The Naked Presidential Candidate’s Wife Principle


I must confess, I didn’t see this variation of the Naked Teacher Principle coming.

That long-running topic on Ethics Alarms involves teachers who allow naked or sexually provocative photographs of themselves to become available to their pre-college age students. The verdict here is that such teachers have no basis for complaint if their employers subsequently judge them to be fatally diminished as role models and authority figures, having traversed into the category of sex objects, at least for some students. There are many variations of the principle that have been explored here, some requiring substantive exceptions, like The Provocatively-Clad Bodybuilding Teacher Principle. Some are slam-dunks, like the Online-Porn Star Teacher Principle.

Today the question raised is how we should feel about potential First Ladies who have left naked photo-shoots in their wake. Melania Trump, now the  speech-writer trophy wife of GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump, was previously not a role model, but just a model, and occasionally a naked model. The tabloid New York Post somehow got a hold of some of her more stimulating photos and published them, the first batch with the typical Post headline, “The Ogle Office,” and the second, showing Mrs, Trump in some girl-on-girl action…

Melania Post 2

…headlined, “Menage a Trump.”

Is this unfair of the Post? Is this below-the-belt, attacking Melania to get at her husband?

The Trump-hating Huffington Post, which puts the following questionable description of Trump under every article including his name…

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

…(someday remind me to unpack this, which is substantially unfair and misleading) has rushed to Melania’s rescue in an article by Zeba Blay, a typical HuffPo social justice warrior of impaired analytical skills, arguing that “You Can Be Anti-Trump Without Slut-Shaming Melania.”

Boy, is it terrible…hypocritical, inconsistent, illogical, silly.

1. Central to Hillary Clinton’s argument that she is qualified to be President is that she spent 8 years as First Lady. This means that the Democrats, whose number includes just about everyone connected with the Huffington Post, believe that First Lady is a substantive position. I don’t think it is, or should be, but that’s what Trump’s opponents are arguing, because if they don’t believe that, there goes about half of Hillary’s claim to have relevant experience.  Melania’s past, her judgment, her values and past conduct are, therefore, according to Trump’s opponents, completely relevant to the election.

2. Blay writes, “Ultimately, the nude photos are irrelevant. They tell nothing about Melania Trump’s character or her ethics, and they certainly tell us nothing of Donald Trump’s.”  That, ultimately, is the call of every voter to make, not Bay’s. I can see where the choice to be photographed nude for compensation is relevant to assessing someone’s judgment and values. I can certainly see where a rational voter, who knows that the First Lady, along with the President, is a symbolic presence representing our nation to the rest of the world, feels that Melania’s image as nude model will not be helpful, especially to Muslims.

The photos are relevant.

3. Writes Blay,

“Defending Melania Trump from being slut-shamed and reduced to a “thing” rather than a person, doesn’t mean having to defend Donald Trump if you disagree deeply with his message. He himself, after all, seems to be pushing her body and her beauty as a selling-point.”

If Melania didn’t see those modelling jobs as “slutty,” then there is no reason to argue that she is shamed by publicizing them. She is an adult, and was when they were taken. She made the choice, and she is accountable.

She didn’t know she would be married to someone running for President, you say? I don’t blame her: she shouldn’t be. Still, there is nothing unethical about revealing the product of a potential First Lady’s choices. Nobody made her pose nude. She made the decision to accept money to be objectified, and she is estopped from complaining that those photos objectify her. She consented. Why should the Post, or Blay, hesitate to publicize photos made with Melania’s full cooperation? Blay’s argument would apply to naked photos taken without Mrs. Trump’s knowledge or consent, but not these.

4. This is news. Of course it’s news. It’s news like Bill Clinton’s cigar tricks were news. What if there were photos of Eleanor Roosevelt performing a lap dance for a sailor? Irrelevant? If nude photos of the elegant Jackie Kennedy surfaced, taken when she was a moonlighting debutante, is Blay seriously arguing that those should have been censored by the press, because the public couldn’t handle the truth?

5. More Bland…

“Of course, the sexist scrutiny that Mrs. Trump is getting should come as no surprise. Michelle Obama has undergone similar attacks over the last eight years. She’s been called, numerous times, an ape and a monkey.”

Huh? So showing actual photographs of Mrs. Trump that show her in all her anatomical glory is the equivalent of racist insults to Mrs. Obama? Run that by me again, would you?

6. Again, Bland making no sense:

“What this speaks to is how the First Lady (or potential First Lady) is still viewed as an extension of her husband, rather than as an individual in her own right.”

Did an editor even read this junk? The photos are of Melania, who is “running” for First Lady in her own right. How is revealing something about her past not “focusing on her as an individual?”

7. Most bizarrely of all, the author, who doubles down on HuffPo’s official position that Trump is a misogynist, ends by saying that the photos “certainly tell us nothing of Donald Trump’s” character or ethics.

Well, speak for yourself, Zeba. While Barack Obama married a lawyer and intellectual equal, and George Bush married a dedicated teacher, and Bill Clinton married a political ally, lawyer and activist, Donald Trump chose for his life partner (actually the role is “partner until he finds a woman who is younger after the previous partner’s looks begin to fade”) a woman almost thirty years younger whose primary appeal to him is her appearance (we also know this from his own statements), who had to lie about her credentials and who couldn’t write her own speech without stealing part of it.

This tells me a lot about Trump. I knew all of it before, but maybe a lot of people don’t. He’s misogynist. Melania has the only qualities he cares about in women.

8. There is nothing unethical about the Post publishing the photos. The way the paper framed them was unfair and slimy, but the Post is unfair and slimy, pretty much every day.

9. Thus, the Naked Presidential Candidate’s Wife Principle:

Neither a potential First Lady nor her husband have any basis for complaint if naked photos of the candidate’s wife that she allowed to be taken become public, and the source publishing them has violated no ethical principles by doing so.

34 thoughts on “The Naked Presidential Candidate’s Wife Principle

  1. This election is really going to “get” quite nasty. it’ll likely the worst we’ve ever seen in the entire history of the United States of America.

    I’m sad that we as a nation have sunk to this level.

    If we want real changes in the world, the changes must begin in us.

  2. The New York Post is a pro-trump paper. It endorsed Trump right before the New York Primary in one of the most poorly-written endorsements ever. (The argument was “sure he’s crazy, but he’ll change”). They are trying to sell papers, not slamming Trump. Trump probably does not even mind it. Free publicity, right?

  3. I still think that Trump and Clinton have made a deal for him to be as obnoxious and petty and all the other adjectives so that, no matter how slimy she is, she will still win. All part of the fix.

    • I had this wonderful tin foil hat theory that the Clintons got together with Trump back in early 2015 where they decided that 2016 was Hillary’s year. She was going to win. She earned it, she played along as a good soldier, put up with Bill’s dalliances and was cheated in 2008. They told Trump something along the lines of, “Hey, Donald. People are mad at the Democrats and we need to distract them. We can’t have a viable Republican candidate take away Hillary’s chances, so you run as a Republican. Stir the pot. Say crazy things. Do as much damage to the Republican brand as you can. On our side, we will find a completely unelectable candidates to show fairness and openness, someone like Bernie Sanders, a good old fashioned Northeast Liberal/Socialist, and Martin O’Malley, who hasn’t got a chance in hell. They can’t win but there will be challengers. In early 2016, say February or March, you bow out, accusing the RNC of not being fair to you but by then you will have caused so much harm to the Republicans that it will take years for them to recover.”

      Well, oddly, Trump got traction and started winning delegates. After the last opponent bowed out, Trump was left with the possibility of actually winning the nomination, something he is totally unprepared for and does really want. But, his ego is so massive, he can’t quit. It’s not in his nature. So, now he has to say stupid, crazy things almost guarantying a loss in November to Hillary where he gets to save face and claim he wasn’t treated fairly by the RNC or the news media (such as publishing nude photos of his new wife to discredit him). Hence, the war with a Muslim family about their son’s military service, and the shellacking he took from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

      But, things didn’t go so well on the Democrat side. Sanders gained traction and gave Hillary a legitimate run. It’s not hard to understand why, though. Who wouldn’t want free college tuition and a $15.00 minimum wage? Yet, the Clintons know their stuff. That accounts for the Super Delegates and the support at the DNC, for which Wasserman-Schultz was greatly rewarded.


  4. Don’t forget Gov Gary Johnson and Gov Bill Weld have a CNN Town Hall this Wednesday. (You did say that they weren’t getting any national mainstream press and that’s why you wouldn’t vote for them, right?)

  5. Leave poor Melania alone.

    I won’t go point through point on your analysis because: 1) I generally don’t agree with the naked teacher principle — each should be decided on a case-by-case basis; and 2) I don’t think being First Lady makes you qualified to be President.

    • “Poor” Melania made a venal deal to ensure her comfy lifestyle. I don’t respect the decision much, but she made the deal. I have no sympathy for her at all, just as I had no sympathy for “poor” Anna Nicole Smith and all the problems arising out of her marrying her “soul mate.”

      • I don’t care about the personal choices she made. I generally feel that candidates’ families should be off-limits. Focus your disdain on Trump — no need to go after #3.

        • Spouses became fair game as soon as Clinton started making the “two for one” argument. She’s a public figure we have to watch and listen to, have our diets dictated by,and tolerate as an untouchable surrogate for her husband. She’s not a minor child. And First Ladies do have power and influence. There is no reason to give them immunity.

          • Trump isn’t using her as two-for-one. Hillary is.

            If you are going to focus on Melania’s conduct because she has “power and influence,” then look at present actions not past. She should be taken out of consideration because of the current plagiarism, not the past nude photos.

            To Eternal’s point about “sword and shield,” I guess I agree in principle, but it is expected that the candidates’ wives have to speak now. If she hadn’t, the media and the Dems would have used it to attack Trump. I don’t think Melania — on her best day — would be considered by any political strategist to be a selling point. They were just hoping she wouldn’t embarrass herself — sadly she did.

            I don’t care enough about these people to keep wasting digital ink on them, but I generally feel that family should be off limits — especially for things in the past.

            • You appear to be misunderstanding the point of both the NTP and the NPCSP, and I have been very clear. I never said that in either case the nude photos necessarily require dismissal or disqualification. I said that the poser cannot complain when there are consequences of allowing the photos.

        • Beth, I would agree with you if they weren’t trotted out at the convention as a selling point. You can’t use your family as a sword and a shield.

  6. “Blay’s argument would apply to naked photos taken without Mrs. Trump’s knowledge or consent, but not these.”

    Who would want to see naked snaps of HRC? Not me.

    • There are naked pictures of HRC, floating out there somewhere. Apparently for a number of years, Wellesley (and other Ivies) took naked pictures of all incoming freshman to catalogue them “scientifically” or something. Hillary attended that school during those years, so there is almost certainly some naked pictures of her from then. Disqualified?

      • Not for that reason. I can name a few that should disqualify her: Whitewater, Travelgate, failure to act during the Benghazi terrorist attack, frightening off women that wanted to spill the beans on her hubby, deleted emails which were beyond Top Secret. The list is so long!!

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