Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Donald Trump wants you to believe he has “great respect” for women, but his words and actions tell a far different story. In fact, Trump may be the most anti-women US president ever.
Case in point: On Friday, Trump defended his former aide Rob Porter after news broke of allegations that Porter had been physically abusive to his two ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby.
At that point, America had already seen the photo of Holderness with a black eye caused when Porter allegedly punched her. We had heard Porter’s second wife, Willoughby tell us that while married to Porter he had been abusive. He “grabbed me from the shower by my shoulders up close to my neck and pulled me out to continue to yell at me,” she said. Porter has denied these allegations.
But despite those details, Trump’s statement Friday showed no concern for Willoughby or Holderness — only for Porter. Trump first declared that Porter, “says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that.” Trump then added, “We certainly wish him well. It’s obviously a very tough time for him. … We hope that he will have a wonderful career.”
A tough time for Porter? Wish Porter well? What about the women who suffered abuse?
And then shockingly on Saturday morning – after Trump faced criticism for his comments on Porter – he sent out a tweet that took direct aim at the #MeToo revolution in which he again made it clear his sympathies are with the men accused of wrongdoing, not the women.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” (Speaking of due process, White House counsel knew of the allegations about Porter in January 2017, according to The Washington Post; did the Trump administration even investigate the claims over the past year?)
But this is nothing new for Trump. He has a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder with the men who have behaved inappropriately. In 1998, after the Monica Lewinsky scandal made headlines, Trump publicly defended his then friend Bill Clinton by saying he was the real “victim,” and referred to Clinton’s accusers as “terrible” and “unattractive.”
More recently, in July 2016, Trump defended former Fox News head Roger Ailes after, according to one alleged victim’s attorney, 25 women came forward saying Ailes had sexually harassed them. Trump first suggested the female victims were being ungrateful, saying “I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” and then declared that Ailes was “a very, very good person.”
Trump did the same in April 2017 when another Fox News buddy, Bill O’Reilly, was accused of sexual harassment and verbal abuse that ultimately led to his ouster from the network. After it was reported that $13 million in settlements had been paid to female victims, Trump still defended O’Reilly, who denied the claims, as a “good person,” saying, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
And the list goes on. In October 2016, Trump publicly called the numerous women who accused him of sexual misconduct liars, to the cheers of his supporters at a campaign rally. Trump also despicably defended Roy Moore during his 2017 Alabama senate race despite claims by women, which Moore denied, alleging he had sexual encounters with them when they were just teenagers.
But it’s not just words, Trump’s actions are anti-women as well. Eighty percent of Trump’s nominees for top jobs in his administration have been men. In contrast, just 60% of political positions during Obama’s first term were filled by men. Plus, 95% of Trump’s picks for US attorneys, and 80% of his judicial nominees (compared to less than 60% under Obama), have been men.
And last year, Trump announced the end of an Obama era rule designed to close the wage gap between men and women working in the same positions.
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It’s clear that women are increasingly not buying Trump’s lie that he respects them. According to exit polls for the 2016 election, Trump received the support of 41% of female voters, including 52% of white women. But now it appears Trump is losing favor among women, with a recent Marist Poll showing he not only has just a 33% approval rating among women, but also that 50% of women strongly disapprove of the job he is doing as president.
The women of America deserve far better than a man who claims he “respects” them while standing with the men who have allegedly abused them. And come this November’s election, hopefully, women will use their votes to send a powerful message to Republicans about the anti-women words and actions of their party’s leader: Donald J. Trump.