Like many students at UCSB, I really dislike Donald Trump. I disliked him when I watched one episode of “The Apprentice” at age 10, and I dislike him more now. It’s not an uncommon opinion that Trump is a sordid, unscrupulous, and self-obsessed conman with little clue of how to governor his country.
The revelation that Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels 12 years ago — and had his lawyers pay the woman to keep quiet — seems to further cement his well-earned reputation as a jerk. Yet several major media outlets, including The Atlantic and New York Times, have treated the affair and attempted cover-up as though they were as large of a scandal as the potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia to win the 2016 election. As the New York Times opined on March 25, “it was a quintessential moment of the Trump presidency — a tabloid-ready scandal and must-see television — that carried potential legal implications for Mr. Trump and his longtime lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen.”
Trump’s affair is another example of his lawyers and other employees burying his trail of skeletons, which nevertheless crawl surfaceward with gusto. Despite the sordid nature of this affair and the media frenzy it created, it says nothing about Trump’s qualifications as president.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons Trump is unqualified to be president: he has no understanding of international economics, no sense of diplomacy, no moral character — the list could go on for pages. But the Stormy Daniels affair doesn’t negate his validity as a candidate, based on Daniels’ interview for “60 Minutes” and related articles.
Unlike the claims of sexual abuse he admitted to in the Access Hollywood Tape, the affair with Daniels was consensual, as Daniels admitted. Having an affair while married can reasonably be called a moral lapse, but it has no relation with his qualifications for the presidency.
Imagine a scenario in which Trump had extensive knowledge of history, foreign policy, economics, environmental science, diplomacy, and legislative experience but had one or more extramarital affairs (a scenario similar to John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). In this hypothetical, if Trump ran against someone vastly less qualified who never cheated on his wife, it would be hard to argue voting for the latter individual.
With that established, a candidate should meet all of the criterion listed above, including having an honest marriage. Yet to me, this is not the most crucial detail in electing someone. Of course, unlike many American voters, I also wouldn’t mind electing someone who is not married (if that was a commonly held belief, JFK probably would not have married).
Of course, while an affair represents a moral lapse, the nature of the affair would determine whether or not it nullifies one’s viability for the office. If, for instance, Trump had molested Daniels, as he boasted that he attempted to do with other women in the Access Hollywood tape, that would not only nullify his viability for the presidency — such a revelation should land him in prison.
Of course, since Trump has expressed interest in molesting people, then independently of the Stormy Daniels affair, that represents too great a moral lapse for him to be a viable president.
However, the Daniels Affair seemed to be consensual which makes it fairly irrelevant to Trump’s presidency. However, Trump’s lawyer maneuvered to keep Daniels quiet near the end of the 2016 election which essentially covered up another instance of Trump lacking moral fiber.
For that matter, I doubt he contains much dietary fiber either — but once again I digress. The Daniels affair is ultimately relevant not primarily for the substance of the affair but for the attempted cover-up which, while ultimately unsuccessful, did manage to keep the affair from being widely publicized until after the 2016 election. The cover-up of the Daniels affair proves what many of us already knew: President Donald Trump has done many shady things and pays people to bury them whenever possible. I wonder what other shady things remain buried.