Scandals — Then vs. now
Just 25 years ago, a scandal was a President doing a sex act with a willing intern in the Oval Office.
It was such a huge scandal, it was front page news for two years. It was so big, it resulted in impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and trial in the Senate. As Vice President Joe Biden once whispered, regarding another issue, “it was a big (expletive deleted) deal.” Scandal!
But that was then, and this is now, and times have changed. First, in the Age of Trump, there are so many scandals, they hardly last a day or two before yet another captures the news headlines.
Consider, for example, Stormy Daniels, part-time adult movie star, better known today for having become newsworthy by virtue of receiving $130,000 from the personal attorney of President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, paid during the Trump presidential campaign.
The issue that prompted the gift, or loan, or campaign contribution (which may end up as an illegal campaign finance contribution), appears to be a liaison between Trump and Daniels that took place just after Trump’s wife gave birth to his son Baron. Trump has neglected to confess to such a disturbing moral choice, so, for now at least, we are left to consider if Cohen was just making a charitable contribution to Daniels out of the kindness of his heart, or if Mr. Cohen was paying a bribe to prevent Ms. Daniels from talking to the media about her private moments with the trice-married Trump.
Then consider the recent discovery that not only did presidential secretary Rob Porter (recently fired over domestic violence issues with ex-wives) work in the White House without security clearance, but so did as many as 100 other White House staff as of last November. Three staff members have resigned when informed they could not be granted clearance. In the pre-Trump days, this would be a national scandal, but in the Trump era it is just today’s insanity waiting for tomorrow’s new insanity.
And of course, there is that pesky matter of Mr. Porter, whose two ex-wives apparently told the FBI that Mr. Porter was prone to hitting them. This unfortunate history made Mr. Porter an unacceptable risk for a security clearance. But, somehow, the White House managed to ignore, deny, distract and outright lie about whether it knew Ron Porter had hit his wives. Those denials became considerably more difficult when pictures of a bruised wife appeared.
Historically, this is a really big mistake on the part of the White House, hiring and keeping an abuser on staff. In past administrations, this too would dominate the news for weeks if not months. In Trump world, this is probably old news as you read it.
For his part, the president announced that he opposes domestic violence but likes Porter. These two remarks were not made in the same context, but still stand as the presidents’ statements.
And, while it is good that the president of the United States, opposes domestic violence, but forgives its practitioners, apparently, one cannot but be reminded that one of Trump’s ex-wives, Ivana, accused him of rape before later withdrawing the accusation.
Victims of domestic violence often withdraw charges, but when Trump announces his rejection of domestic violence is he arguing his position has changed, or that he opposes violence in theory, not so much in practice?
The above hardly scratches the surface of an administration that is so morally challenged, Tony Soprano would cringe in embarrassment at the level of character bankruptcy that this president has brought to the office.
And then there is Russia.
In the Trump White House scandal just refers to today’s news.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.