Just when you thought we’d heard the last of assorted GOP sex scandals starring the likes of Mark Foley there are new reports in the media today of yet another inappropriate correspondence between a prominent Republican and a minor — in this case, an eleven-year-old girl. Worse, the exchanges between these two were so long ago it seems obvious that some kind of cover-up must have taken place. Although no e-mails or Instant Messages have surfaced yet, the handwritten exchanges alone easily warrant a criminal investigation, to say nothing of a congressional rebuke. The following passage is from an authenticated letter written by 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York to Republican presidential candidate A. Lincoln of Illinois. (Caution — the following exchange is somewhat graphic):
Hon. A. B. Lincoln
I am a little girl only eleven years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you won’t think me very bold to write to such a great man as you are…I have got 4 brothers and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you will let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husbands to vote for you and then you would be President.
Imagine, if you can, what kind of a reprobate this A. Lincoln must have been to have inspired a letter this salacious and lewd from an eleven-year-old child, with its suggestive references to the shape of his face and its lurid speculation as to how wives might more effectively “tease” their husbands. Talk about your “ick” factor: If you’re not practically sick to your stomach after reading this filth — well, then there’s just something wrong with you, that’s all. What is with these Republicans? Haven’t they ever heard of family values?
But the depravity didn’t stop there — in fact, it was just getting started. Rather than notify the FBI, the media, or Congress upon receiving the fateful letter, this “A. Lincoln” character chose instead to write back to the poor child in a manner and tone best described as creepy, if not downright inappropriate. Here is the gist of his reply:
Springfield, Ills. Oct. 19, 1860
My Dear Little Miss,
Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received.
As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it now?
Your very sincere well-wisher,
Um, ewwwwwwwwwwwww! Anybody else have a problem with a grown man hand-writing a letter to an eleven-year-old child he’s not related to and has never met referring to her as “my dear little Miss” and hinting broadly about what might constitute “a silly piece of affection”? We’re all adults here — do I have to draw you a picture? This response goes way beyond the bounds of what a reasonable person would call friendly — it’s practically a mash note. Yet believe it or not this shameful episode is still not over.
According to published reports, a few months after the infamous exchange of letters this Lincoln cad was traveling cross-country by train when he happened to stop in his victim’s home town of Westfield, New York. During a brief stopover Lincoln asked that young Grace be brought before him, whereupon he asked her what she thought of his new beard and, incredibly, kissed her on the cheek in front of hundreds of eyewitnesses! Um, hell-o? Did somebody say “sexual predator”? But there’s more, folks.
From Westfield Lincoln proceeded on to Washington, D.C., where he was duly sworn in — are you ready for this? — as the first Republican president of the United States! Just try and imagine a Democratic president of the United States carrying on in this fashion with a girl young enough to be his own daughter. You can’t, can you? Why? Because a Democrat would never do such a thing, that’s why. Especially a Democratic president.
As far as I can tell this is where the story of Grace Bedell and this Lincoln fellow ends. We can only speculate as to what post-traumatic hells awaited young Grace as she grew into womanhood, and hope that in her later years she found some measure of peace. As to this Lincoln chap, in my opinion hanging would have been entirely too good for his sort. In fact, if it were up to me at the time we would taken him out and shot him.
– Ned Rice is a Los Angeles-based, Emmy nominated television writer whose credits include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Real Time with Bill Maher.