We often associate Bill Clinton with presidential adultery.

I’m starting to think he’s not even in the top 5. The answer is JFK—hands down.

Kennedy was handsome and respected. He had a calm and confident manner and, of course, tremendous power.

One could see how he wouldn’t have to work too hard for it.

His wife knew of the affairs and, while not happy about them, had come to accept their arrangement.

There’s an anecdote of Mrs. Kennedy speaking with a Paris-Match reporter during a tour of the White House.

She pointed at one of JFK’s secretaries and said nonchalantly in French,

“And that is the woman who is sleeping with my husband.”

There was 19-year-old, Mimi Alford, who had a longstanding affair with Kennedy:

Within a few weeks on the job, she was invited to hang out in the pool area with the president. He spent several hours relaxing in the sun and chatting with her.

Then, he invited her up to his personal residence. It was there that they became intimate, with her losing her virginity to the president.

Their affair lasted on and off for 18 months until Mimi met her husband. Kennedy gave her a $300 wedding present.

He told her to buy something nice to wear and asked her to come back and “show it” to him.

A recorded 1964 interview with a White House aide, Barbara Gamarekian, included her talking about an aide “Mimi”, who couldn’t type and had no skills, leading her to wonder why she was even at the White House.

Now you know.

Kennedy’s mistress, Judith Exner said, “Jack couldn’t have been more loving, more concerned about my feelings, more considerate, more gentle.”

She met him after a Sinatra concert. She said he made you feel like the only person in the world, expressing endless curiosity about your life.

She claimed Kennedy called her every night for the next month after the concert. Their affair began shortly thereafter in NYC and continued for nearly a year.

At one point, she became pregnant with his child. At the time, abortion was illegal. Kennedy set her up with a private doctor to abort.

Their affair ended after the FBI began investigating Kennedy for his interactions with several crime families.

Exner was connected to and had dated a mob boss. It’s the very reason she met JFK that night at the Sinatra concert (Sinatra hung out with the same mobsters).

The woman from the USSR

There’s some contention around Ellen Rometsch’s association with Kennedy.

However, JFK’s brother Robert had the woman deported and tried to scrub affair rumors— which leads me to believe their affair happened (there’s been significant revisionism in the wake of Kennedy’s death).

Ellen was married to an east German officer but had no qualms sleeping around:

She was a beautiful waitress at the Quorum Club — where many of DCs biggest movers and shakers hung out. Two years into the job that she met with Kennedy and went to a hotel room with him.

What’s crazy is that she also had an affair with Gerald Ford (prior to his presidency).

There’s a lot of overlap in DC. The most surprising overlap is that of the infamous Marlene Dietrich. She was an iconic actress who was very open about the famous men she slept with.

On her “list” was not only John F. Kennedy, but also John’s father Joe Kennedy.

The Marilyn Monroe affair is old news and almost feels insignificant in the light of the other things that happened.

Reporters noted seeing beautiful women coming and going from hotel rooms and into the White House with Kennedy but always kept a lid on it.

The culture of journalism was different.

They shielded presidents — many didn’t even know FDR was disabled.

It was hard for the public not to notice something awry with a drugged-up Marilyn Monroe singing a lusty happy birthday rendition to their president.

Anyone within a stone’s throw of JFK knew he had an appetite for women.

Kennedy was brazen and reckless. During a sitdown in Europe, Kennedy turned to British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and said, “If I don’t have sex every day, I get a headache.”

There are more mistresses and dirtier, more graphic details that I abstained from going into because, candidly, it makes me squirm. I don’t know what to make of it all.

In many ways, JFK is a product of his era. Men in power used their position to gain advantages in every aspect of life. Cheating was rampant on Capitol Hill (and still is to some extent).

It was only after Kennedy’s assassination that his wife pushed forward the “Myth of Camelot” — that they lived this happy and insulated life together. It is a testament to her own forgiving character, given all that happened to her in their marriage.

If anything, this does give me a rare sense of solace in modern reporting and their hyper scrutiny of the White House.

A free press is a check against the power. Our presidents shouldn’t be living like kings, keeping a secret harem, and building palaces with taxpayer dollars.

I don’t think it’s fair to write off JFK as a terrible president because of his personal failings. Historians generally regard him as a good but not great president (in the echelon of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln).

Either way, he didn’t deserve what ultimately happened to him. It was a brutal, terrible way to die.

Sean Kernan

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