Thursday, February 16, 2012

Camelot

Mimi Alford


Johnny, we hardly knew ye.


JFK, Monster
Timothy Noah
February 8, 2012 
I knew that John F. Kennedy was a compulsive, even pathological adulterer, given to taking outlandish risks after he entered the White House. I knew he treated women like whores. And I knew he had more than a few issues with his father about toughness and manliness and all that. But before I read in the newspaper that Mimi Alford's just-released memoir, Once Upon A Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy And Its Aftermath, described giving Dave Powers a blow job at JFK's request and in his presence, I didn't know that Kennedy had an appetite for subjecting those close to him to extreme humiliation.
The likelihood that Alford is making this story up is extremely remote. She didn't come forward on her own. She was outed, partially in a 2003 Robert Dallek biography, and then by name by the Daily News, as "JFK's Monica," because when she began her affair she was a White House intern and a 19 year-old rising sophomore at Wheaton College. (In the book Alford reveals that Sally Bedell Smith was actually the first journalist to contact her--by phone, about a year before the Dallek book came out--and that she declined to speak to her then.)
Alford's story is entirely believable. She was an attractive, naive recent graduate of Miss Porter's School. Miss Porter's was also the alma mater of Jacqueline Kennedy and of a slightly older White House secretary named "Fiddle" with whom Kennedy was also having an affair, or so the First Lady believed--there was also a purported dalliance with Fiddle's close friend "Faddle," a secretary in the press office--and it isn't lost on Alford that this descendant of Boston's lace-curtain Irish had a thing for Social Register girls. Her fourth day on the job she was invited upstairs to the private residence. Kennedy led Mimi into his wife's bedroom (the First Lady was away), unbuttoned her blouse, touched her breast, pulled down her underwear, dropped his pants, climbed on top of her, and fucked her. When she told him she was a virgin he became a bit more compassionate, but neither in that sexual encounter nor in any other did he ever kiss her on the lips.
This part of Alford's story doesn't really add anything to what we already know about Kennedy. Nor does it really change my opinion of the 35th president. But this part does:
Dave Powers was sitting poolside while the President and I swam lazy circles around each other, splashing playfully. Dave had removed his jacket and loosened his tie in the warm air of the pool, but he was otherwise fully clothed. He was sitting on a towel, with his pants leg rolled up, and his bare feet dangling in the water.
The President swam over and whispered in my ear. "Mr. Powers looks a little tense," he said. "Would you take care of it?"
It was a dare, but I knew exactly what he meant. This was a challenge to give Dave Powers oral sex. I don't think the President thought I'd do it, but I'm ashamed to say that I did. It was a pathetic, sordid, scene, and is very hard for me to think about today. Dave was jolly and obedient as I stood in the shallow end of the pool and performed my duties. The President silently watched.
Afterwards, Alford says she was "deeply embarrassed," and as she climbed out of the pool she "could hear Dave speak in as stern a tone as I ever heard him use with his boss. 'You shouldn't have made her do that,' Dave said. 'I know, I know,' I heard the President say. Later, a chastened President Kennedy apologized to us both." Alford believes that Kennedy showed "his darker side ... when we were among men he knew. That's when he felt a need to display his power over me." Kennedy didn't just have a thing for Social Register girls; he had a thing for humiliating Social Register girls. He also had a thing for humiliating his fellow Irishman, Dave Powers.
Maybe Kennedy wasn't this much of a creep all that much (though Alford also tells of him once forcing her to take an amyl nitrite "popper" in Bing Crosby's living room). But the poolside ritual of humiliation is not easy to reconcile with any kind of worldly tolerance for Kennedy's peccadilloes. Perhaps the fairest conclusion to make is that Kennedy did some good things in his public life (and also some bad), but that he was capable of monstrous cruelty that's hard to forgive and also hard to equate even with that of successors like Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon (or with any in his less polished younger brother Ted, whose own private life had plenty of dark moments but whose public accomplishment ultimately outshone JFK's). Clinton shared many vices with President Kennedy, but I can't imagine him ever doing anything like this. I don't usually say this about scandal stories, but Alford's tale ought to occasion further reassessment of a president we already knew to be morally compromised.

The fact that JFK was a promiscuous jerk is not news. Its no surprise that an ambitious narcissistic politician burdened with the Kennedy genome rutted like a bunny. His infidelity, aside from the impeachable national security risk ("Comrade Kennedy, your vife finds out about your любовница unless you vemove de missiles from Turkey..."), is between his wife, his kids, and God.

What's disgusting is the other betrayal. Kennedy raped Mimi Alford. I mean raped. She was a 19 year old kid doing an internship (presumably unpaid) in the White House Press Room. She was no doubt encouraged by her family to take the position at the White House to expand her horizons and perhaps help her prepare for a career. It must have been a thrill for a young lady.

Shortly after her arrival, she's plied with booze (and later amyl nitrite), and taken by the most powerful man in the world up to a bedroom (the President's wife's bedroom), alone, and rather matter-of-factly undressed and mounted. Apparently Camelot softened up a bit (figuratively) when she told him she was a virgin. The kid subsequently was used as a haute blow-up doll when the Commander in Chief had need, and she was used to orally calm the nerves of a presidential aide in the White House pool, while ein Berliner watched.

It was rape. Oh, maybe not indictable in court, but rape. She was a teenager in a horrendously compromised position and was used by the most powerful man in the world for his pleasure. Kennedy even told her he'd call on her after her marriage. What class.

But, you say, she was of an age at which she can make decisions for herself. Nonsense, I reply. The coercion involved is so enormous that it's impossible for a young person to give genuine consent. It's grievously morally wrong, at nineteen no less than if she had been fifteen.

People still make excuses for Kennedy, and he was protected by a coterie of toadies in the government and in the press. Such behavior is execrable, and people who know about it have-- and always had-- a responsibility to call it out.

This kind of thing happens in colleges and medical schools all too often, albeit with much less discrepancy in power. People in positions of power have a responsibility to help and protect young people in their charge. We need to have zero tolerance for sexual conquests driven by discrepancy of power and authority.

We send our daughters away to colleges and internships and entry level jobs to be treated with respect for their humanity and with care for their future. Sexual conquest of a young powerless woman-- in this case a teenager-- by a powerful man in authority over her-- in this case, the most powerful man on earth-- is, morally, a form of rape, even if she "consents". We recognize the coercive effect of disparity of age and power in laws against statutory rape. This is no different.

"Camelot"? What a lie.

Maybe Mimi Alford's father was in that sixth-floor window...

19 comments:

  1. Michael,

    I would have entitled the thread 'JFK human being'. He showed all the foibles of which humans are capable. Morally reprehensible certainly. Not something most people would consider doing, but then again, most people don't want to become POTUS.

    I read the start of Alford's book and it sounds 'true', as true as any personal recollection would be after almost 50 years (and we know how unreliable human memory can be).

    Does her account square with what we know of JFK? Well, yes it does, so why make a fuss about this? Could it have had security risks with the Soviets as a possible blackmail threat, if they found out? Probably not. I would have been concerned more about the affair with the secretary with Mob connections (also mentioned in her book). J Edgar Hoover was almost certainly blackmailed by the Mob after they discovered his unusual taste in clothing and aides to ignore organized crime.

    Well, Kennedy did pull nuclear missiles out of Turkey as part of the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis. Having them there was not a good idea and was more likely to make MAD occur. The Soviets were very worried that America might attempt to decapitate Soviet leadership in a preemptive strike, and that they'd have only minutes to respond to an alarm of a missile launch ... Which could have been just a false alarm due to a flight of geese.

    Similarly, it wasn't a good idea to have medium range missiles in western Europe to counter the soviet ones in the '80s. The Cold War was a mad time with building of more and more WMDs, excess to the need of being able to guarantee absolute devastation to the enemy, expensive and in the end never used, thankfully.

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  2. Bow chicka wow wow….Oh yeah Michael, tell us more, what else did that nasty nasty man do, with whom, where, and how many times.

    -KW

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  3. @bach and KW:

    Do you have daughters?

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    1. Michael,

      No, why do you ask?

      She was 19. She says now and in 2003 that it was consensual.

      Is it worse than a son being 'seduced' by a priest? If J Edgar Hoover had been predatory and a pedophile, would that have been worse than JFK's misdemeanors? Was Hoover's long term relationship with his aide a greater security risk than JFK's more conventional transgressions. Hoover was the director of the FBI for decades, concerned with domestic security against spies and saboteurs, and organized crime. He had been blackmailed by the Mafia. An American president has his power limited by Congress and the Senate. He still has to get legislative approval for military expenditure, such as the money needed to remove missiles from Turkey.

      Why get upset about something that happened almost 50 years ago, in a case where the 'victim' has stated that she wishes this hadn't been revealed. We know that some humans are oversexed. King Solomon, said to have been the wisest ruler (and the terror of countless Sunday School students for his proposal to cut a baby in two to settle a maternity dispute), was supposed to have had 300 wives and 700 concubines (or was that the other way around? I suspect that King Josiah put that detail in, foolishly thinking that the more wives the better).

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    2. Bachfiend,
      if you read the Bible you'll read also how Salomon ended his life and what happened to his reign.

      Delete
  4. At least JFK didn't use contraceptives while he was screwing around. That would have been really really immoral!

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  5. And yet somehow JFK's very public Catholicism didn't immunize him against these sorts of transgressions.

    The funny thing here is that it is fashionable in conservative circles to lambaste JFK, but as a politician, he would have been considered fairly conservative in many ways by current standards.

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    Replies
    1. the funny thing is that today JFK is an idol for progressists.

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  6. @anon:

    JFK was politically fairly conservative in many ways. He was even to the right of Nixon on some foreigh policy issues. He was also very close to Joe McCarthy (to his credit).

    This just shows you how radically left the Democratic Party has moved.

    Kennedy's philandering was excreable. What he did to Alford was brutal.

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    1. And despite having plenty of public religion flung about and his own very public adherence to Catholicism, he was still a philandering jerk. Based on the evidence at hand, religion is useless for creating morally upstanding individuals.

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    2. ...religion is useless for creating morally upstanding individuals.

      So one case makes the lot. Brilliant deduction!

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    3. "So one case makes the lot. Brilliant deduction!"

      Well, in addition to JFK's philandering, we have you, Egnor, and crusadeREX repeatedly demonstrating that you are lying sacks of shit, so it isn't just one case.

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    4. So, Egnor, do you swear you never had sex with a nurse?

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    5. "Well, in addition to JFK's philandering, we have you, Egnor, and crusadeREX repeatedly demonstrating that you are lying sacks of shit, so it isn't just one case."

      I don't like or agree with you either, Anon. You are nothing more or less than the 'useful idiot'.
      Now go change your diaper, as I imagine it was coming out of both ends that time!

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    6. "I don't like or agree with you either, Anon."

      Perhaps if you stopped lying all the time, you'd find life made more sense. But then again, you'd have to give up most of your religious beliefs and delusions about persecution, so you probably won't.

      "PS I am an Anglican, cretin."

      If you could actually reads, you might have noticed that I said religion is useless for creating morally upstanding individuals, not Catholicism. Your Anglicanism is just as useless, as demonstrated by the fact that you are perfectly comfortable with your status as a lying sack of shit.

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  7. sorry, but at that time what was the legal age? 18 or 21?

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  8. I don't believe Alford. She said that she had to do research at the Kennedy Library before writing this book. Yeah, that way she could look up when Jackie was gone and then place herself with JFK at that time.

    I don't believe the Dave Powers pool story either. At that point, she had only had sex once, but suddenly she's willingly servicing a total stranger with other people watching? Furthermore, the Pres. didn't even ask her to do that. She inferred it. Dave Powers was not handsome or charismatic, but she had no hesitation. Oh wait, she was mortified, but not mortified enough to stop or say no? LOL Come on, what a bunch of BS!

    The popper incident appeared in another book, same party, same location, same story but other women were involved, not Mimi. (That book by Hersh was discredited.)

    I also don't believe that the Pres. phoned her at college, on a shared phone, calling himself Michael Carter. LOL And rubber duckies in the tub? LOL not buying it.

    All of these books have been written about JFKs private life (many of them discredited), and nobody has ever mentioned Mimi at all, even though she allegedly had run of the White House, and allegedly saw the Pres for 18 months. And don't say Dallek because he doesn't even mention her name, or any of the stories she put in her book.

    Nobody can verify her account. Nobody. They're all dead. How convenient.

    Why would $he write thi$ $tory after 50 year$? Who know$.

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  9. mimi beardsley in barbara Gamarekian Jfk library oral history
    Dallek JFK and Unfiinished life 2003 and Sally Bedell Smith book .
    Mimi Beardsley was already known before she wrote her book.
    Mimi admits she took her friend Marion Stuart to Jay rockefeller party and
    the same Marion Stuart is one only Marion Stuart Pillsbury that
    works 23yrs for David Rockefeller google it see a picture of them together.

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