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Why Jack pursued Mimi

| Sunday, March 18, 2012

Did you see the TV interviews with Mimi Alford, now 69 and a grandmother, who, as a teenager in 1962, lost her virginity to President John F. Kennedy in Jackie Kennedy's bed at the White House• Mrs. Alford has written an entire book about having occasional sex with JFK.

Some of what she writes is cringe-making. The president would sometimes order her into hiding on the floor of his presidential limo. She often was moved around like a piece of furniture, sometimes sitting in empty rooms for hours waiting for Kennedy to appear for a silent quickie.

JFK was a mechanical lover, 30 years her senior, who never once kissed Mimi on the lips. He fed her drinks and an inhaled stimulant called amyl nitrite to get her motor going. His idea of fun was to offer young Mimi to other men.

One of them was the professional JFK toadie Dave Powers, who, at age 51, took Mimi up on the president's offer of his girlfriend for a little oral sex in the White House pool while JFK watched. Kennedy also tried to pimp the 18-year-old to his brother Teddy, but Mimi, who had at least some sense, declined.

Powers, a lightweight coat-holder, was lionized throughout his life by the Old Media.

Mrs. Alford's general story was already known. I had heard it a dozen years ago, sans details, from a friend who had gone to all-female Wheaton College near Boston with her.

The media condemnations of Kennedy in the wake of the recent book publicity were few and low-keyed. Professional JFK throne-sniffer Chris Matthews of MSNBC criticized the president's behavior with the intern but it sounded like lip service. At the end of a TV segment, Matthews suggested that people buy his latest suck-up book about JFK rather than buy Alford's.

Of course, an earlier generation of media hounds created Kennedy's image and that of his wife. In fact, the whole phony world of "Camelot" purposely was detached from reality. They passed the mantle on to the newer generation of JFK media sycophants, like Chris Matthews, to maintain their fictions.

To prove my point: Imagine if Richard Nixon had sex with a White House intern on Mrs. Nixon's bed and later had her sniff some amyl nitrite and then offered her for oral sex to John Erlichman or maybe Attorney General John Mitchell. Would Chris Matthews and his running dogs be offended• Would it create banner headlines if it were detailed on TV• It would be a firestorm with no end in sight.

I didn't read Mimi Alford's book. I saw her interview on NBC and read some news stories about her. She seemed to me to be oddly besotted, five decades after the fact, with a guy who used her for sex in such a cold, aggressive way. I speak of their initial encounter when he hardly spoke to the girl, fed her a couple of daiquiris fetched by the ever-present Dave Powers and then pushed her down on his wife's bed and took her virginity.

When he finished, wordlessly, he rose and left the room. The incident would be considered "date rape" by contemporary standards.

Marion Beardsley of New Jersey, known as "Mimi" to friends and family, was a well-bred girl who went to an all-female Connecticut boarding school known as "Farmington" to insiders and "Miss Porter's" to others. (I have a relative who was in her class of 1962. She remembers Mimi as nice but nothing special.)

Media accounts missed this but I think I know why JFK pursued the young recent debutante who, judging by contemporary photos, was an attractive girl but hardly beautiful:

What appealed to JFK, your armchair psychologist tells you, is that Mimi was the epitome of the Social Register WASPs who then dominated schools like Farmington, the same New England WASPs who were still anti-Catholic in 1962 and who earlier, en masse, had refused to acknowledge the Kennedy family socially in Massachusetts. WASPs then controlled East Coast society, causing Old Joe Kennedy, already angry about being turned down for membership in a WASP country club near Boston, to move the whole family to New York.

And Farmington was where Jackie Kennedy had gone to school.

There is a crude slang term for all this. I won't use it. But JFK's seduction of Mimi Beardsley and his demeaning behavior toward her sounds to me like it was motivated not by lust or romance but by a grudge.

Richard W. Carlson, a former U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles, is vice chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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