Tawdry history of sex in the White House

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The Independent Online
WHEN IT comes to sexual indiscretions, Bill Clinton may have scored higher than most presidents, but his conduct has differed only in degree from that of most of his White House predecessors.

A selection of American presidents surveyed in the Washington Times newspaper shows all of them merited a black spot on a scoreboard of sex crimes that range from the use of prostitutes and fornication (defined as sex with an unmarried woman) through to much more heinous misdeeds, such as group sex or being linked to the "unusual" death of a lover.

The republic's founding father, George Washington, receives only one black mark for the crime, mild by the lax standards of the eighteenth century, of adultery. Thomas Jefferson, a relative libertine, on the other hand, was awarded four, for mistresses, `fornication', `adultery' (sex with a married women) and fathering illegitimate children.

America's presidents in the nineteenth century were, by and large an obscure group of men, who seem to have made up for low profiles by indulging in pecadillos. Grover Cleveland - not a name much bandied about now - earns four black marks, for mistress, prostitutes, fornication and illegitimate children. Though not on the straight and narrow, the presidents of the last century were, it seems, straight; James Buchanan was the sole American president in the entire list to stray into the column denoting homosexual affairs.

The private lives of US leaders in both centuries pale into insignificance compared to those of our own era. After the prim and dreary milk-and cookie years of Roosevelt and Eisenhower, the number of black marks rockets under Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton.

Clinton gets seven marks - for, among others, having a mistress, using prostitutes, fornication, sex with White House Staff, group sex ... narrowly beating Johnson who did not, as far as the newspaper knows, have group sex. But even Clinton and Johnson fall short of JFK's awesome tally.