The Presidency: Upstairs at the White House

Upstairs at the White House

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Two comely females on Kennedy's office staff, part of the traveling entourage also, were known to get calls at unusual hours to report to the President for work. Some of those requests included transcontinental flights on Air Force planes. Since the women did not have highly developed secretarial skills, imaginations were inflamed, particularly since one or the other often returned to her quarters physically spent.

Strange women were spotted being escorted upstairs in the White House in the summer, when J.F.K.'s family was on Cape Cod. The President appeared unannounced at about 12:30 a.m. in a hotel near the White House, with Secret Service agents discreetly clearing his way. One insider claimed that Kennedy reinjured his weakened back during a bedroom tussle at a party in Bing Crosby's Palm Springs, Calif., house, which the President was using in September 1963, thus forcing him to return to a rigid back brace. That brace held him erect in his limousine two months later in Dallas after the first gunshot struck him. The second shot killed the still upright President.

It is reasonable to wonder, if Kennedy had lived and been re-elected, whether he would have got through a second term without a devastating scandal. Judith Exner was the moll of Mobsters John Roselli and Sam Giancana, and was introduced to Kennedy by Frank Sinatra. That's a deadly combination, even for those days. No President -- or candidate -- standing self-righteously on the great political trinity of wife, family and honor can expect to escape the judgment of the American voters on his sexual conduct. In the past, that judgment was often made posthumously. Now it happens much sooner.

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