The more salacious detail in this Mother Jones story, the one that will land on the cover of New York tabloids, is Daniels allegedly telling the same operative that she spanked Trump — with a copy of Forbes magazine. The thought of the populist alpha-male-in-chief being paddled submissively with the ruling class’s favorite publication by a buxom porn star is so irresistible, it almost doesn’t matter if it’s true or false. The image now exists, perfect in itself. There’s nothing to say about it that will improve upon it.
Oh, except this: Supposedly he was on the cover of the issue of Forbes that she used. *Kisses fingers*
This detail is the best detail, though, believe me. Very tremendous. It’s a testament to how engrossing “Shark Week” is that even a porn star couldn’t tear him away:
Daniels was serious enough about running [for Senate in Louisiana] that she embarked on a May 2009 “listening tour” of the state and held discussions with local political consultants. Those conversations included coming up with possible campaign contributors. According to a May 8, 2009, email written by an operative advising Daniels, who asked not to be identified, Daniels at one point scrolled through her cellphone contacts to provide her consultants with a list of names. The email noted that the potential donors included Steve Hirsch, the founder of an adult entertainment company; Theresa Flynt, the daughter of Hustler’s Larry Flynt; Frazier Boyd, the owner of a strip club chain; and Jenna Jameson, the so-called “Queen of Porn.” Also on the list: Donald Trump.
This email was sent to Andrea Dubé, a Democratic political consultant based in New Orleans. In response, Dubé expressed surprise that Daniels was friendly with Trump. “Donald Trump?” she wrote. “In her cell phone?”
“Yep,” the other consultant replied. “She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”
Shark Week. Essentially, the gorilla channel except underwater.
There’s an image of the email between the political operatives embedded in Mother Jones’s story. The date is noteworthy in this sense: There are now accounts of Daniels talking about a sexual relationship with Trump in three separate years. She shopped her story to news outlets in 2016, during the election; she did an interview with In Touch about it in 2011; and evidently she told a political consultant about it in 2009. You could blame the 2016 and even 2011 chatter from her on fame-seeking if you like, since Trump was also momentarily a political sensation seven years ago thanks to his Birther attacks on Obama. (At least one poll at the time showed him leading the 2012 Republican primary field if he jumped in.) But the conversation with a political operative in 2009 is inexplicable unless it’s true, especially since the details were relayed privately and were seemingly meant to stay private.
If ever there was a political scandal everyone could enjoy, this is it. Anti-Trumpers will savor it because it’s so tawdry. But Trumpers can giggle at it too since it costs the president nothing. (Nothing politically, I mean. If you believe the WSJ, it cost him or his cronies $130,000.) Kevin Williamson wonders how many evangelical leaders, upon hearing the allegations, thought, “My, that doesn’t sound like the Donald Trump I know! The Donald Trump I know is a man of high character and personal probity, and would never treat his family that way.” Not many, right? But insofar as they did have that thought, their next thought likely was, “Oh well. Who cares?” Trump himself probably has no worse than mixed emotions about it. Daniels’s story was a potential liability to him before the election because the reaction to it would have been unpredictable so soon after the “Access Hollywood” stuff. But now that he’s in office? What could make a hopelessly vain playboy happier than to have a gorgeous porn star whispering about having had an affair with him? The populists who treat Trump as an icon of masculinity may even see it as a point in his favor. What better conception of the good life is there than spending time on a couch with Stormy Daniels while Shark Week is on? There was probably a bucket of extra-crispy KFC on the coffee table too, for fark’s sake. He lived the American dream.
Except for one inconvenient fact, of course: Melania. If everything about the Daniels story is true, starting with the timeline, it means Mrs. Trump was betrayed — while pregnant. That’s a very bitter pill to swallow. All one can do is hope that she long ago learned to tolerate such betrayals. Legend has it that in 2005, she was asked if she’d still be with Donald if he weren’t rich. To which she allegedly replied, “If I weren’t beautiful, do you think he’d be with me?” Maybe even the missus isn’t too worked up about Stormygate.
Your exit question via Jonah Goldberg: Why aren’t social conservatives, at least, more annoyed with Trump about this? Not so annoyed that they’d abandon him, just annoyed enough to condemn him? Goldberg also offers an answer: “First, the president is incredibly thin-skinned and demands not only loyalty but flattery. Any criticism is seen as a betrayal. Second, the Trump base largely sees it the same way. It’s a right-wing version of virtue signaling, or really, MAGA-signaling.” Right, but also he hasn’t admitted to it. That’s hugely important given that most Republicans now trust Trump more than they do their *favorite* news source. Fox News could run a deeply investigated segment verifying all of the Daniels allegations and the reaction on the right would mostly be to the effect that the channel’s drifted left without Ailes in charge (which is absurd) and has now been captured by “fake news.” Trump’s word is law. If he says it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen.