What do Americans do when presidents behave badly before, during or after the White House? What do we do when our leaders in powerful positions harass women, display character defects and act inappropriately? Does character in leadership matter?
National Public Radio’s (NPR) Rachel Martin discussed the history of presidential sex scandals with commentator Cokie Roberts. www.npr.org.
Let’s go back in history. According to Roberts, President Thomas Jefferson engaged in sexual misconduct with Sally Hemings, an enslaved female. However, in my professional opinion it was sexual assault because a slave woman who refused sexual advances by her powerful owner would fear and suffer the consequences.
Roberts discussed President Warren Harding’s sexual misconduct with his wife’s best friend. “Apparently, he and the Republican National Committee paid for her silence while he was in the White House” and “his incredibly steamy letters to her were unsealed by the Library of Congress in 2014, 50 years after her death.”
According to an article by Patrick Kiger, “But even after Kennedy married the strikingly beautiful, elegant Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, the same year he was elected to the U.S. Senate, he continued to pursue extramarital relationships — despite the risk of scandal that might have crippled his Presidency.” www.channel.nationalgeographic.com.
President Bill Clinton was not kicked out of the White House due to his sex scandal with intern Monica Lewinsky. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Clinton later admitted he lied. While the House voted to impeach Clinton of perjury and obstruction, the Senate acquitted him. And don’t forget his alleged one-time sexual demand of Paula Jones that he denied, but settled.
Journalists, authors and historians have opened the closed doors of sexual misconduct by American Presidents and founding fathers.
Historian Thomas Foster, author of “Sex and The Founding Fathers: The American Quest for a Relatable Past” (Sexuality Studies, Temple University Press; 1st edition, October 2016) explored the intimate lives of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris.
“Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex and Scandal” by Robert Watson (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Reprint edition, November 2013) discussed Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Tyler, Buchanan, Lincoln, Garfield and Cleveland.
“One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History” by Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach (Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition, April 2011) explored stories of love, sex and social mores throughout history.
Back to President Trump’s alleged sexual affair. Stephanie Clifford (also named Stormy Daniels, former porn star) and her sleazy attorney are masquerading as indignant proponents of justice. Really? Something is rotten in Denmark.
Trump has denied accusations of sexual affairs and harassment. If or when the truth is revealed, will he fess up?
From Jefferson to Kennedy to Clinton to Trump and the others in between — sexual scandals have ensued.
The following is my point. Why are President Trump’s numerous alleged sexual affairs (that happened prior to the Oval Office) being paraded as “so absolutely dreadful” when compared to some of the others presidents whose affairs took place after being voted into office?
And, if $130,000 went to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election as hush money, should Trump be considered for impeachment as was Clinton? And if so, will Trump stay in the Oval Office to complete his term as did Clinton?
Does the chatter really matter, or are American citizens being sidetracked once again by juicy gossip, raucous rumors or stories of salaciousness?
Like a dog chasing his tail, we again and again and again pursue the answers to the questions: Does the character of the United States President matter? Do we continue to expect our leaders to possess an ethical compass? Is it time for a female president? I vote yes, yes and yes.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.