierce Obamacare critic, and he may agree with the decision to deny affordable health insurance to more than 6 million Texans who, one imagines, he assumes would rather have liberty than Lipitor. But when it becomes a personal matter involving his own family, his conservative ideals don’t necessarily apply.

 

By: Joseph P. Williams, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, march 24, 2015

March 25, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Ted Cruz, Uninsured | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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