Trumpy Continues Punching Down-- Yesterday It Was Poor Carly Fiorina, Who Really Just Wants A Nice Cabinet Position
Carly Fiorina is not a contestant in one of Trump's beauty pageants. She's not running for Miss Universe or Miss USA, the two events that are falling apart after Trump's racist comments about Mexicans. There are plenty of reasons to oppose her-- and even mock her-- but her physical appearance isn't one of them. However, that didn't stop Trumpy. In a Rolling Stone feature that just came out, he's quoted telling a New Hampshire rally his standard lines about failed business executive Carly Fiorina:
Carly was a little nasty to me-- be careful, Carly! Be careful! But I can't say anything to her because she's a woman... I promised that I wouldn't say that she ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground. I said I wouldn't say it! That her stock value tanked. That she laid off tens of thousands of people, and she got viciously fired. I said I will not say that. And that she then went out and ran against Barbara Boxer, and... lost in a landslide. And I said, "I. Will. Not. Say. That!"Trump's reasonable critique of Fiorina's ineptness as a business executive isn't what made news. It isn't what his supporters really care about. That he went after her in a private interview based on her homely appearance is what lit Twitter up yesterday-- and even roused low-energy Jeb Bush. Whoever operates Jeb's Twitter account jumped right on it, tweeting:
Trump's demeaning remarks are small and inappropriate for anyone, much less a presidential candidate. Carly & country deserve better. Enough.Walker attacked Trump tepidly, and just yesterday a desperate-for-attention Jindal used words like "carnival act," "shallow," "narcissist," "egomaniac," "insecure" and "madman" to describe Trumpy. The Rolling Stone reporter who was working on the Trump piece. Paul Solotaroff, was with Trump the week before the New Hampshire rally.
I'd been summoned to Trump's office at his glitter-bomb cathedral, Trump Tower. It is hard to overstate the effect of the building on your sense of dimension and place. You walk into a lobby that is half-Vegas, half-Vatican, a vaulting altar of brass and obsidian that soars halfway to heaven, where they serve dark-roast. There's a Starbucks somewhere up in the sky-high atrium, not far from the 60-foot waterfall. You fight the urge to dunk your head in the pool where it collects, and try, instead, to regain your wits on the whooshing ride up to the 26th floor.Although new poll numbers released yesterday showed Trump increasing his lead over the "deep bench" dwarves, the misogynistic comments on Fiorina are the latest tempest in a teacup his enemies claim will turn it all around. Maybe it will-- although I doubt it-- and he is unchacteristically trying to walk back the comments. His bitter enemy, Megyn Kelly from Fox News, pounced, asking Fiorina to come on her show and slam Trump. "I think those comments speak for themselves. Honestly, Megyn, I'm not going to spend a single cycle wondering what Donald Trump means. But maybe, just maybe, I'm getting under his skin a little bit, because I am climbing in the polls."
There, you are met by the first in a series of dazzling young female assistants. Trump also likes the theatrics of beauty. Many of his close aides are women in their twenties not very long removed from college. Hope Hicks, Trump's communications director who, several years ago, was studying at Southern Methodist University, leads me into the boss's office, which is as much Trump's trophy room as workspace. Every flat surface is adorned by his image: framed magazine glossies from Important Publications, none more so, at least per Trump, than the 1990 Playboy where "I was one of the only men to ever get on the cover."
...Trump springs from his desk chair and summons me over to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing north. Below us, beyond the Tiffany Building and the Plaza Hotel, spreads the splendid sine qua non of Central Park, lush in its summer coat of greens and golds. "I mean, who has this location? I own this," says Trump, marveling at his great good fortune. "I'm at the point in my life-- tremendous cash flow, very little debt-- where I could do anything I want. I said, 'Now, I'm gonna take the risk of running for president. We need that kinda mind to make great deals.'"
As we stand there, hundreds of feet above New York, gazing on the Lilliputian tourists, it occurs to me to wonder: How on Earth, from this vantage, did Trump see into the hearts of underemployed white folk? How did he know that they stewed and simmered over free trade, immigrants and fat-cat Republicans who'd sold them down the river for decades? How did he guess that they'd conflated those things to explain the flight of factory jobs, and that all they really cared about, besides the return of those jobs, was that someone beat the hell out of the party hacks-- the Jeb Bushes and Scott Walkers and Karl Roves?
...With his blue tie loosened and slung over his shoulder, Trump sits back to digest his meal and provide a running byplay to the news. Onscreen, they've cut away to a spot with Scott Walker, the creaky-robot governor of Wisconsin. Praised by the anchor for his "slow but steady" style, Walker is about to respond when Trump chimes in, "Yeah, he's slow, all right! That's what we got already: slowwww." His staffers at the conference table howl and hoot; their man, though, is just getting warm. When the anchor throws to Carly Fiorina for her reaction to Trump's momentum, Trump's expression sours in schoolboy disgust as the camera bores in on Fiorina. "Look at that face!" he cries. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!" The laughter grows halting and faint behind him. "I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?"
Actually, she's not. Since Trump started denigrating her, she's been sinking in the polls. The new CNN poll released yesterday showed her at 3% nationally, down 2 points.
I don't think Trump sees Fiorina as a threat, any more than a cat sees a mouse as a threat. Sean Illing at Salon probably got closer to why he's bothering to even think about her-- the infantilized conservative base wants rage, not ideas. "Trump supporters (read: the conservative base)," he wrote, addressing Jeb Bush's fumbling campaign, "don’t care if you’re campaigning with 'joy in your heart.' "
Nor do they care if Trump once identified as a liberal. And they certainly don’t care about the 'power of your ideas.' What Trump understands (and what Bush clearly doesn’t) is that the people flocking to Trump are doing so because they don’t give a damn about policy or substance or facts. They want to hear someone tell the establishment that it’s full of shit, and Bush is the establishment. Trump may not have ideas or political acumen or a basic sense of decency, but he knows what alienated conservatives want to hear-- and that’s enough. Trump’s success (and Jeb’s decline) shows how easy it is to openly infantilize the conservative base. You don’t need ideas to win over Republicans anymore; you simply have to reflect their paranoia and frustration, with as much bombast and superficiality as possible. Donald Trump gets it, Jeb Bush doesn’t-- and that’s why Trump is winning.And that's easily applicable to the whole Republican field, not just Jeb, especially dolts like Rubio, Walker, Fiorina and Kasich.
UPDATE: Trump's Trying To Lie His Way Out Of Fiorina Slurs
Anderson Cooper invited Rolling Stone writer Paul Solotaroff on his show last night, and Solotaroff said flatly, "He was not talking about her persona." He addressed the split personality he encountered in spending time with Trump-- one of an "extraordinarily shrewd predator" and one of "this 12- to 14-year-old boy sort of permanently affixed to his inner life. The second guy in the room with us was this guy whose emotional development I think stopped around 13 or 14. The kid that made the crack about Carly. The guy who made the crack about his daughter..."