The Rant is Due
I was talking to a friend last evening, and it turned into a very annoying, teeth-gnashing conversation. Oddly enough, how it got to that point is secondary. Without going into too many details therefore about all that, in short he had said something along the lines that began, "Keep in mind that I'm glad this is happening to Donald Trump because he deserves it, he's an awful person, and what he said was awful, and no one deserves this backlash more than him, but I'm a little bothered by the direction this whole story about the beauty pageant contestant is taking."
I asked what he meant, and he explained at length how he's seen various discussions on TV and clips from The View and articles about making this beauty pageant winner, Alicia Machado, a "victim," when in fact she won a beauty pageant and, no matter how meaningless such things are, it is a beauty pageant, where the whole point is to be beautiful, and if a beauty pageant winner puts on 15 pounds, that actually is an issue, and people who run beauty pageants do have a right to be concerned if the winner gains weight, and though he's extremely glad it's Donald Trump who's getting slammed on this for the awful things he said, someone who enters a beauty pageant knows that appearance is what it's all about, and the fact that a beauty pageant winner who gained weight while representing the pageant is being turned into a victim for ignoring what..."
At this point I interrupted him. He's a good friend, and we always have very civil, very thoughtful conversations, and agree about 60 percent of the time, and at least understand one another's side maybe 30 percent when he disagree. But though I did keep it civil, I lit into him more than I ever had. There was a bit of back-and-forth between us, where he would interrupt me, or I'd run out of breath and pause, but I'm going to leave that out because generally he was just repeating his point, and kept saying he was very glad that this unfairness was happening to Trump, and I kept returning him back to my initial response, building up steam and adding more assertions along the way ...which was basically a very polite, stream-of-conscious rant. Put all together, it went something like --
"I could not care less whether peoples' take on this pageant winner is completely 100% 'fair' or maybe slightly shaded too much because for the past year Donald Trump has been relentlessly doing SO MUCH horrific and disgusting and cruel and racist and venal outpouring of garbage that any slight "shading" doesn't even register as the tiniest imaginable blip on the Out-of-Bounds scale. You talk about all the 'crap' that's going on about this woman making her a victim, but I can't even see any of that because Donald Trump has been covering the entire country with so much 'crap' piled so high everywhere for the past year that it blocks everything else out.
"I cannot care less about what they say on The View or any other group of commentators because it is absolutely meaningless to the issue at hand. If they want to make her a victim and they're right to do so or even slightly wrong to, I couldn't care one tiny bit because it doesn't matter because it isn't the point. The point of all this, the only thing that matters is not if Alicia Machado is rightly a victim or not, it's that that a man who is running for President of the United States tried to humiliate someone in the most reprehensible and shameful way.
"And I couldn't care in the slightest about whether she should have not been 15 pounds overweight after winning a beauty pageant or if it was okay to have gained weight, because this is a beauty pageant from almost 20 years ago. And what she did two decades ago means nothing. Absolutely nothing. What means SOMETHING, the only things that means anything is how a man who is close to becoming president treated her.
"If she was a beauty pageant winner and shouldn't have gained 15 pounds because that's what the pageant rules said -- who cares? And besides, for all we know, the pageant rules don't say that. And in fact, for all we know, she actually looked gorgeous with 15 extra pounds -- in fact, for all we know, this is all just in Donald Trump's head that she was a fat pig, because that's who we've seen Donald Trump is. He's someone who has said a women can't be a '10' if she doesn't have big breasts, and who said Heidi Klum is no longer a '10' because she's gotten older, and who just today the Los Angeles Times had an article about how Donald Trump only wanted to hire pretty women for his country club employees. And we've seen Donald Trump on camera say with a smirk that he doesn't treat women with respect. And who has disparaged women relentlessly. So, for all we know all the other pageant officials were absolutely fine with how Alicia Machado looked, but it was only in Donald Trump's warped head that there was even any supposed-issue with her weight. In fact, I'll go a step further, we actually know she did look gorgeous with 15 extra pounds because we've seen pictures of her training -- you yourself even said you saw the pictures and that she looked gorgeous. So, the more I think about it, the more that I think that it probably is all just in Donald Trump's head that she had to lose so much weight and didn't cause any problem for the pageant.
"And the thing is, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether it was a problem for the pageant, or whether the criticism of Trump is being completely fair or not. And it doesn't matter whether The View thinks she's a victim. And it doesn't matter if anyone thinks she's a victim -- or not, or what anyone says about her 20 years ago or today. And it doesn't matter if she's a wonderful person or was a total jerk, or anything about who she was or is. Whatever her past, good or ill, I wish her well, I hope she's happy today and has succeeded with a wonderful life, but she doesn't matter here. She isn't the point. She isn't why this is a story. And I couldn't care less about it. Because the only thing that matters is how Donald Trump, who is running for President of the United States treated her and humiliated her and was himself the obnoxious, repulsive pig.
"Even if she was overweight, even if it was an issue for the beauty pageant, even if it was something that had to be dealt with, even if she was a problem -- or an angel on earth -- you know how it should be handled. You know that what you say is, "Look, this is a beauty pageant, your looks are the whole point. You're a beautiful woman, but you're aware I'm sure that you've put on weight. I'm sure there's been stress, but this is something you have to address, because it's the whole reason why you won, and what your obligations are for representing the Miss Universe pageant. So, if you need us to hire you a trainer or a nutritionist for you, we will. Or if you need any assistance, we're here to help. I'm here to help. Just let us know. If you want to ignore all this, that's your choice, but then we have a problem, and the pageant will have to deal with it. But I know you can address it, and easily, and we'll all be happy for it, yourself included." What you don't do is vitriolically shame someone and call them 'Miss Piggy' and 'Miss Eating Machine' and a racial stereotype slur and humiliate them and ridicule them to the point of crushing their spirit. And if that person who does so is running for president, it speaks to who they are.
"Nothing else matters. None of it. People can talk and pick victims and argue and debate all they want. It's their choice. And I don't care. I don't care at all. Because it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is Donald Trump and how reprehensibly he acted."
I said more, but...well, okay, you probably get the point.
And yes, my pal and I are still friends.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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