The president has a woman problem, and we’re not just talking about payments to porn stars and Playboy models. Over the past four years, Donald Trump has shown that he simply can’t take it when strong women challenge him, whether it’s career diplomats like Marie Yovanovitch testifying against him in Congress or female reporters like Yamiche Alcindor or Paula Reid sharply questioning him at press conferences on the White House lawn. He prefers to surround himself with sycophants and enablers, women who will nod approvingly at his most ridiculous statements or go on Fox News to repeat his lies.
This was nowhere more apparent than when one watched the 2020 Republican National Convention. This year’s super-Trumpy RNC featured plenty of women each of the four nights – among them, the president’s wife, the president’s two adult daughters, the president’s son’s wife, the president’s son’s girlfriend, the president’s press secretary and the president’s chief counselor (who is about to step down because her 15-year-old daughter says she wants legal emancipation). There were women at the RNC, to be sure, but all of them were either members of the Trump family or female Republicans who have had their reputations completely tarnished and destroyed by Trumpism. (We’re looking at you, Nikki Haley.) After all, Trumpism is a choice.
A week earlier, the Democratic National Convention featured a very different lineup. Among the speakers was former first lady Michelle Obama, former first lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (and the party’s 2016 nominee), the former Congresswoman and now gun control advocate Gabby Giffords, and three women who had forcefully challenged Joe Biden for the nomination (Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris), one of whom now shares the ticket with the former vice president. (Joe Biden’s “I don’t hold grudges” statement might have been the most un-Trump-like moment of the entire campaign season so far.) There were also rising stars of the Democratic Party, like New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, plus emotional links to the party’s past, like Caroline Kennedy. Not a single one of them came to fame by joining their husband on the front lawn of their home and pointing a rifle at passing peaceful protestors.
On the first night of the RNC, the president’s eldest son’s girlfriend, dressed in fire-engine red, gave her best Eva Perón imitation, complete with outstretched arms, and ending by screaming into the empty hall, “Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and fighters for freedom and liberty and the American dream, the best is yet to come!” After it was over, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “Very forceful speech, Jake, from Kimberly Guilfoyle.” And Jake Tapper responded with his quiet deadpan, “Forceful is one word for it.” Personally, I was struck by Guilfoyle musing about how she was a first-generation immigrant despite being from Puerto Rico, which, the last time I checked, was part of the United States. (Guilfoyle’s speech also created a meme, #Guilfoylechallenge, in which people posted videos of themselves screaming nonsense in the abyss.)