His supporters are nonplussed-- with exception of those who are drooling-- but the rest of the nation is captivated, and perhaps also nauseated by the public conversation about Donald Trump’s penis.
It is fairly obvious that Marco Rubio has been baiting Trump about this issue. He has suggested that since Trump is so good at handing out the insults, let’s see how well he can take one.
One suspects that Rubio is taking one for the team. In truth, his chances for winning the nomination will likely evaporate after the March 15 Florida primary. Rumors yesterday suggested that he will soon suspend his campaign and run again for the senate.
And yet, Trump should have known better. He should have known much better. But, someone who has made a virtue of shamelessness cannot have any real self-discipline.
In Thursday’s debate the Donald said:
I have to say this: He hit my hands. No one has ever hit my hands. Look at those hands, are those small hands? And he referred to my hands as if, if they’re small, something else may be small. I guarantee to you there’s no problem, I guarantee!
His protestations notwithstanding, the penis of the Donald has occasionally been the subject of public discussion and debate. New York Magazine has collected it all a story entitled: “A History of Donald Trump’s Penis.” At least, Eve Peyser did not entitle her article: “A Short History of Donald Trump’s Penis.”
As for Trump’s claim that no one ever referred to his small hands, this is obviously false. Decades ago, when he edited a satirical magazine called Spy, current Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter described Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian.”
Apparently, the thin-skinned Donald was sorely offended. Carter was surprised and recounted his experience with the short-fingered vulgarian:
Like so many bullies, Trump has skin of gossamer. He thinks nothing of saying the most hurtful thing about someone else, but when he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret. Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.” Which I can only assume gave him fits.
Of course, you are probably thinking that Trump has just the temperament we need in the White House. At what point does one just let it go.
Naturally, the press and the comedians are now regaling themselves with jokes and other witticisms about the Donald’s male member. It has gotten Trump a lot of attention. It has distracted everyone from the issues that really matter. Now Trump seems to be competing in a shamelessness sweepstakes against the wife of the man who exposed himself to Paula Jones and who gave us the famous “semen-stained dress.” Next to Trump Hillary Clinton, now being investigated for various felonies, looks like a dignified adult.
Since I have written a book on “the politics of shame” and have been working on the subject for two decades now I feel compelled to point out, for those who still do not understand shame, that the emotion refers primarily to the ability to keep one’s pants on. Having a sense of shame means keeping your pants on, not allowing yourself to be publicly identified by the shape, size or any other aspect of your external genitalia or even your sexual behavior.
If you drop your pants and demand to be respected for your candor you are demonstrating shamelessness. And you are also showing that you exist in your own amoral universe, that you do not respect other people, and that you do not need to follow the rules. You are your own rules.
I have been saying this over and over again on this blog, so today I will quote Ezra Klein from Vox who has understood clearly the problem with the politics of shamelessness:
Of course, Klein is a Democrat, so he is not exactly appalled to see the Republican Party self-deconstruct. At the least, he finds Trump entertaining. Like P. T. Barnum, the Donald always puts on a good show:
It is undeniably enjoyable to watch Trump. He's red-faced, discursive, funny, angry, strange, unpredictable, and real. He speaks without filter and tweets with reckless abandon. The Donald Trump phenomenon is a riotous union of candidate ego and voter id. America's most skilled political entertainer is putting on the greatest show we've ever seen.
When it comes to Trump’s shamelessness, Klein is on the mark:
Trump's other gift — the one that gets less attention but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It's easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they're exposed as liars, when they're seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.
Trump doesn't. He has the reality television star's ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won't, to say what others can't, to do what others wouldn't.
Trump lives by the reality television trope that he's not here to make friends. But the reason reality television villains always say they're not there to make friends is because it sets them apart, makes them unpredictable and fun to watch. "I'm not here to make friends" is another way of saying, "I'm not bound by the social conventions of normal people." The rest of us are here to make friends, and it makes us boring, gentle, kind.
I find it refreshing that a commentator has gotten shame right.
He could have added that those who are fawning over someone who is shameless are saying that they would be happy to see him as the great national role model. If you like Trump and if you think that he is just what the country needs, are you ready for a nation where everyone is a bully, where everyone will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, where everyone insults and denigrates anyone who crosses him and where everyone is sending out images of his or her external genitalia?
Think about it.