As all those who regularly read the opinions section (the few, the proud) know I write a lot of political articles. Those articles usually consist of me telling you about an issue you most likely already know about and then me giving my long, wordy opinion on that issue. Although I do enjoy writing those articles, I decided to switch it up this issue and kick off the first online issue of the KO News with little history lesson in addition to some of my old staples. So without further adieu, an explanation of a topic you most likely already know about.
Are we really even surprised anymore? It almost seems perfect, a piece in the gargantuan puzzle that is the Trump Presidency.
Over the past couple months, we have been learning more and more about President Trump’s “alleged” affairs with not only pornstar Stormy Daniels, but also former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal.
Even more recently, it was discovered the that National Enquirer paid a doorman $30,000 to keep quiet about a story which alleged Trump had an illegitimate child with an employee. Last but certainly not least, former FBI director James Comey has insinuated that the rumor that there is a tape of Trump and the “golden shower” in a Moscow hotel room could have some validity. While we can all agree that such conduct is disgusting and ill befitting of the office of the Presidency, are they unprecedented? The answer, in short, is a hard no.
American presidents have a long and storied history of infidelity, sexual harassment, and various other forms of sexual misconduct. Here are some of the highlights, now that I think about it, lowlights.
Let’s start at the beginning, with none other than a founding father. Yes, that’s right, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our third President, had a sexual relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings while married to his wife. Even though I used the term “relationship,” it is highly likely that Jefferson raped Hemings as in the time she was considered to be his property; thus, he could do as he pleased with her.
Hemings would go on to have six of Jefferson’s children, all of which were born into slavery and became Jefferson’s property. Many will come to Jefferson’s defense with the argument that such behaviour was the “societal norm” at the time and he wasn’t doing anything unusual.
Even if true, to make such an argument is to minimize not only the despicability of the action, but the suffering of Sally Hemings.
Next up on the infidelity/sexual assault express is Grover Cleveland. Fun fact: Grover Cleveland was the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms as he was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Not so fun fact: Grover Cleveland also allegedly raped and impregnated a 38 year old woman named Maria Halpin in 1873.
While this incident occurred before his marriage to his wife Frances Cleveland, the details of this incident rank it pretty high on the all-time worst Presidential sex scandals.
According to Halpin, Cleveland, invited her to dinner, and after the meal proceeded to walk her home. Upon arriving at her house, Cleveland raped Halpin, “by use of force and violence and without my consent.” One year later, Halpin gave birth to Cleveland’s child.
While many presidents after Grover Cleveland more than qualify for this “list” of sorts, I don’t have nearly enough room to write about all of them. Thus in the interest of time, let’s fast forward to a lesser known President who rivaled his better known predecessor in terms of extramarital affairs and various sexual dalliances.
As many are aware, John F. Kennedy famously had an affair with actress Marilyn Monroe, stripper Blaze Starr, multiple secretaries and numerous other women. What many forget, however, is his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson was every bit the cheat Kennedy was. In fact, Johnson once said, “I have had more women by accident than he [Kennedy] has had on purpose.”
The most prominent of Johnson’s affairs was with a woman named Alice Glass, also married, whose husband ran a newspaper which supported Johnson and his policies. Johnson and Glass were so careless, that the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson once walked in on the pair having sex in the oval office. As a result, the secret service installed a buzzer in the President’s office to alert him when his wife was coming.
The last President on our list of shame is Ronald Reagan. While the alleged incident did not occur while Reagan was president, it is still more than important to recognize its importance.
In “Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography,” by Kitty Kelly, actress Selene Waters accuses Reagan of showing up at her house in the middle of the night after she gave him her address, and proceeding to rape her on the couch. While this accusation is unverified, it is still important to recognize its significance and severity.
While I couldn’t include all the Presidents who were either cheats or sexual predators, it’s important to recognize that the vast majority of our presidents have been either one or the other, or both. In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it is more vital than ever that we look at our history so we can make the most educated and informed decisions about who we want representing our values, morals and beliefs in the future.