• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Stormy With A Chance of Details

Out of the mist, washed up and washed ashore is Ms. Stormy Daniels. Upon the scene she’s emerged—fully in command of the media, incipiently under the skin of the president, and with an eye toward the destruction of the status quo. Rather like a patient, if not exceedingly lecherous leviathan, she’s been waiting in the swelling tides. Now, the tempest is full blown and her story’s on display.

Perhaps, better yet, she’s less a storm and more a modern-day Scylla or Siren, a kind of femme fatale bent on enticing every eager boy passing by. What with her gentle blue eyes, blonde hair, and ample bust, she looks every part the intoxicant, the womanly and sexually-practiced figure that she is, but she hides up her sleeve, down her blouse a secret. There one finds the dangerous, ravenous maelstrom in which the nation’s captain has been caught. Ensnared, really, as he’s but another helpless victim of an amorous intrigue that’s sunk even lesser ships. President Trump is now one of the many curious seamen—virile voyagers they are—who accepted an invitation into her warm and accommodating port. He made a beachhead of her boudoir, a fool of himself, and in so doing he sowed the wind. Now, the stormy weather arrives.

Her Christian name is Stephanie Clifford, her patron saint, Mary Magdalene. The latter is the promiscuous mistress of Christianity; the former, of modernity.

She chose Stormy Daniels as her nom de guerre, not as a matter of choice, but as one of necessity. You see, Daniels works in an industry that demands erotic anonymity and unsubtle subtlety. It’s a cheap but essential artifice that everyone so employed needs. That which does the employing is none other than the pornographic film industry. It’s there that Daniels has made her bones (and I do mean her bones) in a business who’s product is the flesh.

Up to this point, she’s been a veritable star. In ranking dissolute starlets from the more scantily-clad side of the film industry, Daniels is to porn what Blanchet is to drama, Bette Davis is to history, and Melissa McCarthy is to comedy. In other words, she’s one of the best—the crème de la crème. Within this raunchy underbelly of the cinematic experience, she’s won for herself honorable positions in the venerable “NightMoves”, “AVN” (Adult Video News), and “XRCO” (X-Rated Critics Organization) halls of fame. She may not be chiseled in onyx along Hollywood’s more infamous walk of fame, but she’s carved, indelibly, into the masturbatory memories of more than a few lonely young men.

Acclaim bestowed upon such a gal from these hallowed bodies is no small feat, but her name—whichever one to which you choose to adhere—is everywhere and on everyone’s lips. It’s there for a reason unrelated to her formidable acting prowess. From the adult film industry, she next dabbled in the world of dalliance. In time, this world would prove more lucrative and eventually politically relevant than the last. She moved from cash-laden prostitution to expensive one-night stands. She became a courtesan and an opportunist with aristocratic tastes. She developed an appetite for the affluent, a craving for the nouveau riche. Looking not for love, but for satiation and perhaps a shot at a new career, she found just the man to ride to the top: Donald Trump.

The two met during a golf outing in Nevada in 2006. Presumably, they were so smitten with each other and swept away in comparing their political philosophies that they couldn’t help stealing away for an after-hours tête-à-tête at the nineteenth hole. There, away from the caddies and the grounds keepers, they’d be able to consummate their extracurricular affair. It should and must be noted that at the time, Trump’s new wife (of just over one year, mind you) was pregnant with the couple’s first and only child. Melania, new to her nuptials and to her status in this country, awaited eagerly the birth of her young son Barron. Her husband, on the other hand, unconcerned about her fertility and casually blithe about his infidelity, went out and sought greener pastures. In Ms. Daniels, and in the arid oasis that is Nevada, he found his field.

And just like that, her career made its advance up the demimonde’s ladder. Having gotten Donald Trump into the sack was undoubtedly a selling point in a competitive market (a market, I might add, that’s historically immune to booms and busts, inflations and flops). But she surely didn’t expect, ten years down the road, to be lavished with so much compounded interest. It appears the rate of return for a one-night stand can best all those silly cryptocurrencies and unicorn commodities. It’s recently come to light that in October of 2016, a decade after their initial romp and literally moments before the presidential election, Stormy Daniels received a check for $130,000 from Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. It’s here we ask ourselves why it was Cohen and not Trump who decided to tap into his own personal account to reward, hush, or belatedly compensate Daniels? Could it be that Cohen fell victim to the temptation that is Stormy Daniels and was now desperately trying to cover his own tracks? Had Cohen, like Trump and like many men before and surely after, shared the passive love of this famous porn star? It’s a steamy but unlikely proposition.

No, it seems that the investment in Daniels was intended to be an insurance policy of a kind. Her silence was for sale, purchasable at the going rate of six figures. As such, it was a small price to pay for one’s peace of mind and another’s public image. Affixed to the monetary transaction was an agreement not to talk about her and Trump’s prior relationship. This is the ever-elusive non-disclosure agreement that always has a way of finding itself being breached. Nonetheless, to these conditions, Daniels agreed. For all intents and purposes, she’d sold her silence for a year’s salary in the Trump administration (for comparison, Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the UN, takes home about $160,000 for quite a bit more work and a lot less play).

It didn’t take long for this story to leak to the press. Lascivious tales need their telling, and like sunflowers they’ll always find the light. Fox News is said to have been first to learn of the affair and, subsequently, of the Daniels endowment. Again, one must bear in mind that all of this was coming to light mere weeks before election day. Fox News, I can assure you, wasn’t keen on publishing a story that would tarnish its candidate of choice. It had, up to that point, sunk a year into Trump, each day of it oiled with sycophancy and fulsome reporting, and this burgeoning story couldn’t compel them to journalistic integrity. So, they agreed to “spike it”, as the saying in journalism goes, and we’d have to wait another year before it would surface once again.

But, surface it has and we’re learning that Daniels is ready to emerge. Apparently, binding her to a contract and financing her silence proved to be insufficient means for tying up loose ends. The news outlets are clamoring at her door with cameras, microphones, and even heavier pay checks. Still though, she hasn’t yet spoken, but I do anticipate that will change in the days to come. She and her spokesperson are exploiting a recent mistake made by Cohen to open up and spill the beans about what happened in the boudoir at Tahoe that fateful night. Cohen’s bungle was releasing a statement that I outlined above. He said that he alone bore Daniels’ expense, thus outing their arrangement and disclosing details that, legally speaking, should’ve remained under wraps.

Which brings us to this: Daniels, it appears, will tell her tale. The media, famous for the tizzies in which they entangle themselves, will be fixated and overwrought. They’ll cover her in prime time and salivate over the delectably sordid sexual details. They’ll assure us that this is the long-awaited coup de grâce—the thing just shocking enough that Trump can’t possibly escape from it unimpeached.

This seems to me a hopeless wish. In all likelihood, Daniels’ story will be anticlimactic, gratuitous or innocuous, and above all, much ado about nothing. The question is, though, does the average American even care? Assuming we learn not only this, but every other sexual minute and dissolute detail of Trump’s profligate past, does it change anyone’s perception of the man? Will anyone truly think of him differently?

I think not.

Those who loathe him will respect him even less; those who deify him will do so just a bit more; and those who can’t be moved won’t be. To the victor goes ambivalence in this Left-Right war of attrition. The time for deliberating about his character has long since passed. The verdict came by the ballot box and the final judgment, for better or for worse, via that enlightened, republican process established in 1787. President Trump will stay just where he is—and this storm too shall pass.

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