Could Stormy Daniels Bring Lumpy To His Knees?

The only Donald Trump criminal trial that’s likely to take place this year starts today in New York. Trump is charged with falsifying business records in order to cover up an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Amanda Marcotte thinks that testimony from Daniels will be “devastating” for Trump, largely because, as Daniels told Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes in 2018, their sexual encounter was not fully consensual and was miserable for her:

Stormy Daniels: And I was like, “Ugh, here we go.” (LAUGH) And I just felt like maybe — (LAUGH) it was sort of — I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone and I just heard the voice in my head, “well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.”

Anderson Cooper: And you had sex with him.

Stormy Daniels: Yes.

Anderson Cooper: You were 27, he was 60. Were you physically attracted to him?

Stormy Daniels: No.

Anderson Cooper: Not at all?

Stormy Daniels: No.

Anderson Cooper: Did you want to have sex with him?

Stormy Daniels: No. But I didn’t — I didn’t say no. I’m not a victim.

Marcotte believes that women do more damage to Trump’s reputation than men do:

While plenty of men … have spoken out about their negative experiences with Trump, women have generally been the most compelling witnesses against him. Former journalist E. Jean Carroll testified in two civil trials about how Trump sexually assaulted her and then defamed her. Juries found her persuasive enough to award her nearly $90 million. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson wasn’t sexually abused by Trump … but became the most striking witness in the Jan. 6 hearings during the previous Congress. Her accounts of Trump as a petulant child who throws ketchup and flails impotently at Secret Service agents rang true in a way that was difficult for even the most delusional MAGA heads to deny.

Really? Carroll won both her cases — I think Trump will lose the Daniels case as well — but Trump doesn’t have a lot of admirers in Manhattan. Hutchinson’s allegations were also persuasive to Trump haters. But in the country at large, the proceedings in which these two women participated coincided with strong poll numbers for Trump, and his easy triumph in the Republican primaries followed. Trump still appears to have a slight lead in general election polls. If he’s slipping at all now, it’s probably because he’s more visible than he’s been for the past few years. He’s the most damaging witness against himself, not his female (or male) critics.

Marcotte thinks the specifics of Daniels’s story will make the Trump myth harder to believe:

Trump’s conduct with women makes clear that he’s both a bully and a coward, who victimizes vulnerable people in situations where they have no real way to fight back. It also undermines his lifelong effort to portray himself as an irresistible Lothario and sexual dynamo. The ladies don’t swoon over Donald Trump. They spend every minute wondering when it will be safe to wriggle free from his stubby fingers.

To people who are paying attention and are willing to accept what the evidence says, all this is obvious, and has been obvious for years. To most other people, the legend of Trump’s studliness prevails, just as the legend of his business prowess prevails in the minds of many Americans despite overwhelming evidence of his ineptitude as a CEO. Too many people want to believe that charismatic figures are as special as they tell us they are — think of the Elon Musk cult — so they deny what’s right in front of them. Also, Trump must be special because who among us has ever been in a position to browbeat a porn star into sex in the first place, all while married to a fashion model wife?

Trump will probably lose the case, and maybe the trial and verdict will damage his polling. But many voters will continue to believe that he’s a ladies’ man who “doesn’t need to” be a predator. Or they’ll believe that everyone does it, or at least every male in power — look at how Biden massages people’s shoulders! Look at Jeffrey Epstein’s guests! Trump might make this trial into a politically damaging event for himself if he continues on his usual course of attacking the process and the participants. But in a society that’s still sexist, I don’t think an adult film actress’s words will bring down a potential president.

Published with permission of No More Mister Nice Blog

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