Have been watching Ken Burns’ excellent series on the Roosevelts. Beautifully researched and narrated as all of Burns’ epics are. Still have a few episodes to go (love that PVR) so don’t tell me how it comes out. Oh wait, I already know.
Anyway, FDR was a very distinguished, courageous, brilliant and charming political leader who ranks right up there in the pantheon of amazing heads-of-state of the sort we’d long to see again. Certainly a man on a par with his great friend Winston Churchill, and how amazing it was that those two giants existed at a time when we needed them most.
At the same time, Roosevelt was a notorious philanderer. He most definitely did not keep it in his pants and it is easy to see why women fell for him. He was rather a Cary Grant of politics in terms of male sex appeal. But, I suppose that doesn’t excuse his transgressions and his stepping out (pathologically) on rather plain Eleanor. Not that Eleanor wasn’t an amazing person in her own right, for she was. But she was also, to state the case kindly, a bit on the physically unattractive side.
Now, Roosevelt wasn’t alone in his tom-catting. It’s one of those things that seems to go with power. Power is an aphrodisiac. That has long been known. But, alongside him, and certainly among American politicians, there seems to be a rather rampant priapic. We have uptight old Ike, who had a torrid affair with his army driver in World War Two. We have LBJ who was notable with the ladies. And of course the Kennedy boys (all of them) were walking ejaculations, as was their vile old man.
Closer to our time we had Gary Hart who did the nasty with a babe and destroyed his hopes for the presidency, and of course dear Bill Clinton who effectively destroyed what should have been a fine legacy all over a cigar and a stained dress, and sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar, it seems.
The only difference with Hart and Clinton as opposed to the earlier rogues is that the latter were besmeared by icky tabloid journalism, whereas the earlier ones got off the hook and there was a certain code of honor amongst journos of the day who knew about the shit but didn’t indulge that knowledge for public scrutiny.
Unfortunately, with the rise of the judgmental scandal-mongers the naughty girls don’t get off the hook. We all know about Monica and Donna Rice, but quick, for a trillion dollars name me Eisenhower’s khaki-clad paramour. Exactly.
While this sort of stuff goes on in all sorts of jurisdictions. I mean, French politicians are so notorious that nobody really notices or seemingly cares a lot. There have been a few such revelations in the UK, but not to the same degree.
In Canada, however, there seems to be little reporting of the carnal transgressions of our pols. Lots of other scandals, but few in the realm of frolicking amongst the hay bales or silken sheets at a Fairmont somewhere.
We know that Pierre got down and dirty with a few, but have never obsessed about it and the liaisons took place when he was single. Yes, Maggie doffed knickers in a public venue, but nobody’s razzed Justin about Mom’s once transgression, which is as it should be.
Harper or Joe Clark mess around? The mind boggles, and not in a good way.
Not saying hanky-panky doesn’t happen here in the frozen north, it’s just that nobody seems to care very much.
And that is the point. Why the hell do we care? FDR’s stepping out on the missus doesn’t change my view of him in the slightest. That’s a domestic issue, not part of his job-description. And I felt that way about JFK and Bill Clinton and it was disgusting how the reactionaries wanted to throw that crap in Hillary’s face.
Let he who is without sin, etc.