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Infamous scandals that wrecked presidential chances

Posted March. 10, 2018 07:58,   

Updated March. 10, 2018 07:58


#1. On July 18, 1969, at 11:15 p.m. on Chappaquiddick Island. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts left a party with Mary Jo Kopechne, a secretary and campaign strategist who worked with his older brother Robert Kennedy, drove his car off a bridge into a pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger Kopechne did not.

Since the mysterious car accident, Kennedy had been a source of all kinds of rumors – that he had plotted to murder or had been in an extramarital affair. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, received a two-month suspended sentence, and had his license suspended for a year. However, the incident on Chappaquiddick Island changed his political legacy, derailing his presidential hopes. (Chappaquiddick, an American film released in 2017)

#2. On May 3, 1987, The Miami Herald reported that Democratic presidential front-runner Gary Hart was having an affair with a young woman. Hart instantly denied the allegations and his wife refused rumors about his infidelity. However, when the photo of Hart holding a model, Donna Rice, on his lap was released, he dropped out of the campaign and left politics. (The Frontrunner, a new American film being produced)

Amid a sexual assault scandal of Ahn Hee-jung, governor of South Chungcheong Province and one-time presidential hopeful, these two films depicting the fall of powerful politicians have renewed the public interest.

Ted Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family, was almost certain to inherit his brother John F. Kennedy’s legendary presidency, but the Chappaquiddick scandal wrecked his presidential chances as he did not even win the primary elections. The same goes for Gary Hart. Hart was a young, smart, good-looking presidential candidate, but the scandal with Donna Rice ended his political career.

All three have something in common: liberal politicians and strong advocates of women’s right. For this reason, they have invited more criticism than ever for their sheer hypocrisy.

One thing that Kennedy and Ahn have in common with respect to their scandals is both were involved with one of the election campaigners. The difference is the Chappaquiddick case remains unsolved as the presumed victim of the incident died and Kennedy severely denied any improprieties.

Hart and Ahn also have something in common. The two married men were involved in an extramarital affair.

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com