Stormy Daniels, who makes a living getting naked and having sex in films, appeared on “60 Minutes” and guess what? Ratings took a moon trip, reaching a 10-year-high because here, after all, was sensationalism with a difference.
The interview was about her liaison with President Donald Trump, an event showing his private life has been almost as questionable as that of JFK or Bill Clinton.
It doesn’t end there because what just might reside in all of this is another opportunity to impeach Trump, which is going to happen anyway, of course, if the Democrats gain control of Congress in the midterm elections. Along the way there will be plentiful opportunities for spicy entertainment even if it means subsidiary attention to North Korea, debt, trade, opiate addiction, the Middle East, economic growth, immigration and other issues of consequence.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was interesting to watch and listen to on TV as she explained her reason for talking about herself and Trump despite being paid $130,000 not to do so. She wants to get the real story out there, she says. First off, she did not have an affair with Trump, she wants you to know. It was a one-night stand after she slapped his clothed behind with a magazine.
She said the bedroom scene was a bother and that was the end of the sex. As for her speaking out, she said it was not about money. My guess is that it is all about money. This successful entrepreneur did say she was getting good job offers and naturally enough was going to take them.
Commentary on all of this has mainly focused on Trump being the worst lout the presidency has ever seen, and it is true that past presidents have been far more adept at keeping character flaws hidden. But is having sex with a sexual professional worse than seducing a 19-year-old intern in the White House?
We’re talking now about John F. Kennedy. The intern went on trips with the president and kept doing him favors for 18 months. As an adult she wrote a tell-all memoir, “Once Upon a Secret.” There was lots to back up what she said and prestigious outlets such as The New Yorker accepted her story as true. Kennedy, we know, scarcely let a day go by when he wasn’t after one lady or another, and he had a brother, Ted, of comparable inclinations. The New Yorker observed that the intern affair apparently came to a close after she was asked to take care of Ted, too.
Among other presidents having affairs is at least one more who once chose a young woman. That would be President Bill Clinton, who at the age of 49 began to get friendly with Monica Lewinsky, 22, who had also been an intern. Their sessions became known, he denied it and DNA evidence proved the lie. During a legal roundabout, Clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice and was impeached by the House.
His to-do in the Oval Office degraded the presidency and was an example of taking inexcusable advantage of a young woman and ruining her life, not exactly the fate of Stormy Daniels.
In her “60 Minutes” interview, Daniels said she was once threatened about speaking out, and, if a fact, that’s horrible. There is also a question of whether the hush money came from campaign funds. If it did, that could be criminal.
Few are saying Trump is actually a good, honest, faithful husband, but what some of us are saying is that this is a long way from sexual exceptionalism in the presidency and, unless illegalities are revealed, we should move on to what matters far more.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.