Twenty life lessons to be learned from the Stormy Daniels/Donald Trump affair, as illuminated by the Wall Street Journal, Slate.com and, fittingly, InTouch Weekly magazine:
1. Don’t have a fling with a porn star if you’re even vaguely thinking about running for president someday.
2. Even if you have no plans to run for president, don’t invite a porn star to ride in your golf cart at a celebrity tournament in Lake Tahoe while your wife is home with a new baby.
3. Don’t pose for a photograph with the porn star in the “gift lounge” of an adult-film company.
4. Don’t invite the porn star to your hotel room.
5. If you do invite the porn star to your hotel room, don’t greet her while wearing baggy pajama bottoms and no shirt, as this will be a memorable detail she might possibly share with others.
6. Don’t promise to put her on your reality TV show, then not do it.
7. If your resolve crumbles and you end up having sex with the porn star, try to make it better than the “textbook generic” sex she will describe in a later media interview before passing a polygraph exam.
8. Don’t tell the porn star to phone one of her friends and ask her to come join the party, because even if the friend says No, she might later give an interview on national television confirming the invitation.
9. In subsequent encounters with the porn star, remind her that it would be much appreciated if she didn’t tell a soul about your relationship, in case you one day decide to run for president (as loony as that might sound).
10. If, years later, you actually run for president, do your campaign staff a huge favor and let them know about the porn star in your past. Be sure to mention that you promised her a role on your reality TV show and somehow forgot to follow through.
11. If, as Election Day approaches, you’re shocked to learn that you actually have a chance of winning, discreetly arrange to buy the silence of the porn star. The amount of the payment should be commensurate with the potential political damage her story could cause.
12. When composing the nondisclosure agreement for the porn star to sign, don’t let her pick the pseudonyms to be used. Adult-film performers enjoy making up colorful stage names, few of which should appear in a legal document approved by the future leader of the free world.
13. Do not, under any circumstances, drag out negotiations in order to delay paying the money. You can’t treat a prominent porn actress the same way you treat your electricians and drywall contractors. If she asks for $130,000, cough up the damn $130,000.
14. If for some stupid reason you don’t pay her promptly and she begins chatting with ABC News, Slate and other media outlets, call your lawyer. Tell him or her to drop everything and send the payoff, like now.
15. When transferring hush money to a porn star, don’t do it in a way that can be traced by the Wall Street Journal a year later, when you’re sitting in the Oval Office. Consider filling a suitcase with cash instead of wiring the funds to a client-trust account at City National Bank in Los Angeles.
16. If the terms of the secret payment get leaked, do not simply issue an indignant statement denying it was hush money. Offer an alternate explanation that casts you in a generous light — for instance, you could say you were just donating to a scholarship in the porn star’s name at the UCLA film school.
17. Don’t assume it will help your credibility if the porn star agrees to publicly deny that you two had a fling, since that’s what you’ve paid her to do.
18. When she does issue a denial, discourage her from including a sentence like this: “If indeed I did have relationship with Donald Trump, trust me, you wouldn’t be reading about it in the news, you would be reading about it in my book.”
19. Don’t assume she’s not really writing a book.
20. Don’t assume she’ll change her mind for another $130,000.