Perhaps White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short hasn't spent much time around women.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to cast Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel as an opportunity to empower women. But senior Trump adviser Marc Short quickly exposed the cynicism of that ploy.
And he did so in a truly bizarre fashion.
After helping talk Haspel out of withdrawing her nomination this weekend, Sanders tweeted that “Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes [Haspel’s] nomination is a total hypocrite.”
But Short undermined that notion Monday morning with a veterinary-sounding reference to Haspel that demonstrated the Trump administration’s complete disconnect from women.
MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson asked Short why Sanders chose this particular tactic.
“I think there’s plenty of people on the other side that play ‘the women card,'” Short said. “I don’t think that what makes Gina the best qualified is the fact that she’s a female.”
He claimed her experience at the CIA and the fact that Haspel would be the first woman to lead the agency “add to her resume.”
Democrats don’t oppose Haspel because she’s a woman. Nor should any particular woman gain automatic support simply because of her gender.
In Haspel’s case, the opposition comes from her participation in torture. But Trump has made it clear that part of her resume is a bonus for him.
“My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.
The comments from Sanders and Short illustrate how the Trump administration tries to have it both ways on this issue. It excludes and denigrates women while exploiting feminist politics when it’s convenient.
As a candidate, Trump attacked the throng of women who accused him of sexual assault — which he bragged about committing — and harassment. He continued attacking women after assuming office, even openly harassing New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Twitter.
Senior aides, including Sanders, tried to cover up the domestic abuse scandal involving former aide Rob Porter. When that scandal blew up, they sent Kellyanne Conway out to defend Trump. And the administration tried to blame then-communications director Hope Hicks for the debacle.
Trump has also turned his hostility toward women into action, promoting policies that restrict access to health care. And he has elevated scant few women to Cabinet positions or judicial appointments.
Yet like Sanders and Short, Trump does not hesitate to co-opt women even if it means absurdly trying to take credit for women protesting him.
Using a superficial understanding of feminism to demand support for someone who participated in torture programs is the latest proof that this White House knows nothing about women. Or to use Marc Short’s vernacular, “females.”