In 1952 a man who had not participated in his party primaries received the party nomination to be its candidate for President of the United States. He was well qualified for the position. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who served as a speechwriter wrote that he was “a great creative figure in American politics,”following the death of this candidate in 1965 The candidates name, Adlai Ewing Stevenson II. Governor of Illinois, regarded intellectual, and eloquent public speaker, Stevenson had a record of success and earned the respect of many. In 1956, he would again be the Democratic nominee for President. After losing the nomination in 1960, JFK appointed him ambassador to the UN.
Many, however, questioned Stevenson’s ability to be President but not because of a lack of talent or credentials. They questioned whether or not a divorced individual was suitable to lead the country. At the age of 28 he married Ellen Borden in the year 1928. They divorced in 1949. The eldest son, Adlai Stevenson III who became US Senator from Illinois, remarked to author Porter McKeever who wrote Adlai Stevenson: His Life and Legacy, that his Mom was the unreasonable one, not just with her husband but with the servants and her children.
- Note: The suitability of a divorced man was a topic in an episode of the television show Happy Days about the 1956 election.
Flash forward to 2016, the man in the White House has been married to the same woman since 1992. They have two daughters. In the public eye, they are that “perfect” family. Naturally no such thing exists, but aside from partisan gossip and tabloids there have been zero negative reports of family disharmony or problem children. In public, it has been quite the opposite as they appear “perfect.”
Yet this man is considered anti-American, not Christian, and both he and his family have been subjected to extensive ridicule unlike any prior family to occupy the White House. If you or someone you knew had experienced even a portion of the vitriol, we would be offended, up in arms, and asserting that this information was false, slander or libel depending upon media, and perhaps the product of jealousy or hate from the accuser.
On the other side, the presumptive nominee of one party for President is twice divorced and thrice married who fathered children with each spouse. He’s an admitted adulterer and has profited from penning biographical books describing his adultery and other sexual flings in detail. Yet he is being promoted as the American family values candidate and the new or baby Christian.
He avoided the draft because he did not want to go to Vietnam. Unlike others who did the same, he faced no punishment for his decisions. Yet he is the candidate who loves and supports the military.
People today like to blame Barack Obama for the problems in society. Some contend that current generations are “spoiled brats.” They wonder what happened and ask why the President has failed to fix the problem.
I’m not suggesting anyone who is divorced is a bad person or a failure. No offense to anyone but some of my classmates from high school married guys who are complete bums. A few of the guys married women who I honestly question if they were human given their callous disregard for anyone other than they themselves. In a few cases, both the guy and girl are fantastic people. It’s not just me saying that, but they say that about each other. For whatever reason, however, they simply felt it was in the best interest of everyone to end that marriage.
Still divorce was a prominent issue in 1952 and 1956. The public image of Camelot meant more than what happened behind closed doors in 1960. The Hollywood stereotype of an actor along with saddled with the stigma of divorce received the Christian backing in 1980. In 1988 scandals of an affair and charges of being a womanizer ousted the presumptive nominee who had come close to receiving his party’s nomination four years earlier.
Today the public image that would have been embraced by the people of generations past is disparaged, while the public image that would have disqualified a candidate for President in previous generations is excused or justified away.