But Honey, All Presidents Cheat on Their Wives

Infidelity should not block Cain or Gingrich from Oval Office

Anyone who knows me knows I’m no fan of Herman Cain. And that’s because I have a brain. Even diehard Republicans must admit that they secretly cringe every time a reporter asks him anything beyond his name. Not only does he know nothing about this country’s political policies or this world’s foreign governments, he doesn’t want to know. He’s not just ignorant, which is not bad per se, he’s aggressively ignorant. He proudly quotes Pokemon as if it were Shakespeare. He proudly states “(I’m) a leader, not a reader.” Yeah. He actually says that. Repeatedly. And he says he opposes President Obama’s Libya policy although he doesn’t know what it is. But he does know a lot about the country he described as “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.” And he’s becoming quite fluent “in Cuban,” which in his mind is different from, and not to be confused with, the Spanish language that Cubans speak. All this, and much, much more, proves that he’s embarrassingly and woefully unqualified—even for consideration as the Republican presidential nominee. Despite that, he deserves our support. Not for any political office but for the protection of his personal privacy.

Although it certainly appears that he cheated on his wife by having a 13-year affair with a consenting adult named Ginger White, it’s none of my or your goddamn business! He didn’t marry me, and he didn’t marry you either. He didn’t even propose to me or you. What he did behind closed doors with a willing grown-assed woman had no effect, has no effect, and will have no effect on taxes, health care, employment, education, crime, wars or any other public issue. The last time I checked, the only eligibility requirements to serve as president are set forth in Article I, Section 3, Clause 7 and Article II, Section 1, Clauses 3 and 5 of the Constitution and in the 14th and 22nd Amendments to that Constitution. They pertain to impeachment, citizenship, residency, age, oath of office, insurrection and term limits. Neither the articles nor the amendments say anything about infidelity. If they did, the United States would have lost what nearly all of this country’s reputable historians rate as some of America’s greatest patriotic presidents (with the exception of the laughable Warren G. Harding). Check out the list.

George Washington’s tryst with an enslaved woman named Venus produced his mulatto son Wes Ford sometime before November 1785, after he had married Martha in 1759. Washington’s white descendants deny it, and they steadfastly refuse DNA testing. Hmmm …

Thomas Jefferson vowed to Martha shortly before her death in 1782 that he would never remarry. And he was truly a man of his word, well, technically. Although he never remarried, in 1788 he did enter into a 38-year, ahem, “relationship” with Martha’s half sister, the 15-year-old enslaved Sally Hemings. And they had kids. Six of them in fact. After centuries of denials by Jefferson’s descendants and presidential scholars, DNA proved it in 1998. (By the way, in regard to Jefferson and Washington, enslaving and sexually assaulting black human beings should have been presidential disqualifications at the time. But it wasn’t.)

Abe Lincoln was married to Mary Todd from 1842 until his death in 1865. It is claimed that one of the reasons he called off their initial engagement was the melancholy that resulted from Joshua Speed departing Springfield. Speed and Lincoln had lived together and slept together in the same bed for four years after they met in Illinois in 1837. Moreover, Lincoln’s bodyguard (no pun intended) and “companion” from 1862 to 1863, David Derickson, slept with him in Mary’s bed when she took overnight trips out of town.

Warren G. Harding reportedly impregnated his young hottie, Nan Britton, who was 31 years his junior, resulting in the birth of Elizabeth Ann Britton Harding in 1919. And he didn’t stop there despite having been married to Florence since 1891. He had a 15-year booty call with Carrie Fulton Phillips while she was still married to his supposed friend James Phillips.

FDR married Eleanor in 1905 and later cheated with her personal secretary, Lucy Mercer, then with his personal secretary, Missy LeHand (and allegedly also with Princess Martha of Norway), and then again with Lucy until the very day he died in 1945.

Dwight Eisenhower was the husband of Mamie since 1916. And as the head (heh, heh, heh … he said head) of the Supreme Allied Command in Europe beginning in 1942 during WWII, he got more than a few rides on, I mean from, former British model Kay Summersby, his chauffeur of three years.

JFK had a magnificent wedding when he took Jacqueline as his dearly beloved in 1953. And rumors of his playboy tendencies were confirmed with Marilyn Monroe’s sultry and very public 1962 “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” tease. But that was just the tip (heh, heh, heh … he said tip) of the iceberg. Don’t forget about Angie Dickinson, Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, Mary Pinchot, and the rest of them.

LBJ’s former press secretary, George Reedy, said Johnson, married to Lady Bird since 1934, had the sexual proclivities of “a Turkish sultan.” And Madeleine Brown, his mistress of 21 years, says he took care of her financially through his Brazos-Tenth Corporation and fathered her son Steven Mark Brown in 1950.

Bill Clinton, who became Hillary’s spouse in 1975, was questioned in 1998 about intercourse with a White House intern and said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman … ” But can you say Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones?

Only Martha, Martha, Mary, Florence, Eleanor, Mamie, Jackie, Lady Bird, Hillary and Gloria should be concerned about any of this. And since none of them gives a shit about you and your marriage or civil union, then you have no right to intrude upon theirs. In the profound words of Hillary, “I learned a long time ago that the only two people who count in any marriage are the two people in it.”

Being president or holding any elective or appointed office has everything to do with public leadership, not private morality. And unless the sex those presidents had with those consenting adults outside of marriage and in private involved trading state secrets, then I’m quite sure that the U.S. government and its citizens suffered absolutely no harm whatsoever. So leave my man—I mean Gloria’s man—Herman alone. Allow him to go home, to stay home and to never leave the house—or the hotel room—ever again.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mona.washington Mona

    So refreshing to see in print what so many of us think about, and decide to suffer through in silence. This country has gone so far to the Right, that common sense seems like manna. The officials we elect would be so much more competent if people focused on the issues and the way they perform as public servants. I agree with Mr. Coard, all hanky panky and any fallout is between them and their spouses/others. A timely article Mr. Coard, and one that I hope wakes some folks up. Don’t we have more important issues to address than what folks are doing in their bedrooms? I think so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/samm.portelli Samm

    Of course you are right about infidelity not being germane to politics or performance (OK quasi-intentional pun), however, I think it is a valid area for discussion when you are coming from the right and insisting and actually using your religion, beliefs and subsequent ethics as being the cornerstone for your term in office as well as justifying antediluvian policies based on that hypocrisy. No stem cell research, no choice for women, no gay rights etc. Try this: if you want an amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman – OK then make divorce illegal and we can talk…

  • Mark Cofta

    Let’s stay out of their private lives entirely! I’m sick of the candidates who parade their families in front of us as if we’re electing the whole brood. Let’s have no more wives and kids on stage with candidates, and put an end to family pictures on campaign brochures. I don’t want to elect someone because he or she is fertile or a guy who, irresponsibly and ironically, fathers six kids and then pursues a job that will ruin his family life for years.

    While we’re at it, let’s take religion out of campaigns too!

    If we were asked about our fidelity, fertility, or religious affiliation in a job interview, we would rightly claim that the prospective employer was intrusive and unprofessional. We would expect to be judged on our skills, experiences, and abilities relevant to the position … but that’s bad television, and would disqualify all the Republican candidates. Oh well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BobTurnerTJ Bob

    When a man stands up before God, family, and friends and pledges fidelity to his wife–and then violates that solemn promise–it says something about his character. MANY men are weak, and whether he should be forgiven for his apparent infidelity is up to his wife and family most immediately and eventually perhaps to his God as well.
    None of us are perfect, and voters may well forgive a man who was unfaithful to his wife (although I think lying about it and pretending it is all just a plot against him undermines any argument that he erred during a time of weakness and seeks forgiveness). Most of us have good friends who have been unfaithful to their wives, and unless there are a small number of genuine sluts out there we can assume that the number of women who “cheat” is generally comparable to the number of men.
    You are correct that Herman Cain’s ignorance about world affairs undermines his claim to be qualified to be POTUS, and it certainly disqualifies him as a potential Secretary of Defense. (I generally liked him before his infidelity became public.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/BobTurnerTJ Bob

    You are WAY off the mark in your allegation that DNA tests “proved” Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. A new book (The Jefferson-Hemings Controversy: Report of the Scholars Commission (2011)) reports the results of a year-long study by more than a dozen very senior scholars from across the country who concluded with but a single mild dissent that the story is FALSE. The 1998 DNA tests didn’t even USE DNA from THOMAS Jefferson, and all it “proved” was that Sally’s youngest son Eston probably was fathered by one of more than two-dozen Jefferson men in Virginia at the time. Eston’s children passed down the story generation after generation (until a white scholar persuaded them they were mistaken in the 1970s) that Eston was NOT President Jefferson’s child, but the son of an “uncle.” Jefferson’s “half wit” brother Randolph was documented by a slave account in “Memoirs of a Monticello Slave” to have spent his nights at Monticello “playing his fiddle and dancing half the night” with his brother’s slaves, and Jefferson’s records show Ranadolph (and his 5 boys ranging from teens to age 27) were invited to visit Monticello 15 days before Eston was likely conceived. And, because of his relationship to TJ’s daughter Martha, who ran Monticello when the President was in DC, brother Randolph was known as “Uncle Randolph” at Monticello. Like his brother, Randolph (and his boys) carried the same Y Chromosome taken from descendants of their cousins and used in the 1998 DNA tests.

    The DNA tests also disproved the claim of Thomas Woodson to have been the missing “Tom” who was at the center of the original 1802 charge of such a relationship (made by a self-confessed “liar” who was trying to blackmail Jefferson into appointing him postmaster of Richmond, VA). The new book runs more than 400 pages with 1,400 footnotes, and destroys all of the arguments used to support the existence of such a relationship.