As readers of my Blog may have guessed, I am not the most powerful man in the world. My hand, hovering over the button, will only start the coffee machine, not launch a nuclear Armageddon. One tweet from me will not bring down the world’s stock markets. An offhand word, tossed out at a cocktail party, will not get political analysts scratching their heads; “now, what did he mean by that?”
And yet ….
I can have as many extra-marital affairs as I like (or afford, or at my age, manage), and no-one will care …… except my wife, of course. Yet the president of the United States of America, arguably the most powerful of men, with 24-hour responsibilities for the world’s safety, cannot even look at another woman. A glance, a touch held just a moment too long, will bring a chorus of condemnation from the press, from CNN and its many look-alike ‘News Shows’, and from rivals and presidential hopefuls in both his own party and the opposition. Even if his wife couldn’t care, the dreaded Main Stream Media will be on his case in a flash.
The current storm over ‘Stormy” Daniels and her alleged affair with President Trump over twelve years ago, has generated a frenzy of legal and media activity.
Daniels received some $130,000 just before the 2016 presidential election as payment for keeping quiet. Michael Cohen, for some years President Trump’s attorney oversaw the payment. A lawyer for Daniels claimed that the payment was a cover-up; questions were raised about possible illegal campaign payments. Although Daniels signed a nondisclosure agreement about the alleged affair, she later filed a lawsuit against Trump claiming that it was invalid as Trump had not signed it.
As the investigations widened, Michael Cohen was forced to plead guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud. He will have to wait till December 2018 to hear how long he will spend in jail.
And, while this circus rolls on and the lawyers get rich, there is a country to govern. There are many real problems, both at home and abroad, that clamor for the president’ attention.
This obsession with the president’s sex life is a relatively new phenomenon. No less than seven American presidents are known to have had affairs, in some cases with many women. Some even managed to father illegitimate children. Very little notice was taken of their “time-off” from presidential duties.
Lyndon B. Johnson always felt that he was in the shadow of his dashing predecessor, John F. Kennedy. As stories of JFK’s extra-marital affairs came to light after his assassination, LBJ boasted, “I have had more women by accident than he has had on purpose.” No-one took any notice; the country was too busy watching their president fight his War on Poverty, which helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line, and the escalating American involvement in the Vietnam War.
The first to find his private affairs very much in the spotlight was, of course, Bill Clinton, and his troubles were not directly from his “affair”. He appeared on national TV in January of ’98 and rather foolishly said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” This led to his impeachment, not for the affair but for lying under oath. If he had just said “Yes, it was great. Next question, please,” there would have been no impeachment and no story.
The public’s attitude to the sex lives of important people was famously summed up as early as 1910 by British actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, the first to play “Eliza Doolittle” in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (later resurrected as My Fair Lady). When told that an older actor was showing too much affection for the leading man, she is reputed to have replied:
“My dear, I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”
The current witch-hunt against President Trump is throwing the US into chaos, with serious implications for the rest of the world. Nowadays, we don’t have many horses in our streets and no longer need to worry about frightening them, but perhaps it is time that we worried about us being frightening – ‘We the People’ are running scared.
(And, if you want to get away from the World’s woes, try the Len Palmer Mysteries – https://www.lenpalmerbooks.com)