Michelle Obama, stumping for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, launched a devastating attack on the brazen, scandalous words and behavior of Donald Trump, especially his foul-mouthed boasts about sexually attacking women.
The speech will be remembered for its powerful condemnation of the abuse and harassment that women endure on streets and in the workplace — in a speech delivered, fittingly, almost exactly 25 years from the date another talented black attorney, Anita Hill, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about having been harassed by Clarence Thomas, who had been nominated for the Supreme Court.
If Donald Trump has accomplished anything, it is to exhaust our vocabulary of outrage. He’s a bigoted, abusive, authoritarian, racist figure who lies so far outside the normal range that he has broken the scale, making any new reading impossible. Every terrible thing simply feels like more of the same.
But in the last couple of days, Trump has sunk to new depths. In a speech yesterday, he charged, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends and her donors” — inflammatory anti-Semitic imagery reminiscent of Charles Coughlin. And then Friday, in possibly the most deranged misogynistic moment of the campaign, Trump insulted Hillary Clinton’s appearance, telling his audience, “when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”
Trump has spent decades reducing all women to their appearance. At the same time, his presidential campaign has forced upon him certain disciplines, one them being the need to conceal this habit. During the primary, he dismissed Carly Fiorina — “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” – but, when confronted, backed down with an unconvincing denial. The denial indicated Trump’s awareness that this was a line he could not cross, a side of himself he could not show.
But the recent spate of sexual-assault allegations returned Trump to his natural state, and he has spent days boasting that he would never force himself upon the women accusing him of doing so because they are not attractive enough. He then slipped almost naturally into a dismissal of his opponent. Denying his opponent’s charge that he evaluates all women by their looks has become too exhausting a pose to maintain, and, with his polls submerging, the payoff of forbearance has dwindled to too low a level. The mask has slipped, and Trump is thrusting himself before the country as the grossly bigoted misogynist his critics have always known him to be, a disgraceful excuse for a human being, a monster without restraint.