Part 1—Perhaps too dumb to prevail: When Donald J. Trump fires Robert Mueller, will the center hold? Will the center push back, reinforcing American norms?
The chances are good that it won't. The chances are good that we will learn, at that time, that our basic expectations and norms are "lost, stolen and strayed"—that our presumptive norms have been reinvented, changed for all time, purloined.
Investigations will come to a halt. The Congress will grumble, but fail to act. Either that, or Donald J. Trump will finally start his war—and yes, this really could occur, no matter what the Princeton professor says, based on his predictive models!
Such as it was, our civilization will have ceased to exist. In large part, the reason will lie with Us.
By "Us," we mean us Over Here in our liberal tents, where a simple truth prevails—given the way our standards and our norms have evolved, we may simply be too dumb to survive or prevail.
The sharks will always devour the lambs—or they'll pay the wolves to do it for them. It seems to us that our piteous bleating can already be heard.
However well-intentioned we may be, just how dumb are we the liberals at this point in time? How ill-equipped for the fight?
Alas! The spectacular dumbness of this liberal era was put on painful display this weekend. It was put on display in an essay at Salon—an essay which defines Stephanie Clifford as a "feminist hero."
Is Stephanie Clifford a feminist hero? Everything is possible! Also, it all depends on what the meaning of"feminst hero" may be!
That said, it's amazingly hard to see how any clear-thinking liberal or progressive would want to see Clifford in those terms—in the terms which blare from the headline on the new piece at Salon:
Stormy Daniels is a feminist heroPlease understand. We aren't saying that Clifford should be frog-marched into the country side for years of re-education. (Though we might recommend that type of assistance for her lawyer, Mark Avenatti.)
And we owe it to her to give her the respect she deserves in her fight to break her silence
We aren't saying that Stephanie Clifford should go to prison for her current conduct. As far as we know, there's no justification for that.
We aren't even saying that Stephanie Clifford should be publicly attacked for doing something "wrong," although it seems to us, as a private judgment, that she has perhaps done many things which aren't especially admirable and may just plain be destructive and wrong.
We're not saying that Stephanie Clifford should be dunked in an Essex County pond. We're saying it takes a very soft head to think that she's a "feminist hero," or to offer this account, as seen in Salon, of her current exertions:
Why has the feminist left been slow to embrace her? Why is there still a mocking undertone when we talk about her? Is it because she’s a Republican? A stripper and adult film star? Is it because of her campy Make America Horny Again tour? Maybe it’s because she allegedly had consensual sex with Trump, an act that’s unthinkable to so many of us? But she was 27, and it was 2006 when the alleged tryst happened. As Clifford’s friend/assistant Kayla Paige said to Rolling Stone, ”Who hasn't gone and f**ked someone we regret?”For what it's worth, Kayla Paige may be a very nice person. The Rolling Stone piece in which she's quoted suggests that she may also be extremely unwise—that she certainly isn't someone from whom the liberal world should take direction, unless we really have decided that we plans to let Donald Trump win.
The bigger question is a rhetorical one: Should any of that matter when a woman wants to share her #MeToo story?
The Rolling Stone piece in which Paige is quoted is a rather sad production. In its headline, it too refers to Clifford as a "hero."
That said, even Rolling Stone—the mag which blew the whistle on UVa's mistreatment of Jackie on its way to stupidly losing its shirt—isn't dumb enough yet to refer to Clifford as a feminist hero.
Beyond that, why on earth would anyone think that Clifford is trying to share "a #MeToo story?" If you'll permit a moment of sanity, this is the story in question:
Step one: In 2006, Clifford engaged in a sexual affair with a newly married man whose wife had just given birth to a baby boy. There's nothing illegal about that.We're not saying that Clifford has done anything illegal. We're not even saying she's necessarily done something "wrong."
That said, we'll assume that Clifford hadn't yet achieved the status of "feminist hero."
Step two: Five years later, Clifford apparently tried to sell her story about this affair to a tabloid magazine. For a payment of $15,000, the feminist hero was willing to tell the story about her exciting affair with the father of the child who was now five years old.
According to this report in yesterday's Washington Post, Clifford abandoned her attempt to score the 15 grand under threat of a lawsuit. Was the disappointed Clifford a "feminist hero" yet?
Step three: By 2016, the man with whom she had the affair was a much more significant personage. If we might borrow Salon's transcription, Clifford was therefore now offered $130,000 to shut the f**k up about her exciting affair.
Clifford's payday was much larger than the one she'd originally sought! Consensually, she took the cash. Did this make her a "feminist hero?" Was she some sort of feminist yet?
Step four: By 2018, Clifford had decided that she wanted to "share her story" in public after all. A cynic would say that her potential payoff had exponentially risen by now, though that would be speculation.
At any rate, Clifford now began to look for a way to escape the earlier cash deal she had made. That's where the story stands now.
That said, we now reach today's basic question. That question goes something like this:
At what point in this seamy, back-alley affair did Stephanie Clifford become a "feminist hero?" Even more strikingly, when did her story—a story of f**cking, indifference to others and material greed—turn into a #MeToo affair?
We're so old that we can remember when the #MeToo movement was dedicated to stories of sexual harassment and outright criminal assault. Truth to tell, this takes us all the way back to some time last week!
That's what #MeToo stories were once said to be. When did this back-alley tale of chasing the money turn into a "feminist" #MeToo affair?
There's really no way to be polite about the piece which appeared at Salon. Realists, though, may want to say this about that:
Over the course of the past fifteen years, our emerging, new-world liberal culture has become monstrously dumb, spectacularly clueless.
We've moved from decades of liberal silence to a new regime of liberal dumbness. Everyone can see how dumb we routinely are—everyone except us.
This spectacular dumbness is a key tool as the deranged and disordered Donald J. Trump reshapes the norms of our civilization. Every time we showcase our tribal dumbness, we add one more link to our chain.
Again and again and again and again, we liberals have turned out to be just very dumb. We're self-impressed and impressively clueless. We've been like this for a while, following on a previous era of spectacular silence.
This fact has become painfully clear over the past fifteen years. Donald J. Trump has ridden our Dumb all the way to where he is. For example, to the brink of a possible war—and yes, it really could happen.
All this week, we'll be exploring the claim that Stehanie Clifford is a "feminist hero" who's bravely trying to tell her "#MeToo story." When a tribe or a movement has become so dumb that it can swallow notions like that. then it's just as Professor Brown once said:
There may come a time when the secret agreements are gone, when a civilization may end.
Lincoln put it differently last night in a vivid dreamlike appearance. "The mystic chords of memory" are being ripped out, he morosely alleged.
Tomorrow: For starters, a visit to Rolling Stone