Ever since the founding of the American republic politicians have been arguing about federalism and states’ rights. Today the debate often revolves around whether federal law should prevail over state law in areas involving immigration or marijuana. For example, some municipalities and states have declared themselves “sanctuaries” where federal immigration law does not apply. And some states have legalized commerce in marijuana, which is still prohibited under federal law.
Then there’s the question of marital infidelity, an issue that has dogged and continues to dog Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri and President Donald Trump of the United States. At the state level, Governor Greitens purportedly attempted to prevent the disclosure of his extramarital affair by threatening to share a photograph of his lover in a nude or partially nude state. At the federal level President Trump purportedly tried to prevent the disclosure of his extramarital affair by paying his lover not to talk. Same problem. Two different approaches, one state and one federal. At this point neither approach seems to have worked terribly well.
It’s worth noting that neither Greitens nor Trump is a lawyer, although each was preceded in office by a lawyer. It’s also worth noting that lawyers have figured prominently in both of their respective indiscretions. In Greitens’ case it was the lawyer for the ex-husband of his lover who brought the affair to the attention of the media and induced the Circuit Attorney of St. Louis to charge the Governor with invading the privacy of his former lover. (The alleged victim of the alleged crime has so far shown no interest in bringing the alleged perpetrator to justice.) In Trump’s case it was actually his lawyer who made a payment of $130,000 to his alleged former lover (Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford, aka Stephanie A. Gregory, aka Peggy Peterson) to keep her mouth shut. The official position is that the lawyer used his own money to pay Ms. Daniels not to talk about an affair that never happened. Despite having practiced law over 40 years, I have to admit that I find both of these alleged scenarios confusing. No wonder lay people are bewildered by the law.
The respective paramours of Governor Greitens and President Trump have reacted in very different ways. Governor Greitens’ former lover has remained adamantly anonymous and through her attorney has insisted that she simply wants her privacy (which was invaded either by her ex-husband’s attorney or by Governor Greitens or by both of them, depending on whose version of the facts one chooses to believe). Stormy Daniels, on the other hand, has been anything but anonymous and private. She recently told her story on 60 Minutes and will be appearing at a Metro-East center for the performing arts on April 6 and 7 as part of a nationwide tour. Alert readers (ARs) who are golf fans will instantly realize that her stage appearance in Sauget coincides with The Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. That’s a lot of excitement for one weekend.
I want to say for the record that I have never seen Ms. Daniels in person and have no plans to do so in April or any other time. (I had never even heard of her until a couple of months ago.) I have also never attended The Masters and have never been to Augusta National, despite having been stationed nearby at Fort Gordon in April of 1970. I have, however, played golf at the course that might be said to have inspired the founding of the esteemed club and its renowned tournament. Seriously.
The story starts over 52 years ago, when an AR named Pat Healey was in my high school class and was dating a lovely young woman named Louisa Taveras (aka Weezie). More than a half-century later they finally got around to getting married (at least to each other) in Atlanta on St. Patrick’s Day, which was also Stormy Daniels’ 39th birthday. A sizeable delegation from our class was in attendance. There were 31 boys in our graduating class, 26 of whom are still alive. Ten of us were at the wedding, including three ARs with whom I periodically play golf… Oscar Horan, George Vogt and George Vournas. Because no invitation to play at Augusta National was forthcoming, we opted for East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, which is Augusta’s older brother. I am not making this up.
As many ARs probably know, it was the legendary golfer Bobby Jones who helped design the course at Augusta National and establish The Masters in 1934. What some of these ARs might not know is that Bobby learned the game of golf at East Lake. (Like yours truly and unlike Messrs. Greitens and Trump, Bobby was a lawyer. Unlike yours truly, Bobby was an exceedingly accomplished golfer. To say that his game was vastly superior to what mine ever was or ever will be is a gross understatement.)
In addition to basking in the aura of Bobby Jones and the other great golfers who have played at East Lake over the years, our quartet of duffers helped support The East Lake Foundation with our greens fees. I learned that this very worthy organization has helped transform one of the worst public housing projects in the country into a thriving community. It’s nice to know that one can support good works without playing particularly good golf.
The weekend of The Masters and Stormy Daniels’ appearance in Sauget also marks the 15th anniversary of the opening of Schlafly Bottleworks and the 85th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition for beer. It will be a great time to celebrate with friends over a glass of beer, whether after a round of golf or not. For those who do, one thing will be certain. You won’t be joined by either Eric Greitens or Donald Trump, both of whom are too strait-laced and moralistic to drink beer.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery