So, Donald Trump called Stormy Daniels “Horseface.” Truly, I thought that after the first two or three or 12 incidents of comparing women to animals, he’d have figured out it was a bad plan.

Nah. One of the things we have learned about our president over the last few years is that he never recognises a bad plan.

Trump once sent me a marked-up copy of a column I’d written about him, with an arrow pointing to my picture and the inscription “face of a pig.” There was also a note about my being “a dog and a liar.”

At the time, I found it weirdly fascinating. That was way back in his real estate days, when no one had any idea he would one day become the first president of the United States who had a long record of saying demeaning things in public about women’s looks.

Do you think it’s all a plot? Maybe whenever the White House desperately needs to distract the public from a new presidential mess, somebody says, “Hey, can you get the Big Guy to call somebody a dog?”

Until now, “dog” seemed to be one of the things Trump particularly liked calling women who ticked him off. I am pretty sure that’s because he hates dogs. He’s never had a pet of his own and he tried to evict the poodle his first wife brought into their marriage.

But there is a horse connection. Back in the ‘80s, Trump acquired a 2-year-old racer named Alibi, which he cruelly renamed DJ Trump.

According to a former Trump casino official, the future president demanded that the colt be worked out despite the trainer’s concerns that he might be sick. The trainer was right, the horse had to have part of his hooves amputated, and then Trump announced he was not going to pay for a defective horse. So Alibi/DJ hobbled off into history.

FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaking in New York City, and US President Donald Trump speaking in Washington, Michigan, US on April 16, 2018 and April 28, 2018 respectively. Reuters

Stormy Daniels has certainly given Trump a lot of trouble. There was her story of their sleepover while Melania was recovering from childbirth; the $130,000 payoff, which may have come from campaign contributions; and a couple of lawsuits, one of which a judge dismissed this week, handing Trump a minor victory.

Pop quiz: Suppose you were a president trying to get past an embarrassing story about sex with a porn star named Stormy, and you finally get one tiny win in what will undoubtedly be litigation that runs longer than “Game of Thrones.” Would you:

A) Pretend nothing is happening and confine all your public comments to that exciting new plan for across-the-board budget cuts.

B) Take your wife on a vacation in which you will actually be seen spending time together.

C) Launch a tweet vowing to “go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer.”

Well, yeah, C.

“He should not have said that,” the soon-to-retire House Speaker Paul Ryan remarked during a morning news interview. The look on Ryan’s face was sombre, but somewhere in the back of his eyes you could see him setting off fireworks and yelling, “I’m out of here, suckers!”

It was definitely an improvement over Sen John Kennedy of Louisiana’s defensive: “We’ve all done something like that before.” To which Kennedy unhelpfully added that he believes the president “grows anxious when he has unexpressed thoughts.”

Republicans who are trying to get elected in a year when women are the party’s big problem were obviously not thrilled when the president reminded everyone of his animal-name-calling habit. Trump lost the women’s vote in the last election, although he did win a narrow majority of white women. That was nearly two years and a lot of insults ago. We’ll have to see how many of them have noticed that he reminds them of that kid in grade school who used to call girls “Fatso” or “Bowlegs.”

And this time, he picked on a woman who’s both decidedly hard to insult and eager to promote her new memoir, which includes disparaging descriptions of the presidential private parts.

Naturally there was a Stormy response. (“In addition to his … umm … shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN! And perhaps a penchant for bestiality. Game on, Tiny.”)

I believe I speak for all of America when I say that having Donald Trump as president is bad enough without having to think about his genitals. Really, this is way, way worse than previous revelations that Lyndon Johnson called his “Jumbo” and Warren Harding’s was “Jerry.”

And after all, Johnson at least gave us Medicare. While Harding was a totally inept chief executive whose administration launched a thousand scandals, everyone always said he was privately a nice guy. Trump will never measure up to Harding.

On the plus side, our current president is so inept at insulting that his third-grade sexism is almost liberating. I have to admit, I’ve always enjoyed writing about the face-of-a-pig message he sent me. At the time Trump was in serious financial difficulties, I referred to him in a column as a well-known “thousandaire.”

Clearly I hurt him more than he did me.

© 2018 New York Times News Service

Gail Collinsis a New York Times Op-Ed columnist. She writes about American politics and culture.

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