JFK's Womanizing: Why Americans Just Don't Care

Caitlin Flanagan: You're right - one of the shocks of adult life is realizing that the image people present to world doesn't always - or even often - match the reality.
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:47

Mike: Do you think the JFK Affairs and J. Edgar Hoovers knowledge of his activities, even with the Secret service trying to cover them up, is the main reason Bobby kennedy was never able to get Hoover emoved as FBI Director ?
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:48

Caitlin Flanagan: That's certainly what a lot of people think.
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:48

krysnth: Hi Caitlin,You seem to be really get under the skin of a certain type of femalecontingent that dominate the popular media forums. I think it has a lot ofto do with your particular voice, which directs very visceral personalfeelings toward your subjects in a way that's abrasive but often slyly so.I think a lot of people miss the self mockery in your satire, because thisparticular style is discouraged in how "right thinking" people should frametheir thoughts in a public forum. You remind me a lot of writers likePauline Kael, Camille Paglia, and although not really so brassy, JoanDidion. How did you come to develop this particular voice as a writer? Areyou conscious of this divide between yourself and your critics that oftenmakes it seems as though you are speaking in different tongues?Thanks,Christine
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:53

Caitlin Flanagan: Yes, I have definitely committed many thought crimes - and will continue to do so until they take me off to forced labor.

Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:53

chriscahill65: Hi Caitlin,1) You note that Jacqueline Kennedy was "one of the worldliest women of the20th century, no stranger to the variety of sexual experiences that sooften shaped the lives of bored aristocrats. " Since the sexual habits andmorality of, say, the characters depicted in Laclos's "Dangerous Liaisons"has little overlap with the codes of behavior insisted upon by, say, theLegion of Decency or -- more incoherently --Oprah Winfrey, wouldn't it makesense to put aside entirely the idea that "we" should excuse (or notexcuse) the "philandering" of JFK (or of anyone else to whom we are notpersonally married or, I guess, engaged, or at least dating)?2) I'm intrigued by the wildly divergent moral judgements that are bandiedabout in the media regarding the sexual and romantic lives of strangers. Onthe one hand, there is the response to Patti Smith's National BookAward-winning "Just Kids," her moving account of her unconventional loveaffair with the gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. An actress is quotedin "O" magazine saying about that book: "Their story sort of restored myfaith in people. They went through so much but could still forgive and loveeach other." On the other hand, we are still encouraged to pretend that weall share a common sexual morality ("cheating," etc.) and that we shouldcomfortably sit in judgement like the Atlanta biddies deciding whether ornot to accept Rhett Butler into polite society. Do you think there is somecore code of sexual morality that a journalist
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:56

Caitlin Flanagan: There doesn't seem to be a question here, but I like everything you have to say.
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:57

wstein: A comment not a question...I read your essay on JFK with interest. I agree with you on some of the points you made about President Kennedy, but I was more interested in your comments on Mrs. Kennedy and the children, the famous photographs, and what it said about the Kennedy's as a family. Recently I ran across an essay by Katherine Anne Porter written shortly after the assassination and I hope you will allow me to quote from that essay at length, because it brings us back to that fateful time and shows us a true profile in courage:"I have a dear friend whose beloved died not long ago, and hewrote me an account of her going away, and he said "I never heard ofor imagined a more memorable performance." I knew exactly what he meant,and within a few days I witnessed Mrs. Kennedy's performance at the greatcrisis of her life, and it was flawless and entirely admirable; I haveno words good enough to praise it. The firmness with which she refusedto leave the body of her husband, keeping her long vigil beside him,but not idly, not in tears, planning and arranging for his burial tothe last detail. What relentless will she showed, fending off the officioussympathy of all those necessary persons who swarm about tragic occasions,each anxious to be of service, true, but all too ready to manage and meddle.She refused to be cheated of her right to this most terrible moment ofher life, this long torment of farewell and relinquishment, of her wishto be conscious of every moment of her sufferi
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:57

kelly: How do you come up with your article topics? Do you usually come up with them yourself, or does The Atlantic ask you to write about certain things?
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:57

Caitlin Flanagan: My editor and I are pretty good at coming up with subjects together - I'm currently writing about Marilyn Monore, which was his idea. Currently, I've been writing a series on famous women (including this piece on Jackie) and we've been choosing them together.

Okay everyone - thank you so much for these questions. It's been fun. Best, Caitlin
Wednesday July 11, 2012 3:59




Presented by

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Politics

Just In