What I would like to ask Donald Trump is what was so disgusting about Hillary Clinton having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the debate Saturday evening?
His statement—part of a vulgar excoriation of Hillary—marks another new low in a campaign of new lows that Republicans have hit in the 2016 race for their party’s nomination for the presidency.
Does Trump find natural functions to be disgusting? Or is it just the thought of a woman pulling down her pantyhose and squatting on a toilet seat that disgusts him? Or maybe it makes him feel some kind of inner guilt? Or does he find the length of time she spent relieving herself to be unseemly?
Maybe Trump believes that Clinton—and by extension all candidates—should wear diapers so they can withstand the rigors of campaigning without taking a break? Maybe that strange smile we sometimes see on Trump’s face, when he pauses, seemingly to consider his thoughts, is just a natural expression of relief, similar to the first smile we see on infants?
I have often thought that my experience interacting with megalomaniacal entrepreneurs and real estate developers gives me insight into Trump’s mind, and his potty comment convinces me of it. There exists an archetypal business bully who tries to get his (and much less frequently, her) way through intimidation. This type—let’s call it the “Trump”—often think that the world revolves around him. The Trump believes he can browbeat everyone else at the negotiating table. The Trump frequently calls three-hour meetings at 5:00 pm and provides no food and keeps the discussion moving so quickly, there’s no time to ask for a bathroom break. He’ll concede no point, hoping that hunger and an overflowing bladder will make his adversaries give in. A Trump tries to be a man’s man, loves to smoke cigars and wears beautifully styled conservative standard business attire. Even in a casual leather jacket, he retains the tie. The Trumps tend to make a lot of sexist comments and treat women in sexist ways, but always pride themselves on their extreme heterosexuality. All industries have these types, but real estate development in particular attracts the Trumps.
My own experience with Trump types includes the current chairman of the board of a generic pharmaceuticals company when he was running an independent financial planning firm that had engaged my PR agency to design and write a capabilities brochure. My designer was a whiz at creating asymmetrical symmetry, which means that the composition is in balance, but without the two halves (horizontal or vertical) being exactly the same. Asymmetrical symmetry injects movement and dynamism into a composition and has been a key strategy in the visual arts since the cave paintings. We were two hours into a 4:00 pm meeting that didn’t start until 5:00 pm in which this client and his brother detailed changes, all of which involved moving objects in the design to make it more symmetrically boring. Suddenly, he walked over to me with the same angry frown that I see on Trump’s face in virtually every televised appearance, leaned over, his hands pulling out the suspenders on his pants and got as close to me as possible, swelled out his chest and said, “I understand you’re prissy and we hired you for your prissiness.”
Notice that he wanted to get under my skin by feminizing me.
I think of that incident every single time I see Donald Trump speak on TV, and especially when he has made his frequent sexist comments, e.g., about Fiorina’s looks and Megyn Kelly’s menstruation. I smile and say to myself, “Yes, I recognize this type of sexist, bullying behavior.” No one will ever know what lurks inside anyone else’s head, but I suspect that we know more about Donald Trump’s thought processes than most, since his speeches often appear to be the unedited ramblings of his mind spouted at the moment they occur to him, without consideration of the thought or the words used to express it. I imagine, though, the following to be how Trump’s trashy imagination produced the word “disgusting” to describe Hillary’s need to relieve herself:
- One is supposed to hold it in at a meeting.
- A man can hold it in longer than a woman (he thinks).
- Not to hold it in is to behave like a woman, that is, the frail sex and not a macho man.
- Not to behave like a man at a meeting is disgusting.
In short, I believe calling Hillary “disgusting” was another sexist remark by Trump, another instance of his revealing his inherent feelings of superiority to women. That his remark involved an intimate bodily function isn’t even a new low in vulgarity, since you can’t get any lower than speaking explicitly about menstruation. At the very least, this latest vulgarism confirmed Trump’s sexism, but a darker interpretation might conclude that he has a fetish focused on either bathrooms or one or more bodily functions.
Trump’s vulgarity is not presidential, not to be confused with the homespun good-old-boy charm cultivated by Johnson, Reagan, Carter, Bush II and Clinton. It has no place in political discourse. His grandiosity and gruff attack style will please many Americans even as it fails as a negotiating style with other nations.
Rachel Maddow reported that someone figured out that every Republican with as much of a lead in the polls as Trump has at this time in the race went on to win the nomination. Impossible to imagine, but every day the possibility increases that a major party will nominate a vulgar, blustering, know-nothing hothead who lies through his teeth and has no experience in elected office or negotiating with equals. We’ve had a number of know-nothing liars in the Oval Office, including Bush II, Reagan and Nixon, so that’s nothing new. The vulgarity will end up embarrassing the United States on a weekly basis and lead to the fraying of relationships with other leaders, here and abroad. The blustering hothead, however, is what scares me the most, because it could get us into a major war and keep us there for as long as the vain, bullying president desires.