Stormy Daniels and the Spanking of the President: How Donald Trump Was Owned

To my mind, as a forensic psychologist, the most singular element in the Stephanie Clifford (AKA Stormy Daniels) 60 Minutes interview, was the vignette about the spanking of the future-President. What we learned is that before Ms. Clifford rolled her eyes and rolled onto the bed, she made him submit and defer in a way that apparently few ever have.

Stephanie Clifford, 60 Minutes screenshot
There may be a simple explanation as to why Donald Trump has shown uncommon meekness and an extremely muted response to this particular assault on his character. The President's restraint might actually reflect the exercise of good judgment and impulse control, but that seems so unlike him.

In my view, Trump's uncharacteristic restraint probably results from the fact that he met someone from a place far below his in the world - someone who felt no constraint about putting him in his place. When the accusations about the affair surfaced, he could not shame her, not because she is without capacity for shame or simply beyond it, but instead, because she had already, so effectively shamed him.

As Ms. Clifford told the story, their conversation in a Lake Tahoe hotel initially consisted of Mr. Trump indulging in a stream of self-aggrandizement. She apparently interpreted this display of ego stroking as an effort to seduce (the same reason a male turkey displays his feathers). While he might ordinarily have expected submissive adoration in response, Ms. Clifford was instead disparaging and dismissive: "I was like, 'Does this - does this normally work for you? ... does, just, you know, talking about yourself normally work?'"

Ms. Clifford indicated that Mr. Trump was trumpeting his appearance on a magazine cover. She treated him like he was a teenage boy caught indulging himself with a copy of Playboy:  "Give me that ... hand it over," she reportedly said.  "And-- so he did, and I was like, 'turn around, drop 'em.'"

Ms. Clifford recalls that after she had taken him down a notch, "from that moment on, he was a completely different person ... he quit talking about himself and he asked me things and I asked him things and it just became like more appropriate ... he was like, 'Wow, you-- you are special. You remind me of my daughter.'"

Under ordinary circumstances, Trump would be expected to lash out at this accuser, branding her as a liar, questioning her appearance and appeal, and perhaps even giving her a nickname. Trump routinely behaves in the manner of an aggressively domineering character (i.e., a "bully"), those who arrogantly assert their will over others.

Taunts and tags are shopworn weapons in Trump's arsenal. His method was best illustrated in the takedown of "Little" Marco Rubio. Tagged with a nickname, Rubio dove straight down into the gutter to do battle. Trump had him where he lives. Wrestling in the mud, Rubio tarnished himself irreparably, becoming the first serious presidential contender ever to tell a d*ck joke in a speech. Trump took the opportunity to expose Rubio as crass and small, and to actually brag about the size of his "hands."

It worked because Rubio was expected to exhibit the dignity of an Honorable United States Senator throughout the campaign. Nothing dignified was expected of candidate Trump.

In the case of Ms. Clifford, Trump is not in a position of advantage. It is like in the Jerry Seinfeld joke about a man walking a dog being observed by aliens. If the aliens wondered who was in charge, they would not likely guess that it was the man picking up the dog's poop.

Ms. Clifford was self-aware and cognizant of the circumstances. She knew that he was a big shot in the entertainment industry and that she was just a small-time entertainer, working in a particular niche market. She knows that her work is considered by many to be disreputable. At the golf course, she was actually at work, schmoozing, posing and handing out goody-bags in a tournament hospitality tent. For his part, Mr. Trump presented himself as a vain and lustful old man, a creature from the locker room, salivating for an autograph and more from the illustrious Stormy Daniels (a genuine pornstar!).

If aliens saw a man pulling down his pants to be spanked, wouldn't they assume that the woman doing the spanking had the upper hand? To Ms. Clifford, Trump may have been a VIP, but to Stormy Daniels, he was just a fanboy. That is how she owned him.

Even as President, Mr. Trump cannot touch Ms. Clifford. Her experience with judgmental hypocrites is undoubtedly vast. When identified politely, she is said to be an adult film actress. Otherwise, the term "pornstar" is used either for shock value or as a pejorative. She admits to being a pornstar, so there is only one thing left that Trump can call her. If he did that, the obvious question would have to be asked: "and what does that make you Mr. President?"

Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi, Ph.D.