Lessons of Maria Butina: Are men too easily flattered by young women to be trusted with power?

From Salon:  https://www.salon.com/2018/12/16/lessons-of-maria-butina-are-men-too-easily-flattered-by-young-women-to-be-trusted-with-power/

Should men be allowed to have power at all? Latest scandals in TrumpWorld suggest they simply can’t be trusted

Amanda Marcotte
December 16, 2018

Overall, the various scandals involving Donald Trump, his associates and Russian agents tend not to bring to mind sexy spy thrillers so much as screwy comedy. One theme, however, would fit just as comfortably in classic film noir as in absurdist comedy: Powerful, aging men brought low by their own pathetic desire to believe comely young women are really into them.

While there’s no telling what special prosecutor Robert Mueller — or any of the other federal investigators pulling various strings in TrumpWorld — might eventually discover, much of what’s coming out right now is a direct consequence of this male peccadillo, nurtured into being by a world that offers undue flattery to powerful and wealthy men so often that they start to buy it.

Trump is personally under suspicion for a large number of crimes, but the one that’s come most clearly into focus in the past month involves his role in paying off women to stay silent about their past sexual encounters with him. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has pled guilty to his role in this and has publicly insisted that Trump knew exactly what they were doing. Now it appears that David Pecker, CEO of the company behind the National Enquirer — which helped pay off Trump’s alleged mistresses — also seems to be cooperating with authorities.

The most famous of these mistresses is, of course, Stormy Daniels, a porn star who has been waging a very public battle to shake off a non-disclosure agreement and tell her story.

“It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion,” Daniels wrote of her encounter with Trump. Instead, it seems Daniels was hanging around Trump in hopes of getting a TV deal, and acquiesced to the sex because she thought it might help get her what she wanted.

Why the Trump campaign wanted to cover this up at all has always been a bit of a mystery, since Trump has never tried to conceal that he’s a lech. But it appears the cover-up was part of a larger strategy of portraying his marriage to Melania Trump, 24 years his junior, as a love story for the ages, instead of a transactional relationship between a rich celebrity and a failed model.

That effort continues to this day. In an interview with Melania Trump on Fox News Thursday, Sean Hannity asked when she knew Donald was the one. She recited, “We had great chemistry when we met in 1998, we started dating, we dated for a long time before we got married, we got married, we had a son, but we had great chemistry from day one.” So convincing!

Why does it even matter why the Trumps are together, or at least why does it matter so much so that Trump was willing to dish out huge amounts of money to protect this love story narrative? Part of it likely has to do with appealing to the Christian right, which can be a tad touchy about the institution of marriage. But part of it probably also has to do with flattering the sensibilities of the Trump base, the majority of which is made up of older white guys who would themselves like to believe that Melania loves Trump for his dashing good looks and delightful company.

Continue reading at:  https://www.salon.com/2018/12/16/lessons-of-maria-butina-are-men-too-easily-flattered-by-young-women-to-be-trusted-with-power/

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