Saturday 16 August 2008

Ten Political Sex Scandals

The political sex scandal is with us again as John Edwards admits to an affair with Rielle Hunter, Daniel Finkelstein of The Times looks at who got away with it, and who didn't.

Five politicians who got caught:

  • The Profumo Affair
    Spies, showgirls and intrigue by the swimming pool. The 1963 Profumo Affair was the stuff headlines are made of. John Profumo was Secretary of State for War when
    he began an affair with Christine Keeler. Unfortunately for him, she was also seeing a Russian spy at the time. Lying in the House of Commons didn't help his cause. He resigned. Many think he took Harold Macmillan's government with him.

    Gary Hart
    In retrospect, Gary Hart probably regrets his challenge to the press corps during his 1988 presidential bid. Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored. In fact, the press (and public) found Hart's liaison with 29-year-old model Donna Rice quite fascinating. The fact that it took place on the unfortunately named Monkey Business yacht only fuelled the fire. Hart was forced to drop out of the race.

    Bill Clinton
    One of the most famous presidential philanderers, Bill Clinton managed to weather allegations from Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers. But he wasn't so lucky when it came to a 22-year-old intern. When it emerged that Clinton had in fact had "sexual relations" with Monica Lewinsky, his presidency lost much of its lustre. Ten years on, Elizabeth Edwards might find an unlikely ally in Hillary.

    Lord Lambton
    Ah, the tell-tale photograph. Anthony Lambton suffered a more extreme version of Edwards' fate when
    he was snapped in bed with two prostitutes in 1973. The Conservative Under-Secretary of State was given pride of place in The News of the World. Public outrage was not calmed by Lambton's assertion that he never took his red box along to assignations. His resignation followed shortly.

    Eliot Spitzer
    The Governor of New York rose to power rooting out corporate corruption across Manhattan. The cheers of chastised bankers echoed around Wall Street this year when it emerged that he'd spent more than $80,000 on high-class prostitutes. His assignation with the 23-year-old Ashley Alexandra Dupre at the Mayflower Hotel (favourite romantic haunt of JFK) was wire-tapped. Spitzer has resigned.

...and five who got away with it:

  • Francois Mitterrand
    Some might think that 14 years as President of France would provide complications enough. But Mitterrand added to the excitement by juggling two families. And although French journalists steered well clear of his long-term affair with Anne Pingeot, they couldn't ignore her presence, with their daughter, at his funeral. The French retained their sang-froid. If anything, the relationship bolstered Mitterrand's reputation.

    John F. Kennedy
    When it comes to glamorous affairs, JFK far outshone Bill Clinton and John Edwards. And yet no sex scandal ever really tainted his reputation. The charisma of the youngest President to occupy the White House lured air hostesses, models and Marilyn Monroe. But when we conjure up Camelot,
    it's the gilded John and Jackie who remain firmly in our minds.

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    Eleanor and FDR were the power couple of the early twentieth century. But few knew about the third woman in their relationship. FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor's secretary, began in 1914 and divorce talk was in the offing four years later. Anxious advisers ensured that Lucy vanished from the scene but she reappeared in 1941 and it was her, not Eleanor, who
    sat at FDR's deathbed.

    Lord Boothby
    This Tory politician sailed through scandal.
    He weathered accusations of an affair with Ronald Kray and numerous flings with married women. Most audaciously of all, he cuckolded his own Prime Minister, probably fathering Harold Macmillan's fourth child. Despite these excitements, he managed to make PPS to Churchill, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food and the House of Lords in 1958.

    John Major
    He spent years battling sleaze as Prime Minister. So Whitehall was shocked when Edwina Currie revealed that she had had an affair with Major from 1984-1988. While we reeled from revelations about his blue underpants and their shared baths, Major admitted that his wife had known for years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

jfk never had an affair with marilyn - that was a deliberate rumour started by J Edgar Hoover - a rumour people still believe at the drop-of-a-hat.