Here we go again, getting sidetracked.
This time, we’re allowing a former porn star to distract us from the greatest task facing the American people — limiting Donald Trump to a one-term presidency.
Stormy Daniels isn’t going to get the job done for us. We’ve got to come at Trump with something much stronger than allegations that he slept with an adult film star a decade before he got to the White House.
Without a doubt, the alleged details that have seeped out thus far are pretty juicy. From the interview Daniels gave InTouch magazine in 2011, we learned that Trump allegedly was reckless enough to have sex without a condom. And that he was rather unspectacular in bed, “textbook generic,” as she called it.
We also found out that Trump was allegedly a textbook cheater as well, calling his mistress from a blocked number and assuring her that she need not worry about his wife. Melania Trump, by the way, had recently given birth to their son.
The only tidbit that has a chance of doing any harm to Trump is the allegation that he was involved in paying Daniels $130,000 in hush money days before the presidential election. But even that’s a long shot.
Daniels is suing Trump now, claiming that the agreement to keep quiet is invalid because he never signed it. She is champing at the bit to tell her version of the whole sordid affair.
As for myself, I couldn’t care less what she has to say.
I’d rather use my energy in a more productive way — keeping the heat turned up on Trump for his backsliding policies that do nothing to lift the middle class, raise families out of poverty, keep our children safe from mass shootings, protect the environment, provide health coverage for all or offer a pathway for law-abiding immigrants to become legal citizens.
There is still much work ahead to convince voters in every corner of the country that America cannot afford another two years, much less another four years, of Trump and his enablers at the helm.
While we might get a kick out of watching Trump sweat a little over the details of his sexual prowess, it doesn’t get us anywhere.
We should have learned by now that sexual misconduct does not have the firepower to knock a sitting president out of office. Presidents faced accusations of infidelity long before Trump, and after the buzz died down, most Americans moved on. We can be pretty certain that Stormy Daniels, or any other woman who claims to have had an affair with Trump, isn’t going to be the thing that brings him down.
According to Robert Watson, a historian at Lynn University who has written a book about the sexual indiscretions of U.S. presidents, several are known to have had sexual trysts either before they made it to the White House or while they were there.
We all know about John F. Kennedy’s alleged affair with Marilyn Monroe while he was president. Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings, the slave with whom he fathered six children, is legendary. And Bill Clinton’s illicit behavior with White House intern Monica Lewinsky still makes our stomachs turn.
In his book, “Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal,” Watson reveals juicy tidbits about some of our most beloved heads of state. Some of the stories, at the time, made interesting headlines in the newspapers and juicy gossip behind closed doors. But in the end, the presidents were unscathed.
Take Grover Cleveland, for instance, the 22nd and 24th president. A scandal ensued during his first presidential campaign when it was revealed that the bachelor politician had fathered a child out of wedlock, quite possibly with a prostitute or at the very least, a woman with loose morals.
Right-wing Christian preachers ran with it, portraying Cleveland as a sexual predator who carouses at night and warning that no woman was safe. At campaign events, Republicans would stand in the audience and scream, “Ma, Ma, where’s my pa?” After he won, Democrats are said to have added the line, “Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!”
While in office, the nearly 50-year-old president married his 21-year-old goddaughter in a relatively secret ceremony. Cleveland had helped raise the girl after her father, his best friend, died years before. If it hurt him, it was short-lived. Cleveland won the popular vote in his bid for re-election but lost the Electoral College. Four years later, he was elected again, the only president to hold two nonconsecutive terms in office.
According to Watson, Woodrow Wilson’s affair with Clara Peck during his marriage was so well-known that critics called him “Mrs. Peck’s bad boy.” The two often traveled together and stayed at her place in Bermuda, but that didn’t derail his first presidential bid. When his wife died, Wilson began having a very public affair with Edith Galt, whom he ended up marrying more quickly than many thought was appropriate for a man in mourning.
While married to Mamie, Dwight Eisenhower allegedly had an affair with Kay Summersby, his British driver during World War II. It did nothing to tarnish the conservative politician’s image as an ideal family man and father figure, according to Watson. Franklin D. Roosevelt is known to have had multiple mistresses while married to Eleanor, Watson said. Yet he was elected and re-elected four times. And like Kennedy, his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, also was known for excessive womanizing.
No one would be shocked if Daniels’ allegations about Trump turned out to be true, either. What’s shameful, though, is how easily we allow ourselves to be distracted by chatter that doesn’t really matter.