February 14, 2012
Possibly trying to outdo one of her View cohosts in the “rape-rape” department, Barbara Walters slut-shamed Alford on national television—“You could have let it go!”—secure in the knowledge that everyone had already forgotten about her own tell-all memoir regarding her affair with (married black Republican!) Senator Edward Brooke. (What IS in the water in Massachusetts? Besides Mary Jo Kopechne, I mean.)
However, The New Republic’s Timothy Noah arguably issued the “best” response to Alford’s allegation. In his online piece “JFK, Monster,” Noah is bursting with chivalrous outrage one moment, then recoiling into denial the next.
Two statements in particular stood out.
“[President] Clinton shared many vices with President Kennedy,” Noah writes, “but I can’t imagine him ever doing anything like this.”
Alas, I for one can imagine Bill Clinton doing all kinds of things “like this,” and I’m sure anyone reading this can, too. (My apologies for whatever visual you’re now trying to force out of your skull.)
Such simple acts of the imagination seem to be beyond the mental faculties of Timothy Noah, who is either being unconvincingly coy or willfully stupid and yet somehow gets paid handsomely to write for An Important Political Magazine. Isn’t one of the most famous quotes about the Clintons that of TIME’s White House correspondent
Nina Burleigh, who claimed she’d have blown Clinton just to thank him for keeping abortion legal?
It’s always surprising what liberals claim they “can’t imagine”—gay “marriage” leading to legalized polygamy, Obamacare leading to religious persecution—despite all the “backward, paranoid” right-wingers’ stubborn protestations. You don’t usually have to “imagine” it, guys. It’s usually right in front of you, and you’re only refusing to see it because we’re the ones pointing it out to you.
Noah’s summation sounds like someone trying and failing to read the historical equivalent of a Snellen chart:
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).
If by “accomplishment” you mean “left a terrified girl to drown in an Oldsmobile,” then Ted still holds the family record, these latest revelations about his older brother notwithstanding.
But JFK was the one who got to be president. And (according to Chris Matthews, at least), he’s the Commander in Chief “we Americans most want to see joining Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt up there on Mount Rushmore.”
(Matthews claims he spent two hours contemplating Mount Rushmore last summer, which is especially impressive when you consider the poor man struggles to tell the Dakotas apart.)
Matthews (or was it his tumor?) also insisted this week that “the total picture” of his “flawed” hero John F. Kennedy “still arouses the country.”
I know I’m “aroused” to make a couple of dirty “Mount Rushmore” jokes right about now. But why should I lower myself to the level of a degenerate sleazebag such as the 35th President of the United States?