Mimi Alford’s story is very believable and the book is well written. It is obvious that sharing her long held secret was necessary for her emotional healing and no one has a right to criticize her for telling her story. And her story is important for historians to get a better understanding of one aspect of Kennedy’s character. Psychologists today would say that Kennedy had a compulsive sexual addiction. He used his power, money and good looks to seduce women as a way of escaping stress and distracting him from the almost constant physical pain that he suffered from. Also the steroids he took for his Addison’s Disease most likely increased his sex drive.
However, if we think more deeply this book can help teach us an important lesson. Unless a politician forcibly rapes someone or sexually molests a child or adolescent it is best that, while they are living, their sex lives be kept private just like everyone else’s.
If the public had known about Kennedy’s sex life in 1960 he never would have been elected. Richard Nixon, who was closely aligned with the right-wing hawks in the Pentagon and CIA( as Vice President Nixon helped plan the Bay of Pigs invasion) would have given us a war with Cuba in 1961; a much earlier escalation of the conflict in Vietnam; and a showdown with the Soviets over Berlin very possibly resulting in a nuclear confrontation. Not to mention what would have happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The media that covered Washington in the days of FDR, Eisenhower and Kennedy were wiser than their current brethren. They had the common sense to realize that human sexuality is deeply personal and very complex and has little, or nothing, to do with the way a leader conducts himself in office. That is why despite the public knowledge of Kennedy’s numerous sexual affairs he was still ranked as our sixth greatest president in the most recent American Historical Association poll of professional historians
The saddest thing about this book is not how it tarnishes the image of JFK, but that it might distract us from the much more important( for us as citizens) task of understanding the significance of Kennedy’s presidency and why he was murdered by the CIA. For that I direct readers to ” JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters” by James Douglass.
Sure we would all prefer a president who conducted himself morally in both private and public matters. but if given a choice between someone such as Kennedy who showed enormous courage and restraint in his efforts to keep us out of war; or someone like George W. Bush who, though faithful to his wife, lied and manipulated us into an unnecessary war, I would gladly take the former. We certainly know by now that John F. Kennedy was not a saint. But he most certainly was a hero.