Posted in: Feminism, Gender, Psychology & Law
Published on Feb 07, 2012 by Phyllis Chesler
JFK and 19-year-old White House intern Mimi Alford
A truly shameful revelation
This is a story about a young and impressionable female intern in the White House -- a virgin, with girlish dreams about princes and presidents. Young girls are trained to marry the wealthiest or most powerful man on the block. When the prince comes calling, few young girls can resist this opportunity.
However, they are not the ones who are abusing power and betraying both youth and a wife. That would be the prince or president himself.
And no, I am not talking about Monica Lewinsky in the Clinton White House.
I am talking, sadly, about the recent revelations by a former intern, Mimi Alford, in the Kennedy White House.
Alford is no Marilyn Monroe, who was reputedly the mistress of both John F. and Robert F. Kennedy. Nor, is she Judith Exner, who was reputedly the "Mata Hari" connection between President Kennedy and Sam Giancana, a Mafia operative. These were adult women who chose to use their sexuality to further their careers.
Alford is not in this category. Like then-First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Alford attended the prestigious Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut. She was "wife" material--but President Kennedy treated her in a shameful and inappropriate fashion.
In television interviews, a much older Mimi Alpert now admits that she was not "guilty" about being "overpowered" by a man 25 years her senior. True, he was married, but he was "handsome," and the "president" and she describes him as having expertly maneuvered her into bed. Yes, she could have screamed out but then what?
No access to power, no feeling "special," agonizing embarassment, no internship.
Girls and women make just such devil's bargains every day. They do not care about the humiliated or left-in-the-dark wife nor do they care about how little they really matter to the Great Man.
In reading Alford's revelations, perhaps the saddest incident concerns the president turning to Alford, a disposable stranger, for sexual comfort after the death of his infant son.
No, he did not break the law.
In fact, it's important to remember that neither Ms. Alford nor Ms. Lewinsky ever alleged sexual harassment or rape. But both young women were manipulated into feeling very, very "special," even important. Neither dared say "no" to their commander-in-chief.
His wife had suffered an emergency Caesarean and the infant boy died two days later. Instead of remaining at his grieving wife's side to comfort her, he turned to his nubile intern for...escape.
Well, maybe an even sadder incident is when Kennedy pimped out Mimi to his aide and friend, Dave Powers--Kennedy watched. (Alford now admits she is ashamed that she went along with this).
We know that many rock stars and athletes have come to expect free sex from their fans or are more than willing and able to pay "Ladies of the Night." These days, both the fans and the "Ladies" have increasingly turned out to be prostitutes who blackmail their Johns and who also write their memoirs. Think Tiger Woods.
But, when we are forced to face similarly abusive behaviors from our leaders whose fingers are on the nuclear trigger--we are not only disappointed but perhaps, also afraid. Do their characters effect their political and military decisions? Do we, as citizens, have a right to this "personal" information? Is it even relevant?
"We, the People" only know what comes to light. What is kept hidden, is merely fodder for the imagination. And such exceedingly Bad Behavior exists on both sides of the aisle.
We live in a Tell-All time. People have sex on camera in order to become famous.
They write about their sex lives for the same reason.
People star in reality TV shows.
The media dogs public figures and the Internet reveals the most personal details. We thrive on scandal and yet are cynical -- hardened by witnessing so much daily tawdriness.
However, that's now.
We might like to preserve some myths, however ill-founded, that in the past, our leaders had more dignity, were somehow more ethical, or simply more gentlemanly.
President Roosevelt had a long time mistress Lucy Mercier -- but the people knew nothing about it or even that he was partially paralyzed by polio. The press was discreet.
President Eisenhower, had a long-time affair with his driver, Captain Kay Summersby. Again, the press was discreet.
In any event, these were both adult women not young interns.
It is one thing to have lived through the horrifying scandals of President Clinton's serial adulteries and possible rapes, or the 2011 Internet shenanigans of Congressmen Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Chris Lee (R-NY), not to mention former Democratic New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer (Client #9).
The luster of the Kennedy family name and the Camelot myth has increasingly lost its shine since that time.
We have learned that Joe Kennedy, Senior, had many affairs including with the actress Gloria Swanson.
That Senator Ted Kennedy, a known boozer and serial adulterer at one point in his life may have been responsible for the of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick (1967).
And, that William Kennedy Smith, President Kennedy's nephew stood accused of rape although he was later acquitted.
We even have a Kennedy-wannabe in-marriage, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose arrogant behaviors include having a child and a long-term affair with his housekeeper--right under his wife, President Kennedy's niece, Maria Shriver's, very nose.
The Kennedy family has endured great tragedies: a presidential assassination, (1963), the assassination of presidential contender, Robert F. Kennedy, (1968), the accidental death of President Kennedy's son John, Jr. (1999).
One would have hoped for no further dirt. One would have hoped that President Kennedy was a gentleman, not a fraternity boy, not an arrogant Prince of the realm who felt entitled to any young girl or woman he so chose.
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