Sunday, March 25, 2018

Rhonda Garelick: Stormy Daniels Is the Anti-Trump // The Economist: Why Stormy Daniels is so dangerous

'We Americans have a curious relationship to sex: We are both prudes and voyeurs, enshrouding sexual matters in secrecy and shame while producing a pop-culture universe steeped in porn and extreme raunchiness. Recent months have proven just how harmful this dichotomy is: After all, would we need a #MeToo movement if we had a more organic, less prurient relationship to sex?'

Behold: Out from the chaos, lies, secrets, and misdirection of the Trump administration has emerged a figure of bracing honesty, clarity of purpose, even purity: Stormy Daniels — perhaps the one adversary who could take down this presidency.  Daniels and Trump have much in common. Both are theatrical creatures: He was a star of reality television, she is a star and director of adult films. Both have highly constructed, artificial appearances: hair obviously colored, visible makeup. Her extravagantly enhanced bosom finds its analog in his outrageously inflated comb-over. Both have used stage names: Daniels was born Stephanie Clifford and Donald Trump has, in the past, gone by the pseudonym “John Barron”when impersonating his own publicist. And both are at home in the world of erotic entertainment, where female sexual allure is a commodity to be assessed and purchased.

But there is one important difference between them: Stormy Daniels’s artifice is utterly forthright, all tools of a trade she neither excuses nor disavows. As a performer, Daniels pretends for a living. And her particular form of pretending involves sex, which is generally a domain considered private, even secret. But Daniels makes no secret of her profession. On the contrary, she speaks about it with frankness and a disarming, self-ironic wit: “When someone says, ‘Hey, you’re a whore … ’” she told CNN, “I’m like, That is ‘successful whore’ to you!”

Daniels’s honesty extends beyond the topic of her profession. In the past, she was candid about the relationship she had with Donald Trump, and now she is candid about her desire to overturn, via litigation, the nondisclosure agreement intended — along with the famous $130,000 payment — to keep her silent, to “hush” her. Daniels is not suing for money, but for the right to speak, to “un-hush” herself. She has even offered to return the original $130,000. Does this make Stormy a martyr to truth? Not exactly. She has openly acknowledged the financial benefits of her association with Trump, which has sent her popularity and appearance fees soaring: “I would be a fucking idiot to turn [the money and opportunities] down,” she told Rolling Stone. “We live in a capitalist society. Show me one person who would say no.” Surely Donald Trump would agree... read more:

The Economist: Why Stormy Daniels is so dangerous
.... the main reason Ms Clifford is running rings around the commander-in-chief reflects what a nightmarish matchup for him she is personally. The president’s recipe for political success is to appear more down-to-earth than his effete critics in the media, and so robustly transactional that his political rivals appear hypocritical by comparison. Yet Ms Clifford is no smarmy British comic or slippery senator. She is a self-made Republican-voting woman from Louisiana who has sex for a living. In a pre-agreement interview, she suggested she had indulged Mr Trump not because she was attracted to him (“Would you be?”), but because he had promised to make her a TV star. She out-Trumps Trump.

Besides blunting the president’s strengths, she also shows up his biggest weakness. He is at once thin-skinned and unembarrassable, a combination that explains most of his Twitter rages and boasting. After years of dealing with misogynist insults, by contrast, she appears so cheerfully thick-skinned as almost to be operating on a higher plane. This is also apparent on Twitter, where Ms Clifford dispatches the slurs Mr Trump’s fans hurl at her with wry wit (“You know you’re supposed to read that Bible and not smoke it, right?”) and no tolerance for poor English. “Commas are our friend. Don’t forget them,” she advised one critic.

The effect is devastating, a rapier to the president’s bludgeon... read more: