Every few weeks, regular as clockwork, speculation fires up again on the Internets that the reason that Donald Trump is apparently behaving and talking obsequiously about Vladinir Putin and Russia is because he is being blackmailed.
Specifically, there is supposed to be a “pee tape” or some other audio and/or video record of Donald Trump engaging in sexual activities, that is in the possession of the Russian government. The hypothesis is that Donald Trump is being obsequious to Russia because he fears that if he is not nice, the tape will be leaked into the public domain.
Let me spell it out.
This is an irrelevant sideshow.
None. Of. This. Matters.
For multiple reasons. It’s a long list.
1. Everything we can see and hear about Donald Trump suggests that he is immune to being shamed in any public forum. He routinely lies, bullshits, utters malformed and inflammatory statements, and behaves oddly in public with other world leaders. The behavior is characteristic of a person with acute Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Narcissists simply do not care how they are perceived by most people, they only care that enough people close to them tell them how wonderful they are. That is why narcissists are almost always surrounded by an inner circle of sycophants who will praise and venerate them, usually without prompting. (For a narcissist, validation from his sycophants is enough, and if those sycophants do not provide enough validation, why, he will damn well fire their asses and get somebody in who will tell him how wonderful he is).
2. Donald Trump might be behaving obsequiously to Vladimir Putin because he thinks he is a great guy who is doing a bang-up job of running Russia. Almost all demagogues and dictators in recorded history have been narcissists, and narcissists love to strut with other narcissists. Think of it as a public dick-swinging contest. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin may simply be birds of a feather. There is also the matter of the Trump family business ties with Russia to consider. If, as rumors suggest, Trump was once bailed out of debt by Russian businessmen, he may have powerful reasons for being nice to Russia that have nothing whatsoever to do with pee tapes, threesome tapes, whatever.
3. What people do in consensual private activities is none of our damn business.
If a politician wants to have fun by being nailed to a wall and whipped by professional working women dressed as police officers, I don’t care. It’s the politician’s own private business. What people get up to in private is nothing to do with the rest of us, as long as it does not break other laws, both parties are able to give informed consent and they affirmatively consented. This should not be difficult.
4. A leader’s consensual, equitable private activities tell us nothing about his or her public behavior.
Nelson Rockefeller, who was the VP from 1974 to 1977, died suddenly in a hotel in New York in 1979, seemingly in the middle of a discussion with a woman who was not his wife. The family hastily shut down all inquiry, had his body cremated, and life went on. However, there was no suggestion that Rockefeller was a duplicitous asshole in politics. He was a well-respected Republican politician and leader. This, remember, was just over 15 years after the office of President was occupied for several years by an Ivy League graduate and war hero who could only just about keep his pants up in the presence of a pretty girl (at least, until he could discuss matters of state with them later in private). Politics always attracts the power-hungry, and power-hungry people will use that power in all sorts of ways. Sexual shenanigans is one manifestation, but probably the least damaging to the political process and the country, as long as it is not a pattern of abusive behavior.
5. Persecution of politicians for sexual shenanigans is hypocritical and encourages secrecy, duplicity and other bad behaviors in the political process
In private life, people have affairs, split up, divorce and get re-married all the time. Yet we persist in claiming to hold political leaders to standards that many of us have not been able to live up to. This is hypocrisy writ large. I have three divorces. I am no position to demand marital consistency from a political candidate.
I would be more impressed if electors would un-elect politicians who really were guilty of malfeasance.
So…my conclusion about the pee tape? Even if it exists, I don’t care. I am far more interested in Donald Trump’s actions in his capacity as POTUS than anything he may have done consensually behind closed doors in the past. The POTUS engaging in a threesome is not something that impacts me. Starting an unnecessary global conflict will impact all of us. Let’s not get distracted by fluff.