So, Camp Trump has decided, again, that the smart thing to do is to go after Hillary Clinton because her husband was unfaithful to her. When you're facing an opponent who has had trouble being taken as human and sympathetic, what better way to go?
And of course, because I am a human being with a functioning brain stem, I wondered, "How does a serial adulterer on his third marriage go after a woman for having been cheated on?" Only this week did I realize the question was really, "How do THREE serial adulterers on their third marriages go after a woman for having been cheated on?" Because it's Trump, Gingrich, and Giuliani, with their nine marriages between them, harping on the disqualifying vice of having a husband betray you.
Then it became clear: these men hate and fear Hillary Clinton exactly because she is a first wife. She reminds them of their own abandoned first wives, whom they hate and fear. And, because they scapegoat those wives, blaming the women they betrayed and abandoned for their own betrayal and abandonment, it seems only logical to them, as the night follows the day, that Bill's behavior is all Hillary Clinton's fault.
Don't believe me? Here's a notorious tweet from Frank Lutz (a Republican), highlighting a text sent to him by a Republican Congressman:
What's striking about that, first, is that the Unknown Republican Congressman does not distinguish between his wife and his mother: both "bitchy" old women who make him feel anxious about his own authority. What's even more striking, on reflection, is that the Unknown Republican does not like his wife or his mother. He thinks of them both as bitches. I myself, happen to be fond of both my mother and my spouse, and have never had the least trouble telling them apart. But maybe I'm just some liberal.
Trump, Gingrich, and Giuliani are counting on the electorate as a whole seeing things the way they do, on a pretty primal psychological level. They are counting on everyone else's hostility to first wives, to female authority figures, to mothers. That seems like a mistake. Part of what they are banking on is what Josh Marshall talks about as dominance and aggression, where the victims you mistreat are shamed for being weak enough to abuse. The thinking here is that Secretary/Senator Clinton is weak and contemptible because she let Bill cheat on her. But this leaves out the part where Hillary can routinely outdo all three of these chuckleheads. Note, for example, that Rudy Giuliani somehow never managed to become Senator for New York. Newt Gingrich hasn't won an election in twenty years. And Trump's last debate involved Hillary Clinton slapping him all around the room. If they're trying to brand her as a loser, they should really check their own resumes.
But it's deeper than that. Men like Trump and his spittle-flying monkeys hate their first wives because they fear them. Those men, and I am using that term loosely, don't have the confidence or security to deal with strong, accomplished partners their own age. So they run to younger, weaker, partners who are easier to push around. Guys like Trump, Gingrich, and Giuliani couldn't even feel confident dealing with their second wives, and ran to a third.
(In related news, they also traded in for overtly sexier partners, but this may be because the men's libido is waning as they age and they need much more stimulation than they used to. Libido isn't masculinity, but Trump thinks it is, and it's not clear he has the libido for a sexy older woman. Don't let the Slovenian model fool you: tweetmeister Trump isn't doing anything important in bed at 3 am.)
This is not alpha male behavior. It's a desperate imitation of alpha male behavior, getting a series of younger and more easily controlled wives as "trophies" of the personal confidence they badly lack. Bill Clinton, for whom confidence has never been the big problem, has no problem dating a major world leader. He clearly enjoys it. His ego is not only strong enough to let his wife be the boss sometimes, but to let her be the boss of the free world for four to eight years. Bill Clinton does not seem intimidated by that possibility in the least. But it obviously makes Trump's testicles shrink in fear, just like it makes Gingrich's and Giuliani's. Their response to Hillary Clinton is terrified rage.
Trump is banking on the rest of the country feeling the same primal fear and hatred that he feels when a strong woman is speaking. And he's partly right. There are a lot of little men out there. The bad news for Trump is that the men who are most like him are losers.
[Note: I have edited this post to remove a badly-thought-out jibe about Trump's testosterone levels, upon the advice of a commenter below.]