Terrible and terrific journalism have something in common: they inspire thought and provoke a reaction.
Given all that Donald Trump has said and done, it’s extremely difficult to criticize him in a manner that is itself deserving of criticism. But an op-ed in today’s New York Times reaches for the stars.
In “Why Men Want to Marry Melanias and Raise Ivankas,” Jill Filipovic purportedly sets out to use Donald Trump as a model in explaining why men are more likely to champion feminist ideals for their daughters than for their wives. This is an interesting dilemma that deserves to be examined without bias, and should be explored by someone with less of an overtly partisan axe to grind.
But instead of concentrating on this query, Filipovic dizzily delivers a scathing indictment of Trump’s marriages (all three) and distinguishes them from the Clinton model for being more traditional and less egalitarian.
The author begins her assault by wisely counseling, “you can tell a lot about a person by whom they choose to marry.” The worst she throws at Melania, though, is that she is “professionally attractive.” It is an odd and overt omission that when reflecting upon how much “you can tell… about a person by whom they choose to marry,” the author does not mention Bill Clinton’s indiscretions even once.
At best, Bill is a philandering creep who exploited hierarchy and professional power to consensually get women into bed in a manner that would today be cause for dismissal at most major corporations. At worst, if Juanita Broaddrick’s account is to be believed, he is a rapist and deserves to live in the big house, not the White House.
Filipovic goes on to say that the nominees and the two conventions will display “not only stark policy differences, but also two competing views of marriage, kin, and the role of women in society.”
In fact, the Trump and Clinton views of marriage, and of the role of women in society, seem to be quite similar. Some on the left will accuse me of victim-blaming, but those on the farther fringes of the left, who have yet to drown in the Clinton Koolaid, admit Hillary’s complicity in covering up Bill’s many abuses.
Ironically, before using Melania as a means to attack Trump, Filipovic admits “it can feel unfair to criticize political spouses, who are often dragged into the spotlight only because of whom they married.” The author’s byline says she is a lawyer. I wonder whether this defense, if used to explain why she neglected to go after Bill, would hold up in court. Jury members and judges alike would be remiss if they failed to point out that Bill Clinton dragged himself into the spotlight long before he was a political spouse.
Filipovic compliments the Clinton collaboration, charging that it is more representative of American marriage because, “men increasingly marry women who are their educational and professional equals.” Thus, unlike the Trump-Melania dynamic, the Clintons’ marriage is somehow more relatable for the majority of Americans.
Filipovic fails to mention how Bill sought out a 22-year-old intern who was decidedly not his educational or professional equal in a scandal that was truly an affair to remember.
None of this is in any way, shape, or form intended to defend Donald Trump or the way he relates to women. He deserves nothing but condemnation in that regard. But to attack his marriage through bolstering the Clintons’, to attack his choice of spouse without attacking Hillary’s, to attack his division of labor with Melania as evoking old-world sexism without saying the same of Bill’s philandering, is to be not separated, but firmly divorced from reality and intellectual honesty.