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 The Kennedy Sex Scandals 

July 8, 2003

Someday a major university — Harvard comes to mind — should publish The Encyclopedia of Kennedy Sex Scandals. It would fill more volumes than The Encyclopedia Britannica.

Of course this project will have to wait until the dust settles. New Kennedy scandals keep happening at a pace that defies cataloguing, even as old ones come to light.

John Kennedy has been dead nearly forty years, but we’re still learning fresh details of his sex life, not to mention his medical history. About the only drug he didn’t take, or need, was Viagra. On November 22, 1963, he was only just beginning to make headlines. A new biography reveals that he was “frolicking,” to use the technical journalistic term, with a young White House intern during his presidency.

I heard rumors about Kennedy’s adulteries while he was president, but of course I didn’t believe them, any more than I would have believed someone who told me that Shakespeare didn’t write those plays. It was too fantastic. Nutty, even.

Another new book reports that John Kennedy Jr.’s marriage was pretty rocky at the time of his death four years ago. That I can believe. It’s sad, because this is the only Kennedy I’ve ever heard nice gossip about: a friend who knew him tells me he was a very decent young man, unlike most of the rude and bullying boors who compose the family often described as “America’s royalty.”

And another man, no longer young, has recently claimed to be President Kennedy’s illegitimate son. Am I right? I’m losing track. That’s why we need an encyclopedia. The K volume might be fatter than all the others put together.

The latest episode concerns Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, daughter of Bobby Kennedy and wife of the son of New York’s former governor Mario Cuomo. Her marriage has split up, “allegedly,” as we journalists say, over her affair with a married man, who sort of denies it. (The cad has gone back to his wife.)

[Breaker quote: JFK still makes headlines.]This is a departure from precedent. In the Kennedy family it’s always been the men who have played around, or “frolicked” — with interns, actresses, gangsters’ molls, ambassadors’ wives, babysitters, waitresses, Marilyn Monroe, Fiddle, and Faddle — while the Kennedy women have largely behaved themselves, like good Irish girls.

It seems like only yesterday when Kerry married Andrew. I happened to pass the wedding in Washington while it was in progress; you couldn’t get close to the church because of all the police. As I gawked, who should step out of the church but Arnold Schwarzenegger with another man, taking a break from the ceremony. Arnold lit a fat cigar and I remember thinking he was wearing the biggest tuxedo I’d ever seen. I wanted to compliment his tailor.

“What’s Arnold doing here?” I wondered; then I remembered that he was married to a Kennedy girl, Maria Shriver. At the time I didn’t realize I was looking at a possible future governor of California.

This is as good a time as any to mention that Terminator 3 is a real stinker. I blame the script and the director; Arnold gives his usual nuanced character portrayal of the robot, capturing all the pathos of a machine that realizes it’s of “obsolete design.” Critics may scoff, but I can’t see John Gielgud in his prime handling the role any better than Arnold does. But I digress.

Anyway, I respect the Kennedys’ privacy, if they still have any. But if I could say one thing to Kerry, it would be this: It seems to me that if Arnold Schwarzenegger — and I’m not going to spell it again — shows up for your wedding, you have a special obligation to try to make the marriage work. I’ll leave it at that.

Tragedy has dogged the Kennedy family. It claimed three of the four sons of the patriarch, Joseph Kennedy — Joe Jr., Jack, and Bobby — passing over only (wouldn’t you know) Teddy, before stalking the next generation. I wonder if even Arnold’s tailor would be equal to the challenge of Teddy. It would be like making a tuxedo for an especially corpulent walrus.

Yet in his day, by all accounts, Teddy was especially generous in sowing the Kennedy seed hither and yond and then some. Sociobiologists might say that the Kennedy genes were urgently seeking to replicate themselves. I prefer to say that the Kennedys just like to frolic.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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