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Love etc

Philandering in the White House

Randy bastards. Harold Lambert/Getty

When Ron DeSantis gets asked about Donald Trump’s amorous exploits, says Gail Collins in The New York Times, he tends to cite the “exemplary private behaviour” of the Founding Fathers. Presumably he doesn’t mean Thomas Jefferson, who enjoyed a “four-decade entanglement” with his slave Sally Hemings. Or John Adams, who reportedly dispatched General Charles Pinckney across the Atlantic to fetch “four beautiful Englishwomen for them to share”. Adams subsequently complained that Pinckney had “kept them all four to himself”.

A century later, Grover Cleveland was dogged by claims he’d fathered an illegitimate child, and his enemies took delight in singing “Ma, Ma, where’s Pa?” But – as tends to be the case with the love lives of presidents – ordinary Americans didn’t care: Cleveland won the popular vote in three straight elections. And his supporters took even greater pleasure in their own refrain: “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.”