By Jonathon Van Maren
Those of you who follow politics will have been exposed, in all likelihood, to the latest distasteful news about President Donald Trump’s pre-presidency personal life. Stephane Clifford, a porn performer who went by the name Stormy Daniels, has accused the president of having an affair with her shortly after his marriage to his current wife Melania. She also claims that she took a $130,000 hush payment from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, and recounted the details of the alleged affair in a CBS’ 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper.
Since the story broke, liberals have been triumphantly accusing Trump supporters—and most notably evangelicals, who turned out for Trump in enormous numbers—of blatant and unforgivable hypocrisy. They seem to be shocked that the Stormy Daniels interview does not appear to have budged Trump’s approval ratings, which stood at 44% prior to the interview and dropped by a mere 2% after the interview, a dip well within the margin of error. Nearly 22 million people watched the interview, and it seems that most responded with a collective shrug. How is it possible, progressives are demanding, that the same people who claim to care so much about morality and the sanctity of marriage can be so unaffected by these revelations?
The answer is a simple and obvious one: The issue of Trump’s scummy personal life and string of adulteries was already litigated ad nauseum in the past election, and voters decided that these things were not enough to push them into the Clinton camp. The reason nobody is surprised by these allegations—which Trump denies, but the public appears to believe—is that it is entirely consistent with what voters heard before the election. Melania, after all, is his third wife, and Trump cheated on her two predecessors, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. He bragged about his affairs in his books. The Billy Bush tapes caught him boasting, after his marriage to Melania, of making aggressive moves on women. The Stormy Daniels revelations, in that context, are barely “revelations”: They are simply another, albeit repulsive and graphic, confirmation of what everyone knew before they voted.
The story of why evangelical and conservative voters cast their ballot for Trump despite his long and public history of blatant and unrepentant adultery has already been told, over and over again. Stephen Mansfield wrote an entire book, Choosing Trump, on precisely that topic. I wrote a long essay over at LifeSiteNews shortly after the election, explaining why social conservatives preferred a man like Donald Trump to the radically pro-abortion opponent of religious liberty Hillary Clinton. Nobody voted for Donald Trump because they thought he was a virtuous man. They voted for him to keep Clinton out of the White House, and because he promised that he would be an ally when it came to policy and judicial appointments—a promise he has thus far largely kept.
Of course, there are a few sycophants that do seem to confirm the progressive narrative, with Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University being the most egregious example. There is nothing that Trump can do, it seems, that will dissuade Falwell from ceasing his full-throated defence of Trump’s actions and his character. Falwell has embarrassed himself on public television numerous times throughout Trump’s short presidency, and one gets the distinct feeling that he wants to be a political player like his father was. But aside from a few cringeworthy outliers, most evangelicals have no desire to defend Trump’s actions—they simply defend their choice to vote for him over Hillary Clinton.
Don’t get me wrong here. I think that moral character is extremely important, and I wrote a barrage of unpopular columns on that subject during the election. But the Left does not seem to realize that their belated virtue-signalling on marital fidelity does absolutely nothing to convince voters that they should have voted for a woman who cynically intimidated and discredited her own predatory husband’s conquests, and that their communities would be better off with Clinton in the White House. It wouldn’t’ surprise me in the slightest if there are more allegations or revelations in the future. And if they do, they will again come and go with barely a blip. Decade-old allegations of another Trump affair is simply not new, and to almost everyone, it is certainly not news.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.