Trump, Adultery, and Morality

Some years ago, I wrote a column about adultery and politicians. In light of the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal interviews concerning their alleged (and probable) affairs with President Donald Trump, it is time to revisit the subject.

I do not agree with those—Right or Left, religious or secular—who contend that adultery invalidates a political or social leader. It may invalidate a pastor, priest or rabbi—because a major part of their vocation is to be a moral/religious model, and because clergy do not make war, sign national budgets, appoint judges, run foreign policy or serve as commanders in chief. In other words, unlike your clergyman or clergywoman, almost everything a president does as president affects hundreds of millions of Americans and billions of non-Americans. If a president is also a moral model, that is a wonderful bonus. But that is not part of a president’s job description.

But even anti-Trump conservatives still assert character matters a great deal in a president and other political leaders.

There are two problems with that argument.

The most obvious is that adultery is frequently an inaccurate measure of a person’s character. Indeed, many otherwise great men have been unfaithful to their spouse. And while it is always a sin—the Sixth Commandment doesn’t come with an asterisk—there are gradations of sin.

Let me give an example of when adultery would be a lower-grade sin: when it is committed by men or women who have taken care of their Alzheimer’s-afflicted spouse for many years and the afflicted spouse no longer even recognizes them. Of course, the healthy spouse could find love with someone else without committing adultery—by divorcing their demented spouse. But few people would be so heartless as to recommend that avenue. At the other end of the sin spectrum would be flaunting one’s adultery, thereby publicly humiliating one’s spouse.

The second problem with the adultery-matters-in-a-political-leader argument is that the policies of a political leader matter much more—morally—than that individual’s sexual sins or even character. It is truly foolish to argue otherwise. Would we rather have as president a person with racist views who otherwise had an exemplary personal character or a believer in racial equality who committed adultery?

I have considerably more moral contempt for the media’s and the Left’s obsession with Stormy Daniels than I do for Donald Trump for his alleged night of sinful sex with her. That “60 Minutes” correspondent Anderson Cooper and many in our country found it acceptable to ask a woman, “Did he use a condom?” on national TV is a far graver reflection of America’s moral malaise than a man having a one-night affair 12 years ago.

It should be clear that this whole preoccupation with Trump’s past sex life has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with humiliating Trump—and, thereby, hopefully weakening the Trump presidency—the raison d’etre of the media since he was elected. Here’s one proof: The media rightly celebrate, as we all do, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as one of the moral greats of the 20th century despite reports of his having committed adultery on numerous occasions.

Likewise, the media and the Left idolized Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), regularly referring to him as the “Lion of the Senate.” Yet Kennedy was notorious for his lechery—far more so than Trump. Typical Ted Kennedy behavior, as described in New York Magazine, was when he and then-fellow Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) “participated in the famous ‘waitress sandwich’ at La Brasserie in 1985, while their dates were in the bathroom.”

John F. Kennedy remains the most revered of Democratic presidents in the modern era. Yet we now know he routinely had affairs in the White House in his wife’s absence and had the Secret Service provide him advance notice of her return.

And, by the way, if sexual infidelity invalidates the character and, therefore, the worthiness of a politician, why doesn’t it invalidate the character and worthiness of an editor at the New York Times or the Washington Post? Why aren’t their sex lives investigated? They have, after all, more influence than almost any politician.

So, dear anti-Trump conservatives, please tone down the moral horror at Donald Trump’s character, and the suggestions that it overshadows the good he has done and continues to do for America and the world.

The fact is it is none of my business and none of my concern whether a politician ever had an extramarital affair. To cite just one of many examples, a president’s attitude toward the genocide-advocating Islamic tyrants in Tehran is incomparably more morally significant. That is just one of many reasons—on moral grounds alone—I far prefer the current president to the faithful-to-his-wife previous president.


Photo credit: CBS via Getty Images

About Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest books include The Rational Passover Haggadah and The Rational Bible, a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, "No Safe Spaces," is now available on DVD and BluRay. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at

Photo: NEW YORK - MARCH 22: Stormy Daniels in her interview with Anderson Cooper to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, March 25 (7:0-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

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7 responses to “Trump, Adultery, and Morality”

  1. I disagree, adultry at least in part invalidates a political leader and a person in general. It is an indication that the betrayal of a spouse and easily extend to the betrayal of a friendship or a political supporter. There are other factors to consider such as HRC was hopelessly corrupt and incompetant and supported the the murder of (unborn) children. Trump’s (probably) adultery reduced my support for the man.

    His main redeeming factor was his shout out to his death brother when he won the election. He realized that mortality is upon him and hopefully wants to leave a good legacy. God uses each of us in weird and wonderful ways.

  2. “Dennis Prager’s latest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code,” was published by Regnery”

    Hypocrisy, thy name is Dennis Prager.

  3. It seems that pious conservatives are willing to forgive anything that flies in he face of their professed faith to defend a man who pays them the slightest bit of lip service. What a joke.

  4. This comes to close as excusing adultery for my tastes. The problem of the 2016 election was both candidates were deeply, morally flawed individuals. The question became, which morally flawed candidate would do less damage to the nation?

  5. Dennis Prager’s latest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code (Except for Republican Leaders)”is available from Regnery.

  6. King David committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed; the child born from the affair died prematurely…yet David was called a man after God’s own heart. Men make mistakes and live with the consequences.

    If President Trump (may or may not have) committed adultery, he’s far, far away from murder or rape…while other politicians have gotten away with both…because, surprise, surprise: they’re democrats.

    I’m old enough to remember several compelling accounts by women of adultery, sexual harassment, and even rape from a sitting US president…and I remember how the women were attacked and destroyed by media and the left.