You've all seen this tweet, sent by President Trump twelve hours before polls closed in an election I had totally wrong:
Donald J. Trump
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
8:03 AM - Dec 12, 2017
Amanda Marcotte replied with with three tweets, one of them
Trump supporters, this morning: Step one, read Trump saying Gillibrand would do “anything” for donations, chuckle merrily to yourself while making a rude sexual gesture. Perhaps say something lewd about her to a friend or your wife.
1:21 PM - Dec 12, 2017
Indirectly, Marcotte- not specifying Trump as the recipient of the sexual favor- inadvertently laid the groundwork for Sarah Huckabee Sanders' slick, albeit crassly dishonest, defense of her guy during her Tuesday news conference. Responding to a question about "sexual innuendo" Sanders claimed
I think that the President is very obvious, this is the same sentiment that the President has expressed many times before when he's exposed the corruption of the entire political system. In fact, he's used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women. And certainly in his campaign to drain the swamp. The system is clearly broken, it's clearly rigged for special interests, and this president is someone that can't be bought, and it's one of the reasons that he's President today.
Sanders cleverly misinterpreted Trump's tweet, which Marcotte already had misinterpreted. The President's spokesperson shifted the argument to one about "politicians of both parties" allegedly being corrupt and implied that they beg for money from special interests. After the follow-up question, she remarked "politicians repeatedly beg for money, that's not something new."
But Trump had not referred to Gillibrand specifically or special interests generally. Instead, he spoke of one particular individual who approached one person specifically: someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions... (and would do anything for them).
The President said nothing about other politicians and nothing about any doing things for a myriad of special interests. He said she came to him for money and would do anything for it. It's his fantasy, one not uncommon among men who both long for and ridicule practitioners of the oldest profession.
American Urban Radio reporter April Ryan tried to meet the Administration halfway, choosing not to say that Trump had employed sexual innuendo but merely that it had been interpreted that way. "Are Democrats owed an apology," she asked, "for their misunderstanding of the tweet this morning because they, including the Senator, think it's about sexual innuendo?"
The proper answer- given Sanders' denial(s)- would have been "we cannot be responsible for misinterpretation of the President's statement."
Of course, Sanders chose not to defend the boss but to attack his skeptics. She replied "only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way," thus demonstrating a) she is extraordinarily sexually naive; b) she is a ruthless, crude defender of someone more ruthless and crude than most of us ever have met or heard about; or c) the Administration, valuing only victory and strength, cannot be reasoned with, only challenged and defeated.
I vote (b) and (c). In 2013, Donald J. Trump told Celebrity Apprentice contestant Brande Roderick, a former Playboy playmate, "it must be a pretty picture you dropping to your knee." Some things never change.