Politico Magazine‘s Bill Scher writes that Stormy Daniels’ memoir, Full Disclosure, “is sure to find an admirable place in the canon of presidential mistress memoirs”, which he describes as “a surprisingly moving genre.”
And the book dumps on jessica drake, so there’s that, too.
There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.
~ Robert Evans, The Kid Stays In The Picture
Before she has sold one copy, Stormy Daniels has already broken a publishing record,” notes Scher: “the fastest publication of a book authored by a presidential mistress.”
Full Disclosure hits store shelves on Tuesday, the 621st day of the current administration, eclipsing Bill Clinton mistress Gennifer Flowers’ Passion and Betrayal by 211 days.
Sure it’s entirely a self-serving enterprise, (especially in light of her ongoing legal struggles with President Trump, as well as her obvious desire to increase her earning potential through notoriety), but ultimately what memoir isn’t?
But how will Daniels’ book stand up when compared with the other works in the “kiss-and-tell” presidential canon? Will it prove to be as historically consequential as Judith Exner’s My Story? Will it carry as important a social message as did Nan Britton’s The President’s Daughter? Will it humanize the president as much as did Kay Summersby Morgan’s Past Forgetting or Gunilla von Post’s Love, Jack? Will it have as powerful a life lesson as did Mimi Alford’s Once Upon a Secret? Or will it be marred by reckless conspiracy theorizing, like Madeleine Duncan Brown’s Texas in the Morning and Flowers’ Passion and Betrayal?
. . .
At the center of every presidential mistress memoir is a plea to be believed. And most of the time, you should believe the women. The accuracy of these books—and yes, I’ve read them all—tends to hold up in the eyes of history. It took 88 years, but DNA tests showed that Britton was telling the truth when she said Warren Harding was the father of her daughter. Love letters revealed years after publication backed up the stories of Summersby’s wartime affair with Dwight D. Eisenhower and von Post’s pre-presidential fling with John F. Kennedy. Alford’s affair was documented in a 1964 oral history interview given by Kennedy’s deputy press secretary and publicized decades later by historian Robert Dallek.
Daniels is sharp enough to recognize why most people pick up books by presidential lovers. “Okay, so did you just skip to this chapter?” she begins Chapter 3, the one that describes in comically nonerotic detail the single instance she and Donald Trump are said to have had sex. But the book is as much a coming-of-age-in-the-porn-industry story as it is a presidential kiss-and-tell, and it packs a bigger emotional wallop than voyeuristic readers may expect.
At its core, Scher notes, Fuil Disclosure is a cautionary about “the corrosive nature of secrets.”
It’s impossible not be affected by Daniels’ recollection of being repeatedly raped as a child for two years by a neighbor, then being pressured by her derelict mother to hide it from the police for fear it would lead the authorities to put her in foster care. And she comes as close as anyone has to successfully illuminating the emotional toll taken by harboring a presidential-level sex secret.
However, like Judith Exner, Scher finds, Daniels seem to take needless pleasure in settling nonpresidential scores. “Daniels declares, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that it “is important for the world to know” that “the intake nurse at St. Rose Hospital was a fucking bitch.”
Unlike most presidential mistress memoirs, much of Daniels’ claims about Trump are already familiar– all too familiar! — to the wincing public. Daniels uses the book to flesh out the backstory behind her legal maneuvers, and “why she toggled back and forth between confirming and disavowing the rumor of her tryst.”
Like Alford, she never wanted to tell her husband, Glen, about it, even though the one-night stand happened before their relationship began. Daniels was pressured to talk by In Touch magazine in 2011, on the grounds that the gossip would be published with or without her participation, so she might as well get paid for her side of the story. When, soon after her baby was born, she was warned in a parking lot to keep quiet, allegedly by a Trump associate, she decided her husband’s post-partum emotional state was too fragile and kept the incident to herself. When the article was spiked, she breathed a sigh a relief.
She writes that she considered talking during the 2016 campaign, out of an irrational fear fed by a friend that she might otherwise die in mysterious circumstances, like Marilyn Monroe or Vince Foster. So when she gets paid off by Trump and Cohen, she again was relieved: “They can’t murder me. And I don’t have to tell Glen!” When Trump’s money arrives in Glen’s bank account, Daniels explains that Trump paid her off so she won’t talk about being in a hotel with him, because “dinner with a porn star would look bad.” She falsely assured Glen, “Nothing happened.”
Daniels’ attitude about going public shifted again when the Wall Street Journal uncovered the news about the payment in January 2018 (yes, it was less than a year ago); and one month later Michael Cohen announced plans to write a book covering the episode. She writes: “This dim bulb Cohen was out there selling a book on my name, but I was the only person taking this NDA seriously? I can’t comment, profit, or defend myself?” (Yes, if Cohen didn’t shop a book, his whole legal mess might not have happened.)
Glen learned about the sex with Trump, and the subsequent parking lot incident, along with the rest of America, while watching Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview, and promptly went “ballistic.” In a very brief epilogue, Daniels explains that Glen recently filed for divorce, and at one point filed a restraining order and “vanished with our daughter.” She painfully recognizes the irony. “The whole reason for everything I had done—to protect my family—was suddenly blowing up in my face,” she writes.