Three years ago, President Obama called Attorney General Kamala Harris the "best-looking attorney general" in the country. There was an immediate firestorm. He was accused of being sexist and dismissive. (And this was after he delivered what he believed to be a compliment, after also citing her brilliance, dedication and toughness). This dust up was an anomaly in his long, proud record of advancing issues that improve the lives of women and their families. Yet President Obama apologized and declared it to be a learning moment.
Let's contrast that with Donald Trump's behavior this morning on Fox. Of a former Miss America winner he said: "She was the worst we ever had. She was the winner, she gained a massive amount of weight, it was a real problem. Not only that, her attitude."
That was his follow up after Hillary Clinton confronted him last night about the woman he called "Miss Piggy." Rather than apologize, this boy who would be king opted instead to double down.
We have gone through the looking glass, and it isn't pretty.
Like many women, I sat in front of my television last night and watched Trump move back and forth between incoherent and belligerent, dismissive of Hillary Clinton's preparation and knowledge. I watched him interrupt her over and over again, raising his voice repeatedly. I watched him say that he had the better temperament to be President. And then I watched him say last night she doesn't have the presidential "look."
Donald Trump has a real problem with women. Our looks. Our weight. Our attitudes.
This would almost be funny if it weren't so damn terrifying.
Hillary Clinton has used his penchant for degrading women to her advantage in a campaign ad, asking "Is this the president we want for our daughters?" In it she includes actual sound bytes of Trump saying: "I'd look her right in that fat ugly face of hers." "She's a slob." "She ate like a pig." "A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10." "Does she a have a good body? No. Does she have a fat [bleep]?" In response to "Do you treat women with respect?" -- "I can't say that either."
The ad, powerful as it is, is painful to watch because the words are so ugly and dehumanizing. This is the man who would be president? A man who publicly and proudly calls women "Miss Piggy" is one of the two candidates in the running to lead our country?
The other candidate, well, she knows a thing or two about the scrutiny women undergo.
In 2007, I published a letter to the editor objecting to a Washington Post column devoted to the subject of Hillary Clinton's cleavage. I commented upon the misogynistic tone the author took, most notably with her statement, "No one wants to see that . . . Just look away!"
And now nine years later, one of the smartest, most powerful women we have ever seen - a woman who has been called the most qualified Presidential candidate in history (no cleavage in sight, for the record) - was told by a man who expressly talked about the size of his genitals during a primary debate that she doesn't have the temperament or Presidential look oh, but by look he actually meant stamina.
(Funny enough, during the primaries, when Donald Trump said of fellow candidate Carly Fiorina "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?" he followed it up on CNN by saying he wasn't talking about looks he was talking about persona.)
While any number of things Trump has said or done should be disqualifying, there is something particularly distasteful about his unrepentant denigration of women. It's childish, it's unbecoming and it's mean. It's certainly not the Presidential look.
Why would anyone vote for that?