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President Trump retweeted a GIF showing him hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball

To repeat: The president made light of violence against women.

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

On Sunday, September 17, President Donald Trump began the day the way that any president would: going on a Twitter binge that involved referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “rocket man,” retweeting three posts by a fan account called @TeamTrump45 including a fake Electoral College map showing him winning all 50 states and DC in 2020, and retweeting the following GIF:

To be clear, that is a GIF showing Trump hitting a golf ball at Hillary Clinton and knocking her to the ground.

The latter part of the GIF comes from 2011 footage of then-Secretary of State Clinton tripping and falling while boarding an airplane; it’s edited to add the golf ball:

The meaning of the GIF was lost on nobody:

The tweet is concerning on several levels. Most importantly, it’s a joking depiction of violence against women, coming from a president who has faced at least 15 credible accusations of sexual assault and was caught on video bragging about sexually assaulting women. It’s a confirmation that Trump, at the very least, finds it perfectly acceptable to joke about and make light of such violence.

The specific woman the violence is directed at was and remains a political rival of Trump’s. Most developed countries have extremely strong norms against even intimating violent intent toward political rivals, because a basic cornerstone of democratic governance is the shared belief that violence against political opponents is not a legitimate tool for resolving political disagreements; when that norm is violated there is, correctly, tremendous backlash.

You can try to minimize the threat and say it’s a joke, or just a golf ball hit. But it’s unimaginable that President Barack Obama would’ve sent a tweet like this targeting Mitt Romney or John McCain, or that President Bush would’ve sent one targeting Al Gore or John Kerry. This just isn’t an acceptable practice.

Finally, there’s the basic immaturity of the retweet, and the lack of discretion and forethought it indicates. This is hardly a new observation about Trump, but here he is demonstrating a basic lack of shame, restraint, forbearance, and understanding of basic appropriate conduct for a president.