The dirty details Trump hid from the voters ahead of the 2016 election

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Let’s contrast the candidates.

In Washington this week President Biden delivered a high-minded speech condemning anti-semitism and warning us that the veneer of civilization is thin. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, lowlife Donald Trump stewed while the porn star he screwed dished the dirty details of what transpired while his third wife was home with a newborn.

Under oath, Stormy Daniels told the story that Trump was desperate to hide from the voters on the even of the 2016 election – so desperate that he personally reimbursed his lawyer for hushing her up, faking the election-interference payments as “legal expenses.”

Her tale of woe was all quite cringy: He did his quickie without a condom, he got spanked with a Forbes magazine, he said that Stormy reminded him of his daughter (?!), and Stormy weathered the encounter by, in her words, “staring at the ceiling. I didn’t know how I got there.”

Stormy, we get it. We’ve spent the last eight years staring at the ceiling, wondering how we got here.

I won’t speculate on whether her testimony will help or hurt the prosecution, whether it will sway the jury one way or another, or whether the arguably inflammatory details might help Trump if he were to appeal a criminal conviction.

In my humble opinion, the paper-trail criminal conspiracy – the entire panoply of fakery – seems sufficiently strong, and Stormy’s testimony merely demonstrates why the Duke of Dirtbaggery was so fixated on buying her silence. But, all legal issues aside, here’s the key question:

Are we really so debased and debauched and benumbed as nation that we’d actually stoop to re-hiring someone so abysmally sordid?

I’m old enough to remember a time when cheating on your wife with a porn star who reminds you of your daughter would banish you from polite society and any elective office.

I’m old enough to remember the 1990s, when conservative Republicans and evangelical Christians marketed the mantra “Character Counts” and insisted that President Bill Clinton’s louche acts rendered him unfit to serve. Back then, the leader of the right-wing Family Research Council decreed that “Character counts – in a people, in the institutions of our society, and in our national leadership.” The leader of an allied group, Focus on the Family, denounced Clinton for triggering a “profound moral crisis.” The director of the Christian Coalition said, “We have to be a nation that expects the highest from our public officials.”

But today these people are craven power junkies, having trashed their purported values for blind tribal loyalty. When asked about Trump’s Bible-breaching behavior, they talk about “forgiveness” and “mercy,” and “do-overs” (Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins: “There’s an understanding that we are all fallen”).

Trump’s grassroots dupes liken him to Jesus. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who parades his Christian devotion, is all in. And Republican congressmen are lowering the bar for Trump; witness Mark Molinaro from upstate New York: “If you want somebody with a good character to be president, you need to look back in history on all the dirtbags that we’ve elected president.”

Looking ahead, the big unknown is whether these flaming hypocrites will be outvoted by decent Americans who refuse to abide sleaze.

We were reminded again this week that the criminal defendant is not universally popular within Republican ranks. In the Indiana presidential primary, long-departed Nikki Haley drew 22 percent of the voters – the same anti-Trump sentiment we’ve seen in virtually all party contests this year.

If Trump fails to consolidate his base, he could get an autumn spanking far stronger than Stormy’s.

Copyright 2024 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at [email protected]