Monday, March 26, 2018


In response to the Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes, Matt Yglesias writes:
Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview ... ultimately failed to shed light on the two most interesting questions posed by this entire imbroglio, presumably because Daniels herself doesn’t know the answer.

1. How many other sexual partners has Trump paid hush money to?

2. How many foreign intelligences services know about one or more of those women?

... for one reason or another Trump is clearly quite committed to trying to prevent his former partners from discussing their dalliances in public. He and his associates are willing to put cash on the line for this, threaten massive legal consequences, and perhaps even engage in acts of physical intimidation.

... precisely because a lot of people would be interested in embarrassing material about the president’s sex life — and because Trump, a very image conscious person, could be very worried about that interest — the existence of embarrassing secrets could well be a national security crisis for the country.
Would revelations about Trump's sex life be a national security crisis? Is that what Trump is worried about?

I'm not persuaded that a man who once said he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes is necessarily worried about sexual kompromat, either foreign or domestic. That statement suggests that Trump has really thought about the nature of his appeal and the loyalty of his supporters, and knows that they'll cut him a lot of slack. I've said in the past that Trump's base would shrug off any detailed sexual revelation that didn't involve men or children. Some of you have responded that if he likes sexual submission, that's something he wouldn't want revealed. Maybe. In any case, if only certain deeds would shame him, it doesn't seem as if Stormy Daniels has any undisclosed revelations that will cause him problems -- she's said in the past that their sex was "textbook generic."

Here's an alternate theory: Trump will go to extraordinary lengths to conceal evidence of his sexual encounters because he's Donald Trump, goddammit, and he's not going to cede control of his image to a woman who's not his daughter or a trusted aide. I think it's possible that he insists on retaining power over this information as an assertion of his own dominance, not because he's afraid to be shamed. Over the years he's required many people in his orbit to sign non-disclosure agreements, including both of his ex-wives. It's what he does. In the sexual realm, he certainly hasn't seemed to worry in the past about being seen as a horndog or an unfaithful husband. He clearly never believed in the past that his non-consensual groping and voyeurism were things he had to conceal -- remember, he didn't just confess to being a groper on the Access Hollywood tape, he told Howard Stern on live radio that he peeked in beauty pageant dressing rooms. On these subjects, he literally had no shame.

So why the cover-up? If I'm right, it's because Trump believs it's fine for the public to hear about his sex life from him -- he's in control. But no one else has the right. Control is something he will not give up.

It's true that he was sufficiently concerned about the women who accused him of sex crimes during the 2016 to threaten lawsuits. But before he ran for president, maybe he just wanted control because he's a male billionaire and control is one of the privileges of his exalted station in life. And now that he's won the election, he may also not care about the risk of exposure -- he might still just want to maintain control, because how dare a lesser human being (not rich, female) try to wrest that from him.

So maybe he's not be afraid of exposure -- he's just asserting a privilege. Or if he is afraid, it might be fear of losing privilege, which would be a sign of weakness.


With Russia, I think different rules apply. There are business entanglements. I'm not sure Trump fears kompromat so much as he fears financial ruin. He fears men he knows have financial power over him. There may be sex involved, but it's possible that it's just money.

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