With less than 30 days ’til Armageddon, no one—including Tic Tacs, taco bowls, and the 2010 action film The Expendables—is safe from Donald Trump’s toxic touch. From groping women to bragging about groping women, to groping chairs (when they’re inanimate, they just let you do it!), Trump is truly an angry, misogynistic, anthropomorphized Pepe the Frog meme. While the Republican nominee for president continues to shoot himself in the tiny foot, Rudy Giuliani has gone blind, Trump’s other surrogates have gone rogue, and Ted Cruz is chained to a desk in Fort Worth. Oh, and Vladimir Putin may have hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign only to find a delicious risotto recipe. If this campaign was an episode of Scandal, a show in which candidates actually steal elections and women drink red wine while wearing immaculate white pantsuits, Shonda Rhimes would deem it too unbelievable.
In the face of all of this outrageous, over-the-top campaign madness, it’s important to celebrate political shade. Amid the monotonous din of Trump’s sniffling, Kellyanne Conway’s spinning, and democracy blowing its brains out, subtle disses and slights often go unnoticed. In honor of this dying art, let us take a moment to remember legendary drag queen Dorian Corey’s iconic definition: “Shade is, ‘I don’t tell you you’re ugly, but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly.’ And that’s shade.”
Unsurprisingly, women have been the chief practitioners of shade in this presidential race. Come November, we might not be able to have it all (abortions, a sense of safety, etc.), but no one can take away our inalienable right to throw shade. Shade calls for artistry, subtlety, wit, and an impeccable sense of timing. If nothing else, it’s a great example of the incredible work women can do when they’re not busy blocking their crotches.
Michelle Obama, Always
America, a country that consistently watches The Big Bang Theory more than most other shows on television, does not deserve Michelle Obama. Nor do we deserve the grade-A, quality shade she consistently throws. The first lady has, time and time again, totally annihilated Trump without even saying his name. Obama has studied her target at length, and she knows that the only thing Trump hates more than being insulted is being ignored. So she did what the rest of us have proven incapable of—she ignored angry toddler Trump’s cries for attention. At the DNC, as countless Democrats went on the attack, Obama coined her much-quoted motto “When they go low, we go high.” She proceeded to make a mockery of Trump’s cowardly, bigoted campaign, without even mentioning the candidate—all tea, all shade.
In an equally artful troll earlier this month, Obama stumped for Clinton like the smart, shady first lady she is. In a clear—yet subtle!—allusion to Trump blaming a poor debate performance on a bad mic, she went in. “When [Clinton] gets knocked down, she doesn’t complain,” Obama said before tapping on her microphone. “She doesn’t cry foul. No, she gets right back up, comes back stronger for the people who needs her most.”
And on Wednesday at a Clinton rally, Obama’s shady campaign against He Who Must Not Be Named reached epic heights. In a passionate speech following new harassment allegations against the Republican candidate, the first lady proclaimed, “Strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women for themselves to feel powerful.” Michelle Obama doesn’t need to tell Trump he’s petty—we all know he’s petty. And that’s shade.
Melania Trump’s Pussy-Bow
After Trump’s “locker room talk” tapes went public, the world eagerly awaited reactions from the various vaginas in Trump’s life. Melania Trump didn’t disappoint, arriving at the second presidential debate in a hot pink “pussy-bow” blouse. TFW your “working-class husband” brags about non-consensually grabbing women’s genitalia, so you wear a $1,100 Gucci top because your Michelle Obama Google alert told you that the first lady likes to throw shade and copying her usually seems to go well. We may never know what, if anything, the aspiring first lady’s “pussy-bow” shirt meant. Maybe she is #WithHer. Maybe she likes to flaunt her money through brand name apparel. Maybe she has absolutely no idea what’s going on. Oh, Melania. At the end of the day it’s hard to dislike Donald Trump’s third wife, who seems as confused as the rest of us about how we got here.
Angela Rye’s Side Eye
Remember August? Way back before we had ever heard of “The Bushy,” political commentator Angela Rye brought shade to CNN, giving us the most exaggerated onscreen eye roll this side of My So-Called Life. Rye was served a steamy pile of spin courtesy of conservative pundit Kayleigh McEnany, who bragged that “Donald Trump has done great things in his private time, too, for veterans, all across his foundation.” Rye responded with the eyeball gymnastics equivalent of a Simone Biles floor routine, effortlessly winning the respect and adoration of the entire internet. While the rest of this country’s female population is Amazon Prime-shipping chastity belts, Rye is the rare woman who can say Trump’s candidacy has improved her quality of life. In a better world, Hillary Clinton’s desperate pleas for voters to fact-check Trump on her website would just link them to a looped .GIF of Angela Rye’s side eye.
The New York Times’ Hitler Review
The New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic. She is also, apparently, a master at throwing shade. In the past, Kakutani has dragged many authors, and occasionally read them for filth. This is the woman who described Jonathan Franzen’s memoir as “an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass,” and called Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down a “maudlin bit of tripe.” Honestly, Kakutani could have shaded Trump by just overtly criticizing him with words that are outside his vocabulary range. Luckily, the Times’ chief literary critic is too subtle for that. Instead, Kakutani took a page from Michelle Obama’s Petty Crocker cookbook, disguising her Trump takedown as a review of Volker Ullrich’s new Hitler biography.
In the lengthy review, Kakutani basically describes Trump’s rise to power via quotes about Hitler. Choice passages include: “Hitler was often described as an egomaniac who ‘only loved himself’ — a narcissist with a taste for self-dramatization and what Mr. Ullrich calls a ‘characteristic fondness for superlatives.’ His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity.” What kind of accurate shade! In case you were still confused about Kakutani’s motives, this book review is headlined “In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue.” Kakutani’s heroic Trump slight—in a New York Times book review, no less—is an important reminder for us all to be the shade we wish to see in the world.
Megyn Kelly vs. Sean Hannity
If there’s one thing this election cycle has given us, it’s the implosion of Fox News. And if there’s one thing Fox News has given us, it’s Megyn Kelly. In some ways, Kelly is every woman. Like many women, Megyn Kelly menstruates. She balances work and family. She has pretty hair. Also, she apparently has absolutely no respect for Sean Hannity. Kelly threw relatable shade after the first presidential debate, when she narrated the events in the spin room: “We’ve got Trump speaking to our own Sean Hannity. We’ll see whether he speaks to the journalists in this room after that interview.” Despite the fact that Hannity is her colleague, Kelly quickly dismissed him as a non-journalist on a national platform without breaking a sweat. This immaculate shade is made even sweeter due to its sheer pettiness—Kelly didn’t need to diss another Fox employee, let alone on-camera. She did it just because she can, effortlessly cementing her status as the cold, fabulous Regina George of 24-hour network news.
Hillary Clinton’s Twitter Account
Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon is not her pantsuits, her shoulder wiggle, or even her 30 years in public service. Hillary Clinton’s secret weapon is her social media intern. Somewhere out there (but probably in Brooklyn) is the over-caffeinated, underpaid millennial who crafted that “Delete your account” tweet. Yas, Kween.
The former secretary of state has better things to do with her time than draft Pokemon Go jokes. That’s why she no doubt hands over the social media reins to a trusted team of people who definitely follow The Fat Jewish on Instagram. As the election has gotten uglier and uglier, Clinton’s social media has relied more heavily on shade. When Donald Trump wrenched his iPhone out of Kellyanne Conway’s hands at 3 in the morning to recommend a sex tape to his 12.4 million followers, Clinton clapped back with her own early morning tweet. “It’s 3:20 a.m. As good a time as any to tweet about national service,” camp Clinton tweeted, along with a link to her official website. Then there was the time Clinton tweeted, “Trump would give millionaires (like him) and billionaires the biggest tax cuts they’ve ever had.” Here, Clinton’s team is mocking Trump’s tax plan while simultaneously implying that he isn’t as rich as he’d like you to think. This is a master class in disguising shade as substance—and in less than 140 characters, no less. Who said millennials don’t have a strong work ethic?
Every Tiffany Trump Story Ever
Donald Trump might be the alt-right’s favorite “daddy,” but to Tiffany Trump, he’ll always be the absentee father she never really had. As mom Marla Maples told The Daily Beast, “I was fortunate enough to raise [Tiffany] in California really on my own.”
Trump’s entire campaign has been full of small slights against his second daughter. First, Tiffany’s RNC speech painted a vivid portrait of a dad who’s maybe called her twice. Then, Tiff was robbed of a security detail and even forced to sit with the in-laws at the second presidential debate, making small talk with some of Bill Clinton’s accusers. Making matters worse, Tiffany was the 44th person Donald followed on Twitter—after The Apprentice contestant Katrina Campins and running mate Mike Pence. Apparently, Tiffany doesn’t look enough like an off-budget Twilight Cullen to be considered a true Trump sibling. Many will say Tiffany effectively turned the shade on its head by curving her dad’s cheek kiss after the second debate. Unfortunately, given the recent slew of groping accusations against the presidential candidate, I would argue that refusing to allow Trump into your personal space isn’t shade but rather good common sense.