Thursday, March 8, 2018. Mark down that date. It was a day for news of huge significance: Tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, and a startling announcement about negotiations between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Ho-hum. We’d much rather discuss sex.
The Washington swamp is teeming with that kind of wildlife. Even though the people in D.C. are legends in their own minds, they take off their pants the same way you and I do. That’s what I said: Take off their pants. Let’s face it — many, if not most, of the leaders in a position to determine how we live and love and all that important stuff are really just a bunch of horndogs. They jeopardize their elevated status for risky sexual adventures at the drop of a trouser.
There are exceptions. Barack Obama’s presidency was publicly free of the personal escapades that have defined so many politicians’ lives.
Presidents Bill Clinton and now Trump are a whole other story. Where would we be without the almost-daily dalliance report on someone in power? And those are just the ones who get caught. Bill Clinton’s “bimbo eruptions,” as a longtime Clintonista put it, were the stuff of legend. Now we have Donald Trump, who is doing everything he can to keep up the tradition. Even the most august media have at least one Stormy Daniels story a day, to say nothing about the titillating accounts of so many (other than his wives) who claim to have yielded to his charms (namely money) or insist that they were assaulted by him.
Trump denies it, all of it, which sets him apart from so many others who had no choice but to admit their inappropriate behavior or outright adultery. I always found that word comical, because there is nothing “adult” about adultery. But the mind wanders.
This is not to be judgmental. The best lead story is a lewd story. The prudish among us can disapprove, and the rest of us can laugh lustily. Let’s be honest: Who is currently America’s Sweetheart? Stormy Daniels, that’s who. By day, she was a porn star. By night, she now claims, she was getting it on more than a decade ago with Donald Trump. But this plot has more twists and turns than they had trysts and turns. Oh, did I forget to say “allegedly”? Please forgive the oversight. In my defense, I’ll point out that The Donald was quite blatant about his extracurricular activities, even though he tries to deny any Stormy relationship now, and even though his attorney and fixer Michael Cohen acknowledges he bought her silence when Trump was running for president. Cohen says he paid Daniels $130,000. He claims that he decided she needed the money, which he provided out of the goodness of his heart. How many lawyers do you know with a good heart? Cohen doesn’t seem to be one of them.
I will admit that I love this smutty stuff. We all prefer coverage of sex, drugs and rock and roll to stories where we have to think. Issues like tax reform tax the brain too much. Stormy Daniels taxes … well, you know.
The problem is that the country goes into the toilet while we ignore all those difficult issues that allow the rich to get richer by bamboozling the American public. Climate? Health care? Too complicated. A president and a stripper getting it on? Now you’re talking!
It’s an integral part of the issue that has exploded into the “Me Too” movement. Even that story, with its perverted behavior, is too many faceted to figure out. Unless we can find a simple-minded sex angle, trade-war stories and even efforts to end nuclear war are hard-core boring.
Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist.