Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sense of Entitlement: JFK and the Intern

I watched an interview last night with a woman who had been President John F. Kennedy’s mistress for about 18 months while he was in the White House. She was a White House intern (sound familiar?) and was an 18 year old college freshman when it started in 1962. The president was 45 at the time. It is well-known that JFK was a womanizer, but going after a teen-aged intern was a bit over the top in my opinion.

I see a lot of problems with this “affair” that we should examine so that we don’t fall into a similar pattern of behavior given the right circumstances. Although this 18 year old did not resist the president’s seduction, to me his first encounter with her bordered on rape. Although she willingly continued with this affair, he was clearly using her as his sex toy. What do we learn from these actions?

(1) First of all, JFK’s actions constituted a clear abuse of power. As far as I know, this girl did not throw herself at the president (as Monica Lewinski did with Clinton). When the President of the United States makes moves on you, it’s difficult to resist, especially for an 18 year old kid. If you are in any position of power, don’t use that power for evil.

If you don’t think you are in any position of power, you are if you are a teacher or professor, a clergyperson, a manager or supervisor, a parent, an adult, a politician, or a public figure of some kind.

(2) Second, Kennedy’s actions (as well as similar activities by Bobby and Teddy) reveal a sense of entitlement. He was rich and powerful, and he felt he was entitled to just about anything and anybody he wanted, even Marilyn Monroe. Nobody is entitled to use another human being the way he did.

(3) Third, this was a betrayal of trust. This girl’s parents entrusted the White House staff with their daughter. Jacqueline Kennedy was betrayed by all this. I’m sure the president used government resources to fly this girl to different places, so the people were betrayed.

(4) Fourth, this affair, and the other womanizing done by the Kennedys, shows some serious character flaws. Certainly they reveal an overactive libido (essentially a sex addiction), an attitude that women are to be used, not respected, and a sense of entitlement as mentioned before. “Boys will be boys” doesn’t excuse their actions.

While JFK had a certain charisma, there was a dark side. He was not unique because we all have a built-in propensity to sin called our sin nature. Rather than trying to bring it under control, Kennedy indulged his sin nature, using other people as sex objects in the process. I hope we can learn from him and not give in to our wrong desires. Let us not buy in to situational ethics but remember that some things are just plain wrong.

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