Donald Trump continues to urge Bernie Sanders to mount a third-party run, because he knows that he can’t beat Hillary Clinton on his own. And because his worst fear is facing a woman who will best him.

On May 5, Trump tweeted: “Bernie Sanders has been treated terribly by the Democrats—both with delegates & otherwise. He should show them, & run as an Independent.” Now he’s at it again:

Naturally, Trump doesn’t believe that the system is “rigged,” nor does he care one iota how Bernie has been treated by anyone. All he cares about is that he himself cannot straightforwardly defeat Hillary, so he’s trying to enlist Bernie’s help, in the hope Bernie will divide the Democratic vote, thus ushering Trump to the White House.

Here is the Today show, reporting on Trump’s tweet:

Yes, Bernie has not indicated that he plans to mount a third-party run—but the more important context here is, no matter how much the media wants a horse race, Trump is currently positioned to lose to Hillary in November. He wants Bernie to run as an Independent because it’s Trump’s best—and possibly only—chance to win.

And then there is this: Trump is, as is manifestly obvious to anyone who has paid even the most basic attention to the man, catastrophically insecure. Beneath the superlative-riddled braggadocio, he has a precariously fragile ego that is bound up in a friable masculinity, constantly at imminent risk of collapse if a woman ever bests him.

Trump likes to cite the women who’ve worked for him as evidence that he isn’t sexist (another narrative the media are happy to repeat despite the fact that not all of his female employees would agree), but when a very visible female employee, Carolyn Kepcher, started becoming a star in her own right via her role on “The Apprentice,” she was unceremoniously fired. No woman is allowed to eclipse The Donald.

If he has any female friends or colleagues, who are neither related to him nor reliant on him to make money, who he genuinely regards as his equal, we sure haven’t heard from them. Or of them. Or seen them. Or any evidence of their existence.

Which is not surprising, since women who consider ourselves men’s equal don’t typically avail ourselves of men who don’t regard us in kind.

Hillary is not merely Trump’s equal: She is clearly his better, in every conceivable way—particularly in the ways that matter most in a presidential contest. She is smarter, she is more knowledgeable, she is more competent, she is more empathetic, she has a more suitable temperament, and, yes, she is even more likable.

Basically, she is Trump’s worst nightmare. A woman he cannot control. A woman against whom he has to compete as an equal. A woman who can beat him.

I can’t think of a greater mortification to a man whose entire self-worth is rooted in a superiority to women than to be destroyed on a highly visible international scale by a woman.

Trump knows he can’t defeat Hillary on the merits; he can’t achieve victory on a level playing field. So he’s grasping at whatever he can to weigh the scales in his favor. He frantically fears the possibility of a woman one-upping him, and the best he’s got at the moment is trying to enlist the assistance of another man to defeat her.

What a sad, insecure, desperate maneuver by a man who could be defined using precisely the same descriptors.

All I’ve got for Trump and his transparent ploy to enlist Bernie is the thing that Margaret Atwood once said men fear from women the most: Laughter. Enough mirthless, contemptuous laughter to fill his entire universe, at the center of which sits a tiny, pusillanimous man with neither the guts nor the know-how to trump a woman.

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)