Once upon a time, Trump said skipping a debate meant being too weak to stand up to China. Now …

Some tough guy, Donald Trump. This week, to hear him tell it, backing out of a Fox News debate because Megyn Kelly might ask him a hard question in no way shows that he’s weak—shoot, if Trump is doing it it must be a sign of strength. But back in 2011, all of the candidates other than Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum backing out of a Trump-moderated debate was a big red flag:

“Romney doesn’t look courageous” Trump when Mitt Romney decided not to do the debate, according to the Washington Post.

“Some of them don’t have the courage to do,” Trump told Imus in the Morning. “I don’t want to say who.”

Trump said some called to say they were too nervous to do his debate, “We have guys who are afraid to go into a debate.” How would they stand up to China if afraid

debate? he asked.

How many ways can Trump find to say “Megyn Kelly is tougher than me”? She’s tougher than him in that he’s afraid to face her as a debate moderator. She’s tougher than him in that backing out of a debate moderated by him meant a candidate couldn’t face China but backing out of a debate moderated by her means no such thing.

And the same reason that Trump doesn’t think it shows he’s a giant wimp for backing out of this debate is the reason he’s so afraid of facing off against Kelly: She’s a she. Somehow, it’s not supposed to look like fear if it’s a woman whose questions you’re running away from. Too bad for Donald it’s totally obvious that’s what it is.

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