President Trump doesn’t have the best track record with women. His opponents, especially in the media, don’t have the best track record covering the president and his statements in a level-headed or particularly fair manner. The president knows both of these things, which made his Tuesday tweet on the morning of the Alabama special election particularly brilliant.
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
Immediately, liberals pounced, claiming the president was sexually harassing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in retaliation for calling for his resignation. Strangely, Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused the president of “slut-shaming” on Twitter:
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted. https://t.co/mYJtBZfxiu
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 12, 2017
As National Review’s Kyle Smith put it on Twitter, “She implies the problem is not that Sen Gillibrand had sex for donations, but that Trump went public with this information.”
Considering how recently Gillibrand’s colleague in New Jersey, Bob Menendez, was on trial, it’s not hard to imagine that Trump easily could have been accusing Gillibrand of graft instead of prostitution.
President Trump does have a history of sexually harassing women. Anyone familiar with the “Access Hollywood” tapes or Trump’s tweets on NBC News host Megyn Kelly can attest that when Trump intends to sexually debase a woman, he is anything but ambiguous. Trump’s tweet on Tuesday morning isn’t in nearly the same ballpark.
Trump has made similar comments on Twitter about Sen. Ted Cruz:
Cruz lies are almost as bad as Jeb's. These politicians will do anything to stay at the trough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2015
Was there another loan that Ted Cruz FORGOT to file. Goldman Sachs owns him, he will do anything they demand. Not much of a reformer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2016
He has also accused former governor Mitt Romney of dropping to his knees and begging during rallies. If made about a woman, Trump’s comments about Romney are far easier to paint as sexual harassment than his tweet on Tuesday morning about Gillibrand.
Given Trump’s past statements about Cruz and Romney, it’s easy to see why many who don’t occupy the Left see the hysteria surrounding his tweet on Gillibrand to be an extreme overreach. This is something Trump understands better than most: how to set the Left on fire with hysteria while managing to turn even NeverTrump conservatives (like myself) into Trump defenders.
On a day when Alabama voters are going to the polls, this kind of political strategizing is precisely how Trump was elected in the first place. For the last several weeks, Republican Roy Moore has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct, most notably in a well-sourced and thorough Washington Post story. While other pieces of the Moore sexual misconduct story have been discredited, the Washington Post story has not.
To win the Alabama seat, the best hope for Republicans is to paint the Moore sexual harassment stories as a liberal conspiracy. Almost three-quarters of Alabama Republicans view the allegations against Moore as untrue, which is the key to any Republican victory in what is usually a safe Republican seat.
So, on a day most political reporters thought they’d be talking about the accusations against Moore, they are instead at a fever pitch about the president’s ambiguous tweets. Trump likely hopes Alabama voters will see his tweets and the hysteria surrounding them as much ado about nothing, and wonder if the accusations against Moore are much of the same. Just as overplaying their hands helped hand Trump the election, the Left may be handing Moore a victory today.