Update: Rendell has apologized for his comments. "What I said was incredibly stupid and insensitive," Rendell said. "When I read it in the article, I said, 'Did I say that?' It was just dumb, and stupid, and insensitive, and if I offended anyone, I apologize."
There are many, many ways and perhaps even more reasons to challenge the notion that all the world's women can be sorted into two distinct and essential categories: beautiful (and therefore interesting) vs. ugly (and therefore repulsive, disposable and insignificant).
But, alas, on Wednesday, Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor, ex-Democratic National Committee chairman and current Hillary Clinton-for-president booster, decided to wade into those waters. As The Post's David Weigel reported, Rendell said the following about Donald Trump's appeal to working-class Democrats.
"Will he [Donald Trump] have some appeal to working-class Dems in Levittown or Bristol? Sure,” Rendell said. “For every one, he’ll lose one and a half, two Republican women. Trump’s comments like, 'You can’t be a 10 if you’re flat-chested, that’ll come back to haunt him.'"
And then, he offered this, perhaps jokingly:
“There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women. People take that stuff personally."
Oh, Ed. We could begin this analysis of your comments in a very, very low place. We could wonder at length why it is that men who are in possession of neither great looks nor apparently great charm, manners or good sense feel so unencumbered — no, justified — in sorting the world and all events on it into something somehow related to the presence of good-looking and not good-looking women.
We could write at length about the raw oafishness and modern cultural illiteracy displayed when one suggests in public that a woman's own appearance dictates just how she feels about Trump's frequent critiques of other women's looks or his fitness for the Oval Office.
Instead, we will say this: There is absolutely no solid factual basis on which Rendell or anyone else can claim that a woman's appearance influences her politics or views of sexism itself. And we know of no other evidence that women want to believe that their president includes them among the ranks of the beautiful. Truly, what on Earth has any of this to do with tax and education policy, health care, the environment or jobs? What will a president who thinks you a "10" do any differently about wages and the state of the social safety net or immigration or national security than one who does not?
Rendell's, um, analysis not only fails to distinguish itself from the worldview that Trump has made plain. It does not say to the world that he and his candidate of choice do not agree. It reinforces the primacy of women's appearance in a seriously ironic way.
What Rendell just affirmed is that neither party and certainly no candidate has an exclusive lock on sexist thinking nor the public buffoonery that can follow. It's to be hoped that the time for this sort of thing in politics is nearing an end. Oh, and Ed: We suspect that some of the women in your life will, at some point today, want a word.