Hillary Clinton has a harder job in tonight’s debate, a lot of media types assert, because she’s a woman. Women, you see, need to constantly watch their expressions, their tone, and so on, while men get a free pass.

It’s not a crazy argument. And Clinton will be judged more harshly in some ways than Trump will be. I think, however, the different standards will exist mostly because people think of Trump as a clown, while Clinton is literally touted as the most qualified presidential candidate in history.

It seems more likely to me that Clinton will benefit from being a woman. Why? Because Trump’s debating success in the past came from being a boor.

Sneering, interrupting, and insulting his opponents probably helped Trump in the GOP primary debates. While journalists and elites all saw Trump’s performance as embarrassing to him, he looked like the alpha dog.

Recall the moment where he lied, bragged, and made clownish faces in response to Jeb Bush’s charge that Trump tried to butter him up in order to open a Florida casino?

By any standards of honesty, decency, and character, Bush won that encounter. Among voters, Trump probably won.

It’s the same with Trump’s ear-grating “excuse me” way of cutting off other speakers. If anyone you knew behaved that way, you’d avoid going to the same parties as him. But against Bush and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, it was a way of showing dominance over his opponents.

Try this against a woman, however, and it’s a different story.

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09/26/16 12:14 PM

Women’s equality has made great strides in recent decades. Many glass ceilings have been shattered. Men largely are expected to treat women the same way we treat men.

But here’s the thing: As a society, we still expect men to treat women with more courtesy than they treat men. To be sure, it’s probably easier for men to get away with some types of disrespect towards women than towards men, but name-calling, interrupting, and Trump’s general brand of dog-park behavior is of a different sort.

Just recall the famous moment where Rick Lazio, in the 2000 New York State Senate race, tried to get Hillary Clinton to walk the walk on her money-out-of-politics talk. He walked across the stage to hand her a pledge to reject political action committee money. It backfired badly.

Liberals still point to Lazio’s gambit as an act of sexism. Clinton at the time used the moment as a way to call Lazio a bully. “Many supporters of Mrs. Clinton said they found Mr. Lazio to be pushy and disrespectful,” the New York Times reported.

Would Lazio have been blasted as “disrespectful” had he done that to a man?

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In a head-to-head matchup, Clinton has 48 percent support to Trump’s 38 percent.

09/26/16 12:12 PM

Barack Obama had a similar moment, where he off-handedly told Clinton she was “likable enough.” He lost New Hampshire right after it happened.

Calling a man unlikable is something people do all the time. Calling a woman unlikable is rude, and polite men don’t do it. Obama, it seems, debated Clinton in that moment as he would have debated Romney or John Edwards. It hurt him.

So Trump’s rudeness towards Bush and Rubio was effective. If Trump treats Clinton the same way he treated his male opponents, decent people will recoil.

Timothy P. Carney, The Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.

Before debate, Clinton works refs, asks for special treatment

Top Story

For several days, Democrats and their supporters in the press have demanded that presidential debate moderator Lester Holt factcheck Donald Trump in Monday night’s showdown at Hofstra University. Those demands turned to pleading Sunday when Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” asked for special treatment for Clinton in the event that Trump tells lies from the debate stage.

“All that we’re asking is that, if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out,” Mook said. “It’s unfair to ask for Hillary both to play traffic cop while with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people.

09/25/16 11:48 PM

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