The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘Do Anything’

As the old saying goes, the middle of the road is where you get run over. But what the heck, I have a take on the “Do Anything” controversy.

The mainstream media and the Democrats overwhelmingly believe that Donald Trump was trafficking in a cheap sexual innuendo when he tweeted that Senator Gillibrand would “do anything” for a donation. Senator Elizabeth Warren called it “slut-shaming” – the wisdom and implications of that usage we’ll just leave for others to masticate. Nancy Pelosi called it “disgusting.” Mika Brzezinski nearly had an aneurysm over it.

Meanwhile, Trump’s most ardent defenders are outraged by the mere thought that the President of the United States would say anything of the sort. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was either disgusted or feigned disgust at the suggestion that the president had claimed Gillibrand wanted sexual favors for a donation. Only people who have “their mind in the gutter” would think that.

So here’s my middle of the road position: I think it’s entirely possible that Trump had a cheap sexual innuendo in mind, and I think it’s entirely possible he didn’t. He has used somewhat similar language about men in the past.

This is one of the problems with the way many liberals always want to make Trump’s rudeness and crudeness about racism or sexism. I’m not saying such a case can never be made. But the truth is the president is fairly “equal opportunity” in his rudeness and crudeness. He attacks critics and inconvenient people, regardless of their race, creed, sex, and religion. Some attacks may cross certain lines and be particularly offensive (Judge Curiel, Megyn Kelly, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, et al), but the animus pretty much always derives primarily from his ego and not his bigotry, as far as I can tell.

To pick one small example, when he attacked yours truly on Twitter it never occurred to me that he was being anti-Semitic. Indeed, his attacks on me are mildly instructive, because the president who loves to brag about how he’s not politically correct used political correctness to try to get me fired (or something). For example:

In other words, Trump usually goes for the nearest weapon to hand.

Which brings me to Sanders’s outrage. It’s ludicrous for her to claim it’s ludicrous that a reasonable person might read Trump’s tweet that way. Trump loves innuendo and has said all manner of terrible things.

The only thing that is obvious to me is that the president is wildly promiscuous and irresponsible with his Twitter feed. This is not a newsflash (nor is it a reason to normalize or condone it). A reasonable person would have stopped and rethought that tweet, or at least the phrasing, particularly given the “Me Too” climate, for the simple reason that its meaning and intent were ambiguous. More to the point, there are literally millions of people who will not give the president the benefit of the doubt in cases like this — because he has not earned it.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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