The Donald Trump campaign has, to no one's great surprise, decided to make Hillary Clinton's gender the centerpiece for their arguments against her fitness to be the president. In a single speech on Saturday, Trump attacked Clinton's sanity, her stamina, her ability to please her husband, and her own fidelity. In other words, he hit the Big Six of misogynist slurs: Ugly, slutty, crazy, disloyal, deceitful, and weak.
In case these sexist attacks are too subtle for some of the dimmer bulbs in the right wing base, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani went on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday and spelled out the misogynist antipathy to Clinton in the bluntest of terms.
"Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman," Giuliani said, "and the only thing she’s ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails."
(Giuliani's argument for Trump, who has declared business bankruptcy six times, being an "economic genius" is that Trump paid for an accountant to get him out of paying federal income taxes.)
There's not a lot of wiggle room to argue that Giuliani's statement was anything but what it seemed. Even if he had used less blunt language, there's a fundamental sexism to arguing that a honking, incurious, repeatedly failed businessman like Trump even deserves to be in the same room as an accomplished lawyer, activist, and politician like Clinton. The fact that there's even a contest between them is a cosmic satire of male privilege.
But, because this is the nation we live in, you can bet some pathetic partisan hack is going to try to spin this. Enter Larry O'Connor of Hot Air, whose attempt to argue that Giuliani wasn't really being sexist amounts to ignoring the basics of English grammar.
Here’s what he actually said: (emphasis mine)
“Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman, and the only thing she’s ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails?”
Gee, that’s kind of an important modifier at the end of the “woman” reference, isn’t it?
Yeah. To quote Giuliani as a sexist pig, they actually interrupted him in mid-sentence! So they could service their headlines and captions (and their agendas) the media actually cut him off and printed his incomplete thought.
Oh dear, someone was out sick the week their English teacher taught sentence diagramming, or they would know that the "and" in Giuliani's sentence separated two independent clauses. In fact, Giuliani's statement might have read better as two separate sentences, since the first clause really needs a question mark at the end of it:
“Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman?"
"And the only thing she’s ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails."
The "and" is just an artifact of the spoken language, which tends to be littered with more conjunctions that more formal writing.
It's a sad day in political discourse when you're offering remedial grammar lessons to your opponents, but that's just the sort of election season we're in.
Once you apply fifth grade grammar lessons to the situation, it's indisputable that Giuliani's case against Clinton is sexist right down to the bone. After stating flatly that a woman is not qualified, Giuliani's supporting evidence is rolling out a bunch of stereotypes about women being too stupid for important man jobs like governing.
The "only thing she’s ever produced" thing, for instance, is 1950s-style sexism, the kind that posits that the if you give a woman responsibilities, the silly dunderhead will just make a mess of things, while getting no real work done.
In the real world, Clinton has had an extraordinarily productive career and was so busy as the Secretary of State that her schedule amounted to 3,721 pages over 2 and a half years.
"Then she mentioned the woman’s name, the model’s name, and then she made it appear as if Lester Holt had brought it up," Giuliani continued. "She had obviously been programmed to bring that up."
Notice that he did not say she planned to bring it up, but that she was "programmed" to do so.
The right did a similar thing to Barack Obama, obsessing endlessly about his use of the teleprompter. Now, teleprompters are a standard part of political life, used by Republicans and Democrats alike. Obama's black, however, so his use of a teleprompter was singled out as evidence for the deeply racist belief that he's incapable of thinking for himself.
Giuliani's plan was clearly along the same lines of sexism by insinuation: Call Clinton stupid and let misogynist stereotypes about women's intelligence do the rest. He just forgot himself for a moment and let the subtext become the text.