Presidential Scandals articles
Please address the following questions about the two articles that address presidential scandals. Please type your answers and submit them as a Word document. Please list the question being answered. Each question is worth ten points.
- Does a president’s private life influence (matter in) his role as the leader of the country? Please explain.
- Does a president’s personal behavior influence America’s perception internationally? Please explain.
- Does a president’s personal behavior influence the country? Please explain.
- Based upon the article, name the presidents who have engaged in extramarital affairs.
- Which presidents were accused of fathering illegitimate children?
- Which president raised concerns about the legitimacy of his marriage?
- Which presidents were accused of engaging in illegal activities?
- Which presidents had members of their administration who were accused of illegal activity?
- Based upon the articles, please rank the top five worst events.
- Then, rank the five least offensive events.
Below you will find the link to the first article. The second article has been copied below. However, the original pictures have been removed. The link is provided before the text of the article, so that students can view it in its original form.
What Americans Think About Presidential Scandals Like the Stormy Daniels Story Has Changed. But Not How You’d Expect
By OLIVIA B. WAXMAN
Updated: March 23, 2018 5:55 PM ET
When Stephanie Clifford appears on CBS’ 60 Minutes on Sunday, the woman known in her porn career as Stormy Daniels, will be adding a chapter to a very long history of the American public’s fascination with Presidents’ private lives.
Clifford is not the only woman who says she had an affair with President Donald Trump before he took the office — Anderson Cooper recently interviewed former Playboy model Karen McDougal about something similar — but this story is much older than just a decade or so. In some ways, it goes back more than 200 years.
For about as long as the country has existed, the public and the press have imposed few consequences on Presidents for what they do behind closed doors, even when those actions become public, as long as those actions don’t affect the rest of the government. What has changed is the perception of when that line gets crossed.
In the nation’s earliest years, newspapers were associated with political parties, so accusations of infidelity were often brought up to slam political opponents but dismissed by loyalists. “The golden age of America’s founding was also the gutter age of American reporting,” as pundit Eric Burns put it in his book Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism.
The most notorious scandalmonger of that period was James Callender, a Federalist newspaper editor, who, for example, spread stories of Thomas Jefferson’s fathering children with Sally Hemings, a woman enslaved at his estate, and also making a move on the wife of his good friend from college. Of the latter accusation, Jefferson wrote in a July 1, 1805, letter to his Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith, “I plead guilty to one of their charges, that when young & single I offered love to a handsome lady. I acknolege it’s incorrectness; it is the only one, founded in truth among all their allegations against me.” (However, Monticello, the museum at the site of his former home, now acknowledges that the charge about Hemings is true too.)
But such claims about Jefferson didn’t seriously damage his career. The times when personal stories like those did make a difference was when there was concern over whether public figures’ personal lives affected their jobs.
The most famous political sex scandal Callender revealed was the extramarital affair that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton — who wasn’t president, but proves the point — had with Maria Reynolds between 1791 and 1792, details of which Callender published in his anthology The History of the United States for 1796. In that case, it wasn’t the affair that was controversial so much as the concern that Hamilton may have used federal funds to pay hush money to her husband. In a 1797 pamphlet, he attempted to set the record straight, clarifying that while the affair was shady, he didn’t do anything illegal.
Historian David Eisenbach, an author of One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History, argues that examining presidents’ personal lives was also a way to judge “how someone would behave in office,” in the absence of other information about their character: “In European countries, politicians came from distinguished families, but in America, you didn’t have the old families to rely upon.”
This was particularly true for candidates who came from humble backgrounds, such as Andrew Jackson. During his rise to power, the media drew conclusions about his fitness for office from speculation on the legality of his marriage. During the 1828 election, John Quincy Adams’ campaign is said to have helped spread speculation about whether he and his wife eloped while she was still married to her first husband, in an attempt to prove that Jackson lacked a moral compass. First-Lady-elect Rachel Jackson died shortly before Jackson’s inauguration, and it’s believed that her stress over the public dissection of their marriage had exacerbated her ailments.
But, again, the charges against Jackson’s marriage didn’t actually keep him from office — and in some cases such uproar could actually help.
For example, Grover Cleveland is believed to have won the 1884 presidential election in part because of the grace under pressure he exhibited after a Buffalo newspaper revealed that he had fathered a child out of wedlock. The story was made famous by a Sep. 27, 1884, editorial cartoon published about a month before Election Day, which gave rise to the “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?” chant at rallies for his opponent James Blaine. But he was above-board about the issue, and ordered party leaders to tell the truth, including about the support that. The decision reflected well on him, and he became President.
A cartoon in Sep. 27, 1884 The Judge magazine spoofs the news that Grover Cleveland fathered a child out of wedlock.
Library of Congress Print and Picture Collection