Scandal, Lies, and Politicians
A Sordid History
Over the past four decades the public has increasingly learned about John F. Kennedy and his adulterous past. He has famously had sex with Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, and German actress Marlene Dietrich. Ardent Kennedy supporter, Frank Sinatra, sent many glamorous women his way, and his team of staff often covered for his many, many indiscretions. Kennedy often told anybody who would listen that if he didn’t have daily sex he would get a headache. This is in line with the fact that he reportedly engaged in illicit affairs on a daily basis. His sexual addiction was well known to politicians, the press, and even the FBI, but the public wouldn’t find out about his misdeeds until well after his death. With the political climate at the time, the press believed that if they reported on the story, that nobody would believe them. Kennedy was a charismatic president who remains popular long after his tragic assassination. Reports of his infidelity have done little to damage his status as one of history’s more beloved presidents.
In 1998, president Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. A year later, a second perjury charge was added along with one count of abuse of power. These charges stemmed from a sexual harassment suit filed by Paula Jones who had previously worked with Clinton in Arkansas. During the investigation it was revealed that Clinton had been having an extramarital affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, and that they had performed lewd sex acts in the Oval Office. The senate voted (largely on party lines) on 12 February, 1999, against the articles of impeachment, and Clinton settled out-of-court on the Jones harassment suit. During the trial and subsequent media frenzy, Clinton’s popularity reached an all time high.
In an interesting twist, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and Dennis Hastert, the three Speakers of the House who oversaw the impeachment proceedings, were involved in their own sex scandals at the time of the trial. Gingrich and Livingston had both committed adultery, but sadly, Hastert was guilty of a far more egregious infraction. He was accused of molesting four teenage boys and committing bank fraud to buy their silence. In 2016, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was released in 2017 after serving only 13 months. It’s very much worth noting that while Judge Thomas Durkin called him a serial molester and ordered him to attend treatment, Hastert served his sentence for bank fraud, not for child molestation. In a truly disgusting display of character, while still in prison, he counter sued one of the victims for going forward with the abuse. Hastert asked a judge to order the victim to repay the $1.7 million in hush money.
The White House, esteemed as a historical and cultural monument, has more in common with a brothel than it does the sober house of law and order that it’s supposed to be.
The Sins Continue
In autumn of 2016, audio of an old Access Hollywood tape surfaced of presidential nominee, Donald Trump bragging to host Billy Bush that he sexually assaults women and gets away with it because he’s rich. The video was from 2005 and at the time, Trump was newly married to his third wife, ex-porn* star, Melania Trump. He had married Melania after he had cheated on her with his second wife, with whom he had cheated on his first wife. Over the decades, multiple women have come forward with their own stories of assault and harassment against Trump, and one woman has alleged that he raped her when she was 13. After the Access Hollywood news broke, the number of “likes” on Trump’s Facebook page soared. For his participation in the event, Billy Bush was fired. Just over a month later, Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. His supporters dismissed the incident as mere “locker room talk,” ignoring the larger crime involved.
None of this is new. Politicians have been embroiled in sexual scandal for almost as long as the United States has been a nation. The US was only three presidents deep when it saw its first presidential sex scandal, when journalist James Collender exposed Thomas Jefferson’s affair with his wife’s mixed-race slave, Sally Hemings. Since then, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and both presidents Bush have been accused of having an affair. Andrew Jackson deserves “honorable” mention for marrying his second wife before he was officially divorced from his first wife. The White House, esteemed as a historical and cultural monument, has more in common with a brothel than it does the sober house of law and order that it’s supposed to be.
It’s not only presidents who break their marital vows and engage in illicit sex acts, or worse, abuse their power with vulnerable women. Politicians in every state have been caught in unseemly, and sometimes unlawful, affairs. Five minutes on Google can expose you to acts better reserved for porn sites, not the political pages. Sadly, now, we see a more serious scandal, in line with Dennis Hastert’s perversion. Alabama senate nominee Roy Moore, has been accused of sexual molestation by at least four women, all of whom were in their teens at the time. At least one lady was as young as 14 when she claims that Moore took advantage of her. Many republican politicians are distancing themselves from Moore and calling for him to drop out of the race. But so far, he’s standing firm, and has even vowed to sue the Washington Post who first published the story.
Despite condemnation and calls to quit from many republican and democratic politicians, Roy Moore still has a large body of supporters. Many republicans in Alabama have expressed support for Moore, going on Twitter and Facebook to publicly stand by their candidate. At least one tweet, from a Carroll Bryant of Ohio, has gained popular attention when she stated that she would rather see a pedophile in office than a democrat. Alabama Republican chairman Jerry Powell has gone on record stating that he would still vote for Moore despite what he did: “I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn’t vote for Doug. [Democratic opponent Doug Jones] I’m not saying I support what he did.”
Alabama state official David Hall referred to the incident as irrelevant on the basis that it happened 40 years ago. In a disturbing display of blasphemy, Alabama State auditor Jim Ziegler, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, compared Roy Moore’s child molestation with the marriage of Mary and Joseph, and said that “there’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.” Of course, Joseph was only the stepfather to Jesus, and the Bible never states his exact age when he was betrothed to Mary, so we can’t really verify this. Regardless, Ziegler’s statement ignores the fact that such unions were common and even necessary in those days. Whereas today, such conduct is unacceptable. Cultures change over time, and we abandon the often barbarous, brutal, and disgusting acts of yore.
Politicians in every state have been caught in unseemly, and sometimes unlawful, affairs. Five minutes on Google can expose you to acts better reserved for porn sites, not the political pages.
The Blame Game
The above mentioned supporters have not denied any wrong doing, they simply voice their support for the candidate, in spite of allegations of sexual misconduct against minors. In deeply conservative Alabama, there’s a real chance he could actually win the senate race. As for the women, mere children at the time it happened, they’re accused of being liars with political motivations. This despite the fact that they remained silent until the Post sought them out. This reaction should come as no surprise to women, many of whom themselves have been victims of harassment, molestation, or assault. The multitude of women who came forward with allegations of abuse against Presidents Trump and Clinton have been accused of lying for political gain.
The woman who claimed that Trump raped her as a child dropped her suit after receiving countless death threats from his die-hard followers. Warren Harding’s mistress Nan Britton, became pregnant with his child, Elizabeth Ann (this was confirmed in 2015 by a DNA test performed on Elizabeth’s son), and Harding provided for them both until his untimely death in 1923. Britton came forward with the affair in 1927 and was immediately driven back underground by an enraged public. Monica Lewinsky has stated that she’s had trouble finding employment due to the notoriety and bad press from the Clinton affair. One may argue that the latter two were not the innocent victims that the other ladies were, but it’s unknown how much choice either women felt they had from the propositions of the most powerful men in America. Oftentimes, women in such positions feel that saying "no" is not an option.
As a society, we reward or downplay the sexual deviancy of men even as we punish the women. And so, powerful men continue to abuse their power. By and large we encourage that behavior. We become complicit when we elect these men to the highest office in the land in spite of their sordid pasts.
One Nation Under God
The sad fact of the matter is that women simply don’t come forward because they know they’ll be slut-shamed, accused of lying, or quite often, outwardly punished. They oftentimes find its better to remain silent and deal with it than to risk everything with the truth. As a society, we reward or downplay the sexual deviancy of men even as we punish the women. And so, powerful men continue to abuse their power. By and large we encourage that behavior. We become complicit when we elect these men to the highest office in the land in spite of their sordid pasts. We show our support when we don’t stand up and demand morality and ethical behavior from our public servants. Worse, we drag the very name of God himself through the mud when we say that “God wants us to vote for Trump” (actual quote by Eric Metaxes) or when we use the Bible to justify child molestation. Do we not know that God can hear us? God sees us when we use Him to justify abhorrent behavior just so that our political party can win.
In life we can stand up and demand more from our politicians, or we can ignore their sins. But what we should not do, what we need to stop doing, is calling ourselves a Christian nation, while simultaneously rewarding sinful behavior. We need remove the politicians who sexually harass and assault men and women. We need to imprison and rehabilitate the politicians who are guilty of pedophilia. And we need to imprison the politicians who use taxpayer money to silence their victims. We cannot continue to allow this cancer to poison our government. And at the very least, if we’ve decided that we, as a nation, have no problem with sexual assault, then we need to stop calling ourselves a Christian nation. We need to admit that our country’s new god is the elephant and the donkey. Because that’s been the sad reality until now.
*There is mild debate over whether or not Mrs. Trump’s actual career could be considered pornography. That she has posed nude for several magazines is indisputable, but some do not feel that constitutes porn. However, Miriam-Webster’s dictionary defines pornography as “2: material (as books or photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement.” Melania was paid to pose for nude photos with the intent to cause arousal. It is pedantic to argue whether or not she is a “star” for if nothing else, she starred in the photos and magazine covers.
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© 2017 Anna Watson