Gina Barreca: Six Creepy Things About Trump’s Alleged Affairs
There are six reasons why President Donald Trump’s alleged affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are even more cringe worthy than other ordinary liaisons engaged in by men occupying powerful positions, and they are not really about the sex:
1. It’s not the sex: It’s the short-cuts.
Trump likes to delegate. He likes convenience. He likes fast food and maybe fast everything else. He chooses quick and easy over slow and steady, prizing convenience. From recent accounts, Trump doesn’t even bother working at relationships. The adult film star and the Playboy model required no prep work: It’s like getting personalized, customized, perfectly proportioned selections delivered to your home, office or bungalow.
Not that other presidents haven’t had sex. As we all know from our ninth-grade American history books and from HBO’s John Oliver, President Warren G. Harding was enough of a flagrant philanderer to put a blush on the cheeks of other Oval Office occupants. Harding famously admitted, “It’s a good thing I wasn’t born a girl because I could never say no.” But even Harding (who had sex with his mistress, Nan Britton, in the White House broom closet) was clearly willing to make an effort. Trump, in contrast, has somebody else — in the case of Daniels, it was his attorney, Michael Cohen — clean up and pay the tab.
2. It’s not the sex: It’s the substitution of sex for intimacy.
Don’t you get the idea that Trump’s inner-life is as deserted as an empty mall in a failing suburban neighborhood? Doesn’t it seem as if his family circle is woven together from a series of loose ends? Wouldn’t you say his friendships (not only the ones with Stormy and McDougal) seem bought-and-paid-for? Why, once people get to know him, does Trump need to litigate for loyalty instead of inspiring it? Why doesn’t he have one guy who’s a real pal?
3. It’s not the sex: It’s his rising polls.
After hearing an adult film star summarize her reaction to having sex with one of the most powerful men in the world as, “Ugh, here we go” (thereby proving that power is not always an aphrodisiac), you might have thought Trump’s star would be downsized.
But you’d be wrong: Trump’s approval numbers were strong after Stormy Daniels’ interview. Apparently lots of insecure men, fearful both of shark attacks and what women will say about their desirability once non-disclosure agreements are off the table, feel an even deeper sense of solidarity with Trump.
4. It’s not the sex: It’s the creepy scent.
“Calling Dr. Freud — emergency.” Trump supposedly tells women with whom he wants to have sex that they remind him of his daughter Ivanka. Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels both alleged that Trump used the “You’re special enough to have been sprung from my own loins” line of seduction. As every woman knows, being told by an old man that you remind him of his offspring is not usually the world’s most effective pick up line, although it’s probably better than saying “Let’s play Genesis 19: 30-38 and I’ll be Lot.”
5. It’s not the sex: It’s the settlement.
Abigail Rockefeller, an engineering major working in my office, suggested this one. Abigail chafed at Trump’s payout: “$130,000 would pay in-state room and board, fees and books for four years and leave enough for the acquisition of a nice 3-D printer.”
For $130,000, a person could also purchase a “1,218-square-foot home with 1.0 bathrooms” in Indianapolis, a 2017 Porsche 911 or a Rolex watch designed for the Dubai ruler and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (sold at an auction last week). In addition, as Susan Martin from the Tampa Bay Times reported, $130,000 was how much local developers lost in the failed Trump Tower Tampa debacle in 2015. Some suggest that Trump had once promised Stormy Daniels an apartment there.
6. It’s not the sex: It’s the silence.
If they’re working hard to keep you quiet, then you must have something dangerous to say. Just because you’ve had sex doesn’t mean you’re willing to get screwed. If you’re required to shut up and bullied into keeping secrets, then the truth must be pretty powerful. Like a shark, the truth has teeth.
Gina Barreca is an English professor at UConn and author of “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” and eight other books. She can be reached at ginabarreca.com.