Trump’s Affair with a Porn Star Shouldn’t Matter (Much)


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If somebody were to compile a definitive list of do’s and don’ts in politics, “Don’t have it come out that you had an affair with a porn star while your third wife was at home with your newborn child” would probably feature fairly prominently.

It turns out, however, that if your name is Donald Trump and you have already successfully broken every other rule in the book, hardly anybody is going to bat an eye when it is reported that you had a tryst with one of the stars of Trailer Trash Nurses 6.

While the current president has rewritten the political rule book in a lot of negative ways, in this case it might be good that his reported affair with Stormy Daniels — or the dalliance that former playmate Karen McDougal said she had with Trump at about the same time — isn’t a huge deal. Because it shouldn’t be.

Sure, it seems to reflect poorly on Trump’s character and voters can, and maybe should, take that into account. However, while adultery may technically be against the law in some states, Trump won’t be prosecuted for his affair with a porn star. And paying her to keep quiet about it is not illegal. In addition, this happened years ago, long before Trump ran for office.

Perhaps most importantly, even if all of the details of the affair that Daniels described in an interview are true, the public will likely never know the full story. For example, maybe there is a “porn star exemption” in the pre-nup of the Trumps, or these affairs were somehow sanctioned by Melania.

We don’t know and, quite frankly, we don’t deserve to know. It’s certainly a story that the media should report but we shouldn’t obsess over it. Ultimately, this is a private issue and none of our business.

(It must be noted that this specifically applies to the legal behavior of candidates. Having consensual sex with porn stars is not against the law. Neither is bragging about sexual assault. Actually committing such an assault, as Trump has been accused of doing, would be a different story.)

In theory, a case can be made that a candidate’s character matters. Actually, it should matter. But most voters have shown that it doesn’t — at least not when the character of “their” candidate is in question, as we have pointed out before.

Ironically, the people who have figured this out are the Christian conservatives.

“Evangelicals and conservatives have fallen for guys who talk right about the issues — we’ve elected them time and again and we didn’t get anything out of it,” Frank Cannon, the president of the conservative American Principle Project, told The Hill. “[Trump] is a guy who comes from a crass political world. He doesn’t have the rhetoric or the biography so he knows he has to deliver for us to keep our support and he’s done that.”

As with so many things in politics, both sides are hypocrites when they point fingers and preach morality. Just as evangelical Christians are looking the other way now, Catholics did the same thing when “their” President, John F. Kennedy, was in office.

It’s simply political pragmatism.

“This is not a guy I want to be my pastor,” Cannon said. “But being a pastor isn’t the job.”

He is right, of course. And for the country, it’s great that the religious right does not just feel this way but is also not shy to talk about it. If Christian conservatives can admit that the values they preach are less important than getting results, that means, hopefully, we can pay less attention to what political candidates do on their own time as long as it is legal.

There is a lot of “Whataboutism” these days, the concept of justifying the bad behavior of one’s own candidate by comparing it to that of an opponent.

On the right, Trump’s behavior should kill “Whataboutism.” It’s perfectly acceptable that conservatives don’t want to criticize their own candidate for anything ranging from extramarital affairs to lying to saying racist things.

But then they can’t ever turn around and point a finger at their opponents for doing similar things.

On the left, anybody who defended what President Bill Clinton did to, and with, Monica Lewinsky is in no position to criticize Trump for the affair.

But those things also shouldn’t define their presidencies. Morality matters, but saints who run the country into the ground would make worse leaders than certain adulterers who make the US better for all of its people.

There are plenty of things to criticize Trump for, but the condemnation of his adultery should only be coming from the first lady. The voters should focus on his record.


The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Stormy Daniels caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), Donald Trump caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), HR McMaster caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), and Oval Office (The White House).

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