Presidential candidates have to kiss a lot of babies — it’s part of the job. But Donald Trump doesn’t do things like any other candidate, and two days ago, when he encountered a mother and a baby (who happened to be crying) during a speech at one of his rallies, he didn’t react like any other candidate.
First, he praised the kid. “I hear that baby crying, I like it. I like it. What a baby. What a beautiful baby. Don’t worry.”
Then he reassured its frantic mom. “Don’t worry about it. It’s young, beautiful, healthy, and that’s what we want.”
Then he decided he wanted the screaming little demon gone. “Actually, I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here.”
But that wasn’t the end of the exchange. While the child continued to cry, Trump sort of laughed a bit and said, “That’s alright, don’t worry. I think she really believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s okay,” and looked around the room, presumably for applause.
The point is: Donald Trump can’t ignore a crying baby, nor could he hold himself back from complaining about its mother and her inconsiderate behavior in bringing a small child to his rally. Everything is about him, and nothing, not even the prospect of having a rare female supporter (imagine!), will deter him from saying what’s on his mind.
Babies are annoying sometimes, and sometimes, when you’re a mother, you end up in places with them and they’re crying and you think, “Well, damn, why did I do this? This wasn’t the best idea after all.” But sometimes you really just want to check out a movie or go to a bar mitzvah, and you either can’t afford or don’t want a babysitter, so you bring the baby — who is a person, after all — along for the ride. The situation isn’t ideal, but you’re committed to making the best of it. All you can do is hope that strangers will support you along the way.
I sympathize with Donald Trump in some ways. Even now that I’m a mother, I still bristle at the sounds of screaming children when I venture out without my daughter, simply because I do like to have child-free time. And I can only imagine that speaking in public while a baby is crying is stressful. It tries the nerves. I’m a lapsed Catholic, and I grew up watching priests not jump off the chancel to freak out on the one baby that was always, always crying. I never saw it happen, not once. I’ve never seen a person speaking in public chastise a crying baby or its parent.
Of course the fact that this happens suggests something that we all know: Donald Trump’s temperament is not presidential in any sense that we have come to expect historically. But it’s also a symptom of his general dissonance with the concept of women. He has gotten his daughter Ivanka to do a great job of saying words that speak directly to the minds and hearts of women — words about equal pay and time off for having children — without saying any of it himself. In fact, he doesn’t really seem to like women at all. He doesn’t recognize workplace harassment as a serious issue, and he doesn’t like children. He wants women, and babies, to be quiet in his presence.
Imagine a man — a father of five — not being able to control himself in the face of the sound of a crying baby. What can we take away from it? That he wasn’t in the trenches as a parent seems to be obvious. That he’s out of touch about the realities of mother and fatherhood is quite clear.
But the fact that he cannot really even mask his absolutely obvious distaste for the concept of a mother and her child in his midst is frightening, if not also laughable. In fact, the more I watch the footage, the more bizarre it gets to see Mr. Trump bring up, over and over again, the existence of the baby in the room. It’s a baby. You’re gonna need to be around a lot of them if you want to be President.