Hillary Clinton has now learned what some of Donald Trump's GOP rivals have discovered about him: You won't attack him with impunity, and you'd better not be vulnerable on the very same issue.
Trump used colorful language to describe Barack Obama's trouncing of Clinton in 2008 and also disparagingly referred to her prolonged bathroom break during the most recent Democratic presidential debate.
Trump's tactics and choice of language aside, Clinton clearly miscalculated her response, thinking that she could both brush Trump back and score points on his back by invoking the gender card. But you don't succeed against someone by attacking the very practice that has elevated him to the top — in this case his skewering of political correctness.
With no more sincerity than when she pathetically lapsed into African-American dialect in a black church some time ago, Clinton opportunistically exclaimed, "I really deplore the tone of his campaign and the inflammatory rhetoric that he is using to divide people and his going after groups of people with hateful, incendiary rhetoric."
As if that weren't enough, Clinton added, "His bigotry, his bluster, his bullying have become his campaign." In a later interview, Clinton continued to pile on, saying Trump has a "penchant for sexism."
I needn't defend Trump's choice of words here, but I will say that I don't believe he uttered them out of sexism or out of hatred. Trump, in my view, often uses provocative language against his opponents to get under their skin and to further prove that he will not kowtow to political correctness. That is what Trump was doing to Clinton — and it worked.
Clinton fell right into Trump's trap. By accusing Trump of sexism, she opened herself wide to his counter-counter, and he was ready. He happily threw that back in her face, citing husband Bill Clinton's undeniable penchant for sexism, which, by the way, Hillary Clinton grossly and persistently enabled — for example, with her ruthless handling of the famed "bimbo eruptions."
Hillary Clinton also accused the big, bad, mean, powerful, Putin-approved billionaire of bigotry and bullying. One would think that such a politically ambitious woman with ready access to the wisest political advice money can buy would appreciate the risk in her playing the gender card while trying to project an image of toughness and strength. Does it not occur to Clinton that there's an embarrassing contradiction in portraying herself as a hypersensitive, weak and vulnerable woman while holding herself out as our enemies' worst nightmare?
It's silly enough for her to think she can score points against Trump for allegedly bullying her but downright delusional to expect that those points will accrue to her benefit when national security is foremost on Americans' minds. Clinton is supposed to be the hawkish Democrat, remember? How many hawks do you know who are preoccupied with chivalrous men bending over to pick up their handkerchiefs?
Isn't the modern feminist's agenda to impose gender neutrality — to make it taboo to suggest there is any difference between men and women in any way, especially in their respective abilities to handle difficult workplace or political challenges? Of course that's what they want, except when it serves their interest to have it both ways.
Remember when Clinton and her handlers went ballistic when Rick Lazio, her Republican opponent for the U.S. Senate seat in New York, "invaded her space" on the debate stage? Clinton pretended to be mortified. Uber-feminist Clinton was reduced to "I am woman. Hear me roar, but don't you dare roar back. Don't even look at me crossways."
But in Clinton's case, there isn't an ounce of sincerity in her protests of sexism. With all due respect, she does not exude femininity on her softest day, and I don't believe for a second she's offended by Trump's comments any more than she was by Lazio's innocuous gestures. She is simply a political animal who will use whatever tools she has on any given day — hoping we'll forget what she did the previous day.
Apart from her bogus invocation of the gender card, we must also note that her counterattacks, some delivered by surrogates, were way more over-the-top than anything Donald Trump said. Clinton ally Ellen Tauscher said: "We are watching The Donald melt down. His racist, sexist, xenophobic rants are now wearing on people generally." It is a bit rich for Clinton and her gaggle of harridans to complain about Trump's scatological remarks and then turn around and accuse him of the worst kind of isms and phobias.
There is no chance Clinton will gain ground against Trump with this charade, but there is a real risk she'll do lasting damage to her coveted mystical image as a competent future commander in chief.
For my fellow Republicans concerned about all the GOP infighting going on, perhaps you can gain some solace in Clinton's penchant for unforced errors.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is "The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament." Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.