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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School

Blueprint

The student news site of Downers Grove South High School

Blueprint

Top Ten American Political Scandals

+In+a+country+with+such+a+storied+history%2C+it+felt+right+to+cover+the+classics+that+have+remained+in+the+cultural+memory+of+America.+%0A
Jack Pastore
In a country with such a storied history, it felt right to cover the classics that have remained in the cultural memory of America.

America. The land of people, of hamburgers, and the Muppets. In its very short history our country has seen near exponential growth since the industrial revolution.

But no road to greatness is without its potholes, so here is a top ten list of American political scandals. These were ranked on how major they were, what the public reaction was, and for some of them, how ridiculous and honestly funny that they even happened in the first place.

#10: The Election and tenure of George Santos

Holding office for just over eleven months, George Santos was the undisputed drama king of the 118th congress. The number of scandals that this man was a part of is almost unending; from lying about college credentials, to spending campaign money on botox and sephora, to lying about his mom dying in 9/11, to scamming a homeless veteran, the list goes on. Currently Santos is awaiting trial in Long Island for wire fraud, among other crimes, and he has also filed paperwork to run for office again.

#9: The Tea Dome Scandal

Back in the “good” old days (the general era that MAGA refers to), there was a huge scandal involving the president Warren G. Harding. In 1921, it was revealed that Harding, along with the some of the highest ranking members of government at the time, had been taking bribes from oil companies that wanted to run oil fields that were used to power the Navy. Today this scandal can be seen as ironic given how many congress members receive money from oil companies now.

#8: The Watergate Scandal

Although Watergate and the overall Nixon administration is very hard to condense into three sentences, basically; a man named John Ehrlichman created a plan to get Richard Nixon re-elected to the presidency, which was essentially an extremely illegal spying campaign against the Democratic National Party (DNC). This plan was later passed and put into action, which lead to the DNC phones were tapped, and then a heist was planned to the Watergate hotel to help cover up evidence- which failed and led to a whole host of cover ups, convictions, missing tapes and a whole woman being kidnapped. Watergate is one of those scandals that was literally a conspiracy, and makes it very fun and interesting to research.

#7: The George Bush Shoeing Incident

To give background on this incident, in March 2003,  president George Bush started the Iraq war, in order to “disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), to end Saddam Hussein’s alleged support for terrorism, and to supposedly free Iraqi people,” and although he did end Hussein’s reign, there were no WMDs found in Iraq, but there was a massive bombing campaign that created millions of refugees while also breaking the Geneva Conventions, a common american pastime. In an extreme lapse of judgment in 2008, Bush held a press conference with the Iraqi prime minister in Baghdad, and one Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar Al-Zaidi, stood up and threw his shoes at the president, ultimately missing but making a strong point of how the citizens of Iraq felt about Bush. My favorite part of this story is that there has been a statue erected to commemorate the shoes thrown at George Bush.

#6: The George H.W. Bush Vomiting Incident

Staying with the Bush family, we travel back to 1992, where George H. W. Bush was on a twelve day trip to Asia to work on post Cold War economic and political policy. On January 8th, the president would fall ill, vomiting and then fainting into the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, after which he was rushed out for medical treatment. The most notable thing about this incident was that it was televised (George H.W. Bush vomits – January 8, 1992), although viewer discretion is advised.

#5: The Pieing of Anita Bryant

Although not a scandal involving a politician, the Pieing of Anita Bryant absolutely must be studied in the history of protests. Anita Bryant, spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, was a huge anti-LGBTQ+ figure in 1970s America. On Oct. 14, 1977, during a televised press conference, activist Tom Higgins ran up to the panel and put a pie in her face. This lead to the almost immediate and comical downfall of Bryant’s credibility, popularity and loss of her job at the Commission, and the clip is worth watching (Anita Bryant’s Pie to the Face).

#4: The Newport Sex Scandal

As the Village people once said, “In the Navy, You can join your fellow man,” and in 1919, that’s exactly what the Navy was afraid of, as the Newport Sex Scandal was an investigation into homosexual goings-on in the Navy. In 1919, Admiral Spencer S. Wood ordered an investigation into the Newport Art Club and Army and Navy YMCA be investigated, as it was alleged that those places were common spots for gay soldiers and sailors to meet (historically this was what the YMCA was used for). Despite multiple arrests of army and navy men being made under conditions of entrapment, people were still dishonorably discharged, and the legacy of the Navy would be strongly connected to gay men, and all because some boys wanted to have fun.

#3: The Monica Lewinsky Scandal

This scandal I find so fascinating because of just how famous and iconic it became. In an 18 month period between 1995 and 1997, president Bill Clinton would have multiple “relations” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky– a fact that Clinton attempted to cover up by committing perjury, having Lewinsky sign an affidavit to stay quiet, bombing Al-Qaeda in order to divert attention, and uttering the now famous phrase “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Unfortunately he would be foiled by a blue dress, and the Notorious Saxophonist would fail in his attempts to hide the scandal, although he would not be convicted by the senate. Lewinsky later became an activist, a writer and somewhat of a gay icon.

#2: Marilyn Monroe and Mr. President

Another iconic presidential affair, in 1962 it was alleged that president John F. Kennedy had a week-long affair with movie star Marilyn Monroe in March of 1962, which was further magnified when Monroe had sung happy birthday to him a few months before she passed away of an overdose. Although there was no concrete evidence to prove that they had an affair, it was proven that she had an affair with Robert Kennedy. Both JFK and Monroe would pass away very young, so there’s no real hope for this scandal to be proven true, unless there’s some letter or document hiding somewhere.

#1: The Iran-Contra Affair

The Iran-Contra Affair is so shocking, complex, ridiculous and strange that it could not be placed anywhere else but the number one spot. In the simplest terms possible, the U.S. government was selling arms to Iran, which had an embargo on it at the time, and then using that money to fund the Contras, a militant faction that was set on overthrowing socialist the Sandinista government, all without telling Congress about it. This was able to happen because the plan was sent directly to and approved by Ronald Reagan, who did not fully read the plan and was under the impression he was only shipping arms to Israel, which is frankly insane but also on brand for the Reagan administration.

For having only been around for 247 years, the U.S. sudden rise to power would naturally come with some good drama. Honorable mentions I chose to leave off of this list are Pizzagate, The Red and Lavender Scares, Joe Biden falling up some stairs and Donald Trump eating pizza crust first. I hope I have enlightened you to some of the most interesting parts of our history, and I encourage you to go on and learn more about these things, it’s all very fascinating.

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