Overheard on CNN.com: Political power sometimes brings sexual temptation
Readers are talking about former White House intern Mimi Alford, who said she had an affair with John F. Kennedy.
February 6th, 2012
09:08 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Political power sometimes brings sexual temptation

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"And now we know why he was Clinton's hero ..."
–John Golde

Mimi Alford, now a grandmother, says in a new book that she lost her virginity to former President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Thus began an 18-month affair that changed the course of her life. Readers debated the particulars of the story, as well as society's sexual mores.

Former intern: Book details Kennedy affair

Our readers talked about the temptation that sometimes comes along with an extraordinary amount of power. The most-liked comment was followed by biting responses:

smgltr: "It's hard to believe we had a president who was such a sexual predator. I'd suggest the relationship between Alford and Kennedy was less an "affair" and more a "rape." How many teenage girls could refuse the President of the USA ? Who would she scream for ?"

JohnRJohnson: "Even she admits that it was consensual. She was not a child, even though she says she was a virgin."

cattnippy: "If it were me, I would have screamed until my lungs gave out. And I would not have accepted that it was something I had to do. Apparently your standards are a lot lower than mine. And we have no idea exactly how low this woman's standards are, do we?"

Speaking of JohnRJohnson, there's a crucial typo in this comment:

JohnRJohnson: "Let's not be naive about this. Many women are attracted to me with power (and money), and many men with those things are willing to take advantage of that attraction. Henry Kissinger is known famously for saying "Power is the potent aphrodisiac", and he was also known for his romantic exploits. Kennedy was the trifecta. He was the most powerful man in the world. He was a multi-millionaire war-hero. And he was a handsome devil who was always tan. On top of that, his father, Joseph Kennedy, purportedly instructed all of his sons to have as many women as they could because it would help them focus better on their work. Didn't seem to work that well for Teddy. I know it helped me with mine ... LOL."

JohnRJohnson: "'... are attracted to MEN with power....' Not 'me' ... maybe..."

JohnLfromCa: "JohnR, that is the best Freudian slip I have read on this forum in several years. You made my day. Thank you."

Some thought we should not be surprised by affairs and looked to biology for answers.

clearfog: "Males are genetically programmed to propagate. Females are genetically programmed for monogamy. These are well understood and uncontroversial statements among scientists who study the subject. Societal morality intervenes to protect society as a whole (family values make stable societies), but has no application to individuals. Why do individual males succumb to believing that they are doing something 'wrong' when they do what they are genetically programmed to do?"

This reader quoted the story as an example of the Alford's role in the situation.

tellmetrue: " 'I finished unbuttoning my shirtdress and let it fall off my shoulders.'

Perfectly normal. This is what she had been saving herself for. Must have been a real thrill for her. No idea why it would destroy her relationship with the man she married, unless, of course, he caught her bragging about the affair or lied to him when it was inquired about, and thereby lost his trust. Powerful people, men and women, tend to exploit the sexual attractiveness that power provides. She couldn't resist because she didn't want to, but she is a 'victim' now. Not moral behavior perhaps, but it is a real world out there. If you are that naive or helpless, best stay home."

One reader wanted to know what else the Kennedy clan was doing.

joecalbear: "JFK was just a good old fashion Massachusetts Irish politician and Mimi was part of a small harem that Jack kept on the sidelines. But did Jack hand Mimi off to Bobby, as he did with Marilyn Monroe? I'd like to know, but don't want to buy the book."

What about all the other politicians?

Dieter Zerressen: "Eisenhower was my hero. He was shtupping his driver throughout the war. And then there was FDR. He showed that a handicap doesn't necessarily handicap you in every way. So what's the point? Most men are pigs? Is that news? The point is (if I may), why vote for someone if you know this was going on before taking office? That is, why is Gingrich still in the race?"

This reader says we should think about our leaders' preoccupations.

Priori: "It is undeniably important that we know the history of our leaders, and how their actions both public and private may have influenced their thinking and history. It is documented that President Clinton was having a very personal 'service' performed by an intern at the exact same time that he was on the phone with Arafat; and this is just one know example. It is very possible that whatever distractions may have been occurring in the life of any president may have had ripple effects that could affect the world not only days, but decades later. It would be frivolous dismissal of historical investigation for any reporter or documentarian to dismiss looking into any such matter as something merely personal. The personal affairs of presidents are as important to our nation's health as affairs in our immediate families would be to our family's health. I don't care what political parties are involved, a president is too important and powerful a figure to be handed a pass on anything at all."

boingywiggly: "So, if you don't care what political parties are involved, why just mention Dems? What about Dubya's 'deer in the headlights' look after he was told about the twin towers? What about Mark Foley? Larry 'wide stance' Craig? Dubya's illegal war? Don't think your fake nobility isn't noticed for exactly what it is."

Priori: "Um, sorry. I was kinda trying to stay in the context of the discussion. But if it makes you happy, I could probably come up with a longer and more detailed list of matters of disgust that I have with presidents of both parties than you could probably ever begin to guess at."

The same person talked about the politics of the 1960s.

Priori: "What is with some of these presidents who seem to have to handle barely legal teens? I have to wonder if the nuclear arms negotiations which broke down with the Soviets in this era - which led to nearly three decades of unbridled nuclear arms buildup - might have been more successful if greater attention had been paid to details at the very top. There were some incredible missteps and gaps in communication at the time, some of which have made historians wonder what Kennedy was thinking. Well, we now know at least part of what he was thinking."

smokedbacon: "Perhaps 'make love, not war' stopped a nuclear war."

Priori: "It is at least as, and probably more, likely that inadequate attention to the nuclear negotiations of the day brought us far closer to nuclear holocaust than we ever should have come; and it is also very likely that the failure of early nuclear negotiations were responsible for the insane runaway production of bombs and missiles that still pepper our domestic environment and the silos of a poorly accounted number of sites and storage facilities across portions of not only Russia, but other semi-autonomous and very unstable entities that were once part of the Soviet empire."

Some doubted Alford's story.

mightyfine: "One thing nice about getting older - you can make up stories. And most of the people who could contradict you are probably dead."

Others said it's been a very long time.

charleym202: "OK, so two consenting adults had sex 50 years ago. Why is this news?"

Mr. Dick Turpin: "It's news because one of those adults was the president of the United States. In the history of the world, there have only been 43 such presidents. Not surprisingly, people want to know about the private lives of such rare individuals."

This reader said we shouldn't feel sorry for Alford.

iconic58: "In what way was she 'forced?' Her business is her business and when they came to her regardless of what the story was it was hers. She could have declined comment or threatened to sue. If no one else was in the room with her and the president, then it is just rumor and innuendo isn't it? It was quiet all these years, I just don't get it. Does she suffer from that syndrome where people do destructive things to be in the limelight or be noticed?"

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Leo

    I know Ms. Alford personally, and she's a lovely, fine woman. She doesn't need the money or the attention the book will bring to her, but probably feels that she needs to unburden herself of the pain and anguish this episode in her life has caused. And, also probably, wants it to be known that Kennedy was in many ways a sexual predator, not King Arthur.

    February 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      If she didn't need attention she wouldn't have written the book.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Take Weiner for example...I just wanna get a big bun with plenty of mustard and hot dog relish.
    "Somebody hacked my Facebook page"....yeah right Weiner, of course they did.... 😉

    February 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy


    February 6, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fernace

    I don't believe the "scientific" notion that we're "genet.ically" programmed! More like Societally programmed! Men have ruled the world for millennia & women were chattel, property & second class citizens! At the last turn of the century women were still under the ownership of their fathers, brothers, uncles or husbands, but weren't allowed to have their own ident.ity until the suffragette movement for women to be able to vote! It's not gene.tics or even power that cause men to behave like Dogs, it's a tradition literally as old as time & in fact most dogs are more loyal than most men! If our roles were reversed & women had been in power for millennia, I'm pretty sure this thread would also be reversed right now & men would be comlpaining about women being Dogs (or Aloof Cats)! Btw, I do belive this woman wrote this book for $$ & notoriety! She didn't write about Joe Bl.ow, after all, no1 would care about that!!

    February 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark Armstrong from Having-an-Affair

      Actually there is genetic predisposition to about 70-80% of our behavior. Much of how you think, feel and sometimes even act is based on genetics. Like any other species, our prime directive is to survive and replicate. Women need a man to stay around to raise the children and protect her, men want to ensure no other men are mating with their women so that their genes have a higher chance of being passed on. Read the book Sperm Wars for an education

      February 9, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pam Rogers

    Who are u? Oswald's cousin???

    February 7, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |