On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton continued to trot out her full frontal assault on Donald Trump’s sexism. She introduced that assault in Monday night’s debate, when she raised the specter of Alicia Machado, a former Trump Miss Universe who alleges that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” after she gained weight.
Now, Hillary has released a tweet suggesting that those insults alone should foreclose the White House to Trump:
A man who bullies and shames a woman for her weight should never become president. pic.twitter.com/ueLuxRS6Ta— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 28, 2016
There are several problems with this notion.
Most obviously, the idea that once insulting a woman is a barrier to office simply doesn’t hold water. Lots of jerks have held the presidential office, including Hillary’s husband, an alleged rapist, and John F. Kennedy, a disgrace with women.
Second, more than a third of Americans are considered obese. If we were to ban everyone in America who has ever commented negatively about someone else’s weight from office, the presidency would remain unoccupied (actually, given these candidates, an excellent possible solution). Michelle Obama has spent the entirety of President Obama’s term complaining about American obesity. That’s a form of fat-shaming, even if it doesn’t involve nasty jokes. Is she done politically?
Third, Hillary picked a poor example: Machado’s sole job in life was to be in shape. Trump didn’t have to be a nasty piece of goods about her weight gain, of course -- he's a garbage human being. But there are far worse examples of Trump's sexism. Machado had an obligation not to gain weight contractually. The media mocked her mercilessly for her weight, as writer Charles Hoskinson has pointed out:
May 1997: Female Orlando Sentinel writer calls Alicia Machado "a blimped-out reigning queen." https://t.co/u4Yw15ICBH— Charles Hoskinson (@cehoskinson) September 28, 2016
Finally, Hillary’s argument here is sexist. The media have mocked Donald Trump for his weight. They’ve mocked Chris Christie for his weight incessantly:
Should everyone who has mocked Christie be thrown out of office?
If not, why not? Are women uniquely weak and susceptible with regard to weight jokes? But according to Hillary, women are stronger. Women can withstand anything. They power through.
Unless some guy calls them "Miss Piggy." Then they collapse, and we bar the guy from office forever.
So, which is it? Are women so weak that any man who makes a fat joke must immediately be disqualified from office? How about a woman who mocks another woman’s looks? Are men so strong that any joke at their expense can be written off as no big deal?
All of this is nonsense. Hillary knows it. The public knows it. But that won’t stop the media from pushing forward the idea that sexist jokes bar you from office, even if deleting classified material, starting useless wars, abandoning Americans in harm’s way, and allegedly bullying your husband’s alleged rape victim don’t.