The president and the porn star
WASHINGTON -- Wait, back up a minute. We just zoomed past a story that would have been a five-alarm scandal for any other administration, with weeks of screaming front-page headlines: "The President and the Porn Star."
The Wall Street Journal had the scoop on Jan. 12: "A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter."
The porn star in question is a woman named Stormy Daniels. The alleged affair took place in 2006, a year and a half after Trump married his third wife, Melania, and just months after their son Barron was born.
Whoa. You'd think that Trump's supporters in the evangelical movement would finally call him out for his loose -- or nonexistent -- morals. Instead, however, they have suddenly turned into a bunch of Left Bank cafe intellectuals, scoffing at silly American Puritanism as they sip absinthe and flick ashes from their unfiltered Gauloises.
"We kind of gave him, all right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here," said Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council. For the full effect, imagine that quote spoken in a heavy French accent. A doo-ovair.
Evangelist Franklin Graham tarnished the legacy of his father Billy by also defending Trump, saying that while "he is not President Perfect," he does "have a concern for Christian values."
When there's not a porn star around, apparently.
I can't pretend to be shocked, shocked that conservative political activists who cloak themselves in gaudy religiosity turn out to be rank hypocrites. That's nothing new. I do feel sorry, though, for the millions of Christians who look to figures such as Perkins and Graham for moral leadership. They must be terribly confused.
After all, Perkins' predecessor at the Family Research Council, Gary Bauer, said this when Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was revealed in 1998: "Character counts -- in a people, in the institutions of our society, and in our national leadership."
Apparently it only counts when a Democrat is in the White House, not a Republican. I'm still looking for the Bible verse that spells out this distinction, but it must be in there somewhere.