Monday, March 19, 2018

Forget Stormy's Bumper Bullets. Dare We Believe That She Can Take Down Trump?

You can't turn around in the Stormy Daniels scandal without colliding with a double entendre. 
Take the word exposure.  Please!  That not only is what the porn film star and director is all about, so to speak, it is what the scandal is all about as Donald Trump and his lawyers frantically work to limit the president's legal exposure while Daniels and her lawyer work to enhance hers. 
But beyond that tabloid-ready story line, let alone 38DD questions about whether Stormy's bazooms are real or silicone-enhanced, lurk these intriguing angles:
Trump could have mitigated the scandal had he just let Stormy blab.  So why didn't he? 
Will the scandal open the floodgates to the many other women who say Trump hit on them? 
Can Stormy be considered a feminist hero and why shouldn't feminists be supporting her?  
And most pungently, unlike other Trump scandals, could this one shorten his presidency?
Like most of the other crises in the Trump presidency, let alone his gift as a grifter, the Stormy scandal was self inflicted. 
Had Trump just let her blab, she would now be a flesh-in-the pan footnote and not threatening to crowd out crises like Tillerson, McMaster, McCabe and Mueller. (Which sounds an awful lot like a law firm.)  Had his lawyer not insisted she sign a nondisclosure agreement in return for $130,000 in hush money to pay for something Trump claims never happened and he obviously never intended to sign, the whole thing might have gone away. 
But Trump always has to have the last word, which recalls one of the more jaw-dropping episodes in a career built on disreputation: After he defaulted on repayment of $640 million he owed Deutsche Bank following the 2008 global financial crash, the bank filed for a summary judgment.  Trump then countersued for $3 billion, stating that he had no intention of repaying because the crash was a "once-in-a-century credit tsunami" co-created by Deutsche Bank. 
Malignant narcissists do stuff like that.   
And so a passing irritation has become a full-blown crisis as Michael Cohen, Trump's fixer, taunts his adversary, which seldom is a wise legal strategy. 
Trump hasn't been able to let go and Cohen hasn't been able to shoot straight, and he has now maneuvered them into a position where they will have to exhibit a savvy hitherto absent in their thrashings to prevent Stormy's suit against them from going to court where it would collide head on with the Bubba Rule. 
People with longer memories than Trump will recall that it was a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee, against Bill Clinton for repeatedly hitting on her when he was Arkansas governor that nearly brought down his presidency.  (Impeachment can do that.)  Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying Jones and her lawyers a sweet $850,000 to drop the lawsuit to prevent Jones's lawyers from parading all the other women Clinton hit on through the witness box to corroborate Jones's story by confirming that Bill had a birthmark on his . . . er, junk. 
"I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever had to," Stormy has said, and so presumably could Karen McDougal, Summer Zervos and other women with whom he had affairs during his three marriages.  Then there are the 20 or so women we know about with whom he did not have sex but were fondled and groped.
(McDougal on Tuesday sued the company that owns The National Enquirer, which paid her $150,000 to bury her story, to get out of a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence about her affair with Trump, which like Stormy's began at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.  And in New York, a judge said a defamation lawsuit by Zervos against Trump related to an allegation he sexually harassed her could go forward.) 
Yes, Stormy can be considered a feminist hero and the sisterhood -- that is, those reliably hypocritical women with public personas who instruct us on how we should think -- is missing a terrific opportunity in not embracing her. 
While the affair may have been consensual, Stormy's tale also is a #MeToo story because Trump repeatedly has tried to silence her and perhaps threatened physical violence to she and her lawyer, the shrewd Michael Avennati, through surrogates.  Yet feminists seem to be treating Stormy with the same slut-shaming disdain they and late-night comics heaped on Monica Lewinsky two decades ago.  (Jay Leno: "Did you see that?  Gained 50 pounds.  If this keeps up, she may drop to her knees just from the weight.") 
So howcum feminists applaud every time Mueller snares another Russian scandal perp but are sitting on their hands and not embracing Stormy as an agent -- albeit a somewhat improbable one -- for change?  So what if she's a porn star and not an airline flight attendant or beauty pageant contestant?  Lewinsky fled into the shadows while Stormy has confidently and boldly taken control of her own narrative even if there undeniably are career-enhancing aspects to that. 
"If for some reason Mueller does not get him, Stormy will," predicts Representative Maxine Waters, a persistent Trump critic. 
Waters' words are encouraging for those of us -- as in the many millions of Americans -- who are shellshocked over Trump still making their lives miserable while methodically tearing down the country he vowed to make great again despite all the scandals that would have short-circuited other presidencies. 
The same overweaning vanity and sense of resentment that has characterized Trump's response to the special prosecutor is driving his pushback against Stormy.  The juvenile president and adult film star.  The bully and the woman.   
For Trump the lines between lying and honesty and probity and crime were blurred long ago, but maybe just maybe in the end it will be those bumper bullets that will get him. 

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