President Donald Trump’s vile sexism attacking MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski yesterday has raised questions about just how much the Republican party is willing to let Trump get away with — and about Trump’s current state of mind.
The president cannot stop his sexist Twitter habit, describing television host Mika Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
Trump described Brzezinski on Twitter as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” According to deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump had to respond to the “outrageous attacks” against him because he refused to be “bullied.”
But on Friday, Brzezinski and her fiancé Joe Scarborough responded in a Washington Post column titled “Donald Trump is not well”:
“President Trump launched personal attacks against us Thursday, but our concerns about his unmoored behavior go far beyond the personal. America’s leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president. We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, ‘Morning Joe.’”
“More significant is Mr. Trump’s continued mistreatment of women,” the couple added. “It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women. From his menstruation musings about Megyn Kelly, to his fat-shaming treatment of a former Miss Universe, to his braggadocio claims about grabbing women’s genitalia, the 45th president is setting the poorest of standards for our children.”
The couple also responded on air on Friday morning.
“He appears to have a fragile, impetuous childlike ego,” Brzezinski said.
Lawmakers were quick to comment as well. Media outlets widely reported the response of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) before anyone else.
“Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America,” he tweeted.
Numerous Democratic lawmakers also took to the president’s favorite platform to reject his latest sexist banter.
Some also pointed out that once this blows over, the GOP will be quick to defend Trump again, and it will be business as usual.
“.@realDonaldTrump’s tweets this morning were sexist, vile, and unbecoming of an American leader. What else is new?” questioned Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California came down hard not only on Trump but the whole GOP in a series of tweets:
Nicolle Wallace, former communications director for the White House under former President George W. Bush and chief political analyst for MSNBC and NBC, said the only strategy for the White House is an apology.
“As a woman who was fortunate enough to work in the White House as a public servant, all of the women collecting paychecks from the U.S. taxpayers — Dina Powell, Kellyanne Conway, Elaine Chow, Betsy DeVos — you should all go on the record and condemn your boss’ comments, and you should work behind the scenes to educate him about just how offensive they are.
“As someone who once proudly called myself a Republican, the party will be permanently associated with misogyny if leaders don’t stand up and demand a retraction,” Wallace added.
She also questioned “how any woman who’s defending these comments how they plan to raise good men if the most powerful man in the world gets away with this?”
Besides Graham, some Republicans did respond to reject the tweets.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called the comments “not normal” and “beneath the dignity” of the president’s office. And Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) said, “This is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women.”
“I don’t believe the President’s tweets this morning Make America Great Again,” said Rep. Kevin Yonder, also a Republican from Kansas.
However, perhaps unsurprisingly, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) did not take a strong stance against the tweets, saying only at a press conference that it was not “an appropriate comment.”
“What we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. And this obviously doesn’t help do that,” he said.
Ryan has been unable to condemn Trump’s hate even before Trump took office, allowing the now-president’s outlandish behavior to become the GOP’s new normal. Last summer, Ryan said he does not have time to address all of then candidate Trump’s racist social media messages. According to Ryan, “Candidates should know that” racist rhetoric has no place in a presidential campaign. He also speculated the blame should fall on Trump’s campaign staff rather than the candidate: “My understanding is that this was done by staff, not by he, himself.”
At the time Ryan was responding to an anti-Semitic tweet that appeared on Trump’s Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Trump’s sexism is nothing new. His recent comments echoed previous remarks he made about former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly when he said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” His comment was widely interpreted as a reference to menstruation.
During his campaign he also made disparaging remarks about a fellow candidate’s wife — Heidi Cruz, spouse of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). And also before Trump was elected, when audio of him saying it’s okay to grab women by the genitals, he brushed it off as “locker room talk.”
Women may be starting to listen, though, and the GOP will need the support of women on key issues. According to exit polls, women made up 53 percent of all voters, making them the majority. Women voted for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, 54-41 percent.
However, Trump’s approval rating from women has been on the decline. In April, 38 percent of women overall approved of Trump. In a recent CBS News poll, however, only 27 percent of women approved of Trump. Only 23 percent of women ages 18-29 approve of Trump. Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll found that only 33 percent of women approve of Trump.