Presidential sex scandals are something of an American past time. These affairs have been going on as far back as Thomas Jefferson's presidency, though with the advent of paparazzi and the digital age, the leaders of the free world have found it increasingly more difficult to hide their scandals.
As much as we would like our politicians to hold themselves to a higher standard as role models for society, sex and politics seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Some politicians are better at getting away with things than others, but an incredible number of these scandals still come to light every year. It has to make you wonder just how many politicians are getting away with it, given the number that aren't.
Some of society's propensity for tolerating presidential sex scandals has to do with the media. In shows such as Scandal, powerful men are often portrayed as sexy, forbidden fruit, and women love a good challenge. Unfortunately, in the end, some men are just pigs.
There are very few certainties in life. Babies will be born, people will die, the Earth will rotate, and the President of the United States will cheat on his wife. Sorry, Melania, but a look back at the sexual escapades over the years at the White House tells us all we need to know about what's coming...
Bad Wig, Bad Man
Thomas Jefferson was the third president and also an author of the Declaration of Independence. He married Martha Wayles Skelton, a wealthy young widow, in 1772. This union made him a very wealthy man and more than doubled his property in both land and slaves. While much of his popularity stemmed from his claims that a biracial American society was impossible, there is some evidence that suggests that Jefferson had a long relationship with one of his slaves by the name of Sally Hemings. After Mrs. Jefferson passed away due to complications during the delivery of the couple's third child, Hemmings and Jefferson had several children of their own. This is probably the first presidential sex scandal—even though the public didn't know about it until years later. This early affair poses an interestingphilosophical question: if a president is being bad and the press doesn't know about it (and there's no TMZ to capture the results)—did it really happen?
The President Who Would be King
James Buchanan was once engaged to a lovely woman named Anne Coleman. Unfortunately, the engagement was broken off and Anne was rumored to have committed suicide shortly thereafter. While the reason is unclear, it is possible that it was due to an even larger rumor that President Buchanan was gay. He was once quoted as saying, "I have gone wooing to several gentleman, but have not succeeded with any of them." Many believe that his long time companion, William Rufus King, was indeed his lover. Critics referred to King as Buchanan's "better half" and "his wife." Way ahead of their time, but good for them.
Harding Gets Harder
Warren G. Harding, the twenty-ninth president, was another bad boy. In a 1927 book entitled The President's Daughter, Nan Britton writes about the illegitimate daughter that she had with President Harding. Since people were very prim and proper back then—though apparently not too proper for a scandalous affair—the book was very poorly received. It was censored for what was referred to as its obscene content. With no photos or other documentation available of anyone involved, the scandal did not truly come to light until years later—well after Harding died. Another of Harding's affairs became public in 1963, when letters were written to him by Carrie Phillips, the wife of one of Harding's longtime friends, James Phillips, were found and exposed. Phillips was 10 years younger than Harding and the affair lasted for more than 15 years. Phillips tried to blackmail Harding into voting against a declaration of war on Germany but since the news isn't what it is now, it was hard to spread awareness of lascivious behavior and the blackmail was ineffective.
Happy Birthday Mr. President
The poster boy for presidential sex, the dashing thirty-fifth Commander In Chief made the most out of his short time in office. From Marilyn Monroe to Marlene Dietrich, JFK bedded some of the most beautiful and famous women of his time. The country loved him so they kept forgiving him and apparently so did his ultra classy and fashion forward wife Jacqueline, but Kennedy still ranks as one of the all time biggest lotahrios to ever live in the White House.
Don't remember Gary Hart? He was on the fast track to win the Democratic nomination for President in 1988, but the handsome married man couldn't keep his wandering eye in check. When he was pictured with a lovely twenty-nine-year-old named Donna Rice "aide" on the aptly named boat "Monkey Business," it was the beginning of the end for the U.S. Senator from Colorado. Michael Dukakis became the Democratic candidate and got thrashed in the 1988 elections to Republican George Bush, but the real question is: how many extramarital affairs would've taken place during a Gary Hart presidency?
If Bill Clinton did not have sex with THAT woman, Monica Lewinsky, so who did he have sex with? Was it Gennifer Flowers? Was it Paula Jones? Was it Hillary Clinton? Wait, that's his wife, so he probably didn't have sex with her. The Lewisnky affair is the most disturbing of all of Clinton's alleged indiscretions because he took advantage of a young woman who was totally in love with him. Ms. Lewinsky started out as an unpaid intern at the White House and then moved to a paid position in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs in December of 1995. With the word "affairs" in her title, she seemed destined for infamy. Not sure what she accomplished by saving the infamous dress, or trusting Linda Tripp with the intimate details of her relationship, but her life was turned completely upside down. As for the adulterous President Clinton, it was ultimately all just a blip in his presidency and legacy.