Liberals are trying to crank up fake outrage over this because that’s what’s called for when someone in the other party says something “controversial,” but (a) the line about make-up is clearly a joke and (b) Trump’s actually making a classic multiculturalist argument here. The feminist argument against the burqa is that no woman in a culture as oppressive and patriarchal as the Islamic Middle East (or its enclaves in the west) is truly free to choose what to wear. She may say that her choice is free, she may even believe that her choice is free, but that’s Stockholm syndrome at work. It’s no different from a slave defending his captivity by parroting back his master’s rationale that he couldn’t survive on his own as a free man and is better off snug in the bosom of the plantation. The multiculturalist counterargument is: Their culture, their rules. The only thing worse than Islamic male chauvinism is western cultural chauvinism in dictating to Muslim women what they should and shouldn’t wear to be properly empowered. Trump’s not going that far here, but the multiculturalist view of the burqa is useful to him to support his broader point about the futility of nation-building in the Middle East. If you don’t want to spend any more blood and treasure on trying to reform countries like Iraq, it’s a comfort to believe that women there really do appreciate the confinement that’s been forced upon them. You would think Salon would appreciate his nod at isolationism but instead all they can do is grouse about sexism in his make-up joke. It’s easier that way to cope with the moral trade-offs involved in choosing a position to take, I guess.

This bon mot made the rounds on social media earlier this afternoon because, given the seriousness with which the Boston Globe reported it, it appeared for a moment to be another one of those gaffes that Trump critics think might hurt him (if only through the sheer weight of accumulated “controversies”) but never really do. That was silly. His cult-of-personality forcefield is much stronger than this. I do think it’s true, as you often hear, that “only Trump can beat Trump” in the sense that he’s not going to lose much more of the support he currently has barring a major misstep on a bedrock cultural conservative issue. (On the other hand, I think it’s possible for Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, say, to beat Trump by growing their support to the point that it surpasses his, even if they’re not pulling many votes away from him.) But there’s still room for a major mistake, and one possible mistake that he’s already made is, surprisingly enough, on immigration, with Trump now telling interviewers that once he’s done using his “very good management” skills to deport 11 million illegals, he’s going to … let many of them back in again by granting them visas. That plan makes no sense, as other candidates have observed; I bet a lot of Trump fans who were thrilled when they heard him pushing mass deportation will be surprised to learn that he’s willing to readmit many former illegals as “legals.” What’s going to happen when Cruz finally attacks and his ad team nukes Trump in New Hampshire about the coming great deportation and reimportation to come under his presidency? That’s the sort of mistake that might get through the forcefield.