On April 4 New York officials arrested former President Donald Trump for paying a former adult film star $130,000 to keep quiet about an alleged tryst they had in 2006. It’s actually more complicated than that. And, in keeping with the appetite Americans have for the salacious antics of public personalities, there are more players in this game than a womanizing, tax-cheating businessman and a glamorized prostitute.
Politicians and porn stars seem to have a lot in common: they have no conscious and don’t care who they screw, as long as they get some kind of money and notoriety in the end. And, for the record, I actually think more highly of porn stars. I don’t know what prompted the “actress” known as Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) to find anything remotely attractive about Donald Trump. She claims he was just exceptionally charming, which I think a lot of women say when they engage in such behavior. Monica Lewinsky said the same about Bill Clinton. Who really know and who really cares?
Trump’s real transgression involving Daniels – the one that landed him in a Manhattan courtroom – isn’t his sexual indiscretion or even the money he supposedly paid out to buy her silence. It’s that he allegedly processed the payment through his campaign finances, as he desperately sought the Republican Party’s nomination for president in early 2016. That’s illegal, if it did occur. According to one of his closest confidants at the time, Michael Cohen, it did. We know so much about the fiasco because Cohen was a Trump attorney who served as vice-president of the Trump organization. In 2018 Cohen was found guilty of a number of monetary crimes, including campaign finance violations. Afterwards he turned on Trump and declared that his former boss, indeed, paid Daniels to remain quiet. Then news arose that Trump had an affair with another woman, Karen McDougal, an actress and former Playboy model – and that the real estate magnate had paid her to stay silent as well. But wait! It gets worst! Yet another rumor has emerged that Trump had an affair with another, unnamed woman and that she bore a child as a result of their liaison. This latter story comes from an admittedly dubious source – a doorman at Trump Tower in New York.
Writers for daytime dramas have composed shit like this for decades, and their viewers recognize the absurdity of it all, but still love to watch the shenanigans executed on screen. When it happens in real life, though, observers react with awe.
Most of us, however, don’t react with shock or surprise – at least not people my age. I’ve seen this type of histrionic morass play out in public most of my life. I’m never really surprised when powerful people get caught up in their own personal machinations. It’s almost laughable.
But, as I look at this mess involving Donald Trump, another word comes to mind: sad. Trump is the first former U.S. president to be indicted for criminal behavior. His supporters are screaming that this is all a liberal plot; quickly forgetting that conservatives tried to impeach Bill Clinton for lying about his own dalliance with a woman a quarter century ago.
Regardless this is all an embarrassment and a disgrace for a nation that has always prided itself on being the leader of the free world; a beacon for democracy. This pathetic drama continues, but it’s truly disheartening. The cesspool of American politics seemingly has no bottom.
Image: Jane Rosenberg