The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at The Wall Street Journal written by the editor, James Taranto.
Or Is It the Other Way Around?
“More Single Men Means More Men With Beards”—headline, Qz .com, May 2
Trump Shatters the Glass Ceiling (from 4/27 BOTW post)
… There is a widespread view that Trump has little or no chance of beating Hillary Clinton in November. ElectionBettingOdds website rates her chance of becoming president at almost 75% and his under 20%. The basis of that evaluation is straightforward: She beats him by a wide margin in almost every head-to-head poll, and voters view him even more unfavorably than her.
She seems a safe bet, and if you forced us to wager at even money, we’d go with her over him. On the other hand, some of her most fervent supporters are nervous. “Democrats would be foolish to gloat about this G.O.P. mess,” cautions the New York Times editorial page. Salon’s Heather Digby Parton: “What’s really dangerous about Trump isn’t the man himself, it’s that millions of people in this country think just like him—and their numbers are growing.”
And consider the cognitive dissonance between these two passages of Glenn Thrush’s election roundup for Politico:
Trump’s campaign is in turmoil, oh, and he’s groping for a grown-up message. Trump trails in every single head-to-head matchup against every single Democrat. Trump won’t read a briefing paper, won’t pass up an opportunity to heckle a chump, won’t use decent grammar, a competent hairdresser or a polysyllabic speechwriter.
Yet the Tangerine Tornado keeps winning and winning, by huger and huger margins—shattering the Never-Trump army and making mockery of the shotgun marriage between chastened foes Ted Cruz and John Kasich. . . .
Trump is still in deep, deep trouble. Not since Ozymandias has a colossus stood on such crumbly legs. For all his big primary wins Tuesday night, the easy money (right now, anyway) is that he’d lose every single one of them in a general election—Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and even Pennsylvania—by massive, perhaps unprecedented margins.
Two-thirds of American voters disapprove of Trump—and a significant percentage of those people have said they will never, ever, not-if-he-was-the-last-man-on-earth vote for him.
He keeps winning and winning but is still in deep, deep trouble. That’s very, very interesting even if Thrush says the same words over and over. Could it be that those who underestimated Trump’s prospects of winning the nomination are repeating their error in evaluating November? Trump, after all, not only is now the front-runner; as Thrush’s colleague Kyle Cheney notes, he “has passed Mitt Romney’s popular vote total from four years ago and is on a trajectory that could land him more Republican [primary] votes than any presidential candidate in modern history—by a lot.”
It is quite possible that the Republican primary electorate is susceptible to Trump’s appeal for reasons that the general electorate will not be. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that is the case for ideological reasons, as many conservative Republicans disdain the heterodox Trump.
Perhaps demographics—that is to say, the relative “whiteness” of the GOP—will do him in. Certainly Mrs. Clinton is hoping for that. On Sunday her campaign sent an email to supporters that falsely claimed “Trump called Mexican Americans criminals and rapists on the day he launched his campaign.” In fact, the comment referred to illegal aliens, not Americans.
One of the most impressive, if not particularly admirable, skills Trump has displayed during the primaries is the ability to damage opponents by homing in on their weaknesses, real or imagined—“low energy” Jeb Bush, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz. He means to do the same to Mrs. Clinton, whom he calls “Crooked Hillary” and describes as lacking “strength” and “stamina.”
Last night [April 26] he also targeted what she imagines to be her greatest strength: “I think the only card she has is the woman’s card. She has nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she would get 5% of the vote. The only thing she has got going is the woman’s card.”
The “woman card” observation seems indisputable. Here’s an exchange from an October interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper:
Cooper: Secretary Clinton, how would you not be a third term of President Obama?
Mrs. Clinton: Well, I think that’s pretty obvious. I think being the first woman president would be quite a change from the presidents we’ve had up until this point, including President Obama.
And one from a February debate:
Sanders: Secretary Clinton has the support of far more governors, mayors, members of the House. She has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. . . . Yes, Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment. . . .
Mrs. Clinton: Well, look, I’ve got to just jump in here because, honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.
As for the “5%” remark, it reminds us of the time in 2008 when the late Geraldine Ferraro, a surrogate for Mrs. Clinton, observed of the then-Democratic front-runner, that “if [Barack] Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.” It was true, and Obama’s supporters denounced Ferraro for pointing it out.
The Washington Post’s James Hohmann offers the conventional liberal view of all this:
Still don’t think Trump is toxic for Republicans in a general election? If he’s the nominee, every single GOP candidate in a top-tier race will be attacked over the aforementioned comments. Do you agree Hillary would only get 5 percent of the vote if she was a man? They might be able to duck that question right now, but their opponents won’t allow that come fall. They will either distance themselves—and risk alienating Trump supporters—or stay silent and then get forced to own it. Remember, Trump also brags about never changing diapers. He said Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” when she questioned him about his history of calling women “disgusting animals” and “dogs.” Bottom line: It will just be so, so, so easy for Democrats to portray Trump as unconcerned with the daily struggles of women.
But cartoonist Scott Adams, a cheerleader for Trump’s persuasive skill though he has “disavowed” the man himself, has an entirely different take:
Trump will probably win with men for all the obvious reasons. But winning with women has until lately seemed impossible. So the “woman card” kill shot is aimed at women voters, not men. And what it does is flip the framing, as Trump likes to do.
Clinton framing: It is time for a woman president.
Trump framing: Gender is not a job qualification
I remind you that this is the year 2016. Trump’s message recognizes that gender should not be a hiring criteria. That’s the high ground. You can’t get higher.
And it gives women an identity choice. Do they pick the leader who says the “woman card” is a qualification for a good job? Or do they pick the leader who has a long record of promoting and mentoring women because he thinks gender should not be a qualification?
This morning, Talking Points Memo notes, Trump transgressed another feminist taboo:
“I haven’t quite recovered—it’s early in the morning—from her shouting that message,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked about [Mrs.] Clinton bringing up his comments on the “woman card.” “And I know a lot of people would say you can’t say that about a woman, because of course a woman doesn’t shout. But the way she shouted that message was not—that’s the way she said it, and I guess I’ll have to get used to a lot of that over the next four or five months.”
Give Trump this: He is the one candidate you can count on to ignore feminist demands that he put Mrs. Clinton on a pedestal.
For more “Best of the Web” from The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto click here.