Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Scandal.

It’s a movie about politics. And there’s a scandal. OOPS, SPOILER, SORRY.

Salut mes amis! That’s French for, “Happy Election Day America!!!!1!” We here at For Shame!, as avid followers of that perennially absurd circus known as the United States political system, feel that “today”, “November 6th”, might be maybe kind of a little bit of possibly a big deal.*

*Part of this post may have been written a few days ago but publishing was held up because somebody (LHB) couldn’t get her s-h-i-t together.

We are a scandal blog, and from where do more scandals emerge than behind the pressconference podium? We all know that a high pressure job in the political ring can lead to more than one job out of it. Who among us hasn’t snuggled down on the couch some dreary evening with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Jack to watch the Reps and Dems make eyes at each other on CSPAN? I mean, The Floor has nothing on PM Question Time, but the Brits are like our older, droller brother who grudgingly gives us alcohol and sometimes lets us hang out with his friends. And no matter how cool they are, those sorts of brothers generally never set very good examples.

So in honor of the past excruciatingly passive-agressive year and a half, filled with fliers, billboards, TV slots, editorials, woefully ill-organized campus rallies, and just constant sensory bombardment, MRG, LHB, and JAF bring you not one, not two, but THREE (count ’em THREE. onetwoTHREE. ’cause there’s THREE of us. …THREE) historical, sexual, political scandals, from that ever-generous vault of Americana, Wikipedia.

Settle in and exercise your democratic right to be titillated by reading our tales of a scandalous First Lady, Vice President, and President. For your consideration:

1. FLORENCE MABEL KLING DEWOLFE HARDING, FIRST LADY (March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923).

FloHard, 29th First Lady of the US and owner of an excellent portmanteau.

Guys, remember that time I wrote a post about Warren G. Harding, his eyebrows, and all the extramarital fucking he did in White House? Well color me embarrassed, because turns out that in neglecting to check out what was a-happening on the other side of the Lincoln Bedroom, I deprived you of a class-A, non-partisan scandal. That’s right, Americans. Florence Harding pulled a pre-term Schwarzenegger.

When she was in her late teens, well before she met ol’ Warren, Florence Mabel Kling was Marion, Ohio’s #1 Most Covetable Babe. She was beautiful and her dad was a powerful banker. I imagine her to have been the Cher Horowitz of her little town. But unfortunately, Henry Athenton DeWolfe, her childhood best friend and next-door neighbor, was no Ex-Stepbrother Josh……………….BECAUSE HE TOTALLY KNOCKED HER UP, WAY THE FUCK OUT OF WEDLOCK.

This was the 1880s! Florence was only 19! Her dad was HELLA mad! By all accounts, Henry should have immediately and discreetly put a ring on it. BUT historians can’t find any official records anywhere in Ohio regarding their marital status. After their son, Marshall, was born, they moved to the nearby town of Galion, where Henry got work at a skating rink and they pretended they were married until common law applied to them. Can’t fight a love like that.

What Florence/Cher said when she considered Marshall’s potential effect on her climb to the top.

Henry turned out to be a big ol’ alcoholic and spent ALL the money he made at the Skate Palace on liquor and curly fries from the snack bar (probably), but Flo stuck it out for six long years until she just couldn’t stand the mess she was in. She was Cher Horowitz, remember? And Flo was totally buggin’ when she saw that her life had become a cautionary tale. So in 1896, she common law divorced Henry and his sloe gin, changed her name back to Florence Kling, and refused financial help from her extremely wealthy parents. Sister was going to do it for herself, because civil rights. In this way, she became the paradigm of another seminal 1990s film character: Dorothy Boyd. And Dorothy/Florence met her Jerry Maguire/Warren Harding in 1890. He had her at hello, she completed him, etc., and the rest is history. Or at least a semi-factual blog post.

But whatever happened to li’l Marshall? Well I’m so glad you asked. Yeah, she just gave him to her parents to raise right before Warren Maguired her, because fuck all those previously held moral convictions, right? Right. And Marshall made things really easy on Warren’s political career by dying of alcoholism and/or tuberculosis five years before the Stepdad-in-Chief took office. Marshall’s kids, the “Harding grandchildren,” were mentioned in the press in the weeks leading up to the 1920 election, but not enough to affect the outcome.

So God Bless America, land o’ the free, home o’ the brave, where a pseudo-marriage and illegitimate, living, breathing child need not impede your path to the top. 

MRG

Admittedly, I don’t hate this….. yet.

2) RICHARD MENTOR JOHNSON, VICE PRESIDENT (MARCH 4, 1837 – MARCH 4, 1841).

The tale I’m about to weave for you is much like our current election—it started out fun and lively, with high dreams and hope and other horseshit like that. We had genuine affection for this election oh so many distant months ago, but now it is a bitter taste in our collective mouth, waiting to be washed away by the dawn of November 7th and gallons of celebratory/consoling liquor.

This election is how I feel about Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson. I mean, it should tell you something that the man has not one, but two euphemisms in his formal name for penis. That’s 2/3. That’s a majority. Look at that topical math.

Johnson started out his career in 1802 promisingly enough as a “good person” or whatever, passing the Kentucky Bar and opening and office in which he often did pro bono work for the plebs. When his father died he inherited an quadroon slave named Julia Chinn and started a relationship with her. Nothing big, nothing new, just a white dude banging his maid.

EXCEPT!!!!!!!!!!!11!!!1 Johnson totally flaunted social mores of the time and told everyone that he was having the secks with Julia, and that he viewed her as his wife. IT WAS LIKE HE PUT A RING ON IT BUT HE COULDN’T PUT A RING ON IT BECAUSE THAT WAS ILLEGAL BUT HE TOTALLY WANTED TO PUT A RING ON IT. It’s unclear how long he was with Julia, but he mos def was chillin’ with his bi-racial biddy for the duration of his time as Senator to Kentucky (1819-1829), until her death in 1833. They had two daughters, to whom Johnson both tried to give full legal status as heirs (didn’t work, but he gave them lots of property and stuff so it was cool), and full educations. He married ’em off to white dudes and they all lived happily ever after.

FALSE. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS SHITTY. ALL THOSE WARM FEELINGS YOU JUST GOT FROM READING ABOUT DICK PENIS? GONE. THEY’RE ALL GOING TO BE GONE IN SECONDS.

Beeeecccccccaaaaauuuse, after Julia died, Johnson started a relationship with another one of his slaves, and when she ran away with another man, he hunted her down and sold her at auction. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And then he started banging her sister. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH! That’s great, that’s really great, guys. So so great.

This is what Richard Johnson now sees EVERY. DAY.

He was Martin Van Buren’s veep from 1837 to 1841. After that he burned in hell for being the world’s biggest craphole.*

JAF

*Unconfirmed.

3) JOHN QUINCY ADAMS ; A PRESIDENT WHO LIKED WEARING HIS NUDDY PANTS

First of all, I’d just like to say that the reason we didn’t publish this baby on election day is because I was the one who didn’t get their shit written in time.  So I’m SORRY ok.  But I did get the idea to write about JQA’s butt from a friend of a friend at the returns party I went to, so I think we can all agree that all in all I’m doing you a favor, right?  

I would also like to add, before we get started, that the above “blurbs” by my co-writers are bu’shit, because we were supposed to be write A paragraph each.  Rude.  So, that’s what you’ll be getting from me.  Dealwidit:

Bet you wouldn’t not want to see what’s under those pantaloons.

On what I imagine to be a crisp fall day sometime between 1794 and 1797, Quincy threw on his flippy floppies and ran across his back lawn.  He found himself on the banks of his favorite watering hole, the Potomac river.  It was to these shores that he walked at 5:00am every morning in order to partake in his morning skinny dip.  A lady reporter named Ann Royall found out about his morning swim.  She had been snubbed by him before (I imagine at a press conference, but I don’t really think they let ladies into press conferences in the late 18th century), so she snuck into the white house lawn (probably they didn’t have the secret service yet) and down to the Potomac and sat her little ass down right on top of Quincy’s clothes.  I imagine she was sipping on a bloody mary or something, wearing sunglasses and tanning oil.  Ms. Royall said to the naked commander in chief, “Bro, there is no way I’m giving you your long johns…UNLESS you agree to let me interview you.” Mr. Adams did NOT want to let a madam interview him, but what he REALLy didn’t want, was for a lady to see his ding-dong.  Because, you know, he’s a gentleman AND a scholar.  So, he relents.  And THAT, my friends, is the story of how skinny dipping led to the very first interview of a president by a female journalist ever in the history of these United States.

LHB

Happy two days after election day, fellow Americans.  To this sweet land of liberty, we sing.*

*Drink.


More like Warren G. HARDON, Am I Right?!

Ah, the American presidents. What a minefield of scandal. There’s the whole Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings debacle, obviously JFK’s numerous affairs (which may or may not be the subject of a week’s worth of future posts – stay tuned), and dear Uncle Bill’s Oval Office shenanigans.

And then there’s Warren G. Harding, he of the strong eyebrows and mysterious mid-term death in 1923.

Look at that swarthy brow. Peter Gallagher's got nothing on old Warren.

Harding sort of epitomizes the frivolity of the American 1920s, in that he used malapropisms (“Return to Normalcy” was his 1920 campaign slogan. “Return to Normality” would have been correct. But he was only running for President, so you know, no biggie.), openly served and consumed bathtub gin in the White House during the Prohibition, and showered his friends with gifts, perks, and Cabinet positions. Also, his middle name was Gamaliel, which wasn’t even an unfortunate family name or anything. It has nothing to do with his personality or actions, I just think it’s weird.

Ultimately, he’s remembered by critics as sort of a terrible President who oversaw lots of labor strikes and administrative scandals. And he was remembered by at least two sassy ladies as a terrible sugar daddy.

That’s right, Warren had two known mistresses, one of which was probably delusional. Let’s begin there, shall we?

Nan Britton: stalking, sensationalizing, and boning inappropriately since 1896.

Nan Britton (who after some Googling, I learned was apparently a character in an episode of Boardwalk Empire. Who knew?) grew up in Marion, Ohio, which was Harding’s hometown. He was a friend of her father’s, and she developed a little crush/unhealthy obsession for him. You know what, no – the bitch was a stalker. When she was 16, she used to wait outside of the newspaper office where he worked every day, hoping to bump into him on his walk home. To his wife.

Anyway, apparently the teenage creeping worked. Mr. Britton talked to Harding about the situation, prompting Harding to talk to young Nan. And by talk to I mean bone. He was also having an affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips at this time, but more on that later.

Nan and Warren did their thing (each other) for a little while, then she graduated high school and moved to New York to become a secretary (the loftiest of female ambitions), and things fizzled. But after Harding died in ’23, she wrote what a lot of people consider the first kiss-and-tell book, aptly titled The President’s Daughter. Aptly titled in that girlfriend claimed WGH knocked her up, and that he had promised to support her and young Elizabeth before he died. Convenient? Sure. DNA testing wasn’t an option yet, so who knows. But the remaining Hardings, specifically Warren’s wifey, Florence, weren’t having any of that.

As for the book, I’d love to get my paws on it. Nan claims that she was Harding’s mistress before and during his presidency, and there’s apparently a famous passage in which they do it in a closet in the executive office. If this is true and if Nan was still alive, she’d get a big high-five from me. Because bitch was BOLD.

But she wasn’t nearly as bold as Carrie Fulton Phillips. She’s the only woman to successfully blackmail the President of the United States, and she was also sort of crazy. Both fantastic character traits.

The Hardings. I so want to believe that she's in the middle of delivering a debilitating, expletive-driven insult in this photo. And that he's checking out the photographer's young daughter.

Carrie moved to Marion, that star-crossed hamlet, when she married the owner of a dry-goods business there and she and her husband rose through the proverbial ranks until Carrie became pretty tight with Mrs. Harding. Girlfriends were so close that they decided to hit Europe together with their husbands, and all those Parisian nights must have gotten to Warren and Carrie, because pretty soon they were getting fancy all over the continent.

After they got back to Marion, Mr. Phillips and Mrs. Harding got wind of the naughtiness afoot and decided it was best that the Phillipses skip back over the pond, this time to Germany. Where Carrie became obsessed with German culture, maybe probably inappropriately. In roughly 1918, Harding was running for Senate and this little conflict called the First World War was a-brewing, so everyone headed back stateside. And those two crazy kids picked right back up where they left off, irreparably damaging two marriages! Can’t fight a love like that.

In 1920, when Harding won the Republican presidential nom, he told some VIPs about his ‘delicate’ situation, and that oops, Carrie felt passionately about the German cause in the war,  and that ooops, Carrie had hundreds of love letters, and that oooops, many of them were written on Senate stationery.

Carrie Fulton was a little crazy. But puppies are crazy adorable!!!!!1

Hoping to quietly resolve a potentially disastrous situation, said VIPs said “Hey Phillipses, remember Europe? Wasn’t it great? Want to maybe go back to there? On us?” To which dear Carrie said, “Aw HELL no,” and like a mob boss in the back of a New Jersey Italian restauarant, she dictated her terms. She would keep quiet if:
a. The Republican Party paid for a long, exotic-ass trip to Asia and the Pacific.
b.  They also paid her a tidy annual sum for her silence for the rest of her life.
Girlfriend worked that negotiation, and the GOP paid up.

But her brilliance waned when she continued to support the Germans during World War II. Yikes. The government kept tabs on her for a while after that. And then she sort of went crazy. She had A LOT of German Shepherds (we’re talking Animal Hoarders status), and she used to walk them wearing only her finest mink coat. So you know, things didn’t really end so well for her.

But she did hand over those Senate-stationery letters, and after much legal action, it was ruled that they would be opened on the 100th anniversary of Harding’s death. So mark August 2, 2023 in your iCal. You heard it here first: shit’s getting real.

So what is it about Warren Harding? Did they have to be crazy to fall in love with him? Or was it loving him that made them crazy? The world will never know (except maybe in 2023).

Personal conclusion: Nan and Carrie couldn’t resist the raw sexual power of the eyebrows. Either that or the last name was pretty indicative of what old Warren was packin.

MRG