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American Presidents: 9 Embarrassing Moments They Want You to Forget

Unfortunately, not all American Presidents had a clean record, and some of their mishaps are extremely embarrassing!

Not all of America’s presidents have been as acclaimed and revered as we would like them to be. Many of them have been involved in numerous scandals and controversies, many of which have been forgotten or swept under the rug. However, there are a few that are going to go down in history not only because of some of their actions, decisions, or scandals during their times in the office but also because of the amount of embarrassment and, at times, cringe moments they brought upon themselves (and even on the nation).

From affairs and accusations of misconduct, all the way to horrible battle plans and illicit cover-ups, we have gathered some of the most well-known and embarrassing actions of past presidents that prove that you can never truly know who has been elected into office!

Let us know if you know of an equally shameful moment that is worthy of being added to our list!

Ted Knap, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

#1 Richard Nixon – Watergate

If we had to name the biggest scandals that involved one of the Presidents of the United States, it would have to be Watergate! Not only was it a huge scandal, but it also brought about a lot of embarrassment for then-serving President Richard Nixon.

Back in 1972, the Watergate scandal broke when five men were discovered and caught breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters (which was in the Watergate business complex, hence the name). After a thorough investigation of this break-in and another similar one in Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (who was the political activist behind the Pentagon Papers), it was revealed that it was orchestrated and covered up by Nixon and some of his advisors.

As a result of these revelations, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, before the house and senate could impeach him.

#2 Andrew Jackson – The Eaton Affair

Andrew Jackson is one of the Presidents that suffered a few embarrassing moments during his time in office, which has left his time at the helm of the country pretty stained. During his time as acting President, he was always under scrutiny because it turned out that his wife was actually still married to another man. Despite the fact that he married her under the assumption that she was already divorced, it turned out that it was not the case and people had a pretty big gripe with it.

Another thing that hit Andrew Jackson was the fact that his secretary of war, John Henry Eaton, was married to a recently widowed woman. This was not the subject of the controversy, but rather the fact that they were rumored to have had an affair before they got married. This in turn spurred speculation that the woman’s husband committed suicide because he found out about the affair.

Since Jackson backed him out and most of his cabinet turned against Eaton, almost all of his cabinet resigned!

#3 John F. Kennedy – Bay of Pigs

This may have been the most humiliating mission undertaken by two former Presidents in the United States. Back when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was still in office, he had to break off all diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 due to the increased conflict between the leftist regime of dictator Fidel Castro and the U.S. government.

The man put together an invasion plan, named the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which would fund Cuban exiles on their mission to overthrow Castro’s regime, only for his successor, President John F. Kennedy, to approve it and set it in motion.

Unfortunately, despite the backing of the United States, the exiled Cuban forces were easily defeated and suffered a clear loss, which brought about a ton of shame and embarrassment to the President’s administration.

#4 Bill Clinton – The Lewinski Affair

Bill Clinton is just one of the Presidents who have been involved in sex scandals and other scandalous allegations. This one involves one of the interns at the White House, Monica Lewinsky has accused him of sexual misconduct and other likewise inappropriate actions. Not only did this end up causing a major scandal for the White House, but it ended up being televised all around the world.

His insistence on denying the allegation of misconduct over and over had only worked against him. The House of Representatives had a vote in 1998 on his impeachment. He was only saved because the Senate did not vote to kick him out of office, but his whole scandal has left a big dent in his presidency!

Image By LO Kin-hei From Shutterstock

#5 Thomas Jefferson and His Enslaved Concubine

Of our country’s first Presidents, this is most likely the one you remember best. But it is not hard to forget about such a big scandal when you know what it is about. Back in 1802, Jefferson was revealed to have been having an illicit affair with his slave, Sally Hemings. And if that was not a big scandal in itself, it was also rumored that he was the father of her children!

The only reason why Jefferson managed to keep the presidency after the scandal for the following 7 years was that he vehemently denied the allegations. Despite this, years later it was proven that he could have actually been the father of Heming’s children.

#6 Grover Cleveland’s Sex Scandal

This is one of the Presidents with the juiciest scandals, especially for the time when he was running for President. The scandal broke back in 1884 when Grover Cleveland was still running for office, so it could have made or broken his campaign. He had a relationship with a widow called Maria C. Halpin, who came out and named him the father of her child.

Instead of doing what many are doing today and denying the claim and making a joke out of the woman, he received it well and agreed to pay child support. He was even okay with the mother placing the child up for adoption when she could no longer support him. Cleveland ended up being upfront and honest about the whole thing, which ended up helping him win the election.

Despite it not being something that ruined his campaign or his chances of winning, it is still a very embarrassing thing to happen. Not to mention it also gave birth to a very cringe-worthy chant that followed Cleveland around: “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!”

Image By Everett Collection From Shutterstock

#7 James Garfield – The Star Route Scandal

While this story is not one that implicates one of the Presidents themselves, it is about how one of them has conducted himself and a scandal that he had to oversee. Despite his brief presidency (he was assassinated after only six months), James Garfield had to deal with the 1881 Star Route Scandal. This scandal is still memorable because it dealt with high corruption in the postal service!

Back in the day, the western part of the United States postal routes was handled by private organizations. The scheme involved giving postal officials low bids, and when the bids came before Congress, the payments would be inflated. Like this, the companies would be profiting off the state and pocketing the difference.

This scandal is embarrassing in essence because a lot of the members of Garfield’s party were profiting from it and were corrupt, but the President dealt with them head-on. It still stains this President’s career in a bad light.

#8 Ronald Regan – The Iran-Contra Scandal

If there is one of the Presidents on this list who has made a lot of problems for himself and our country, it may be Ronald Reagan. Surprisingly, he started out as one of the most beloved former Presidents, yet there are many who point to his various actions and embarrassing moments that broke a ton of international laws and agreements.

Some of the things he is known for are the ways he broke international agreements and ended up funding a revolution. He ignored an arms embargo and supplied weapons to Iran, only to use the money he gained from that deal to fund a revolutionary group in Nicaragua called the Contras. This also went against the Borland Agreement, which just adds another violation to the list, and the scandal that followed his actions set precedent for major Congressional hearings.

In the eyes of many, he was just doing whatever he wanted and breaking all the rules whenever it suited him, without taking note of the fact that it was either illegal or that he was the President of the United States, which came with a lot of responsibility.

Would you have thought that one of America’s most well-known Presidents could have done something like this?

#9 One of the most embarrassing Presidents: Lyndon Johnson

What Lyndon Johnson did was something pretty embarrassing for a man leading a military superpower, especially when they are in a full-blown war. However, this is one of the Presidents who chose to go by stereotypes rather than look into the situation fully. In this way, LBJ underestimated the people of a third-world country, the Vietcong, causing hardship for his own military while also embarrassing everyone on the front lines.

The Vietcong used a combination of tactics, not making camp in one place only and using a tactic that involved attacking, wreaking havoc, and then going into hiding again. This made them highly unpredictable, and for the US military, which used traditional tactics and was not equipped properly for the type of terrain they were on, it meant failure despite their firepower advantage. The Vietcong made use of all their problems and managed to get on top of a military superpower way easier than they should have.

And since we are keeping the Presidents of the United States under the microscope, read all about the known affairs of some of the most famous Presidents here!


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2 Responses

  1. I love LYNDON JOHNSON being ridiculed, any way some one can, BECAUSE he WAS involved with John Connally, in helping to set up JFK”S assassination! If anyone digs into the assassination, FAR IN, you cannot come to ANY OTHER CONCLUSION!! THAT”S why he forced JUSTICE WARREN BURGER, to be Highly involved with the WARREN REPORT OF LIES, AND that’s why Justice Warren Burger, being forced into something, with unbelievable pressure, was seen leaving LYNDON JOHNSONS’ WHITE HOUSE PRESIDETIAL OFFICE, weeping and in continual tears, since he was ALWAYS known, as an ethical man, who ALWAYS WAS ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH AND DECENSEY, KNOWING that would have to be a part of a COMPLETE LIE, and have even his name attached to it!! I don’t think the poor man, EVER got over it!

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