I think it was Bubba Jefferson, Thomas’ lesser-known brother, who said that the tree of GOP primaries has to be watered with the tears shed for a candidate who drops out because of what he says about blood and women. And that is still true today.
Kidding aside, Trump’s blood comment should give us pause. In case you are lucky and still avoid the void of avoidable news, you may not have heard that GOP Presidential hopeful and front-runner Donald Trump received some pointed questions about his past comments about women (all disparaging, many shaming their bodies, some directly suggesting that submitting to sexual intercourse with Trump would be a good idea). FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly read some of his comments back to Trump, asking if he considers this in conflict with his electability for the office of the Presidency. And from there it went from bad to worse…
In response, Trump fired up his twitter account (for the purpose of this entry I will assume that he writes his own tweets, though we should be careful with that assumption in general), and delivered some of his trademark hostile, bullying, coarse, and mean-spirited afterthoughts. (Here is a write-up of the story in a medium that, while not generally considered high journalism, suits the story’s protagonist).
Trump’s comments reach their low point in his declaration made later during a phone interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, when Tump said that, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. … Blood coming out of her….wherever….” I do think Lemon would have done right to call him on that, but when you call Trump you don’t hope for subtle nuances, I suppose, and Lemon isn’t exactly the best at correcting things on live TV. Maybe he simply ‘gets’ Trump and understood, as Trump and his spokespersons insist, that Trump meant Kelly’s nose.
Of course he did. Why would any person think that a white, rich, male U.S.American would mean any other place where blood might leave a woman’s body? Get your minds out of the gutter, we can hear him command. Of course the whole thing is a campaign against him and his commonsensical reasoning in the face of questions about his conduct against women, questions asked by a woman, launched by the team of either his competitors or a woman in the race for the office (or in the case of Fiorina, by both).
Of course he did not. In this age of media dog whistles who could not see the signal he was sending to a share of his supporters whose guffaws at the allusion to women’s apparently terrifying physiology and their oh-so-scary menstrual fluid would blow out any of doubt sparked by these questions. And you know that that is the important thing because Kelly did put her finger on the flip side of Trump’s chauvinist antics. Trump had to attack Kelley to point out her biological rootedness, her essential femininity, which he declares contrary to quality, professional conduct. His audience seems to have gotten the message.
Of course he proved her point. Such puerile, daring sarcasm is not respectable, it cannot behoove the image on a coin, but must stay in the masses. Trump’s elitism rests on his money and his comportment in public. The one, however, is a purely formalistic aspect of power, while the substance of the man is based on a limited range of emotional and personal responses, none of them conducive to any undertaking beyond secret boardroom meetings and golf-course deals.
So she who leaks blood is the opposite of him who is dry and professional…let us go over just some of the things that are interesting in this remark. Before getting to the meat, sorry, blood, I want to make two disclaimers: I do not claim to exhaust the things that are problematic in Trump’s comment, not by a long shot. Nor do I assume it was a planned, strategic move, but rather a spontaneous outburst of misogynist misosanguinity.
Surely by now you clearly hear the overtones in the chords he strikes, full of humoral theory. Looking at a handy comparison chart of the different systems, we can see that Trump appears to categorize Kelly as a sanguine character, with a loose set of accumulated cultural associations indicating a sensitive, hedonistic, artisan. Remarkably, this set of terms, joined in constant conjunction, makes sense in Trump’s response–he clearly does not see Kelly as focused on duty, intuition, or logic.