Comments on: JFK puts the zap on Peggy Noonan’s brain http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:08:09 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Sweet Sue http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1811331 Fri, 29 Nov 2013 10:16:24 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1811331 Noonan like Dowd, Matthews, O’Donnell and the late Tim Russert is one of those aging-well, Russert is no longer aging-professional Irish pundits who worship Kennedy and loathe Clinton.
Why? Because the not our kind, darling, hillbilly rose to prominence on merit alone and made the whole damn thing work, unlike the best and brightest who ruined everything they touched, but did it oh so elegantly!
Hint: they worship “O’Bama”, too.

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1802909 Tue, 26 Nov 2013 01:16:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1802909 FA is right of course: the early modern period saw family life/personal life as a model for the state, so relevant to it. And this was true from the crown (the distinction between James I’s court and Charles I’s)on down. So whatever happens in the early 20th C — from FDR to JFK, LBJ etc — starts some time in the 19th? Is that US only?

And I’m observing the difference, not approving. I do think the cultural shift is big, and interesting. But even when I don’t approve of someone’s behavior, I’m not sure whether that should shape political choices. My reading of what people have said is that both JFK and Clinton were/are men of enormous sexual energy/ charisma. But they also used that in exploitative ways. I’m not sure the extent to which that affects my evaluation of their presidencies. Can you be a despicable human being and a good president?

There are gains and losses from making the personal life of politicians public; as historians, we should be able to think about them both, and not push ourselves in to uncritical enthusiasm for either. For the last year I have observed a very messy semi-triangle at work, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what about people’s personal life is relevant for work, and what is not. It’s a line I struggle with, but I think it exists. I do think people — whether politicians or academics — can have messy or complicated personal lives and still do their jobs well.

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By: truffula http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1802509 Mon, 25 Nov 2013 21:13:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1802509 differentiation between…consensual…exploitative…

Well, in fairness to the defenders of privacy for certain kinds of males, they don’t see behaviors such as John Kennedy’s or Bill Clinton’s as exploitative, abusive, or anything else negative. It all falls under the global accords governing the fair use of women (as Twisty would say).

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By: Kali http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1802158 Mon, 25 Nov 2013 18:29:20 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1802158 “So if it’s a cultural shift, we also need to explain the rise of the idea that privacy for politicians should be valued.”

It’s also an idea that is used very selectively, to defend politicians one favors. Some of the same people applying this idea to Bill Clinton or JFK were only too happy to slut-shame Bristol Palin with the justification that she did not deserve privacy once she made herself into a public figure.

There is also little differentiation between the kind of behavior that deserves privacy (i.e. consensual, harmless acts) or doesn’t (exploitative, abusive, and/or illegal acts).

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By: Feminist Avatar http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1800915 Mon, 25 Nov 2013 08:30:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1800915 But if we go much bigger and say look at the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the private lives of politicians were not only big business but viewed as central to political questions – if in different ways. So the Restoration Court in the UK used sex to demonstrate their political power, as did Wilkes in the 1740s. The later 18thC used sexual scandal to provide political critique of aristocratic excess and sexual probity as a measure of political virtue. These critiques were very influential in Revolutionary America. So if it’s a cultural shift, we also need to explain the rise of the idea that privacy for politicians should be valued.

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1799190 Sun, 24 Nov 2013 14:27:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1799190 What’s interesting is that Noonan is celebrating the *public* face of Kennedy. And that’s all about the gap between appearance and reality. After all, our culture in the 60s was much more restrained – you shook hands, you did not hug. As a child, there were very few adults outside my family that I first named. It was all about appearances, and Kennedy did that well. There was a lot of pain in that world, shaped by the secrecy and lies, but it was from the outside much more proper. (This is why my mother couldn’t watch Mad Men – it was too close to home.

What’s interesting (to me at least) is the shift from letting the private be private, to wanting to know everything. As we feminists argued that the personal is political, that the two were not separate, our culture – with the help of gossip mags, cable news, and the web, has become more and more obsessed with the personal lives of politicians and celebrities. When did that start? Gary Hart? Or the posthumous Kennedy revelations? Whenever, it’s a huge cultural shift.

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By: Feminist Avatar http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1798085 Sun, 24 Nov 2013 02:22:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1798085 ‘Most democracies built a dividing wall between the politician and the politician’s sexual life, family life and similar peculiarities.’

Do they? I’m not sure I know of one that does.

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By: koshembos http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1797311 Sat, 23 Nov 2013 18:07:31 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1797311 Most democracies built a dividing wall between the politician and the politician’s sexual life, family life and similar peculiarities. By and large, it fits my values.

Using a nasty biblical phrase, everyone with “a running nose and a sliced genitalia” puts down Big Dawg. That wont help them, from LBJ, another President with huge accomplishments, to the current clown, Bill Clinton is a towering figure.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1797252 Sat, 23 Nov 2013 17:29:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1797252 Fair enough, but the connection between military and political conquest and sexual conquest is robust througout human history. That’s the point I wanted to make.

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By: Dame Eleanor Hull http://www.historiann.com/2013/11/23/jfk-puts-the-zap-on-peggy-noonans-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-1797242 Sat, 23 Nov 2013 17:24:48 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=22066#comment-1797242 As a medievalist, I have to urge everyone to take note of the “putative” and “urban legend” in the Wikipedia entry. Lords taxed the marriages of their serfs, which is what gave rise to the notion of droit du seigneur, but I am not aware of any evidence that this was a real practice. Rather, it’s manufactured “evidence” that the Middle Ages were the “bad old days.” I suppose there’s a sort of link through the use of “Camelot” for the Kennedy White House, but I don’t think Arthur practiced it, either.

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