Did Maureen Dowd just defeat Donald Trump?

The Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times pundit–“our most celebrated bad columnist,” as former Boston Phoenix writer Dan Kennedy once put it–may have finally accomplished what so many before her failed to with this question:

In an MSNBC interview with Chris Matthews, the formerly pro-choice Trump somehow managed to end up to the right of the National Right to Life Committee when he said that for women, but not men, “there has to be some form of punishment” if a President Trump makes abortion illegal.

Trump quickly recanted and even told CBS’s John Dickerson that “the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way.”

“This was not real life,” he told me. “This was a hypothetical, so I thought of it in terms of a hypothetical. So that’s where that answer came from, hypothetically.”

Given his draconian comment, sending women back to back alleys, I had to ask: When he was a swinging bachelor in Manhattan, was he ever involved with anyone who had an abortion?

“Such an interesting question,” he said. “So what’s your next question?”

If Trump’s failure to answer this question–whether (according to the logic of the folks he tried to pander to with his caustic comments about reproductive rights) any of his ex-girlfriends should be “punished” for terminating a pregnancy–does not shatter his image with his fanbase, nothing will. If Trump remains the idol of the ignorant after this exchange, it will prove once again that a significant number of voters in this country simply want to be lied to.

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Even if Trump, as the GOP nominee, loses on November 8, his candidacy will still mark an intellectual and moral low point for America. Let’s face it: if you were someone from a foreign country contemplating a move to the United States, wouldn’t Trump’s success to this point make you think twice about coming here? Wouldn’t you wonder about why so many Americans would fall for such a hateful huckster? Wouldn’t you be concerned about the hooligans who show up to Trump rallies, and their violent, antisocial nature? Wouldn’t you be worried that there may be far more of those folks out there than the American press will acknowledge?

This is the true shame of Donald J. Trump: he has validated the stereotype of the Ugly American, the bigoted, bombastic, boastful boor who has no respect for anyone but himself, who worships at his own altar, who is far too fond of foolishness. Even if he loses, the image he has given to the world will not go away anytime soon.

Will Trump ever apologize for what he has done to this country–how he has set white against black and brown, how he has worsened misogyny, how he has trashed America’s image in the eyes of the world? It’s highly unlikely. People like him never change.

Speaking of reproductive rights, there was a fascinating piece in The Nation the other day about women who are concerned about having children because they think their sons and daughters will grow up to live in an environmentally ruined future. Unlike the folks Trump was trying to pander to, I trust these women to make the right choices for themselves and their future. I also hope that if they do have kids, those sons and daughters grow up to be responsible young men and women–and not demagogues like the Donald.

UPDATE: More from Think Progress.

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D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.