Although almost 50 years have passed since he was assassinated, our nation's fascination with JFK lives on and, in some ways, is as intense as ever. Get ready for a whole new influx of curiosity about the 35th POTUS, because a woman named Mimi Alford who was his 19-year-old intern in 1962 is publishing a tell-all about their affair called Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath. And the details are, well ... let me just say to use the word risque feels like an understatement.
Some of the most scandalous include Alford talking about how JFK dared her to perform oral sex on his friend David Powers (she did, and the President later apologized to them both) and later prodded her to "take care of his baby brother [Teddy Kennedy]" (she refused, whew). But it also doesn't sound like their 18-month affair was just about sex ...
There seemed to be mutual affection, as the two spent lots of time taking baths, singing together, and Jack even grieved with Mimi when his infant child, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died. And one thing that gives me chills is reading that they shared a moment only days before his assassination. Still, as multi-faceted as this relationship obviously was, yeah, it was still an affair, and the specifics -- even almost 50 years later -- could be seen as explosive.
But it's hard not to read this and think of all the other countless politicians whose sex lives have been made into splashy headlines and tell-all books. There's the obvious comparison: Bill Clinton's relationship with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. John Edward's dirty secrets kept from wife Elizabeth. And looking at the 2012 election, how about Newt Gingrich and his creepy request for an "open marriage"? Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been caught red-handed as total kinkmeister, sometimes even manipulative, cheating dogs. Sadly, it's kinda like, "What's new?" at this point!
Not that adultery's prevalence in politics makes it right, but the pattern definitely calls for a sort of cease fire on sculpting politicians' sex lives into HUGE, career-changing news. Of course there have to be exceptions. If the guy was potentially sexual harassing someone (cough Herman Cain) or actually using taxpayers' or campaign money to conduct/cover up his affair (hey there again, John Edwards), yeah, it's our business, and yeah, it has the power to ruin a person in power. But otherwise ... ehhhhh, I don't think so.
The romping around JFK did with Alford is certainly intriguing, perhaps on some levels even disturbing, but however you see it, the affair only serves to reinforce what we already knew: That the guy, as revolutionary and game-changing a president as he was, was also pretty much an unfaithful sex addict. But Mimi's story shouldn't create some major watershed moment, completely altering Kennedy's image as President. And that's something we should collectively wrap our heads around as a nation: Not every revelation about a politician's sex life should have the power to change history.
How do you feel about these details about JFK? Do you think we should keep presidents' and presidential candidates' sex lives out of the political spotlight?
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