Donald Trump wants America to feel assured: his penis is really, really terrific. The GOP frontrunner took presidential politics to the third grade playground last week, responding to Marco Rubio’s insinuation that a person with small hands may have other small appendages. To be fair to Trump, Rubio started it. But Rubio’s remark was made at a rally, not on network TV.
“Nobody has ever hit my hands. I’ve never heard of this. Look at those hands,” Trump said, holding them up at a presidential debate for the entire world to see. “Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands. If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee.”
Not only have Trump’s hands been attacked before, Trump is extremely sensitive about it. Graydon Carter, the co-founder of Spy magazine and editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, referred to Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in 1988. Decades later Trump continues to send Carter photographs of himself with his hand circled in gold Sharpie and notes reading, “See? Not so small.”
Since the debate, commentators and comedians have been guessing at the dimensions and characteristics of Trump’s penis. John Oliver assumed it “looks like a Cheeto with the cheese dust rubbed off.” CollegeHumor wondered whether it was “the same orange leather” as the rest of Trump’s body and called on Trump to show it. Bill Maher demanded Trump produce a “dick certificate.”
Given Trump’s long history of total classlessness he deserves the basest mockery that can be thrown at him. Whatever he’s got tucked away underneath those waves of belly cellulite, though, his rush to defend his penis’s honor reveals that it’s an important issue for him. And that reveals something about his character that’s actually worth assessing in a presidential candidate.
Penises and the male obsession with them provide unlimited business for therapists and psychoanalysts. In Psychology Today Dr. Lawrence Blum writes, “Men worry that some other guy is bigger, and that women care. Men develop fascinations with cigars, pens, cars, trains, baseball bats, knives, guns, and sausages, but not usually with Frisbees, soup, pillows, or suitcases.”
Most of the time penis envy is relatively benign, perhaps making men sheepish or reluctant to engage in sexual relationships. But on grander scales it can be deadly. George Carlin once talked about war as a manifestation of penis envy. He referred to it as “bigger dick foreign policy” and maintained that penis insecurity caused men to build mortars, bombs and bullets in phallic shapes and drop them all over the world.
There’s reason to think Carlin was onto something in at least one noteworthy case. Historians recently revealed that Adolf Hitler had an abnormally small dick, an undescended left testicle, and a condition called Hypospadia in which the urethra opening is at the base of the shaft instead of the end. Though impossible to confirm, psychologists would likely agree that this caused some of his anger at the world.
Trump has invited plenty of comparisons to Hitler already. His ex-wife claimed he kept a book of Hitler speeches next to his bed. Both men used xenophobic rhetoric to rile up a discontented population. At a recent rally, Trump asked attendees to hold up their right hands and swear a pledge to him, sending chills down the spine of anyone who’s watched the History Channel.
It’s impossible to speculate on the reality of Trump’s manhood. But even before his dick-waving presidential run he projected his insecurity onto the rest of the world. His name is spelled out in huge letters on the facades of dozens of buildings. Twitter wars with anyone who crossed him have been the stuff of legend. He once said of women, “It is very hard for them to attack me on looks because I’m so good-looking.”
Such overconfidence is almost certainly compensation on a megalomaniacal level for a deep-rooted sense of inadequacy. Whatever its root, Trump’s insecurity is so profound that he wants to expand libel laws so he can sue journalists for negative coverage. As president he would almost undoubtedly use the office to promote his grotesquely aggrandized self-image, not unlike North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. Trump is nothing if not obsessed with the way the world sees him, penis included.
Penis size likely has very little to do with governing ability. For that matter, penis size doesn’t even have much to do with penis envy; it afflicts men with large and small ones. It’s the obsession and the need to prove one’s masculinity that is dangerous, particularly when the person is put in charge of the world’s most powerful military and police forces.
America doesn’t need a bully-in-chief who will attempt to emasculate world leaders and political rivals by talking about his dick. As reality comes ever closer to catching up with satire, a Trump presidency could well become the embodiment of Carlin’s bigger dick theory of foreign policy. There is no limit to the magnificence and grandeur with which Trump views himself and perhaps no limit to the lengths he’ll go to correct anyone who doesn’t share that view.
Since it’s so common among the general population it’s not surprising that penis obsession would be common among world leaders. Lyndon Johnson was guilty of it. But Trump is a special case, deeply insecure and reactionary. For this reason commentators and satirists should continue to mock his penis. He’s proven impervious to intellectual attacks so the best way to take him down may be to slog through the mud with him.