The mountain huffed and it puffed, and roared with promises of revelations that would shake the foundations of the republic. Or at least make the lights flicker. All it produced was a scrawny little mouse: Donald Trump is a vulgar womanizer, a pursuer of shady ladies with expensive lawyers and big boobs, and always on the make. Ho. Hum.
The great “60 Minutes” strip show finally arrived after two weeks of teasing and tantalizing from CBS News and all it showed was a little ankle and a flash of thigh, leaving the customers cheated and demanding their money back.
The cheated customers could see something more exciting at a Sunday school picnic, with all the girls in their summer dresses. “60 Minutes” was flash and no flesh. CBS News promised Stormy Daniels, the hottest bombshell to titillate Washington since the Argentine Firecracker transformed Wilbur Mills (remember him?) into an approximation of Rudolph Valentino, and delivered only Stephanie Clifford, a nice girl from Baton Rouge angered by a man who done her wrong.
The customers think every new Trump scandal will finally do him in, and every time it’s just another chapter of “the dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.” Presidential scandals just ain’t what they used to be, since Warren Harding’s Secret Service detail got in fights with Mrs. Harding’s Secret Service detail, guarding access to the Oval Office closet where the president and his mistress were happily scuffling on the floor inside, taking inventory of boots and shoes.
Reporters traveling with JFK, having yet to throw discretion to the wind, would take book on whether the president or his toothsome twosome, Fiddle and Faddle, would look the most flustered when they emerged from a flight aboard Air Force One. John F. Kennedy, a veteran of these flights with the ladies — the cream of the Pan Am crop exchanged at the beginning of the flight for two all-business Air Force stewards — always looked happy, every lock of hair was in place. The girls from Pan Am emerged giggling, looking pleased with themselves.
Bill Clinton had nothing to show for his Oval Office consultations with Monica Lewinsky, because, as he assured the nation, “I did not have sex with that woman, uh, Monica Lewinsky.” Barbara Walters’ later interview with the White House intern nevertheless drew an audience estimated at 48 million viewers, nearly twice the size of the audience for Anderson Cooper and Miss Daniels, nee Clifford. Barbara Wawa’s audience will be hard for anyone to beat now, since all the juice is on the cable channels, and as Yogi Berra might say, nobody goes to the networks any more because there are too many channels.
For his part, Mr. Cooper, who appears to have graduated from CNN News, tried to keep the conversation fit for a family audience, though it’s hard to find anything today regarded as unfit for anybody. The highlight of the interview, for those looking for something that used to be prurient, was Miss Daniels’ description of the dropping of what would later be the presidential pants, so she could spank him with a copy of Time magazine with the Donald himself on the cover. How could that have hurt? He might have the imprint of that magazine cover on his persona to this good day.
She described an encounter with a thug in a parking lot, who she thinks (she said) was sent by agents of the Donald. “I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter, you know, the seats [in the van] facing backwards in the back seat, diaper bag, you know, getting’ all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone.’”
This might well have happened. But it was more than 10 years ago, before the Donald was inspired by the example of Barack Obama to run for president. The story is genuine “film noir,” as if “ripped from the smoking pages of a San Francisco crime novel by Dashiell Hammett.” (The movie will appear soon at a theater near you.) Miss Stormy has offered no evidence that any of this actually happened, though her lawyer offered a photograph of a DVD, which might be evidence, or it might be a Woody Allen DVD from Netflix.
Her lawyer suggests there’s more to come, and who can doubt it? But Stormy, like all celebrities, only has 15 minutes. There’s always more to come from this White House, so she better hurry.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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