Editor’s Note: Carol Costello is the host of “Across America With Carol Costello” on HLN. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.
Our President allegedly cheated on his wife with a porn actress and a Playboy bunny, and it’s no biggie. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard someone say, “We didn’t elect a choir boy; we elected a job creator.”
CNN’s Randi Kaye recently sat down with a group of evangelical women who told her if anything did transpire between President Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, it is between “him, the Lord and his family.”
Um, no it isn’t. Trump is President of the United States. And before that, he was a reality TV star. Not much is between “him, the Lord and his family” – certainly not the state of Trump’s marriage. That will be front and center again on Monday when Melania Trump leads the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, presumably with her husband by her side.
As you probably guessed by now, I have a problem with adults saying their actions don’t matter, particularly those of the President of the United States (though he has thus far denied the affairs). We are a country in the midst of a marriage apocalypse – can we afford to give the President a pass if the allegations are true?
Lauren Constantino is a senior at Kent State University in Ohio. I asked her if she would ever think of marrying a man like Trump. She said, “Personally, no.” And then told me why.
“I don’t think I could ever marry someone just for money or power,” she said. “I would definitely have to like the person.”
If you’re wondering if Constantino pays attention to marriages among the rich and famous, she does. “There are a few out there I’m actually a big fan of,” she said. “I think Ellen DeGeneres and Portia…and William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman – they have a strong marriage, you can see that in the way they talk about their significant other.”
Pew Research indicates that Constantino isn’t the only one questioning the value of certain kinds of marriage. They conducted a recent study on marriage rates, and it tells the tale. In 1960, 68% of all twenty-somethings were married. In 2008, just 26% had tied the knot.
And those of us who still opt to get married are also more likely to get divorced. Some 42 million adults have been married more than once. That’s up from 22 million in 1980 and 14 million in 1960.
With all of this in mind, do you seriously think kids look at the state of marriage today and say, “I gotta get married, stat!”
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but we old-timers have convinced ourselves that it’s not us – the adults in the room – setting a bad example. I know there other factors involved in America’s declining interest in marriage. Young people are loathe to marry because they carry college debt or they are career-oriented or they are just too darned independent. You can certainly say it’s a generational thing, but you can’t say our generation has nothing to do with it.
Lest you think I’m piling on the Trumps, I’m not. I’m piling on everyone, including Bill Clinton. Do you know how many news stories I did on Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the influence that affair had on the sexual morality of Generation X?
Come on, you remember. Bill Clinton, under oath, asserted he never had “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. But he lied about that and the “Clinton-Lewinsky Effect” was born. That is the belief that oral sex isn’t really sex. Seriously.
The University of Kentucky conducted a study in 2007 regarding sexual definitions after the age of Clinton. It concluded Clinton forever changed the way young people view oral sex – as in they don’t believe it’s sex at all. In fact, only 20% of students considered oral-genital contact to be “sex.”
If you buy into the Clinton-Lewinsky Effect, why wouldn’t you believe our leaders influence young people’s views when it comes to marriage?
I know there have been several cheating presidents. John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt come to mind. And, yes, you could argue all of them – including Trump and Clinton – stayed in their marriages. That’s great, but there is a strong perception that the Clinton’s have a “business arrangement,” not a loving union. And the Trumps? I haven’t heard many people deem their union blissful.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying we need a man or woman in office who has a perfect marriage. I’m not saying divorced people should not serve our country. Sometimes divorce is necessary. I’m just saying our actions have long-lasting consequences on our children, and it’s time we faced that fact.
Yes, it’s been 12 years since Trump allegedly cheated on his wife, but like it or not, his alleged infidelities are front-page news today. Shouldn’t Trump at least address the charges – and I don’t mean by denials through his attorney – to show how much he loves and respects his wife? Yes that would also mean he would have to address allegations that he knowingly paid hush money to cover up his alleged affair before the presidential election.
Oh, what a tangled web we adults weave when we allegedly deceive. But, at the very least, it proves our actions have long-lasting consequences – for us and our children. It’s time we faced that fact.