Look beneath the surface of the Stormy Daniels Affair

Summary: James Bowman examines the Stormy Daniels Affair, showing aspects of it ignored by journalists (lest it ruin the narrative).

Stormy telling her story on “60 Minutes.”

Stormy Daniels on CBS' "60 Minutes"

Stormy Weather

By James Bowman.
From The New Criterion, 31 May 2018.

Far be if from me to say “I told you so,” but the media’s spring offensive against President Donald Trump, based on his alleged sexual misbehavior as predicted in these pages four months ago (see “Putting Down the Big Dog” in The New Criterion of January 2018), within days of the 100th anniversary of the Germans’ Kaiserschlacht offensive in France {March – July 1918} which almost turned the tide of WWI in their favor. Leading the charge on this occasion was one Stephanie, “Stormy,” Daniels, porn star, who told Anderson Cooper of “60 minutes” of a long-ago sexual encounter – it could hardly be said to rise to the dignity of an “affair” – with Mr Trump and a subsequent payment to her of a considerable sum of money to keep silence about it. …

It might be a bit of a stretch to see Ms Daniels as a victim …as she never alleged that her relationship with Mr Trump was anything but consensual. Moreover, it must have been pretty obvious that her marketability as a porn star, or even as a garden-variety celebrity, now washed clean of her past sins (if any) …increased with every media appearance. But her presence on so celebrated a TV “magazine” show as “60 Minutes,” watched by millions, made her a sort of ex officio victim, and some of the immunity from criticism or even skepticism {of victims} …may be supposed to have rubbed off on her.

Stormy fixed up differently.

Stormy Daniels at the 2018 Adult Video News Network Awards
Stormy Daniels at the 2018 Adult Video News Awards on 27 January 2018 in Las Vegas. Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images.

Still, I thought it a bit odd that she and not one or more of the women currently alleging sexual harassment or assault against Mr Trump was chosen to lead the media’s Sturmtruppen. Presumably, the allegation that he or his agents paid her for her silence about the alleged “affair” is regarded as the more potentially fatal scandal for him – on that other well-known media principle that the “cover-up” is always more scandalous than the crime. So much so, indeed, that by now there needn’t be any actual crime to be covered up, as both Scooter Libby and Michael Flynn have found to their cost. I wonder, however, if the media have not made a mistake in tactics by turning Ms Daniels – with her eager cooperation, of course – into a new-minted celebrity opponent of the president, taking her place in line alongside the likes of Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly and Alec Baldwin and Stephen Colbert and Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezeznski.

For if Mr Trump’s admirers have been able to ignore such people on account of their obvious animus against him, doesn’t giving the porn star the celebrity treatment just invite them to ignore her as well? Turning every criticism of himself and thus every potential scandal into just another celebrity feud has worked astonishingly well for him so far, the most spectacular example being James Comey. But the media, perhaps because they are more than half-crazed by their own hatred of the man, seem incapable of avoiding this trap – which, if one dared to suppose the President the political and PR genius he sometimes appears to be, he might have set for them.

All the media attention lavished on Ms Daniels appeared to have had no more effect on the President’s approval ratings than any other of the parade of scandals during the past two years {as evident in Gallup’s weekly polls.} ….

But even if scandal fatigue should set in, its obverse, which is government by virtue-signaling has never been stronger, on the #NeverTrump right as much as on the left. For two generations since Watergate, little boys and girls destined by birth and breeding for the information economy’s upper echelons have grown to maturity dreaming not of governing but, like Paul Greengrass, director of the 9/11 film United 93 {review here, available at Amazon}, “of being an investigative reporter and bringing governments down.” To him and to many others like him “being an investigative reporter” is itself the ultimate virtue-signal, the guarantee of their righteous entitlement to break democratically-elected governments which fail to live up to their own high standards of morality.

For this reason, it would be foolish to expect that, even in an age like ours of widespread public disgust with such self-righteousness and entitlement, the media will ever lay their broken sword at the feet of a victorious Donald Trump. The best we can hope for is that they might one day be persuaded by a growing public indifference to their shrieks of indignation that scandal has finally played itself out as the most effective weapon in their arsenal.

————————————

James Bowman

About James Bowman

Bowman is a Resident Scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

He has worked as a freelance journalist, serving as American editor of the Times Literary Supplement of London from 1991 to 2002, as movie critic of The American Spectator since 1990 and as media critic of The New Criterion since 1993. He has also been a weekly movie reviewer for The New York Sun since the newspaper’s re-foundation in 2002. He has also contributed to a wide range of other major papers.

Mr. Bowman is perhaps best known for his book, Honor: A History, and his essay “The Lost Sense of Honor” in The Public Interest.

See his collected articles at his website, including his film reviews going back to 1994.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts by James Bowman, about libertarianism, about the Right’s faux history and faux economics, and especially these …

  1. Important: see The Big List of Lies – a selection, not a comprehensive list, of lies in the past 5 decades by Presidents and high officials.
  2. James Bowman’s explains Trump’s scandalology.
  3. Methods of Madness in the Resistance to each president.
  4. These are the last days of Trump. Next: the rise of Pence.
  5. Bowman explains why the Democrats burn Bill to get Trump.
Honor: A History
Avilable at Amazon.

About Bowman’s great book.

It is about a lost but vital element from our culture. I recommend reading Honor: A History. From the publisher…

“The importance of honor is present in the earliest records of civilization. Today, while it may still be an essential concept in Islamic cultures, in the West, honor has been disparaged and dismissed as obsolete.

“In this lively and authoritative book, James Bowman traces the curious and fascinating history of this ideal, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment and to the killing fields of World War I and the despair of Vietnam. Bowman reminds us that the fate of honor and the fate of morality and even manners are deeply interrelated.”

22 thoughts on “Look beneath the surface of the Stormy Daniels Affair

  1. What the author fails to acknowledge here – which I believe is the mosy important issue – is that this President is an innate liar.

    He publicly lied to journalists on Air Force One – denying any personal involvement in the ‘Stormy Daniels’ affair. He has now also been caught out with his lawyer lying about his direct dictation of the Trump Jr. statement about the Russian meeting in the Trump Tower.

    So how many more lies does the American public have to put up with from this man?

    1. Ivan- you may be correct (about the “innate liar” thing), however that misses the point (multiple points) in its (their) entirety.

      It is not whether he is a liar or not (or even the narcissistic buffoon he obviously is), it is about how that fact and his lies are dealt with, by the press, by the voting public, by the blogosphere, etc. As the post says, it is being met with a giant yawn, and it is being treated as one of many obvious flaws in the man to be either railed at, or ignored.

      Another point is that none of what he has said was under oath, unlike “Unca Bill”, who perjured himself on top of lying to the public (and walked despite that, as he was loved by feminists – another, separate story).

      What is more, is the reality (that as the astute observer of US politics that you are) you should have noted long ago is that ALL politicians lie. Hillary was a liar AND a criminal, and that fact was roundly ignored by HER supporters in much the same way as Trump’s innate lying is ignored by his. Furthermore, beyond the lies put forth during the recent presidential candidacies, EVERY politician lies. The joke “how can you tell if a lawyer is lying?- His lips are moving” is easily extended to pretty much most if not all politicians. Read my lips, no new taxes, it was the video, it was a random supermarket, if they cross my red lines, i opposed the war, i supported (insert anything here), it was… whatever you hear, is lied about with grace and facility, and the better the politician, the slicker the message, and the more we allow ourselves to hear what they put forth with credulity.

      Until we all decide that we will not tolerate that crap from our elected officials and candidates, we will continue to get what we deserve. And that applies to both sides of the aisle i am afraid.

    2. Ivan,

      “What the author fails to acknowledge here – which I believe is the mosy important issue – is that this President is an innate liar.”

      Truly one of the great moments in cinema history is Captain Louis Renault’s “I am shocked — shocked — to find that gambling is going on in here!” This is American’s reaction to the news. I’ve long wondered if Americans have amnesia (something the Russians or CIA put in the water?) or just very selective memories.

      American presidents have lied to us about matters of the greatest importance for generations. Presidential lies got us into Vietnam and Iraq. Presidents and high officials have lied like rugs to further policy and avoid responsibility. And you are shocked – shocked – to learn that Trump lied about his relations with a whore.

      Read the Big List of Lies (a selection, not a comprehensive list). Then when a high official says something, you can remember as a routine reminder that they lie a lot.

      They do so, of course, because they suffer no penalty for doing so when they are caught. We don’t mind, as good little peons.

    3. Good thing Obama never lied then. Some of us live in reality and know politicians lie. Some are just sleazy liars some are the servants of Satan. I’d far rather have Trump than Hillary. That was the choice. Try dealing with that. Jesus isn’t here yet so you are going to get someone breaking the commandments the choice is only which ones or worse someone thinking its a to do list.

    4. Dvd,

      “Some of us live in reality and know politicians lie.”

      Sad but true. See The Big List of Lies – a selection, not a comprehensive list, of lies in the past 5 decades by Presidents and high officials.

      “Some are just sleazy liars some are the servants of Satan.”

      That really misses the important point. We elected every one of them. What does that say about us? As mothers have said for millenia: when you point a finger at someone, four fingers point back at you.

      (3) “I’d far rather have Trump than Hillary. That was the choice.”

      That’s totally false. That attitude shows why we’re in this hole. We are not customers at a restaurant, whining that the fare isn’t what people of our awesomeness deserve. Voting is just one aspect of citizenship. Citizens getting involved in making the political machinery will produce better candidates. Peons sit on their butts complaining about the quality of the candidates on the ballot.

      America is run by those that devote their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to making it work. If we don’t run it. Others will do so, and do so in their interests – not ours. That’s the Great Circle of Life, just like in the Disney films.

    5. Hey Larry you old Lotus Eater You,

      I don’t expect you to get this.

      I was in an upscale billiards room the other night.( a rich people’s pool hall). I intiated a discusion with the assembled room’s patrons about the aged “Orange Jesus’s dalliance some ten years ago with Stormy Daniels (The rapidly going to fat stripper, but new face of the Democrat Party).

      The general consensus was, “Thank God! Instead of a pussey, we now have a President who likes pussey!”

      I know Larry, how terribly crude and and unsophisticated, and I don’t expect you to post this. Just a comment between us girls.

      High in the Blue Ridge,
      Your Buddy JB

    6. JB,

      (1) “I don’t expect you to get this.”

      Wrong. I think that’s a funny story!

      (2) “I don’t expect you to post this.”

      Wrong, again. It doesn’t violate the comment policy.

    1. Not Lurking,

      “The stripes maybe different but they are all bums…..”

      Our officials all have one thing in common: we elected them. So if they are all bums, what does that say about us?

      When we assume responsibility for America, rather than acting like customers in a diner, then reform will become possible.

  2. Perhaps this is just an example of (Howard) Stern’s Law: “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”

  3. “For two generations since Watergate, little boys and girls destined by birth and breeding for the information economy’s upper echelons have grown to maturity dreaming not of governing but, like Paul Greengrass, director of the 9/11 film United 93 {review here, available at Amazon}, “of being an investigative reporter and bringing governments down.” To him and to many others like him “being an investigative reporter” is itself the ultimate virtue-signal, the guarantee of their righteous entitlement to break democratically-elected governments which fail to live up to their own high standards of morality.”

    I’ve come to think that Watergate permanently damaged American democracy by providing a template for hounding a President out of office that people have been ever after trying to replicate. This isn’t to defend Nixon, but rather to point out that using a “gate” to remove a President hasn’t been very productive since. Tactics can pass their sell date, and you need to recognize when that is. That armored blitzkrieg through the Ardennes thing might have worked on the French in 1940, but the US Army circa 1944 is a tougher proposition. Cuban mercenaries might take down the Honduran government with no sweat, but Castro isn’t Arbenz. if you stand up on an American airliner today and announce that this is a hijack, you are going to get curb stomped. Some things only work one time.

    The Reagan people did what they did, the Bush people did what they did, and Clinton had sex with That Woman. None of them were driven out of office over it. If you want to argue that they should have been then whatever, I won’t waste my time debating the issue. But the solution to the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton problems wasn’t to be found in scandal or investigation. I don’t think the Trump problem is going to get solved that way either. The real Trump scandal isn’t that he paid off That Woman, it’s that the Dems ever nominated a candidate capable of losing to him.

    Ever see “And Justice For All”? Remember Al Pacino’s opening statement? “That man over there is a happy man today, because he’s going after a judge. And if he gets him, he’s a star. He’s going to have his name in Law Review. Centerfold. Lawyer of the month.” These people want to be stars in a movie that’s going to tank because the audience got tired of their shtick a long time ago.

    1. The Man,

      Nicely said. The phenomenon you describe is, imo, part of our larger loss of faith in the Republic. Which results from our apathy, our unwillingness to work the political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders. The former is a rationalization for the latter.

      So the cultural distaste for coups against elected officials has slowly eroded, as each Party when in opposition attacks Presidents. Always hysterically. The president is overthrowing democracy, a Hitler or Stalin. That these accusations look quite mad in retrospect does not matter. We don’t learn because we now live in the present. As peons always do. No memory, so unable to learn from experience.

      We can change. Discovery of how to encourage this change is the great task of our time. I’ve explored many ways in posts and comments, without success.

    2. “The real Trump scandal isn’t that he paid off That Woman, it’s that the Dems ever nominated a candidate capable of losing to him.”

      Yes. And they still have not realized it. They nominated probably the only senior Democrat who could not beat him, and they still do not understand why.

      But perhaps the most remarkable indicator of the change in the times is that now a grande horizontale, whose only talent appears to have been a willingness to perform sex acts on screen with a variety of like minded men and ladies, has her occupation referred to as an entirely legitimate career. She is an adult film actress, an entirely legimate and honorable profession, at which she has succeeded brilliantly….

      This was not quite fair. She has also displayed a talent for directing movies of the sort she appeared in.

      We are not in Kansas any more.

    3. “and they still do not understand why.”

      Or they do understand why, but don’t care in the least. Remember, the Democratic party hates liberalism more than it hates the Republican party, far more.

  4. Eh. I have no problem with media figures being eager to “bring down” a government. That’s what they are there for, after all. I just wish they would report on issues of substance rather than affairs such as this. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg if Donald Trump sleeps with a porn star, or ten porn stars, or a hundred. Meanwhile, my health care coverage gets worse, my environment gets more polluted, my family gets poorer while rich families get richer.

    1. PAT,

      “I just wish they would report on issues of substance rather than affairs such as this.”

      My guess is that this results from their desire to bring down a government. They are looking for the opportunity to do so, rather than reporting news. To see their goals, watch what they do.

  5. blame our poisonous politics on the koch brothers, george soros, on the russians, on citizens’ united on the fecklessness of democrats or anything else on offer. this is still a reasonably functional democracy and we get the leaders we deserve.

    1. Jay,

      “we get the leaders we deserve.”

      That is the essential point. When we are willing to accept responsibility for America, I’ll bet we find it surprisingly easy to make the necessary reforms.

      “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
      — Letter by Joseph de Maistre on 27 August 1811 He was a European lawyer, diplomat, writer, and philosopher.

    1. info,

      They are professional accessories for the well dressed prostitute and stripper.

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