Thursday, August 13, 2015

Today In Wyoming's History: Clearing scandal, eh?

Clearing scandal, eh?

In the news today was that DNA confirms that President Warren G. Harding had an illegitimate child by Nan Britton, with whom he apparently had a long running affair. The rumor had long existed, in no small part because Ms. Britton, after his death (and likely in need of income) wrote a book about their affair, which various Harding adherents discredited.  Now it seems to be proven that she was telling the truth.
Harding has long been at best forgotten and at worst not viewed as a particularly good President.  Knowledge of at least one other infidelity seems established, so how much this changes our view of Harding I don't know.  In Wyoming, Harding might be best remembered for the Teapot Dome Scandal.
Harding was actually a really popular President while he was President, but his reputation sank thereafter, with Teapot Dome playing a prominent part in that.  News of his infidelity, of course, came after his death, and was ultimately widely contested.  Up until the news of the DNA test results, it still was contested.
Anyhow, it's not so much this news that causes me to post this item about Harding, as this odd statement that appeared in one of the news reports on this item:
And, secondly, he hopes the discovery will begin to clear the air around Harding’s scandalized reputation in history.
“This book really ruined Warren Harding’s reputation, and as a result the important lessons of his presidency have been lost,” Robenalt said, who points out that Harding argued for non-interventionist policies before World War I that continue to be relevant following the lessons of the war in Iraq.
Hmmm. . . .

It's true that Harding had some things to his credit, but it's hard to see how confirmation of his marital infidelity in this instance will serve to "clear the air around" his "scandalized reputation in history".

This is not to say that this wasn't worth investigating for the family, or worth reporting in the news.  Just the concept of this repairing a "scandalized reputation" is odd.

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