June 9, 2016

About the anti-Trumpers insult of the moment: thin-skinned.

Hillary said it: Trump is "thin-skinned and quick to anger [and] lashes out at the smallest criticism."  And now Elizabeth Warren has said it: "Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself,"

So let's think about this word. My first thought is, it's just an old trick to get your interlocutor to stop talking, like saying he's being "defensive." Who has not encountered an antagonist who criticizes you and then, when you respond, says something like: "Oh, I guess I hit a nerve" or "Don't be so defensive" or "You're awfully thin-skinned" or "You need to grow a thicker skin"? It's a call for unilateral disarmament! They want to keep attacking you, while you demonstrate how good you are at not fighting back. To be called "thin-skinned" heightens the aggravation yet if you react, they'll glory in your proving of their point. Aha! So you are thin-skinned! They knew it!

You've had that experience, haven't you? What did you do? 1. Accept the insight into your personality problems and try to model forbearance and a willingness to absorb blows without lashing back, 2. Withdraw from this fight and resolve to extract yourself from future discussions that might cause you to feel that you need to fight, 3. Confront your antagonist on his self-interested, phony psychoanalysis and insist on your right to respond to his attacks with commensurate forcefulness, 4. Ignore the distraction of the meta-conversation — the conversation about the conversation — and just keep fighting hard on the substantive issues that you were already talking about, 5. Take up the challenge of turning it into an argument about psychological shortcomings and hurl some equivalent insults at your opponent.

Now that you've thought about how you respond to this conversational gambit, think about what you want in a President. Maybe a good President needs all 5 options (and more), but it's obvious that all #1 all the time — or all #2 — would be absurd. I like ##3 and 4. Trump seems to like #5 —"If she wants to go the low road, I'm fine with that... I can handle the low road if I have to do it" — or at least he knows how to make his opponents feel they're not going to win that game.

But maybe Hillary and Elizabeth Warren think that "thin-skinned" is the one mean insult that can work, because it's the one where, when you try to return fire, you seem to be confirming their assessment. They also like it because it seems to fit a strategy of scaring people. The idea is that a thin-skinned President might lose his temper and take us into a war. Do people believe that? We've been in a lot of wars, but did they ever arise from a President getting mad? There have been bad decisions to go to war, but I think these had more to do with grim, sober analysis or with political calculation. Still, there's always the idea of the button. Hillary followed her "thin-skinned" remark with: "Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?"

Anyway, I got very interested in this word "thin-skinned" and did a search in the NYT archive. Here's a 1998 essay by Frank Rich recommending the "old-fashioned adjective thin-skinned" to describe the complaints of perpetually offended Americans:
Let any theater, museum or entertainment company float a project that might offend someone -- even sight unseen -- and that someone will scream, tempting the offending party to retreat or stick to the tried, the safe and the PG-rated in the future. No one can call this insidious syndrome censorship, because the protesters are always careful to say they are not demanding censorship and their targets are equally careful to say expressly that they do not back down in response to protests. But it's a disingenuous dance. Does anyone believe that NBC elected not to rerun the Puerto Rican Parade ''Seinfeld'' episode for any reason other than the public complaints? Or that the Library of Congress postponed an exhibit on Freud solely for budgetary reasons rather than because of a heated petition campaign by such prominent anti-Freudians as Gloria Steinem? This cautious cultural climate -- fueled by the right, the left and virtually every religious, ethnic and racial group -- can't be accurately described by that tortured term P.C., which is always in the eye of the beholder anyway. A better term would be that old-fashioned adjective thin-skinned
So Rich wanted to use the insult "thin-skinned" to push back political correctness. How interestingly Trump-related! Trump is notoriously thick-skinned when it comes to political correctness and his antagonists are betting on the thin skin of American voters, whom they nudge to feel outrage at anything Trump might say that could be interpreted as racist/sexist/xenophobic.

And here's something from April 5, 2008, when Hillary was fighting Barack Obama for the presidential nomination. Some young Obama supporter fretted about the hostility she'd been expressing toward Obama, and she said:
“For those of you who are new to politics,” she said, “it can be a little eye-opening especially when you choose sides and you’re for one or the other of us you can take personally anything one of us or the other says. Believe it or not, there have even been some things said about me. I don’t take it personally. I don’t take most of it seriously.”

Then, suggesting that perhaps Mr. Obama, or at least his supporters, were a bit thin-skinned, she added, “If you can’t take the heat, don’t run for president, because it’s a really hot kitchen in the White House. You’re supposed to present your case and critique the other case,” she added. “It is not a coronation. This nomination is worth fighting for and I’m going to fight for it.”
Isn't it funny? Obama is often praised for his cool temperament, but he's also been called "thin-skinned" quite a lot.

I think we should be thin-skinned about "thin-skinned." It's a tricky insinuation about a person, and I think we should be sensitive about it. I'll even be so sensitive as to suggest that it's an under-the-radar race word: Why are we talking about a person's skin?

122 comments:

pdug said...

If Trump were black, "thin-skinned" would be a racist dog whistle.

Michael K said...

Obama is pretty "thin-skinned" himself.

"I won."

Nobody can tell about Hillary. She has not talked to a normal human in years.

Brando said...

You really think being "thin skinned" doesn't get us into war? Maybe we haven't had an example of being "thin skinned" getting us into war, but personality traits have definitely affected decisions to go to war.

How else would you describe Lyndon Johnson refusing to get out of Vietnam, justifying it with his defensiveness about what the Republicans would say about him? Or McKinley letting himself be goaded by imperialists and yellow journalists and going to war with Spain? You can defend the sober merits and downsides of those wars, but you cannot deny that those decisions to intervene were largely shaped by the personality traits of the presidents getting us into them.

And this is not a Hillary endorsement, either--her own need to overcompensate (perhaps because she thinks people figure she's weak because she's a woman) led her to repeatedly support war in her public life. We look at what presidents say they'll do, but we also have to get a measure of their personality traits to see how they'll make war decisions when the time comes. Think about what you know about Trump and what you know about Hillary in terms of their personalities, and you have a good sense of how they will react in crisis situations.

Brando said...

"Nobody can tell about Hillary."

Maybe I don't have absolute certainty, but I'd bet she will take the more militaristic approach to every choice she faces as commander in chief.

ObeliskToucher said...

Next up: That ever-popular morsel of condescension -- "Don't get so excited!"

traditionalguy said...

The Clinton Gang is pushing a Fear of Trump starting a nuclear war. It works on many women and weak men. Since the 1964 LBJ Daisy ad, the fear of Nuclear Armageddon has reached many voters in their souls.

The latest line is that Trump is emotionally retarded.

Nonapod said...

I think the more interesting behavior of Trump is that he doesn't automatically apologize when people take offense, or at least claim to be offended, by something he says. In fact, more often than not he doubles down on his original statement. This behavior obviously is very appealing to a large swath of the electorate. People are tired of feeling shame and feeling that they constantly have to apologize.

In our modern super sensitive social media culture, people are often shouted down, roundly shamed, and even condemned for anything objectionable. It's gotten old and tiresome. It's logical that there would be pushback. And it's logical that there will be pushback to the pushback. It's as if we're trying to reach some sort of cultural equilibrium again after the cultural ingestion of this new thing (the thing being social media). It's like you suddenly added all this new voices and opinions to the dialog and now adjustments need to be made.

Saint Croix said...

When Donald Trump was called "thin-skinned" he thought it was a criticism of his appearance! And so he said, "I have very strong, very thick skin."

Wilbur said...

I'm sure that for months they've focus-group tested "thin-skinned" and "emotionally retarded" and every other insult they could think of. It's what they do.

Saint Croix said...

And my hands are normal-sized! Maybe slightly larger than normal! I do not have deformed hands! Look at my hands, they are beautiful!

David said...

Elizabeth Warren: "Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself."

Isn't projection wonderful? It explains so much.

Michael K said...

"How else would you describe Lyndon Johnson refusing to get out of Vietnam,"

I don't think that was it. Johnson, like Obama, was all about politics. Soldiers' lives were of no account.

Hillary is similar.

Johnson waited until after the 1964 election to allow a rescue mission to the Congo where the Simbas where holding hundreds of European hostages

For four months, nearly 2,000 Americans and Europeans had been held prisoner deep in the Congolese jungle by the Simba, a rebel army named after the Swahili word for “lion.” Among them were the American and Belgian consulate staffs, CIA agents, missionaries, businessmen, and permanent residents of Stanleyville. Their captors wore palm leaves, leopard skins, and magical relics to make themselves immune to bullets. They practiced ceremonial cannibalism, believing the hearts of their victims would imbue them with power.

Brando said...

"I don't think that was it. Johnson, like Obama, was all about politics."

But even if it was all about politics, it was the way LBJ saw his political fortunes that drove him deeper into that war, even when his advisers were telling him there was no winning it. Politically, he could have benefitted by refusing to commit substantial ground troops and evacuating the JFK-era advisers if the VC overran the country, saying it was too bad but the ARVN had the primary responsibility to defend themselves (as he'd promised in 1964). But he was more fearful that the Republicans would say he "lost Vietnam" comparing it to Truman with China, and once he got started he used the usual LBJ m.o.--keep on pushing until the other side breaks.

I'm not sure another president in his shoes would have gotten so deeply involved in that war. It seemed very Johnson-esque.

Peter said...

" I'll even be so sensitive as to suggest that it's an under-the-radar race word: Why are we talking about a person's skin?"

No, you're being thin-skinned about visible differences. The metaphor is appropriate because skin is the body's first defense against invasion by infectious organisms and contaminants.

walter said...

Ben Carson can tell you all about Trump's "high road".

walter said...

Hey..where's Trump's bud Christie these days?

YoungHegelian said...

@Miriam,

What has been thrown at Hillary for years now has toughened up her skin

The Inspector General of the State Department begs to differ.....

Chuck said...

Well, there's always "short-fingered."

That one has a documented history of getting under Donald Trump's fantastically thin skin:

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/10/graydon-carter-donald-trump

(Must read, by the way. Even without the explicit reference to "thin skin.")

Miriam said...


"I think we should be thin-skinned about "thin-skinned." It's a tricky insinuation about a person, and I think we should be sensitive about it. I'll even be so sensitive as to suggest that it's an under-the-radar race word: Why are we talking about a person's skin."

How odd and thin skinned of Trump supporters to agonize so over someone saying he's thin skinned. Warren told the truth about him, he is exactly what she said, probably worse. It's interesting to see the attempts to muzzle Trump detractors by making them appear to be unfair in their critisicm of him. It doesn't take much insight to see most of those criticisms are based in very obvious truth. Saying he's thin skinned is being generous and actually accurate when insulting him. What has been thrown at Hillary for years now has toughened up her skin. Trump could take a lesson, but he seems unable to change his ways. And what is racial about saying someone has thin skin? Thin skin can be any color, even orange

Nonapod said...

And I agree that "thin skinned" isn't a very appropriate or descriptive insult for Trump. In my estimation he's not sensitive, he doesn't seem to get emotionally hurt when someone insults him. Rather he looks on an insult as an attack and he responds quickly. He fights back. He doesn't let things go. That's not exactly thin skinned, just reactive.

Personally I don't like that style in a president. I subscribe to the school that a president should be presidential. That is, they should be above getting down in the mud. I'd like a president who is perhaps a shade elitist I guess, or at least someone who can separate what's really important from what's just senseless bickering.

eric said...

Democrats are thin skinned. If you point out a judge is biased they have a race to see who can get into their safe spaces first.

Elizabeth Warren shouldn't be talking about skin. She pretended for years that hers was red so she could get into college and get a nice job. Dennis Miller has some pretty funny stuff regarding old Fauxcahontas. Tell her yes, I'm thin skinned but youre ugly and tomorrow I'll thicken my skin, but you'll still be ugly.

Then sit back and watch who really has the thin skin.

walter said...

By the way, Ann. A much clearer assessment of Trump's fallback approach is Ad Hominem attack. Less about thickness of skin, more about deflection.
Of course, you might determine that to be "Trump derangement syndrome"
Trump that bitch!

TML said...

For years now I tell people that if they say I'm being defensive, I'll punch them in the face to prove I'm not. Such a weak rhetorical gambit.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...I think we should be thin-skinned about "thin-skinned." It's a tricky insinuation about a person, and I think we should be sensitive about it. I'll even be so sensitive as to suggest that it's an under-the-radar race word: Why are we talking about a person's skin?

Yeah, when did we stop talking about BODIES? You know, "my black body," as TNCoates refers to himself? It was all body this and body that, female body, black & brown bodies...that's still a thing, or no?

Mike Sylwester said...

For Trump's behavior, I suggest the word retaliatory.

Chuck said...

From the New York Times:

The 224 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html?_r=0


It isn't 224 insults, mind you. The number of insults is a logarithmic multiple of 224. Each of Trump's chosen targets has been insulted in a variety of ways and often on multiple occasions by Mr. Trump.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Miriam said...How odd and thin skinned of Trump supporters to agonize so over someone saying he's thin skinned.

Miriam is categorizing Professor Althouse as a Trump supporter. I laugh at you, Miriam--I laugh.

Fabi said...

Trump fights back all the time regardless of offense -- that's more fighter than thin-skinned.

Hill and Lizzy have held court with an adoring media for so long that they probably believe they have thick skin. They don't.

Ann Althouse said...

"How else would you describe Lyndon Johnson refusing to get out of Vietnam, justifying it with his defensiveness about what the Republicans would say about him?"

That wasn't getting angry. That was political calculation.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Chuck said...It isn't 224 insults, mind you. The number of insults is a logarithmic multiple of 224. Each of Trump's chosen targets has been insulted in a variety of ways and often on multiple occasions by Mr. Trump.

Does "thin skinned" = "insults people a lot" to you, Chuck? I'm not sure what you're trying to show, here. Trump attacks people frequently and does so in ways more expected from a celebrity/reality TV star than from a typical politician. Ok, sure, I think we all agree on that. So?

Chuck said...

There is also the incomparable Trump ridiculing of the disabled Times reporter. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video comprises thousands of pictures, let's go to that video:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/11/26/donald-trump-mocks-reporter-with-disability-berman-sot-ac.cnn

Boxty said...

If Trump was thin skinned, he would have cut his hair decades ago. He has weathered attacks against him, his family, and his businesses for the past year without breaking. I'd say Trump is incredibly tough.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...That wasn't getting angry. That was political calculation.

Probably, yes; does that make it better or worse (morally speaking) to you, Professor?

It seems to me if someone is prone to emotional reaction/overreaction that might count against them in terms of character, but as long as they take steps to correct or address the problem it doesn't have to be a moral failure.
On the other hand if someone takes an action (a bad/wrong one) not based on their emotional/irrational reaction but instead based on a cold, detached, rational political calculation, most people would view that 2nd person as more morally culpable/morally worse. Right? Sort of the difference between 1st degree murder (with premeditation & deliberation) and manslaughter, yeah?

ellamentary said...

Sigh. So now Dr. Althouse doesn't filter a defense of poor maligned and misunderstood Donald Trump through a reference to a Scott Adams blogpost, but starts the ball rolling on her own. That's good, I suppose, as I suffer from Adams fatigue. Do you honestly think Mr. Trump is NOT thin-skinned, professor? This is not to say that President Obama has not also displayed a remarkable inability to accept the slightest criticism--- I find the two men quite alike in that regard. Mr. Trump, however, takes his hair-trigger response to every single insult and his insistence that his own attacks on others are simply "hitting back" because he claims to have been hit first to a whole new level.

The Romans used to claim that they never started a war--- all the wars were always thrust upon them and they were always only playing defense. The Third Punic War was particularly hard to defend on those grounds, but goodness knows there were Roman politicians who did so anyway. Similarly, Trump defenders seem to think their candidate is just a scrappy guy who is standing up for himself against the slings and arrows of mean-spirited liberals and RINOs and sundry others. Poppycock.

Miriam said...

Trump is so thin skinned about his penis size he even mentioned it in Republican primary debate! Ohhhhh no he's not thin skinned, lol. It was so important to him that he had to hold up his hands and comment about the size during a debate, unbelievable.

Virgil Hilts said...

We have what 3 books out by former Secret Service agents describing HC going ballistic and breaking things and screaming at underlings, and Bill's ex-lover saying the only way to calm HC down involved making sure a certain illegal narcotic drug was available.
If I were advising Trump, that's what I would come back with.
As to Fauxcahontas, its like shooting atsadi in a barrel.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you honestly think Mr. Trump is NOT thin-skinned, professor?"

It's a metaphor. The word is USED in a particular way. I'm interested in rhetoric, the effect of speech on the human mind, and the social interaction that is argument, especially in the process of power-seeking.

Your question therefore strikes me as just weird. What are you really trying to say? I've done some rephrasings of the meaning of the word. What is the relevant meaning that attaches to a question that you are trying to ask?

Chuck said...

Hoodlum Doodlum: Dude, I think we are in agreement! Yay! Yes, Donald Trump is a habitual insulter of people. And his attacks are more often than not personal. And that manner of discourse is more in keeping with a reality tv star, than an American statesman.

I am so relieved.

So with all of that, the notion that anybody ought to have the slightest twinge about calling Donald Trump "thin-skinned," is about the biggest non-issue of the week, right?

Karl Rove made a wonderful point in today's Wall Street Journal. He observed that in a week where Hillary Clinton tried her level best to attack Donald Trump on foreign policy and a diplomatic temperament, Trump's chosen counter-attack was not to challenge the Barack/Hillary foreign policy record. Trump instead chose more of the personal shit.

"Clinton Grooves a Pitch, Trump Whiffs":
http://www.wsj.com/articles/clinton-grooves-a-pitch-trump-whiffs-1465425890

Ann Althouse said...

Why shouldn't a politician defend himself when he is attacked?

Why should personal attacks, psychoanalysis, work to disable a politician from responding to attacks?

It's a pretty stupid issue, but the word is being used because it is believed to be effective. Maybe it's an effective attack in some ways, but if the question is who's more likely to involve us in war, Hillary or Trump, I don't think the analysis has much to do with whether Trump likes to respond in words to words aimed at him.

Ann Althouse said...

Trump mainly RESPONDS to attacks.

He says that's what he does. ("I'm a great counterpuncher.")

And his treatment of his GOP opponents over the months of the campaign shows that. Ted Cruz was the last opponent standing because Cruz avoided attacking him while there were others there to draw fire.

Brando said...

"That wasn't getting angry. That was political calculation."

It wasn't political calculation to keep escalating even as the war was getting less popular (particularly with his own base) and his advisers were telling him he couldn't win it. Maybe "angry" isn't the right word, but "frustrated" at not being able to bend things to his will--a very Johnsonesque trait of his personality--was clearly at play. Do you really think his personality--the guy who bulldozes his way into everything from winning elections to passing legislation to marrying his wife--did not cause him to turn Vietnam from a distant foreign policy retreat (of which we had many minor ones in the Cold War) to a quagmire?

/giggity

Brando said...

"Trump mainly RESPONDS to attacks."

I get you're in the Trump tank now, and good luck with that, but there's a big difference between responding to attacks and going after every perceived slight no matter how minor. Do you want a president endlessly occupied with every journalist or twitter user who says something he doesn't like? A president who seems to base his every judgment about any person on whether that person kisses his ass?

Sure, it doesn't mean nuclear war, but it hardly makes for good governance. But remember that when you go back into TrumpWorld.

Big Mike said...

How have I responded? Mostly #3 with a tincture of #5. (Or is it mostly #5 with a little #3?)

In my lifetime I'd rate Barack Obama as the president with the thinnest skin. I'd rate George W. Bush as having the thickest skin, to the point where I think it was a liability. He needed to push back much harder on his critics. When the Washington Post, among others, accused him about lying to get us into war he might have responded by asking the American public whether they wanted a president who ignored what Central Intelligence was telling him? Then fire that dumb shit Tenet and send Cheney into retirement for the 2004 election.

Mark Jones said...

"I am not either thin-skinned!" is a defensive reaction.

"Wow, that's the pot calling the kettle black!" is not. "After all, I'm not the one who [insert long list of unflattering responses to questions/observations by Hilary] when someone got past my defensive line long enough to ask a meaningful question."

Virgil Hilts said...

When people decided to actually investigate EW's bogus claim to native american heritage -- which EW blatantly used to get onto the Harvard faculty at a time when HLS was desperate to hire "minority" candidates" -- she called it a "Hate-Filled Attack On My Family."
That sounds kind of thin-skinned to me.

Miriam said...

It takes someone with very thin skin to respond during a presidential primary debate to an attack on his 'manhood' by another candidate at a non debate event the day before. His thin skin drove him to do something very dumb. Retaliatory tweeting and retaliatory comments at his rallies weren't enough revenge for him? He felt the need to bring it up during a debate, made him look like an idiot.What else will his thin skin drive him to do as President of the most powerful nation on earth?

walter said...

"Ted Cruz was the last opponent standing because Cruz avoided attacking him while there were others there to draw fire."
--
Ah..so THAT was why. It was Trump's gift. Got it.

dreams said...

Trump is smart to push back. Bush didn't and that allowed the liberals to negatively define him.

Shahid said...

Ann – Is "thin-skinned" really the anti-Trumper insult "of the moment"? I've seen him being called thin-skinned from the beginning of the race, and like any other insult, even minor ones or ones perceivable only by him, he just escalates it into an insult-fest if he's at all aware of it. Of course, he seems to do the same with substantive questions about his past or his ever changing policy prescriptions.

And I think something is missing in your analysis about "thin-skinned". It is not about responding to insults in kind. It is about: (1) responding to substantive comments as if they were personal attacks; (2) escalating minor and often unintended slights into major insults. The "thin-skinned" person may then break down, attack back/escalate with insults, and/or diverge into an orgy of self-justification, often leaving his interlocutor dumb-founded as to how it came to that.

Of course, I've heard/read various people who know him personally talk about how gracious he is in person. ("Gracious" in many ways being the opposite of "thin-skinned".) There are many of us who will likely leave the presidential section of the ballot blank this time around. If he actually shows some signs of grace publicly, he may be able to change that.

Nonapod said...

Why shouldn't a politician defend himself when he is attacked?

Depends on what the politician is attacked about and the nature of the counter-attack.

A lot of people on the Right felt that GWB didn't defend himself well enough during the whole Iraq War WMD thing. In fact he tended to rarely, if ever, directly respond to criticism throughout most of his presidency. Was this a mistake? If he did respond defensively I honestly don't know it would've made much of a difference, but it would've been nice to at least hear a response.

Some things are worth responding too, some things aren't. Trump seems to respond to just about everything.

Miriam said...

Trump wants to "open up those libel laws" because he has incredibly thin skin. Unsuitable for a President.

walter said...

..usually. but not relative to Hil.

Daniel Jackson said...

Obama has the best retort to such BS. "You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig."

Trump's warning should be heeded, Hillary.

walter said...

"I'm with her."
"Pardon me?"
"No..pardon her."

Shahid said...

Big Mike wrote: In my lifetime I'd rate Barack Obama as the president with the thinnest skin. I'd rate George W. Bush as having the thickest skin, to the point where I think it was a liability.

I agree with this. Bush had so thick a skin that he let his political opponents, whether journalists, members of the other party, or even within his own executive branch, use up all the air in the room. A few well-timed substantive responses would have served him and the Republicans mightily well. (E.g., "Why Iraq?", or "Why financial crisis?".

Michael said...

Word not effective as used by Clinton or Warren. Sounds like whining from them. A kind of nagging.

Fernandinande said...

Chuck said...
The 224 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter:


Neil Young: “total hypocrite”. Young is running a scam, but I think he might be too dumb to realize it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Miriam said...Miriam said...
It takes someone with very thin skin to respond during a presidential primary debate to an attack on his 'manhood' by another candidate at a non debate event the day before. His thin skin drove him to do something very dumb


Dumb why? He was competing to win the Republican nomination. He won the nomination, right? So his stupid, dumb, terrible actions either helped him win or at the very least didn't hurt him enough to lose that competition. Right?

mockturtle said...

When Trump is deliberately misquoted by the MSM, it is not 'thin-skinned' of him to protest.

eric said...

Trumps skin is as thin as Fauxcahontas skin is red.

Miriam said...

"Dumb why? He was competing to win the Republican nomination. He won the nomination, right? So his stupid, dumb, terrible actions either helped him win or at the very least didn't hurt him enough to lose that competition. Right?"

It was dumb because while those antics may have endeared him to his followers it surely didn't endear him to those who he needs to win the Presidency. He's having trouble as we speak from donors who he now depends on giving him their endorsement and financial help. He is so toxic they won't touch him until he can start acting Presidential, or at least normal. It was very dumb not to have the foresight and insight to know that his behavior wouldn't fly in the general. He hadn't pivoted, he is incapable of doing so. It's dumb of him not to listen to his advisors.

walter said...

so in the news, "undocumented" valedictorian getting full ride to Yale. Does Yale offer unlimited scholarships or did she displace somene? This could be a teachable moment for someone with precise control of language....

walter said...

Meanwhile, Hil will point to her as reason for "a bridge, not a wall".
Kathryn Steinle's parents watch..

William said...

During one of the early debates Trump was asked if he would pledge to support the Republican nominee for President. He declined to do so and was roundly booed. I liked the way he shrugged his shoulders and let the boos just roll off him. Trump as president may make any number of mistakes, but I'm pretty sure he will follow his counsel and not be unduly influenced by public opinion. He's thick skinned enough.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Chuck - your conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, so our agreement on the premises doesn't mean we agree on your conclusion.

I take "thin skinned" (as a pejorative) to mean OVERLY sensitive to perceived slights. Demonstrating that someone attacks others frequently doesn't prove they're overly sensitive--especially not when that person is themselves a target of frequent attacks. So agreeing that someone attacks others does not, to me, automatically demonstrate that the person is "thin skinned."

R. Chatt said...

Trump has a way of responding to attacks which some people find disarming. This idea of calling him thin skinned is strictly a preemptive strike, aimed at protecting Hillary although she attempts to present it as her concern for national security (passive aggressive mode).

He's just getting started. Honestly, how in the world could he have won the Republican nomination if he had played the standard play book? He was competing against Senators and Governors, all of whom essentially shared the same policies. Personally I liked the fact that he hits back, even something so stupid as Rubio's suggestion that Trump's "small hands" indicated a small "something else." Rubio didn't say "penis" but Trump just came out and dealt with it. Trump doesn't play passive aggressive, as played by Hillary and Obama and other skilled politicians, where they don't get mad, they get even. Mostly they get even through behind the scenes maneuvers, like IRS targeted audits, the Trump U. lawsuit, sending Obama's political team to Israel to defeat Netanyahu, etc., etc., etc.

I was totally bored by Hillary's victory speech on Tuesday where she mouthed the exact same sentiments and aspirations the Democrats always trot out for the people. Meanwhile the only people who are substantially benefitted are the candidates and their inner circle.

Brando said...

I wouldn't say Trump made no mistakes because "he won the nomination" any more than I'd say the Union Army didn't make mistakes because they eventually won the Civil War. I think even Trump fans would concede that Trump could have done some things smarter (setting up ground game in swing states, not waste his time in CA now that he's got the nomination, not needlessly alienating potential allies) that might have put him in a better position than he is now. Remember--forget about Trump a minute, but Hillary is the most despised and controversial and weakest Democratic nominee since they've been measuring this. She is incredibly vulnerable, and contra Scott Adams, even we Trump critics can picture a scenario where a slightly different Trump would be trouncing her in the polls and setting up a slaughter for the fall. Right now, even a Trump victory is a less than even chance.

mockturtle said...

And the media are always complaining that Trump has no real policies. What are Hillary's 'real policies'? I can rattle off a whole list of Trump's specific proposals but can think of none from the Cackle Queen.

walter said...

Blogger Brando said...
I wouldn't say Trump made no mistakes because "he won the nomination" any more than I'd say the Union Army didn't make mistakes because they eventually won the Civil War.
--
In Trump's case, timing is everything. So much so that arch supporters ar eready and willing to twist themselves into seeing bugs as features.

Miriam said...

Trump has already sealed his fate. He will lose the Presidency in a huge way. Democrats may very well win back the Senate and maybe even the House. Because The Republican establishment have been so wimpy, they'll lose big. He won't pivot, he is not able to pivot, he won't pivot to be more Presidential. The donors and powers that be don't want to be associated with him. Who knows if he won't get cheated out of the nomination somehow. He resents anyone advising him. He may read an occasional scripted speech after a spanking by the establishment , but his resentment is loud and clear and he can only be himself, which would be a good thing if he weren't such a misogynist, racist and bigot.

Miriam said...


You want to know Hillary's policies? Here you go mockturtle. You should've watched some of the Democratic primary debates and Clinton's speeches, which were rich in policy discussion, unlike the Republican debates which were a circus.

mockturtle said...

Miriam, I did watch the Democratic debates. I thought Sanders won every one of them.

veni vidi vici said...

It's interesting that Hillary! used the same attack against Obama in 2008.

If I were advising Trump, I'd be knee deep in her campaign histories (2008; senate race) and diagramming her opponents' reactions and the outcomes for each of her lines of attack. After all, as this campaign season has shown, she is not an original/innovative thinker in the least, and is prone to replay/repeat the same plays from year to year, opponent to opponent, issue to issue.

In other words, she's boring.

Miriam said...


"Miriam, I did watch the Democratic debates. I thought Sanders won every one of them."

I thought so too mockturtle. I am a big Sanders supporter, but I recognize that it's now time to support Clinton, as the alternative is unthinkable. Sanders will have a role and is going to be very loud and clear about what he thinks of Trump.

Matt said...

OMG. What a tortured post! The term thin-skinned is pretty common and has a very definite meaning. Trump fits the bill. Everyone know it. Some don't care because they like Trump. Many others do care because he seems to bruise easily and it's weird because he is running a national political campaign in which personal insults against a candidate are the norm.

Miriam said...

Warren is endorsing Clinton tonight. That will go a long way with the Progressive base and Sanders supporters. Sanders and Warren pulled Clinton to the left, that is one of the reasons Clinton is getting my vote (besides Being a Trump alternative). If Clinton chooses Warren for a running mate, you will see massive turnout, historical.

Achilles said...

Trump is not thin skinned. It is a stupid attack. He has clearly taken the fight to places where nobody else in the republican party would go and he just told the entire GOPe chuckle farm to man up and stop being afraid. He called a liberal member of La Raza who happens to be a federal judge biased. *GASP!* Thin skinned is just a really dumb attack. This will work with people who were supporting Hillary, but everyone else has enough background on both candidates to know she was looking in the mirror when she said it.

Trump is about to lay into her in a way she has never seen. It is going to be glorious and she is going to be out of the race before the convention.

Comanche Voter said...

Ah Elizabeth Warren--she looks at Trump and starts out with pot calling kettle black.

Chief Fauxcahontas is a red skinned person (or at least so she claims) who has never taken a risk or done anything for anybody--other than her own sweet "Indian" self. But she keeps this line of attack up and I will get a chance to vote against both Hillary and Fauxcahontas (who is angling for the Veep slot) this November.

Miriam said...

Warren will take a few scalps before its all said and done. One of them might be bright yellow and look like a caterpillar.

Miriam said...

"Trump is about to lay into her in a way she has never seen. It is going to be glorious and she is going to be out of the race before the convention."


Oooooo, I bet Clinton is just shaking in her boots....

walter said...

If Clinton chooses Warren for a running mate, you will see massive turnout, historical.
--
Does Warren really want to get hitched to machine Clinton?

FullMoon said...

Miriam said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Trump is so thin skinned about his penis size he even mentioned it in Republican primary debate! Ohhhhh no he's not thin skinned, lol. It was so important to him that he had to hold up his hands and comment about the size during a debate, unbelievable.


The man was bragging, not complaining. It is time we had a big swingin' dick in charge, Miriam. Fear not, little one !

campy said...

"I will get a chance to vote against both Hillary and Fauxcahontas (who is angling for the Veep slot) this November."

And in November 2020 as well!

walter said...

Donald J. Trump Retweeted Hillary Clinton

How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up--and where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?

Donald J. Trump added,
Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton
Delete your account. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/740972317191352320 …
--
Trump that bitch!

walter said...

"I think we would be so lucky if Trump won," she (Rosie) told The Hollywood Reporter.
Because then it wouldn't be Hilary."

Oh my..this is all great fun.

walter said...

“[To be honest] we all should delete our accounts,” Will Rahn tweeted.
“Too late for some of us,” Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, said.

richardsson said...

I've become literally thinned skinned. Now, when I tighten bolts, lift heavy objects, shank golf balls, or wrestle with villains in my dreams, I end up with bruises on my forearms. It's something I noticed with my parents and grandparents as well when they grew older. But, I've become immune to insults so I've figuratively become more thick skinned. Yes, I think it is a poor metaphor. I don't think when someone, including Trump, "dishes it back," is necessarily thin skinned. Would you say the two guys in the Bo Diddley song, Hey Man were thin skinned?

dreams said...

"Trump is so thin skinned about his penis size he even mentioned it in Republican primary debate! Ohhhhh no he's not thin skinned, lol. It was so important to him that he had to hold up his hands and comment about the size during a debate, unbelievable."

And Crooked Hillary thinks she should be elected president because she has a vagina.

Quaestor said...

THE BUTTON? Which one is that? The one that reads OVERCHARGE?

walter said...

That she of all would voluntarily invoke the word delete! Giving vagina a bad name.
Maybe there's hope for the big dick after all.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I wonder if we want to talk about Presidents named Clinton and where their fingers have been.in relation to a button while in office.
Can one push a button while simultaneously cramming a cigar inside a young intern? Over to you, Laslo.

M Jordan said...

Trump will accept and amplify: Thin-skinned? Hell, yes I'm thin-skinned and you should be too. We're under assault. We're being slapped around like a piñata. Hillary gave us the thick-skin approach in Benghazi. Do we want more of that?

Michael said...

Crooked Hillary should choose Warren. Trump would then choose Bernie. Don't think he would? Really? With so much overlap between their peeves?

Yep, the country is begging for two scolding women because we need more lectures.

dreams said...

"White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed today during a press briefing that the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server is a “criminal Investigation.” Clinton has steadfastly denied this."

Obviously people other than Republicans think Hillary is a crook.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/06/white-house-acknowledges-the-clinton-probe-is-criminal.php

Michael said...

8 years of lectures haven't been quite enough. We need some from women because if there is one thing men like it is being bitched at.

walter said...

Yes Michael...as soon as he stops calling him "Crazy Bernie"

Rhythm and Balls said...

Giving vagina a bad name.

Hillary is giving vagina a brand name.

Dave in Tucson said...

The would-be leader of the party that gave us "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" calling somebody thin skinned? Oh, that's rich.

These jokers really don't have any shame, do they?

Rhythm and Balls said...

Whew boy. I'll respond to the erroneous Althousisms in a single comment:

"Do you honestly think Mr. Trump is NOT thin-skinned, professor?"

Your question therefore strikes me as just weird. What are you really trying to say?


Psychology is not "weird". It's more real and useful than made-up language-isms.

I'm interested in rhetoric, the effect of speech on the human mind...

Are you really? I doubt it. Not in the way that someone who isn't regularly dropping acid would be. Your stretches and flights of fancy seem to be just that. Human behavior isn't meant just to entertain, though. Sometimes the answers really are simple and not given to being stretched to the point of aesthetic extravagance.

Why shouldn't a politician defend himself when he is attacked?

Why should personal attacks, psychoanalysis, work to disable a politician from responding to attacks?


Trump doesn't just "respond to attacks." Be honest. Trump goes hog wild at the flimsiest perceived slight that it's impossible not to conclude something more clinical about him. Narcissism is a real thing. Look it up. The guy has no self.. not insofar as anything actually belonging to an intact ego. He has an image, and with it a pathological need to stand by with a washcloth constantly at the ready in order to burnish it 24/7. Rub, wax, polish. It's about as textbook pathological a real-life case as they come. And it's dangerous. Other leaders have goals that don't just direct back into their own selves, which makes discussions of their intended actions or policies useful, and the leader amenable to those democratic discussions. Trump however lacks any goals that don't just anchor back into his image and the fragile, tattered ego attached to it. This is why he will say anything and stand for essentially nothing (except the paranoia of impossible wall-building).

Achilles said...

Miriam said...

"Oooooo, I bet Clinton is just shaking in her boots...."

We have already determined that Hillary is of slightly above average intelligence at best. Her only honest accomplishment in the last 3 decades was staying married to a rapist and serial abuser of women. She has accumulated around 3 billion dollars selling influence to a variety of unsavory and foreign interests but how difficult is it to sell political influence?

Rather than list off all of Hillary's failures in office elected and un-elected, witch are legion, let us have a Hillary supporter list off all of her various accomplishments? This ought to be entertaining at least.

jimbino said...

"You're in denial."

Rhythm and Balls said...

Rather than list off all of Hillary's failures in office elected and un-elected, witch are legion, let us have a Hillary supporter list off all of her various accomplishments?

They don't have to. She's still potentially a slightly or even substantively better candidate than Trump. The question is about the range... we don't know. She might only be a little bit better or a lot better, but she's still the lesser of two evils, as far as any concern for stability goes. She's not unhinged enough to suggest shredding longstanding military alliances or booting judges for their ethnicity. And yet, she could very well be as bad a president as many of us suspect. I won't be voting for her, but some of those who will have solid and defensible reasons. And the first of those reasons is that she's not completely bonkers.

I have no idea how good a job either of them will do. But I do know that Hillary's personality, no matter how malignant, is still less unstable than Trump's. And it's probably a woman thing... which must be why she obsesses so much about her own gender. Women tend to be more conservative. They're more afraid of failure. Is it possible Trump would shake up the system in much-needed ways? Sure, I suppose. But for every decent idea he floats he lets rip about ten stinkers, or ten disastrously whopping, self-defeating exaggerations. And that's a problem. His sense of proportion is shakier than Parkinson's disease.

Bruce Hayden said...

Someone suggested the other day that if Hillary had not married Bill, then stayed with him, would probably be a minor partner in a regional law firm. I don't think so, after having worked for one. There is a lot of eating what you kill in such a firm, and she was never good at handling clients, or at least honest ones (I am intentionally ignoring the McDougals and Madison Federal). She was apparently made partner in the Rose Law firm because of the business she would presumably get with her husband as the governor. Except that it apparently didn't work out that way - she was apparently under pressure for lack of billables, and her partnership was at risk as a result, and that was when Bill, sweating from a jog, stopped by to see (I believe) Jim McDougal, who ended up getting the Clintons involved in Whitewater, and Hillary and other Rose lawyers involved in the Madson Federal pyramid scheme. And, yes, she was not only the billing partner there, but also, she or one of the other partners (notably Vince Foster) was at all the meetings when the pyramid shenanigans were discussed - which is why her billing records were hidden for so long. She would likely have been disbarred for that, if she hadn't been First Lady by the time the records surfaced. She apparently actively aided and abetted the commission of numerous federal felonies as Madison's primary attorney, crimes for which a number of people went to prison, including the McDougals, the next governor Guy Tucker, etc. (Not sure if Whitewater was actually criminal, or just very slimy, which means that she might not have gone to jail for it, but likely would have faced attorney discipline as a result of her involvement). Making a long story short - my guess is that if Bill hadn't been elected President in 1992, his wife would likely have been disbarred and sent to federal prison within maybe five years.

Bruce Hayden said...

@R&B

If you think that Hillary is stable, then you probably haven't read any of the excerpts from the upcoming book by the Clinton era Secret Service agent. She may be able to hide her unstable side by being heavily scripted and robotic in public. But there is little reason to believe that she isn't still voluable, highly excitable, vindictive, and violent in her rages. I found it humorous the SS detail assigned to protect POTUS trying to decide if and when to step in to protect their primary from FLOTUS, who also had her own SS detail (who apparently almost uniformly hated their assignments for the way she treated them). She apparently threw lamps at him, and at least once he sported a shiner as a result.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Yeah, I only mean "stable" as regards political image. I agree that personally she's in all likelihood a hot sloppy mess.

But at least she won't be tempted to retweet the nuclear codes. ;-)

traditionalguy said...

The thin skinned ones are those empathizing with the disabled NYT Reporter whom Trump exposed for using his disability as a cover to lie about not remembering what he had once written.

No one wants to ridicule a person suffering from a level of disability, but when that disability is slipped in as a cover for lying about things, then the liar becomes fair game.

This Reporter is a successful adult male. How much total immunity from come backs can a sympathy claim for his handicap give him.

EDH said...

In response to the "thin skinned" comments, Trump should say "thin skinned, but 'ribbed' for your pleasure, ladies."

ribbed. (verb) teased good-naturedly.

Real American said...

Warren literally lied about her skin to get her job. She shouldn't be calling Trump a fraud.

n.n said...

Clinton et al have a long way to go before they can overcome their advocacy for class diversity, female chauvinism, and anti-native policies, among other violations of civil and human rights, science, religion/morality, etc.

Jonathan Graehl said...

I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the thickness of their skin but by the content of their character.

Alex said...

This is rich coming from the same people that demand 'safe spaces'. LOL, nobody is buying their bullshit.

I hope Trump nails them on the 'safe spaces'.

walter said...

traditionalguy said..No one wants to ridicule a person suffering from a level of disability, but when that disability is slipped in as a cover for lying about things, then the liar becomes fair game.
--
Ah..so despite Trump's lame claim that he had no odea abou the disability, you're ok with him going below the gutter.
Nice.

Saint Croix said...

Dennis Miller has some pretty funny stuff regarding old Fauxcahontas.

Why the fuck has no Republican president ever put up a fight about NPR? That station is ridiculous in its bias.

And when I say, "put up a fight," I don't mean destroying NPR or defunding NPR.

I mean, "Dennis Miller is the new boss at NPR."

Achilles said...

Rhythm and Balls said...

"They don't have to. She's still potentially a slightly or even substantively better candidate than Trump. The question is about the range... we don't know. She might only be a little bit better or a lot better, but she's still the lesser of two evils, as far as any concern for stability goes."

This is interesting as it comes from a Bernie supporter. Do you think Bernie is more stable than Trump? If so how? And what does stability mean to you in this context?

I really looked forward to a Trump-Sanders campaign. I am feeling let down by you all. And do not let Bernie drop out before the convention. I don't think Hillary will make it that far.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"...can't be accurately described by that tortured term P.C., which is always in the eye of the beholder anyway."

Self-refuting.

Even if a precocious signaling of his moral authority in a condemnation against water-boarding torture on the term P.C.

But the interesting discussion to be had here would be people listing examples answering the question Who has been damaged because of their thin-skin and who has benefited from the label when accurate? In what contexts can we put Trump using evidence of gain or loss, assuming for discussion apt accuracy?

Anybody think Steve Jobs had thin-skin? Ryan Leaf in the lockeroom? Bob "What's up Knight?" Knight? Are coaches who write quotes on chalkboards and whiteboards and digital media from opponents in order to motivate their team thin-skinned? Does Woody Allen, or other artists afraid to read what others think of their output, qualify for the (i.e. your) label?

My supposition is if one is weak willed then being thin-skinned will be highly problematic in numerous endeavors such as being a New Yorker, a developer there or most anywhere, a billionaire, a TV star, and GOP nominee for POTUS; whereas having a strong will with thin-skin is (can be) a deterrent of action combined with second-guessing of attack strategy used by competitors toward those seeking the same power as one with a strong will.

Perhaps the term used as detailed here is attempting to equate the Trump divorces with being thin-skinned and therefore an unreliable partner?

Rusty said...

"I really looked forward to a Trump-Sanders campaign."

So do I Achilles.
This is the best election , ever!

damikesc said...

Anti-Hillary people still have the same criticism: Criminal.

One seems worse than the other, but the media has that confused.

They don't have to.

Interesting description of an inability to do so.

I get you're in the Trump tank now, and good luck with that, but there's a big difference between responding to attacks and going after every perceived slight no matter how minor.

In his defense, Trump seldom mentioned the lower-tier candidates. He gave out Graham's phone number, but how often did you see him discuss Gilmore?

It's interesting to see the attempts to muzzle Trump detractors by making them appear to be unfair in their critisicm of him.

As opposed to Obama criticism being "racist" and Clinton criticism being "sexist", I s'pose.

Trump wants to "open up those libel laws" because he has incredibly thin skin. Unsuitable for a President.

Hillary wants to outlaw criticism of candidates shortly before an election.

BrianE said...

What has Elizabeth Warren "risked for anybody"? Or Hillary for that matter?

At least he employs people from his selfish risk taking. Elizabeth and Hillary risk other people's money for their own aggrandizement. So who is really the selfish one here?

Are we to assume they believe they could have built Hillary Towers or Warren Towers had they been so inclined? Are they that ignorant?

damikesc said...

At least he employs people from his selfish risk taking. Elizabeth and Hillary risk other people's money for their own aggrandizement. So who is really the selfish one here?

That's how Hillary claimed she did more for vets than Trump. Because she proposed legislation.

It should ALSO mean the VA "problem" should be an issue for her, but it won't be.

I feel great having my money stolen so SHE can feel good about herself. Seems like a worthy sacrifice.

elcee said...

Shahid:
"A few well-timed substantive responses would have served him [Bush] and the Republicans mightily well. (E.g., "Why Iraq?", or "Why financial crisis?"."

Belatedly ...

"Why Iraq?" See the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis - the why - of the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom, synthesized from the primary sources of the mission - ie, the controlling law, policy, and precedent that defined the operative enforcement procedure for the "governing standard of Iraqi compliance" (UNSCR 1441) and, in the operative context, the determinative fact findings that confirmed Iraq's material breach of the Gulf War ceasefire to trigger enforcement.

"Why financial crisis?" See Bush ended financial crisis before Obama took office -- three important truths about 2008 by Bush senior economic advisor Keith Hennessey.

Iapetus said...

The way to handle the accusation is to first turn it into a light-hearted joke, then to turn what appears to be a liability into a virtue. For example, Trump could say, "She accuses me of being thin-skinned? I have beautiful skin. I have GREAT skin." And then he can follow up with, "If by thin-skinned she means that when my ambassador is under siege by terrorists, I will not go to bed, I will send help." That serves to link in people's minds being thin-skinned with being decisive and courageous in leading. If he does that, soon enough Clinton will see the futility of using that phrase to disparage Trump.

mockturtle said...

lapetus, you should be Trump's campaign manager. Although, I'm not sure he needs one.