Today’s Droit du Seigneur

Just how far does Donald Trump’s sense of privilege go?

Stormy Daniels, source: Apatow Productions, via Variety

Breathless announcers on CNN clued me in on the latest permutations of the Trump trial as I was assembling a desk we ordered on Wayfair. And it got me to thinking: did Trump ever put together IKEA furniture for his kids? Did he ever buy anything other than something gold-embossed, gaudy and pricey? Has he ever lived like a normal person?

It seems unlikely that this millionaire racist landlord’s kid would ever have roughened his short-fingered vulgarian’s fingers with do-it-yourself anything. With that thought, it seemed to me that the gulf between him and the ordinary folks he pretends to speak for widened just a bit more. Between the cossetted life he led and crimes for which he may at last face an accounting, that Grand Canyon-sized gap seemed just a mite bigger.

This is a man – a reality-show invention, really – who claims to be the voice (and the “retribution”) for millions of ill-schooled and disenfranchised Americans. But, as he pals around with his billionaire friends at his exclusive clubs and then coarsely rambles and rails before the proletarians at his rallies, does he really know how most folks live? Does he have anything in common with them? Would he ever welcome into his home or clubs people he has said he finds disgusting?

Source: The Daily Beast

As his trial will demonstrate, Trump thought nothing of cheating on his pregnant wife (No. 3) with Playboy model Karen McDougal, though prosecutors will not be allowed to mention Melania’s pregnancy. Only a few months after his son was born, he cheated again, that time with porn film star Stormy Daniels. He had, of course, quite publicly cheated on the prior two wives. Do most of the evangelicals who cheer him on do that sort of thing? Do they think such behavior appropriate for a leader, an occupant of the White House, a place that in the past provided role models for children?

How can they embrace a man who believes his “star” status entitles him to grab women by the genitals and brag about it? Someone who would stride through the backstage areas of beauty pageants to gawk at teenage girls changing their clothes? Someone whose sexual abusiveness and dishonesty about it has cost him more than $83.3 million?

It is extraordinary that so many can turn a blind eye to the conspicuous faults of an habitual liar who uses the Bible as a prop. Presumably, they care less about his personal lack of morality and more for the opportunistic stances he takes on matters they care about, such as abortion and gay rights (for them, preferably, the lack thereof), and, perhaps, racist stances on immigration. To them, he is G-d’s flawed instrument, perhaps.

And yet one has to wonder how much lower our political and social culture can go that someone facing the panoply of unsavory criminal charges that he is can get within a hair’s breadth of a partisan nomination. How low has the GOP sunk? How did so many smart people in it – and there were many, even if one disagrees with them — become such dupes? How did the decent folks in the party let it be hijacked by Trump and the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene?

The trial, of course, is only incidentally about Trump’s personal morality and sexual wanderings. Legally, it is about his lying about them in financial disclosures, specifically covering up hush-money payments to his fixer, Michael Cohen, so they would not be revealed before his 2016 election. In effect, he denied voters a full picture of his depravity, one that arguably could have swayed some against him (despite his crack about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue).

Karen McDougal, Source: BBC

And yet the underlying facts of the case – as will be showcased by his dalliance partners, Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal – will again make clear for the American public just how unsavory this man is. Will that persuade enough voters, particularly women, that he doesn’t deserve the White House? The testimony is sure to prove sordid and his reaction to it – his brazen denials and pinched, furious demeanor, as well as his attacks on the judge and legal system – will offer still more profound insights into his character.

Mitt Romney, a principled Republican who would likely have made a decent president, has said he cannot abide the man because character is important in a national leader. He clearly found his former rival wanting.

Much of Trump’s extracurricular activities were widely reported, particularly in New York, even prior to the 2016 election. So, it’s entirely possible that this rehash will roll off the backs of his diehard supporters as it did before. Still, a detailed showcasing of his perversity could make a difference to younger voters unacquainted with his record. Moreover, it will bear the official stamp of court action, not just be dismissible as “fake news.”

The trial will provide some interesting sidelights, too. Will Melania and Ivanka Trump, his wife and daughter, show up by his side? Or will their absence suggest that they don’t want to be sullied still further by his vileness? Perhaps he will coerce them into appearing as things progress, but one can only imagine how either would react to the unsavory details the women in the case will provide. Certainly, they must be repulsed by his behavior, much as they have decided to look the other way on it.

Source: Reuters, via CNN

In the meantime, it’s been enlightening to see how poorly he has looked as he has twisted solo in the wind. His constipated scowl suggests a guilty man who feels like he is facing judgment day and knows he cannot avoid it any longer. Soon, we’ll find out how decisive that judgment day will be.

The droit du seigneur in medieval Europe supposedly allowed feudal lords to have their way with any female subject, particularly on a woman’s wedding night. Trump’s privileged upbringing apparently made him think such practices could suit him, as well. Will American voters agree?