Since Fox News chief Roger Ailes backed down from his ill-advised efforts to rile Donald Trump, the network has been back in the former reality TV star's good graces, and Donald Trump played to the network's audience on April 26 during an appearance on Fox and Friends.
What better way to get the right-wing station's audience pumped up -- and remind them of the common enemy -- than attacking Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton?
"I call her 'Crooked Hillary' because she's crooked, and you know the only thing she's got is the woman card," Trump said on Fox and Friends. "That’s all she's got, and it is pandering. It's a weak card in her hands. In another person's hands it could be a powerful card. I'd love to see a woman president, but she's the wrong person.”
For a candidate who loves giving his opponents nicknames -- whether it's Lyin' Ted Cruz, Low Energy Jeb Bush, or Little Marco Rubio -- it was hardly surprising to see Trump debut the Crooked Hillary line, especially now that he's opened up an almost 400-delegate lead over Cruz and has the Republican convention in his sights.
But some, like The Atlantic's David A. Graham, think Teflon Don may be opening gaps in his own political armor by calling Clinton out on her gender politics. Graham acknowledges that Trump's attacks on rivals have been mostly effective while casting doubt on his latest salvo.
"But accusing Clinton of playing the "woman card" is a risky move," Graham writes, "for all the reasons that her zinger in Philly suggested: It’s easily turned around into a positive."
Graham was referring to Clinton's response to Trump's "woman card" line:
“The other day, Mr. Trump accused me, of playing the, quote, ‘woman card,’” Clinton said during a Philadelphia campaign stop. “Well, if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”
Here's the thing: Trump isn't wrong. Whether suggesting it or outright saying it, Clinton has been making the case that women ought to be supporting her if they know what's good for their own interests.
That pitch backfired disastrously in February when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem joined the candidate at a New Hampshire rally and chastised young women who were supporting Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.
"Young women have to support Hillary Clinton. The story is not over!" Albright said, according to the Guardian. "They’re going to want to push us back. Appointments to the supreme court make all the difference."
"It’s not done and you have to help," Albright continued. "Hillary Clinton will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other."
In other words: Hillary is a woman, therefore women must support her, and those who don't are traitors to their own gender. Or something like that.
Not only did that tone-deaf pitch alienate young female voters, it was condescending to women in general. It's essentially telling women that they shouldn't vote for the candidate they like, the candidate whose policies best reflect their worldview, nor should they vote for the person with the best track record -- instead, they should vote for a candidate because she has the same genitals they do.
That point was underscored during an April 27 phone interview on the Today Show, when co-cost Savannah Guthrie pressed Trump on his "woman card" assertion.
Trump, Guthrie said, was arguing that “the only thing [Clinton] has going for her is that she was a woman, not that she was a former senator, former secretary of state and lawyer.”
“Do you understand why people find that to be kind of a demeaning comment?” Guthrie asked.
“I think they vote for security, I think they vote for jobs and that’s why I’m doing so well, that’s why I’m leading the Republicans a lot,” Trump responded.
But isn't it equally -- or more -- demeaning to argue that only a female politician can legislate in the interest of women? Isn't it demeaning and intellectually dishonest to cast Clinton as some sort of prophesied Breaker of Glass Ceilings, as if she's the U.S. politics version of Game of Thrones' Queen Khaleesi? Doesn't it diminish the political power of female voters to insist that gender above all else is the determining factor in whom they support politically?
The truth is that women don't particularly like Clinton either, if consistent national polls are to be believed. As Graham notes, a recent Gallup poll shows Clinton with a negative approval rating among female voters. A Suffolk poll found even less support for the former First Lady among women, and aggregate polls show at least half of the female electorate has a negative view of her.
Then there's the inconvenient fact that Clinton, Champion of Women, can be especially vicious when confronted by women who don't support her. Whether it's Clinton shaming the women who accused her husband of sexual abuse, Clinton jabbing her finger and screaming at a female Greenpeace activist at a rally, or insisting that other women judge her by her gender, not her merits, Clinton seems to have no problem demeaning members of her own gender when it suits her politically.
If Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had launched her own presidential campaign, as many Democrats begged her to do, Clinton wouldn't hesitate to tear Warren down by any means possible. Clinton casts herself as a champion of women, but really, she's a champion of herself.
Perhaps Trump is being too blunt, although it's difficult to argue that'll hurt him when it hasn't impacted his campaign in the past. But even people who loathe the real estate magnate and hate his politics cannot deny the logical fallacy he's been pointing out lately -- that an appeal based on gender is demeaning, not empowering, to women.