I got an email from “my Buddy” this morning. It contained a fair question and I tried to treat it with a rational analysis:
From: “Your Buddy”
To: “Harry Welty”
Sent: 02-Feb-2017 15:28:58 +0000
Subject: 3 AM again | lincolndemocrat.com
Trump is the divorcingest President in our nation’s history.
So? Divorce is generally legal, and perhaps not even immoral. How many extramarital sexual involvements did William J. Clinton and John F. Kennedy have, although they were never divorced?
To which I replied:
That’s an interesting point Buddy,
Just to set a rational foundation for my reply let me be clear. That last line of mine was a dig and by itself only a superficial sting. Although, to be fair to me I can’t off hand think of any one I know personally who has been married three times. That excess seems to be the prerogative of the rich. But affairs……..that is a fair point. I’ve had family members who cheated or thought about it. Even so, I’d consider them human rather than bad people. But let me stick with Presidential timber here.
A lot of American presidents have been rumored or known to have had affairs, sometimes a great many of them. And yet for reasons that could be labeled hypocrisy or political expediency the first serious presidential candidate I can think of who ran after a divorce was New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. He was widely condemned in his own Republican party and got hammered at the 1964 RNC Convention as an unfaithful libertine.
I do think that there is something admirable to be said for the virtue of loyalty which in marriage is generally referred to as fidelity. It is consonant with the traditional marriage vows of loving, honoring and obeying in sickness and in health. And so, when I was thirteen during the Goldwater boom Rockefeller’s divorce was scandalous. America has loosened up a lot as new generations came to see marriage as wonderful but recognized its imperfections – staying in unhappy relationships because of the kids, or the silent acceptance of spousal abuse. Sixteen years after Goldwater Ronald Reagan was just fine with the Republicans. Besides that, anyone prying into his life understood that it was his ex, Jane Wyman, who left him. Ron was an innocent.
But as to Kennedy, FDR, Harding and LBJ…..How about them? Well, political expediency may be their best excuse. They were fellows who really loved their wives and their families and weren’t willing to break them up or set a bad example for the wider community. So they sneaked around and hid their infidelities often with a compliant press’s help, turning a blind eye. Boys will be boys! Or these guys sort of did. There is little doubt that Ladybird and Jackie knew full well what their husbands were up to. Ladybird bore her betrayal with dignity. Jackie is said to have retaliated in kind.
Hillary put up with it too. Perhaps she was calculating. Perhaps she was simply being pragmatic. And on that score she managed to damage the Democratic party inadvertently in the long run by making her sympathizers defend Bill when the GOP went after his scalp. The Clintonista feminists opened themselves to the charge of hypocrisy for defending a skirt chasing, intern groping, possible rapist. Look what Donald Trump did with that! Of course, in Trump’s case it was a case of the pot calling the poor oven’s kettle black.
So is there anything else in my analysis of Trump that you would like to quibble with me about?