|PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS|
In another time, the overwhelming amount of crap and corruption that Donald Trump has brought to the Oval Office and compounded since his "election" would spell the premature end to a presidency. Imagine, for example, if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton had committed only a fraction of the crimes or ethical and moral breeches as has Trump. But instead, we live in an era when someone profoundly unqualified to be president can not only be nominated, but also elected and shamelessly supported by a sycophantic congressional majority.
And so Trump has low-crawled into his second year in office lugging a big bag of ticking time bombs from the Russia scandal to making the presidency a profit center for his family's business empire. But overlooked in this festering cesspool is the one person who may be able to blow up the whole shebang before Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller takes a whack at it.
Let's get some stuff out of the way from the jump. While I am led to believe that Melania is not a bimbo because she isn't a blond (I do not claim to be expert in such matters), she has bled out any sympathy I may have had for her as Trump's first-string sex object and more recently as First Lady. What she has revealed is an obsession with covering up her past, which includes a fiction-filled résumé and a murky immigration history, while floating through a Christian Dior pants-suited four-inch heels present with an incredible lightness of being devoid of original thought (will she ever stop plagiarizing Michelle Obama's best lines?) unless it is occasionally coming up with outlandish excuses for her husband's bad behavior.
Melania is an over-botoxed lamb glaring through life (the botox maybe?) who cried tears (not of joy) on election night, who slaps away her husband's (small) hands during public appearances and does not even try to hide that she is trapped in the (pussy-grabbing) hell of a misogynistic marriage.
But . . . but despite these mascara-smearing burdens, Melania finds herself in a unique position, and we can thank Stephanie Clifford for that.
Clifford, who makes porn flicks under the name Stormy Daniels, has asserted that she had a fling with the future president in a Lake Tahoe casino hotel room following a celebrity charity golf tournament in July 2006, four months after Melania gave birth to Barron Trump. According to the Wall Street Journal, Clifford was paid $130,000 in hush money a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement which prevented her from talking about the relationship in the future, which she had blabbed about in the past ("The sex was nothing crazy. He wasn't like, chain me to the bed or anything. It was one position") in a cringe-worthy 2011 interview.
She added: "I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever had to."
Clifford's story has become a bit frayed around the edges, but is credible given Trump's history of cheating on his wives, let alone his dozens of documented sexual predations, which he of course boasted about in the infamous "Access Hollywood" live mic tape, which had the perverse effect of not affecting the Evangelical vote because God has forgiven him. Or something.
But even if the Big Guy has forgiven him, Melania has not. She was "blindsided" and "furious" by the Stormy story, the go-to words widely used in cautious mainstream news accounts, reportedly spent several nights away from the presidential pad at a "posh" Washington hotel and refused to join her husband on his junket to Davos late last month, the first overseas trip on which she did not accompany him.
She flew to Mar-a-Lago while Trump was in Switzerland, reportedly luxurating in the resort's spa, which translates into a $64,000 taxpayer-funded shiatsu massage since that is what the round-trip flight cost. Her first appearance with her husband in two weeks was after his State of the Union address, and it can be safely assumed she has not seen his "junk" for longer than that.
(A brief time out to note that Melania has had one redeeming quality: She seems to have tried to keep Barron out of the spotlight's harsh glare on Trump's otherwise dysfunctional family. I still shudder when I recall Sarah and Todd Palin using son Trig like a stage prop.)
In any event, the affair is Donald's to disprove and Melania's to leverage, and leverage she should for her own good. And, not incidentally, that of the republic.
My suggestion would be that Melania begin the process of filing for divorce, and having done so would then make an offer Trump could ill afford to refuse: She will commit to remaining at his side as First Lady for the duration of his time in office on the condition that $1 million a month be deposited for her in an offshore account. A nice touch to this blackmail scheme (and Trump knows all about blackmail) would be a bank on Cyprus, where his pal Paul Manafort and various money-laundering Russian comrades have done considerable business.
The upshot of this . . . er, arrangement could well be to do what hundreds of lawsuits, multiple bankruptcies and other imprecations have not been able to do during Trump's many decades as a poster boy for everything that is vile about capitalism: Drive him over the edge.
Why would this be so?
Because Trump's ego is so pathetically fragile that he would be unable to handle not having Melania at his side if she were to leave him and could not handle losing control over her if he was to agree to being blackmailed. This is all about power and control, which was the underlying conflict and eventual deal breaker in his marriage to first wife Ivana.
There is no private Donald Trump. The golf obsessed, Big Mac addled, Diet Coke gulping sex addict we see in public is who he is. Trump is unable to control his passions and would not be able to abide not being able to control Melania. Besides which, no matter which course their marriage were to take, it would only be a matter of time before every sordid detail leaked out.
And so it is Melania who holds the key to her future, as well as ours.