The profound (March for our Lives) and the profane (Stormy Daniels) in the age of Trump
By Jules Witcover
Mar 29, 2018 at 1:20 PM
Less than six weeks after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students organized and pulled off a series of March for Our Lives events, including the main rally in Washington D.C.
Two stories dominated last weekend's news digest. The first was the estimated 800,000-strong children's march on Washington for more effective gun control. The second was the televised accusation of an adult porn actress claiming she had sex with Donald Trump and was paid to clam up about it.
It should have been obvious to all which of them was critical to the nation's present and future. The first, March for Our Lives, required the grit, commitment and angry voices of the kids to get here in such droves as possible to move members of Congress, especially those bought by NRA campaign contributions, to vote for meaningful limit on gun ownership in November's congressional elections. The second was a sensationalist flop.
The marchers' most significant demand was for a total ban on public purchase of assault weapons designed for the battlefield, the single objective that is, or should be, a clear no-brainer for anyone serious about combatting the massacre of kids in schoolrooms, and others anywhere else.
Short of that, the marchers called for similar bans on multiple-firing gun magazines and so-called bump stock appendages converting simple rifles into semi-automatics, and raising the age for purchase of all guns from 18 to 21.
President Trump, in advance of the march, yielded on the demand for action against the bump stocks, but he reneged on a promise to raise the purchase age. His limited reaction was clearly insufficient, and he punctuated it by getting out of town to his Florida sanctuary as the children's invasion of the nation's capital was getting underway.
The kids from the Florida high school, at which 17 lives were lost, and the hundreds of thousands of young and old supporters eloquently warned gun-rights legislators they intended to "Vote Them Out" in November if they persisted in marching to the NRA demands. They pledged aggressive voter-registration of their allies between now and then.
As for the second feature of the weekend double bill on national television, the less-than-tell-all interview on CBS's "60 Minutes" of show-all porn performer Stormy Daniels proved to be a typically over-hyped video teaser. It offered nothing new beyond her confession of her dalliances with married-man Trump, and her lawyered-up case against him for alleged payoffs to her to shut her up before his 2016 election.
It followed, by days, another TV tell-some-but-not-all by another woman, former Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal, of her 10-month sexual romp with Mr. Trump for which no money was said to have been involved.
The two interviews on his alleged womanizing, again flatly denied by this president to whom the truth seems just an occasional visitor, appear likely to have little substantive impact on his political support from his faithful. They have largely brushed off his history of sexual adventures as testified to by many other females along his path from real estate tycoon to president.
But the children's march is another matter. Beyond the huge turnout was the fierce determination of the young marchers to sustain their cause beyond a one-weekend show of strength. It could be another major turning point in public action as last seen in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the anti-Vietnam war protests of the late 1960s and 1970s.
While last weekend's march on Washington had real gun control legislation as its target, it came amid a president's gathering storm over his chaotic and increasingly reckless and dangerous regime, heightened now by a foreign policy risking greater chances of blundering into war in North Korea or Iran.
Mr. Trump's appointments of two hard-charging hawks in John Bolton as his new national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state augur more months of national anxiety as voters ponder whether the marchers' cry of "enough is enough" will be endorsed at the polls in November, and not just about gun control.
Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power” (Smithsonian Books). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.