Trump on Women: Should’ve Said Something Else

Trump on Women: Should’ve Said Something Else

Some­thing Mr. Trump said remind­ed me of a piece Win­ston Churchill wrote in 1947: The DreamBut he might not entire­ly rel­ish the reminder. (And this is not, believe me, any attempt to com­pare Trump to Churchill.)

The Dream, 1947. Paint­ing by Sal Asaro (

The Dream is a styl­ish short sto­ry about Churchill’s imag­i­nary con­ver­sa­tion with the ghost of his father, Lord Ran­dolph Churchill, who died in 1895. In a touch­ing, rather sad con­ver­sa­tion, the 73-year-old Win­ston relates to the 45-year-old Ran­dolph all that has hap­pened since 1895, with­out dis­clos­ing the roles he him­self had played.

They dis­cuss elec­tions. Lord Ran­dolph asks, “What is the franchise?”

“Uni­ver­sal,” his son replies. “Even the women have votes.”

“Good gra­cious!” Ran­dolph exclaims. Win­ston replies: “They are a strong prop to the Tories [Con­ser­v­a­tives]. It did not turn out as bad­ly as I thought.”

“You don’t allow them in the House of Com­mons?” his father asks.

“Oh, yes. Some of them have even been Min­is­ters. There are not many of them. They have found their level.”

Barbara Langworth with Lady Thatcher, Washington, 1993.
Bar­bara Lang­worth with Lady Thatch­er, Wash­ing­ton, 1993.

Lady Thatcher, 1993

Fast-for­ward to 1993 when I pre­sent­ed a copy of The Dream to Mar­garet Thatch­er, recent­ly retired after serv­ing as prime min­is­ter from 1979 to 1990.

She sent her thanks, admit­ting it had kept her up most of the night: “I read it in the ear­ly hours of this morn­ing and am total­ly fas­ci­nat­ed by the imag­i­na­tion of the sto­ry and how much it reveals of Win­ston the man and the son.”

Lat­er I learned that when she got to the part about women in Par­lia­ment, she laughed uproar­i­ous­ly, as she had a right to do, and dined out on Churchill’s line sev­er­al times.

It is a sad com­men­tary on our decline into rote-think and man­u­fac­tured-offense that such a remark by a politi­cian today would go viral across the Twitterverse—a sin, in mod­ern con­ven­tion, of geno­ci­dal mag­ni­tude. Of course, nobody would say any­thing like that today. Or would they?

The worst thing about the elec­tion is the dia­logue. (

Mr. Trump, 2016

Fast-for­ward again to pres­i­den­tial aspi­rant Don­ald Trump dis­cussing his pre­sump­tive oppo­nent: “I think the only card she has is the women’s card. She has noth­ing else going.” If she were a man, he added, “I don’t think she’d get 5% of the vote.”

Good grief. It is 2016 not 1947. You just don’t say such things any­more. People’s nerves are rubbed much raw­er today than even in Lady Thatcher’s time.

His words were odd­ly inco­her­ent. Did he mean, for exam­ple, “We don’t want a woman pres­i­dent”? Or did he mean, “Just not this woman”? After all, there is plen­ty of time, espe­cial­ly for vot­ers under six­ty, to elect a woman president.

Nobody knows what Mr. Trump real­ly meant except Mr. Trump. But the times call for greater pre­ci­sion. He might have said, for example:

“I think the only card she has is the women’s card. She’s count­ing on some­thing we all accept: a woman hold­ing the office. Fair enough. But you also have to con­sid­er a person’s record and qual­i­fi­ca­tions. And dis­re­gard­ing gen­der, those wouldn’t get 5% of the vote.”

As Churchill explained to the ghost of his father: “…politi­cians [are] more mealy-mouthed than in your day. And pub­lic meet­ings are much less fun. You can’t say the things you used to.” And that was in 1947!

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