Time to call Trump out on degrading views

Editor’s Note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for civic engagement and voter participation at the Democratic National Committee. A nationally syndicated columnist, she is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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Donna Brazile: Donald Trump has been degrading all political discourse

His comments about women are particularly virulent and revealing, she says

CNN  — 

Donald Trump has a problem with women, and I don’t mean just his obvious and well-earned problem attracting women voters. He appears to have a problem treating any and all women with even a modicum of respect. This reality stands out even when talking about a man who routinely shows no respect for racial, ethnic or religious minorities, the handicapped, veterans or virtually any other group you want to name.

But while Trump manages to offend just about every group, his comments about women are particularly virulent and revealing.

Donna Brazile

On the Monday evening before Christmas, Trump referred to Hillary Clinton using a crudity that I won’t repeat. I could – it wasn’t one of the classic four-letter words. But it’s demeaning to even have to refer to it. (If you don’t know and you’re curious, just Google “Donald Trump” and “degrading.”) The use of the term wasn’t degrading just to Clinton, or even just to all women. It’s degrading to anyone who is compelled to repeat it in order to report the story. In the act of degrading women, Trump has degraded all of political discourse.

Perhaps even more bizarrely, Trump also went on a rant about Clinton returning a few moments late from a break at the Democratic debate, saying “I know where she went, it’s disgusting, I don’t want to talk about it. No, it’s too disgusting.” I don’t wonder at all about what Clinton was doing, but I truly do wonder what is going on in Trump’s head.

His history of offensive statements about women forms a long list. He famously mocked the physical appearance of Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP race. Fiorina managed to score points at a debate when asked about Trump’s comments. She just said, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

At an earlier debate, Trump had a dust-up with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. After the debate, he made disparaging comments implying that Kelly’s aggressive questioning was attributable to hormones. And it’s not a coincidence that the question that upset Trump was Kelly asking him about his calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”

The litany of Trump’s past comments paints the picture of a crude and out-of-touch throwback to a more primitive time. It would merely be sad, if this man weren’t leading in the race for the GOP nomination.

So what is to be done? Perhaps the most useless phrase in politics is “Donald Trump should apologize.” He should, but he won’t. But he can still be called out. Fiorina managed to do it. Kelly stood up to him. Shining a spotlight on Trump’s misogyny costs him among women. The Clinton campaign recognized that when it responded to Trump’s latest comments with the tweet, “We are not responding to Trump but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should.”

Whether he respects them or not, Trump needs women – and he doesn’t have them. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed that among women, Trump had a favorability rating of 25% and an unfavorable rating of 68% – a staggering difference of 43%. He’s even in trouble with Republican women. The latest ABC/Washington Post poll showed that 47% of Republican men back Trump, while only 28% of women do.

I can’t imagine how any woman, or anyone with a wife, sister or mother, could vote for Trump. But calling him out for his degrading comments can at least degrade his support among women enough to cost him any realistic shot at the White House.

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