There's no such thing as a good time for Donald Trump to belittle women, but the president, just out of a sense of his own political interests, should probably realize the circumstances he finds himself in. Not only has he been dogged for years about misconduct toward women, but Trump's pending Supreme Court nominee has faced related allegations.
It's against this backdrop that the president hosted a press conference this morning on the revised NAFTA agreement. Here was what happened when Trump called on ABC News's Cecilia Vega:
TRUMP: OK, question? Yes, go ahead. Sure. She's shocked that I picked her. Like in a state of shock.VEGA: I'm not, thank you, Mr. President.TRUMP: That's OK, I know you're not thinking. You never do.VEGA: I'm sorry?TRUMP: No, go ahead. Go ahead.
The members of the administration huddled behind the president, most of whom were men, chuckled as if the exchange was amusing.
It wasn't. As the Washington Post's Amber Phillips noted, the comments came "across as gender-driven. When Trump wants to attack women, he often resorts to stereotypes, reducing women to their looks or their intellect (or supposed lack of it) in many instances. In summer 2017, he attacked MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski by alleging that she had had a 'facelift.' In his very first presidential debate, Trump pushed back on host Megyn Kelly for questioning him about his treatment of women by saying that 'she had blood coming out of her wherever.' He has called NBC News's Katy Tur 'little Katy' and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd 'crazy.'"
Later at the same press conference, after a series of questions about the newly announced trade agreement, CNN's Kaitlan Collins tried to move the discussion to Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. "Don't do that, that's not nice" Trump interrupted, apparently unaware that presidents don't get to pick the subjects of reporters' questions. "Do you have a question on trade?"
Collins continued with her line of inquiry, at which point the president literally wagged his finger at her. When the CNN reporter persisted, Trump insisted that a different reporter get the microphone.
Given the president's reputation, none of this came across as surprising, though given the context of the current political landscape, it didn't come across as smart, either.
Again, there isn't a good time for Trump to mock women professionals like this, but after last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing -- a discussion in which Republicans weren't even comfortable asking questions of a Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, they brought in a woman to "assist" them -- the president really ought to understand that antics like these rankle for a reason.