In this, the era of Trump, it is no surprise that the former Playboy model who told of an affair with the man who became president has shown herself to be more honest, empathetic, courageous, and decent than the President of the United States.
Karen McDougal established her bravery as soon as she agreed to sit down for an extensive interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Given Trump’s penchant for character assassination, she knew what she might face and yet felt secure in telling her story.
Contrast McDougal’s choice with the President’s consistent avoidance of meaningful encounters with the press. Over a year has passed since he held a real press conference, which suggests he’s afraid to do what McDougal did for more than an hour of questions that included excruciating queries such as whether Trump wore condoms — she said he didn’t — and about how she felt meeting his wife and four adult children when her affair with him was ongoing.
“Deep inside there was a lot of guilt,” said McDougal, expressing the kind of honest shame Trump has never shown despite scandals involving porn actress Stormy Daniels, his own bragging about grabbing women by their genitals and claims of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women.
The President’s spokespeople have denied that he had affairs with McDougal and Daniels, and they have denied the claims of sexual harassment.
By now the world is accustomed to Trump’s lies — it was 2,000 as of January, according to the Washington Post — but the interview suggested a new low when it comes to his depraved indifference toward his family. As photos and McDougal’s account indicate, Trump introduced his mistress to his wife, months after she gave birth, and had them both pose with others for the cameras. Also in the picture, snapped at the Playboy mansion, was his eldest daughter Ivanka. McDougal also recalled that the proud father compared her to his child and concluded they were both beautiful.
Despicable as the Playboy mansion episode was, it was matched by Trump’s behavior at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament where, according to the accusers, he separately had sex with both McDougal and Daniels.
Somehow, busy as he was, Trump also managed to attract the attention of other porn stars who were in attendance and, he reported to McDougal, wanted to be photographed with him.
What can be said about the married father of five, including an infant son at the time, who would be so brazen in his behavior? If the allegations are true, at every turn he seemed compelled to put his duplicity in the faces of people whom he supposedly loved. Was he looking for a thrill? Indulging a sadistic streak? Trying to prove something to himself?
What about McDougal?
As a model who took her clothes off for money, she is regarded — in some circles — as categorically immoral. The same could be said for Ms. Daniels. But in this time, when our President exhibits such consistent disregard for so many norms, their forthrightness has been admirable in contrast.
In her interview, McDougal’s humanity shone through when she expressed regret for her affair and her eyes filled with tears when she said she was sorry for the pain she caused Melania Trump. One wonders if the President sheds any tears when he considers what he has done to the dignity of the office he has degraded.