"Joe Kennedy is one of the biggest crooks who ever lived."
- Sam Giancana
"I helped Joe Kennedy get rich."
- Frank Costello
"Joe always found great favor in Hitler. He would have loved to see him succeed."
- Morton Downey, Jr.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy is generally considered one of the greatest Presidents in American history. He consistently ranks with Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt in polling. His international standing is extremely high, too, especially in France and Germany. He is nothing less than an icon of the Democrat party. While it is understandable that average Americans are not familiar enough with Theodore Roosevelt, or consider Abraham Lincoln and George Washington to be "ancient history," it is nevertheless impressive that Kennedy ranks as highly as he does. Depending on the poll or who you ask, he is likely to compare with Truman and Eisenhower, who are relatively recent Presidents and heroes to many.
However, it is difficult if not impossible to judge Kennedy without judging his family. This applies to every member of the most famous clan in American history. All of them are inextricably linked to each other. Being a Kennedy has special responsibilities that come with enormous privileges. To be a member of this family and even the extended family of in-laws, inside friends and advisors, is to be privy to wealth, prestige, political influence and notoriety on a scale that no other family approaches. Some have used this privilege wisely. Others have abused it brutally. Many people have benefited from the Kennedy family. Many of have had their lives ruined. They are nothing if not scandal-ridden fodder for the tabloids, yet they have done much noble work.
There other dynasties in American history. There were the Adams's, the Roosevelts, and now the Bush family shows the potential to supplant the Kennedys in the 21st Century. But none ever has nor ever will capture the imagination - for good or ill - of the glamorous Kennedy family.
The Kennedy family does not start with Joseph P. Kennedy, but everything before flowed to him. Everything since emanates from him. The further a Kennedy can distance him or herself from Joe Kennedy, the better off they are. Joe Kennedy is very possibly the single worst American of the 20th Century. Bill Clinton gets some votes, but he was duly elected and has the imprimatur of the Presidency. The question of "worst American" is a subjective one, counting only people of prominence who were in a position of power, influence and were supposed to make use of their position in a legal manner beneficial to society.
Therefore, mob figures and serial killers are not eligible. But corporate tycoons, military men, religious figures, entertainers and politicians are eligible. Kennedy was a corporate tycoon, a politician, an entertainment executive who had de facto religious influence, and was also intricately involved in military affairs. He advocated keeping America military out of World War II. Two of his sons were military heroes. He orchestrated a public relations campaign that blew John's Naval experience so far out of proportion that it propelled him to the White House. Finally, unbelievably, a Navy destroyer was named after him. In addition, Kennedy was for all practical purposes a mob figure for decades, although his participation in Mafia activities was more carefully chosen than the Sicilian families who chose to do their business less publicly than Kennedy. When American boys were dying in World War I, Joe was enriching himself through deceptive business practices. He never served a day in the military. Americans lost everything in the Great Depression, while Joe enriched himself further through deceptive business practices that directly "benefited" from the losses of others.
The Kennedy's have experienced tremendous tragedy, some intensely personal, some part of the national experience. Many have labeled this the "Kennedy curse." If there is such a thing as a "curse," or "bad Karma," it can be attributed first to Joe Kennedy. In the end he was rendered helpless by stroke and forced to watch two of his sons felled by assassin's bullets. It is not my place to judge a human being, but I will consider that God may have rendered Earthly judgment for public consumption upon evil men. Joe Kennedy was an evil man. While many historians might be accused of rendering judgement on Joe Kennedy, I submit that the simple truthful description of his life is to describe evil acts, which is different from judgment. What is speculative is the considered possibility that the 20th Century "success" of the Kennedy's resulted from Joe Kennedy calling forth Satan and making a deal with the devil. This is entirely unproven, and in my opinion within all possibility. The following are excerpts from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler and "The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets" by Nellie Bly:
"Joe's father, P.J. Kennedy, was a saloon owner who used his bar as a launching pad for his political career.
"In 1885, P.J. was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, due in large part to the strong backing he received from the liquor lobby which was worried about the temperance movement.
"P.J. would serve five terms as a state representative before being elected to the Massachusetts Senate. P.J. skillfully used his political power to enrich himself and advance the career of his son Joseph P. Kennedy.
"When Joe Kennedy was fresh out of college in 1912, his father got him a job as a state bank examiner. Here, Joe had access to useful information about the confidential affairs of companies and individuals who had credit lines with major Boston banks. He found out which companies were in trouble and which had extra cash, who was planning new products or acquisitions and who was about to be liquidated.
"A former Harvard classmate, Ralph Lowell, said, `That bank examiner's job took him all over the state and laid bare the condition of every bank he visited. He acquired information of value to himself and others.'
"Joe's strategy was to obtain inside information about troubled companies from banks, then drive their stock down so he could buy them more cheaply. While still on the state payroll as a bank examiner, Joe made an acquisition that was aided by inside information. He bought a Boston investment company called Old Colony Realty Associates, Inc. Joe turned the company from an old-line investment firm into one that made money on the misery of others.
"Under Joe's direction, the company specialized in taking over defaulted home mortgages. He would then paint the houses, and resell them at far higher prices. By the time the company was dissolved, Joe's $1,000 investment had grown to $75,000. <This sounds like Hillary Clinton's `cattle futures' deal.>
"Joe began cultivating strong alliances with members of the press, including William Randolph Hearst, who would print glowing stories about Kennedy's successes. In January 1914, when Joe was elected president of Columbia Trust, Hearst ran a series praising Joe as the youngest bank president in the country. The stories neglected to mention that Columbia Trust was owned by Joe's father and his friends.
"Joe eventually assumed control of Columbia Trust by borrowing money from other family members who were never repaid. Kerry McCarthy, Joe's grandniece who interviewed some of those people for a research paper, said, "I found money was loaned to him by family members and not repaid. Since it was family, he didn't feel there was a need to.
"In June of 1914, Joe married Rose Fitzgerald, daughter of Boston mayor John Fitzgerald. Joe would use this new connection for all it was worth. In 1917, with World War I already in progress, the United States government announced that young men would be drafted into military service, and that draft resisters would be executed. Although most of Joe's friends from Harvard had already volunteered to serve, Joe had no intention of fighting.
"Joe had already been placed in Class 1 and was subject to immediate call-up, when his father-in-law, Mayor Fitzgerald, acquired a job for him at the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts. Although Joe knew nothing about shipbuilding, he was made general manager, a job which effectively kept him out of the war. Daniel Strohmeier, vice president of Bethlehem Steel, said, `Joe was accommodated to skip the draft during World War I because of a lot of pressure from his father-in-law.'
Seven months after the armistice was signed to end World War I, Joe left the shipyard. Having avoided the draft, he had no more need to work there.
"Joe was given a job with the venerable Boston stock brokerage firm Hayden, Stone and Company, after Mayor Fitzgerald promised to swing business to the firm if they hired his son-in-law.
"Galen Stone, a friend of Joe's father-in-law, taught his protégé how to make huge sums of money off unsuspecting investors by trading on inside information. While the practice of using inside information was not then illegal, it was unethical. Stone breached his fiduciary duty to his stockholders, while Joe made money because of his privileged position at Hayden, Stone. Joe told one Harvard friend, `It's so easy to make money in the market we'd better get in before they pass a law against it.' It was easy, as long as one was willing to breach trust.
"Besides using inside information improperly, Joe made fabulous sums through what were known as stock pools. This was a way of manipulating the market by forming a syndicate and arranging for the members to trade stock back and forth. By bidding the price of the stock higher, the pool members created the appearance that the public was bidding up the price. In fact, the syndicate members retained the profits, and when the trading public bit by joining the action, the syndicate members sold out, leaving the public with losses. Joe called the practice `advertising' the stock.
"On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified. It prohibited the manufacture, sale, transportation, or importation of `intoxicating liquors' for `beverage purposes.' For Joe, the law represented an opportunity to make huge profits.
"He formed alliances with crime bosses in major markets, among them Boston, New York, Chicago, and New Orleans. These would come in handy years later when his son was running for national office. Among his mob associates was Frank Costello, former boss of the Luciano crime family, who bragged, `I helped Joe Kennedy get rich.' Sam Giancana, who would later figure prominently in Jack's presidency, called Joe `one of the biggest crooks who ever lived.'
"Joe bought liquor from overseas distillers and supplied it to organized crime syndicates that picked up the liquor on the shore. Frank Costello would later confirm that Joe had approached him for help in smuggling liquor. Joe would have the liquor dumped at a so-called Rum Row - a trans-shipment point where police were paid to look the other way - and Costello and other mobsters would then take over. They distributed the liquor, fixed the prices, established quotas, and paid off law enforcement and politicians. They enforced their own law with machine guns, usually calling on experts who did bloody hits on contract.
"Columnist John Miller wrote, `The way Costello talked about Joe, you had the sense that they were very close during Prohibition.'
"By the mid-1920s, Fortune estimated Joe's wealth at $2 million. Yet since Joe had left Hayden, Stone in 1922, he had had no visible job. While he made hundreds of thousands of dollars manipulating the market, only bootlegging on a sizable scale would account for such sudden and fabulous wealth.
"Joe used the profits from his bootlegging operations to fuel his continued stock market speculating, and finance his efforts in the film industry.
"By 1930 Joe had plenty to smile about. He had seen the Depression coming, and as Black Tuesday approached, Joe liquidated his longer-term investments while continuing to make money on the declining market by selling short.
"Selling Short - Usually an investor purchases stock and later sells it, earning a profit if the stock has gone up. Selling short reverses the process. The investor who believes the price of a stock will go down borrows stock - say at $10 a share - from a broker for a fee. If the price falls to $8, he buys new shares at the lower price of $8 and gives them back to the broker to replace the shares he borrowed at $10. He then gets to keep the $2 difference as his profit.
"By selling short, Joe made sums estimated at more than $1 million and contributed to the eventual market crash by forcing prices down.
"The fact that the market was unregulated was largely responsible for the crash. Salesmen had made wild claims to a gullible public. Stock pools such as those perfected by Joe Kennedy had defrauded legitimate investors. Reporters and columnists had acted as shills for companies peddling stocks in return for payoffs.
"The crash set off a worldwide financial panic and Depression that would last for years. By 1932, 12 million Americans were jobless. Governments responded with strict tariff restrictions that dried up world trade. In Germany, where 5.6 million people were out of work, the depression contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler.
"Considerably richer because of his short selling, Joe Kennedy gleefully told friends that he had sold off his Wall Street holdings before the bottom dropped out of the stock market. He said he was now waiting to pick up the pieces left by `dumb people.'
"Joe Kennedy's wealth was now estimated at over $100 million. By 1933, Joe was again manipulating the stock market to his advantage, even as Federal investigators were swarming over Wall Street trying to expose the conditions that had led to the crash.
"The stock market crash and resulting panic would eventually lead to the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which Joe was named head <by the Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, which would have been like putting John Gotti in charge of a task force on organized crime>.
"By 1933 the states had also begun repealing Prohibition, and with his usual foresight, Joe could see it was only a matter of time before the 18th Amendment was repealed and liquor flowed freely again.
"Kennedy used his connections in Washington to obtain permits to import ridiculously large quantities of Haig & Haig and Dewar's as 'medicine.' He stockpiled the liquor in warehouses so that when Prohibition ended, he would have more high-quality liquor in stock than anybody else.
"Joe also took steps to make sure he had cornered the market in Scotch. In September, Joe invited the President's son, James Roosevelt, to join him on a trip to England. Joe used young Roosevelt to get access to those who controlled Scotland's distilleries. Returning with distribution rights to brands such as Haig & Haig, Dewar's scotch, and Gordon's gin, Joe proceeded to build Somerset Importers into a force in the liquor business. On December 5, prohibition was repealed and Kennedy was ready.
"Joe took steps to protect his fortune and the future of his children. He moved to establish a series of trust funds that would eventually make all his children financially independent. These trust funds would eventually guarantee each of his children, and their mother, over twenty million dollars apiece."
The following are excerpts from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler:
"After making his fortune on and off Wall Street, Joe was one of the first Eastern businessmen to grasp the potential of the movie business. By the mid-1920s, the American film industry was turning out 800 films a year and employed as many people as the auto industry. This was `a gold mine,' Joe told several friends. After buying a chain of 31 small movie houses, Joe realized that the way to make real money was on the production side. Moreover, he was attracted to the glamour of Hollywood. Not only could he influence the way films were made, he could meet dazzling young women."
"While his wife Rose was in Boston, pregnant with their eighth child, Joe was in Hollywood engaged in his notorious liaison with the superstar Gloria Swanson.
"Swanson was by no means Joe's first extramarital adventure, but she was his first real affair. She was the perfect trophy to symbolize the great worldly success he had achieved.
"In 1926, Joe convinced a patron of his brokerage firm, named Guy Currier, to finance his plans to enter the movie business. Using insider information he received as a broker at Hayden, Stone, Joe bought the Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), sight unseen, from its British owners; and then received a commission of $75,000 from the trading company for the deal. Joe quickly changed the studio's focus to making cheap Westerns and dog pictures that could be turned out in a week for $30,000 to $50,000 each. Although they lacked artistic merit, the pictures sold, and FBO profits ballooned.
"The following year, Joe Kennedy used the profits from FBO to purchase the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) who had a new system for making motion pictures with sound. Now that Joe headed a studio, he wanted to buy a theater chain to distribute his pictures. This desire would eventually lead to the infamous 'Pantages Scandal.'
Kennedy purchased KAO (Keith-Albee-Orpheum Theaters Corp), a chain with 700 movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada, and more than 2 million patrons daily. Edward Albee, the founder of KAO, had initially refused to sell out, but when Joe promised that he would remain in control of the chain, Albee agreed to Kennedy's offer. But once the papers were signed and Joe was chairman, Joe said bluntly, `Didn't you know, Ed? You're washed up. Through.'
"In 1928, Joe was asked to serve as a special advisor on the board of Pathe Exchange Inc., a production company who produced a weekly newsreel. Joe soon became chairman of Pathe and began implementing his own ideas, beginning by slashing the salaries of the employees. The cost cutting applied to others, however, and not to himself - he was drawing a salary of $100,000 from Pathe.
"Later that year, Joe merged FBO with his chain of theaters (KAO) to form the famous RKO. Joe then had RCA trade its FBO stock for stock in the new company, a deal which brought him $2 million.
"Joe Kennedy had become so entranced by Gloria Swanson and Hollywood that when his father P.J. Kennedy died in May of 1929, Joe would not leave California to attend the funeral. Joe's cousin Joseph Kane later confronted him saying, `You son of a bitch, you didn't even go to your father's funeral. You were too busy on the West Coast chasing Gloria Swanson around."
"Joe replied, `I couldn't leave. If I left for two days, the Jews would rob me blind.'
"A friend, Kane Simonian, observed, 'Joe Kennedy didn't attend his father's funeral....When someone doesn't go to his father's funeral, you can believe he would do anything.'
"Indeed, nothing so much illuminates Joe's character as his decision to remain in California while the rest of the family and many of Boston's most notable citizens paid their last respects to the man who had been responsible for so many of Joe's early successes. From Joe's entry into Harvard, to his job as bank examiner and designation as president of Columbia Trust, P.J. had always been there to help his son. Now that his father could do nothing more to help him, Joe was too busy in Hollywood to say good-bye.
"In 1931, Joe Kennedy plundered Pathe Exchange. He arranged for RKO to pay Pathe insiders like himself $80 a share. The rest of the stockholders would receive just $1.50 a share. Favoring insiders to such a degree was nothing more than robbery. Since Joe had acquired the stock for $30 a share, he more than doubled his investment in fewer than two years. Stockholders filed suit, but nothing came of it.
"Since Joe was in a position to dictate the terms of the deal, he was able to craft the transaction to enrich himself. Moreover, he took advantage of privileged information from the files of major stockholders in the movie companies who were clients of Guy Currier, his partner at RKO. While Currier was on vacation in Italy, Kennedy pillaged his files for inside information such as the size of holdings of other stockholders and their financial condition. He then used the information to further his own interests. When Currier returned, he discovered that RKO's value had plummeted, and he and his fellow investors had been betrayed. Joe Kennedy `did not behave in an honorable way,' said Anne Anable, Currier's granddaughter. `Unfortunately, my grandfather didn't realize how corrupt Kennedy was,' she said.
"Years later, Wisconsin Congressman John Schafer took to the floor of the House to denounce Joe Kennedy as the `chief racketeer in the RKO swindle.' Another Congressman, William Sirovich of New York, said the `inside group at RKO had committed fraud by unloading their stock, making millions.' He called for an investigation of the movie industry, but by then Joe had become close to key Congressional leaders as well as to President Roosevelt, and the probe was mysteriously halted.
"In Joe's papers, Doris Kearns Goodwin found letters from anguished stockholders of Pathe. Anne Lawler of Jamaica Plain in Boston said she lost her life savings. `This seems hardly Christian-like, fair or just for a man of your character,' she wrote. `I wish you would think of the poor working woman who had so much faith in you as to give all their money to your Pathe.'
"Joe Kennedy had been chairman of FBO for two years and nine months, chairman of Keith-Albee-Orpheum for five months, special adviser to First National Pictures for six weeks, special adviser to RCA for two and a half months, and adviser to Paramount Pictures for 74 days. In all, Joe had made an estimated $5 million in the movie business."
The following are excerpts from "The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets" by Nellie Bly:
"Joe's oldest daughter, Rosemary, was considered shy and mentally limited - symptoms of what many suspect was dyslexia. For years the family had dealt with the problem by sending her away to various special schools and convents. By age 21 she had deteriorated greatly, giving way to tantrums, rages and violent behavior. Rosemary was beginning to understand that she would never measure up to her closest siblings, and the resulting frustration led to physical fights and, worse, long absences at night when she would be wandering the streets.
"Increasingly, Rosemary was seen as a liability to the family's political ambitions, and in 1942, Joe moved to deal with the problem. Without telling anyone, not ever her mother, he arranged for his oldest daughter to have a prefrontal lobotomy at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. The experimental operation was believed to work wonders with people who had emotional problems. In Rosemary's case it was a disaster and left her permanently disabled, paralyzed on one side, incontinent and unable to speak coherently. She was never allowed to return home, but instead was spirited away to St. Coletta's School in Wisconsin.
"Rosemary's fate and how it was handled was the ultimate Kennedy deception. As late as 1958 the family was maintaining the fiction that Rosemary had become a quasi nun in Wisconsin, content to renounce the glamorous world of her siblings to teach less fortunate children. Today the official family version is that she was born retarded, and that only her mother's Herculean efforts had made it possible for her to appear normal."
The following are excerpts from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler and
"The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets" by Nellie Bly:
"How Joe Kennedy framed an innocent man
"In February 1929, Joe Kennedy made an offer to buy the Pantages theater chain, the second biggest in California, from its owner Alexander Pantages, a Greek immigrant who had built the chain from scratch into a multi-million dollar business.
"Joe's innate arrogance was now rampant, and when Pantages rebuffed his offers, Kennedy threatened him by boasting of his influence in the banking and movie businesses. Soon, Pantages found his theaters were being denied first-run blockbuster features from major studios, but that was only the beginning.
"On August 9, 1929 in Pantages's flagship theater, the Beaux Arts in downtown Los Angeles, an hysterical lady in red emerged from the janitor's broom closet on the mezzanine screaming: `There he is, the Beast! Don't let him get at me!' She pointed to the silver-haired Alexander Pantages in the office next to the broom closet.
"The girl, Eunice Pringle of Garden Grove, California, told police that she had come to Pantages looking for work as a dancer. Instead of offering her a job, he had pushed her into the broom closet, wrenched her underwear loose and raped her. Pantages insisted that he was being framed, and that the young woman had torn and ripped her own clothing.
"Poor Pantages was convicted and sentenced to 50 years, but the verdict was overturned on appeal, on the basis that it was prejudicial to Pantages to exclude testimony about the morals of the plaintiff. The court found her testimony `so improbable as to challenge credulity.'
"At the new trial, Pantages' lawyers reenacted the alleged rape and showed that it could not have occurred in the small broom closet the way Pringle had described it. The jury was also shown how athletic Pringle was, casting doubt on her claim that she could not fight off advances by the slightly built Pantages.
"The second jury acquitted Pantages, but because of the notoriety, his business had plummeted. A few months after Kennedy's final offer of $8 million, Pantages was forced to sell out to Joe's RKO for $3.5 million.
"Two years after the acquittal, Pringle told her lawyer she wanted to come clean. Stories began circulating that she was about to blow the lid off the rape case and name names. Suddenly, she died of unknown causes. The night she died, she was violently ill and red in color, a sign of cyanide poisoning.
"On her deathbed, Pringle confessed to her mother and a friend that Joe Kennedy had set up Pantages. In exchange for their perjured testimony, Kennedy had paid $10,000 to Pringle and her agent and lover Nicolas Dunaev. Joe had also promised he would make her a star. Pringle, however, never became a star, and Dunaev never gave her her share of the money.
Anti-Semitism, Hitler, and Joe McCarthy
The following are excerpts from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler:
"One of Joe Kennedy's closest friends was Morton Downey, a night-club singer who later became a radio idol in the 1930s and 40s. As one friend put it, 'Mort did him favors in the department Joe liked best - girls, he knew chorus girls.' Furthermore, since most of the clubs where Downey sang were owned by the mob, Joe gained access to mobsters like Frank Costello who were critical to his bootlegging business.
"Besides their love of young women, Downey and Kennedy shared a hatred of Jews. As successful Irishmen, they needed another minority to ridicule. When Joe later went to Hollywood, he told friends he expected to wipe out the Jewish `pants pressers' who ruled Hollywood.
"`Joe Kennedy's feeling toward Jews was that the only way he could be a success was that every day when he got up, he would focus on one deal involving a Jew, and he would win the deal. That was his whole driving spirit,' said Morton Downey, Jr., quoting what his father had told him about Joe.
"Shortly after he became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Adolf Hitler began his campaign against the Jews. Hitler used Germany's severe economic problems to win support from extremists who had fomented violence. He claimed Germany had been `stabbed in the back' by the acquiescence of German leaders to the Treaty of Versailles. As scapegoats, he singled out Jews and Communists. They were responsible for Germany's economic plight.
"As the Nazi Party grew, Hitler destroyed the constitutional government. Squads of brown-shirted stormtroopers carted off critics and tortured or shot them. Over 4,000 people in public life were thrown in jail.
"On April 1, 1933, persecution of the Jews in Germany became official policy, beginning with a Nazi initiated boycott of Jewish businesses and shops. Nazi students and professors burned hundreds of thousands of books, including many written by Jews, as part of a `purification' of German culture.
"As Ambassador to England, Joe would later make clear that he thought the Jews had `brought on themselves' whatever Hitler did to them. During a 1938 meeting at the German Embassy in London, Kennedy assured the German ambassador that America only wanted friendly relations with Hitler. Joe said that Hitler's government had done `great things' for the country, and that the Germans were `satisfied' and enjoyed `good living conditions.' Joe told the ambassador that a recent report which said the limited food in Germany was being reserved for the army could not be true. After all, Joe said, the professor who had made the report `was a Jew.'
"Kennedy urged his friend William Randolph Hearst to help Hitler improve his image in the United States. Hearst agreed, and under his own byline he told his readers that Hitler had `restored character and courage. Hitler gave hope and confidence. He established order and unity of purpose.'
"Based on what his father had told him, Morton Downey, Jr. said, `I think if Joe had his way, Hitler would have succeeded in his annihilation of the Jews...He always found great favor in Hitler. He would have loved to see him succeed.'
"Joe Kennedy often professed admiration for the works of Brooks Adams, whose views on racial purity paralleled Hitler's. Joe accepted Adams as his intellectual guru, ratifying, as he did, the prejudices that Joe already had.
"An historian, Adams articulated a `survival of the fittest' theory much like Hitler's. Eventually, he wrote, the `energy' of a `race' is exhausted, and it must be replaced by the infusion of `barbarian blood.'
"In `The Theory of Social Revolutions' as well as other works, Adams maintained that American Democracy had inherent defects. Without near-dictatorial powers, Presidents cannot govern effectively. Ultimately, these defects would bring disaster to the country. Adams predicted England would fare even worse because the country was in a state of `decay' brought on by `high living, wasteful habits, and intellectual torpor.' In contrast, Germany had a strong military and a vigorous population that was better educated.
"Joe Kennedy, as a capitalist, liked Adams' theories because he saw himself as their beneficiary and they appealed to his prejudices. According to Adams, the `greedy' economic man or capitalist becomes dominant in society. Morality and ethics are of no value. Instead, `Men do not differ from the other animals, but survive, according to their aptitudes, by adapting themselves to exterior conditions which prevail at the moment of their birth.'
"Joe Kennedy's oldest son, Joe, Jr., absorbed his father's virulent anti-Semitism. During a break from school in 1934, Joe, Jr. traveled to Germany. By then, public eating facilities, theaters, and shops in Germany displayed signs saying `Jews Not Welcome.' Jewish mothers could not buy milk for their infants. Jews who were sick could not obtain prescriptions.
"Joe, Jr. wrote to his father that Hitler had taken advantage of a widespread dislike of the Jews, a dislike which was `well-founded.' He told his father that Hitler was `building a spirit in his men that could be envied in any country.' The brutality, bloodshed, and marching were necessary, he said, and the sterilization law was a `good thing.' `I don't know how the Church feels about it but it will do away with many of the disgusting specimens of men who inhabit this earth,' Joe, Jr. wrote."
(Author's note: Forgive me while I go throw up…this is America's "royal family?")
"To be sure, anti-Semitism in the United States at the time, particularly in Boston, was not uncommon. But while many were passively anti-Semitic, Joe Kennedy was rabidly so. Repeatedly and aggressively, he attacked the Jews, even suggesting to his son Jack that he incorporate a campaign against the Jews as part of his political platform.
"Joe Kennedy - Supporter of McCarthyism
"Like Kennedy, Joseph R. McCarthy was a bully, adept at creating suspicion and circulating rumors to smear people as Communists. Kennedy had contributed to the Wisconsin Republican's Senate campaigns, and invited him a number of times to Hyannis Port. McCarthy attended the wedding of Joe's daughter Eunice Kennedy, and was Joe's guest at numerous other affairs, where Kennedy introduced him as his `valued friend.'
"Although McCarthy was at first an undistinguished legislator, he captured national attention in February 1950 by arguing that the State Department was riddled with card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Shrewd at public relations and media manipulation, McCarthy intimidated his opponents and evaded demands for tangible proof as he developed a large and loyal following.
"McCarthy's activities gave rise to the term `McCarthyism,' referring to the use of sensational and highly publicized personal attacks, usually based on unsubstantiated charges, as a means of discrediting people thought to be subversive.
"In November 1950, Joe Kennedy spoke at the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration, where he said that not enough had been done to get Communists out of the United States government. He professed his respect for Joe McCarthy, who was just beginning his witch hunt for Communists, and Joe said he `knew McCarthy pretty well, and he may have something.'
"Late in 1952, Senator Joseph McCarthy became chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Government Operations Committee. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. referred to McCarthy's anti-Communist activities as his 'jihad,' but Joe Kennedy admired his friend's stand. To Kennedy, Communism, not Nazism, posed the greatest threat. He was an old hand at spreading rumors himself.
"In December 1952, Joe Kennedy called McCarthy and asked him to give his son Bobby a job on the committee. In January 1953, McCarthy named Bobby Kennedy assistant counsel.
"Bobby appeared to be blind to McCarthy's demagoguery. `Joe McCarthy's methods may be a little rough,' he told reporters, `but, after all, his goal is to expose Communists in government, and that's a worthy goal. So why are you reporters so critical of his methods?'
"McCarthy's failure to substantiate his claims of Communist penetration of the Army in the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings finally discredited him. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to condemn him, 67 to 22. Jack Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts, was the only Democrat who did not vote against McCarthy. Jack's failure to condemn Joe McCarthy would cost him the Vice-Presidential nomination in 1956.
"The family allegiance to McCarthy was demonstrated again when Bobby Kennedy attended McCarthy's funeral in May 1957.
The following are excerpts from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler:
"Having made his mark on Hollywood and Wall Street, Joe came to realize that Washington was where the real power was. Joe had never been interested in the arduous way his father had achieved political power - through meetings in smoke-filled rooms and holding constituents' hands. Rather, now that he was one of the richest men in the country, Joe would simply buy his way into power.
"Joe Kennedy's entry into politics began when a mutual friend arranged a meeting between Kennedy and then-Governor of New York Franklin Roosevelt. Having just won re-election as Governor, Roosevelt was already being described as a contender for President. A pragmatist willing to obtain support from almost any quarter, he saw Joe Kennedy as both a potential source of major campaign contributions and someone who could swing Wall Street and conservative Democrats his way.
"At their meeting, Kennedy and Roosevelt forged a political alliance. Joe would contribute to his campaign and open doors to him on Wall Street; Roosevelt would bring Joe into his inner circle of advisers, and include him in his Cabinet.
"Once the campaign got under way, Joe not only contributed large sums of money directly to Roosevelt, but he also became Roosevelt's `money collector' or bag man, collecting cash from those who wanted to hide their identities.
"Joe was of further value to Roosevelt because of his close relationships with many newspaper publishers who could be critically important to an election. Not only could they support candidates in their papers, they often used their political clout to choose candidates in the first place. Chief among these media power brokers was Kennedy's friend William Randolph Hearst.
"Hearst owned 33 newspapers with a circulation of 11 million. He also controlled 86 delegates to the Democratic nominating convention, nearly all from the critical states of California and Texas. In a last minute move, Kennedy persuaded Hearst to back Roosevelt. Hearst not only provided a large campaign contribution, but he also swung his delegates to Roosevelt. Joe would later claim, justifiably, that he had won the nomination for Roosevelt.
"More than a year after Roosevelt was elected President, Kennedy was still without his promised Cabinet post.
"In June 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was created, and Roosevelt appointed Joe Kennedy chairman. The appointment drew strong criticism from those who felt that Joe Kennedy symbolized everything the SEC had been set up to eradicate. Roosevelt, however, stood firm, telling one advisor that it `took a thief to catch a thief.' Roosevelt also knew that Joe's financial backing had been critical to his election, and he hoped that giving Kennedy the SEC chairmanship would secure his financial support for the next election as well.
"The SEC, under Joe's direction, went on to outlaw most of the practices that had made Kennedy rich, including a ban on short selling, one of Joe's favorite ways of making money.
"For nearly two years, a parade of Wall Street titans would march to the witness stand and describe their roles in the seamy dealings. But while records of Joe's unethical transactions were presented during the hearings, Joe was never called to appear. Joe would later pretend that he was innocent of any wrongdoing.
"In his book `I'm for Roosevelt', Joe wrote, `For month after month the country was treated to a series of amazing revelations which involved practically all the important names in the financial community in practices which, to say the least, were highly unethical.'
"Kennedy's condemnation of his former business associates came as little surprise to anyone. Joe was known both for discarding friends when they had served their purpose and for knifing in the back those who had helped him. As one Wall Street colleague said, `I don't know why Joe Kennedy turned on me - I never did anything to help him.'
"If one of Joe's failings was his lack of loyalty to those who had helped him, he now turned that trait to his advantage. He did not care if his former cohorts hated him because of his enforcement efforts. Joe had ambitions for himself and his sons that transcended the SEC. This would be a way for him to make a name for himself and for his family.
"Joe would later describe his work at the SEC as `forcing their mouths open and going in with a pair of pincers and just taking all the gold out of their teeth.'
"Joe Kennedy resigned from the SEC in September 1935.
"In 1937, Kennedy began hinting to Roosevelt that he still `deserved a reward' for his role in the election. Roosevelt, who had become mistrustful of Kennedy, chose not to give him a Cabinet post and instead appointed him ambassador to England.
"Kennedy's Ambassadorship coincided with the beginning of World War II in Europe; and throughout his three-year tenure, Kennedy argued against American and British involvement in the war. Even as the Nazis rolled into France, Joe expressed his support for Hitler and maintained a position of appeasement toward Germany.
"In May 1940, Winston Churchill was elected British Prime Minister. The rise of Churchill brought an end to appeasement, and hastened Joe's decline. When Kennedy publicly proclaimed that `Democracy is finished in England,' Roosevelt called for his resignation.
"Harvey Klemmer, who had been Kennedy's speech writer in London, would later complain that Joe had often given him assignments that were completely unrelated to his job. Besides spending inordinate amounts of government time securing precious cargo space for Joe's whisky shipments, he had also been expected to provide Joe with young women. One was a former French model known as `Foxy'."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Joe Kennedy was a monster. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was not an angel, but she seems to have been a good woman. It is because of her that the family retains a decent name, which is no small feat. It is doubtful her sons could have ascended to political heights without her to offset the enmity her husband created. She was very disciplined, a devoutly Catholic woman who bore nine children; four boys and five girls. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was named in honor of Rose’s father, John Francis Fitzgerald, the popular Boston Mayor who everybody knew as "Honey Fitz". Jack was an unhealthy baby who suffered from whooping cough, measles, and chicken pox. When Jack was not yet three, he came down with scarlet fever. His father went to the hospital every day to be by his son’s side. If he made any deals with God to keep his son alive, his subsequent activities suggest he probably did not hold his end of the bargain. Maybe he evoked other powers. About a month later Jack took a turn for the better and recovered. Jack's health was always an issue. The family joke was that if a mosquito bit him, the mosquito would die.
The family settled in Brookline, just outside of Boston. Joe became obsessed with making money and achieving power. As a student at Harvard, his Irish Catholicism had kept him out of the best fraternities and social circles. He determined to overcome prejudice by buying his way into a world he otherwise would have been excluded from, and using his paid-for prestige to open the doors for his children. It was always Joe's intention for his children to enter national politics, which he saw as the ultimate way to break down any remaining barriers.
His goal was to become a millionaire by age 35. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. In this regard he must be considered an American success story. His family had escaped the Irish potato famine on the 19th Century, settled in Boston and made a better life for each succeeding generation. But Joe's success was "amazing."
Aside from the Massachusetts abode, the family owned property in the exclusive enclave of West Palm Beach, Florida. The kids - Jack had an older brother, Joe; four sisters, Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, and Patricia; and a younger brother, Robert (Jean and Teddy had not been born yet) - were a bundle of energy. Nannies and housekeepers helped Rose run the household.
Summers were spent in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod where they swam, sailed, and played touch football. They played hard, and competed for everything. Joseph, Sr. encouraged this, almost pitting the kids against each other in Darwinian match-ups designed to toughen them up. It is true that while the children had everything, they were not spoiled by the easy life. The boys, especially, faced very high expectations in sports, school and all that they tried.
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going," Joe would tell them. The competition could be cutthroat. Joe, Jr. suggested that he and Jack race on their bicycles. They collided head-on. Joe emerged unscathed while Jack had to have 28 stitches. Joe, Jr. routinely beat up Jack, the only sibling who posed any threat to him. For whatever reason, the Kennedy men got all the looks. They were handsome beyond words, like matinee idol movie darlings. The girls all suffered from "map of Ireland" faces with thin lips and straight-up-and-down figures. The boys were the apple of every girl's eye in Boston and West Palm.
Jack attended Choate, a tony boarding school in Connecticut. He played tennis, basketball, football, and golf and read voraciously in those pre-TV days. He subscribed to the New York Times, unusual for a teenage kid. The head master recalled that he had a "clever, individualist mind." He was not the best student, but he took it seriously, especially in history and English, which were his favorites.
"Now Jack," his father wrote in a letter, "I don’t want to give the impression that I am a nagger, for goodness knows I think that is the worse thing any parent can be, and I also feel that you know if I didn’t really feel you had the goods I would be most charitable in my attitude toward your failings. After long experience in sizing up people I definitely know you have the goods and you can go a long way…It is very difficult to make up fundamentals that you have neglected when you were very young, and that is why I am urging you to do the best you can. I am not expecting too much, and I will not be disappointed if you don’t turn out to be a real genius, but I think you can be a really worthwhile citizen with good judgment and understanding."
Jack graduated from Choate and entered Harvard, where Joe was ahead of him. Like Joe, Jack played football. He was not a great athlete but he persevered until he ruptured a disk in his spine. His back bothered him the rest of his life.
Joe, Jr. announced as a young boy that he would be the first Catholic President. In the Kennedy world no one doubted him. Jack had the ambition of a second son, but was by no means a slouch. He was active in student groups and sports, excelled in history and government classes, but maintained only decent grades.
Late in 1937, Mr. Kennedy was appointed United States Ambassador to England. He moved there with his whole family, with the exception of Joe and Jack, who were at Harvard. Jack followed European politics and world affairs. He made a Summer visit to England and other countries in Europe, and reached some startling conclusions about Nazi Germany. At Harvard he tackled history, government and current events with renewed vigor.
The Ambassador sent letters with news regarding the possibility of full-scale war with Hitler's Germany, which was aligned with Mussolini and Italy. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Jack was a senior at Harvard and wrote his thesis on Great Britain's lack of preparedness. It was a good book called "Why England Slept", which was worthy of publication. His father made sure of it, arranging through contacts with a publisher. In June, 1940 Jack graduated from Harvard. His father sent him a cablegram from London:
"TWO THINGS I ALWAYS KNEW ABOUT YOU ONE THAT YOU ARE SMART TWO THAT YOU ARE A SWELL GUY LOVE DAD."
John Kennedy then headed to California, where he entered Stanford Business School. He drove a convertible, had reportedly been given $1 million by his father, and according to legend ran a swath through the female population of the West Coast from San Francisco to Hollywood. Handsome and adorably promiscuous, he tanned himself in the hot sun, partied heavily and lived it up. Then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
It is to the great credit of Joe, Jr. and John Kennedy that they both joined the military after America entered the war. Neither had to do it. Joe had enough pull to keep his sons out. Jack, in particular, had enough physical ailments to get out of service, but he insisted on going in. They still could have been given non-hazardous duty, common for the sons of VIPs. Neither went that route.
Joe was a flyer, sent to Europe. Jack was made lieutenant and assigned to the South Pacific as commander of a patrol torpedo boat, the PT-109. The crew of 12 was tasked with stopping Japanese ships from delivering supplies to the islands they held. On August 2, 1943, the PT-109 was patrolling the waters when they saw a Japanese destroyer traveling at full speed straight at them. Lieutenant Kennedy tried to swerve out of the way, but the warship rammed the PT-109, splitting it in half and killing men. Everybody jumped off the flaming boat. Kennedy injured his weak back. Others had terrible burns. Some were ready to give up. In the darkness, Kennedy managed to find Patrick McMahon, who otherwise would have died. He hauled him back to where the other survivors were clinging to a piece of the boat that was still afloat. At sunrise, Kennedy led his men toward a small island several miles away. Despite his own injuries, he towed McMahon ashore, a strap from McMahon’s life jacket clenched between his teeth. Six days later two native islanders found them and went for help, delivering a message Jack had written on a piece of coconut shell. The next day, the PT-109 crew was rescued.
In later years, some have analyzed the PT-109 and determined that it was not all that it seemed to be. Lieutenant Kennedy was very inexperienced and perhaps should not have been given command of a PT boat. He apparently failed to adhere to established Navy procedures and training in his failure to steer away from and be hit by the destroyer. Many felt that only negligence could explain being put in such a position. When he returned home, Jack was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his leadership and courage. Joe, Sr. assigned publicists to embellish the story and it was a huge part of the Kennedy mystique, prodding his career from the Congress to the Senate to the White House. In 1962, Kennedy's friends in Hollywood made a movie about it. JFK himself handpicked Cliff Robertson to play him. The film, while entertaining and co-starring a number of excellent young stars, was basically a campaign commercial. Kennedy himself never tried to make more of it than it was. He joked that he had won the Navy Cross for getting his boat run over. He readily admitted that he could have avoided the accident, and was lucky that it turned out the way that it did. Regardless of his inexperience, any mistakes he might have made, or how his father and Hollywood embellished the story, John Kennedy showed enormous bravery and courage under the most trying of circumstances. He saved the lives of his men, who all idolized him after initially thinking him a "rich kid." None of them ever disputed his bravery and clear thinking. All things considered, JFK earned his medals and any kudos he received.
Jack’s brother Joe was not lucky. A year later, he volunteered for a dangerous mission involving transport of materials associated with the Manhattan Project, the super-secret operation to develop the atomic bomb. The mission went awry and his plane blew up in the skies over Europe.
Jack came home a war hero and considered teaching or writing. He actually covered the 1946 opening of the United Nations in San Francisco as a reporter. But Joe’s tragic death elevated Jack. He was now made the "hope" of the family for the White House. The path to the Presidency began in the 1946 campaign for Massachusetts' 11th Congressional district. Joe, Sr. spent enormous sums of money to assure victory for his youthful, inexperienced son. Jack, while not totally comfortable campaigning, demonstrated intelligence, an easy rapport. The women voters were crazy about him. He won easily.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Politics is like war. It takes three things to win.....The first is money and the second is money and the third is money."
- Joe Kane (Kennedy's friend)
How Joe Made his Son President
The following is excerpted from "The Sins of the Father" by Ronald Kessler and
"The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal, and Secrets" by Nellie Bly:
"JFK's First Campaign
"Having tried and failed, Joe Kennedy knew he could never become President, but his sons could. He quenched his thirst for power through them.
"Joe had hoped that his eldest son, Joe, Jr. would fulfill his dream. That dream ended in August 1944 when Joe, Jr., a Navy pilot, was killed after volunteering for a dangerous secret bombing mission. Columnist and family friend Arthur Krock was convinced that the reason Joe, Jr. had volunteered for such a dangerous mission was to compensate for his father's reputation as a coward.
"In Palm Beach during Christmas of 1944, Joe gave his son Jack the orders: He was to take Joe, Jr.'s place and enter politics. In 1957, Jack described the event, telling a reporter: 'It was like being drafted. My father wanted his eldest son in politics. 'Wanted' isn't the right word. He demanded it.'
"Joe would later brag that 'I got Jack into politics. I told him that Joe, Jr .was deceased and that it was therefore his responsibility to run for Congress.'
"In 1946, Joe Kennedy decided that the 11th Congressional district of Massachusetts, with its high concentration of Catholic voters, would be the perfect launching pad for his son Jack's political career. There was only one problem: James Michael Curley, the former Mayor of Boston and Governor of Massachusetts, occupied the seat. Curley, however, was in danger of being indicted for mail fraud, and Joe decided that what the man needed most was some money.
"'Curley knew he was in trouble with the Feds over the mail fraud rap,' recalled Kennedy's friend Joe Kane. `The Ambassador paid him to get out of his Congressional seat…Curley figured that he might need the money.'
"Joe paid Curley $12,000 through his bag man Joe Timilty. He promised additional campaign help if Curley chose to run again for Mayor of Boston in the 1946 election, which Curley did. After being elected, Curley was sent to prison for mail fraud. He continued to serve from prison.
"To Joe, this was standard operating procedure, recalled Kane. `Everything he got, he bought and paid for. And politics is like war. It takes three things to win. The first is money and the second is money and the third is money.'
"On April 25, 1946, Jack Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to Congress. The next month, Joe founded the Joseph P Kennedy Jr. Foundation which began furiously pumping money into Catholic institutions in Jack's adopted district. The timing was not a coincidence, and led one Massachusetts Congressman to describe the gifts as `political currency.'
"Joe's main job now became running his son's campaign. In effect, he was the candidate, devising campaign strategy and making every financial and policy decision. To conceal his own role and the extent of Jack's financing, Joe paid for everything clandestinely and in cash.
"David Powers, who ran Jack's Charlestown headquarters described how Joe's aide would meet him `at the campaign's central headquarters, and then lead me into the men's room, where, putting a dime into the slot, he would take me into a closed toilet stall. Then, with no one able to watch us, he would hand me the cash, saying, 'You can never be too careful in politics about handing over money.'
"Joe also arranged for Jack to receive a salary from the Maine and New Hampshire Theaters Company, which he owned. Joe could then deduct it as a business expense. In addition, two of Joe's theater employees took care of all the campaign expenses. For example, if Jack needed a rental car, he simply charged it to Joe's theater company.
"Jack's opponent in the primary election was a legitimate politician named Joe Russo. To insure that Jack won the primary campaign, Joe Kennedy paid Joseph Russo, a janitor, to also enter the race. This effectively confused the voters, and split the votes for Joe Russo.
"Russo the janitor recalled how Joe's friend Joseph Timilty and another man had visited him one day and asked him to run. In return, Russo said, 'They offered me favors. Whatever I wanted.' In fact, he said later, he wound up getting very little - occasional payments of $50 in cash.
"'Even the aunt of the real candidate voted for the janitor,' recalled Joseph A Russo, the real candidate's son. 'They didn't leave anything unturned,' he said. His father claimed that Kennedy's people had also arranged for other bogus candidates to 'run in other areas to break up the Irish vote, or some other vote. They played for keeps.'
"After Jack won the Democratic primary, Joe sold Somerset Importers Inc., freeing $8 million to help Jack in his campaign and insuring that his liquor holdings would not become an issue.
"Just as he had done with the rent for Jack's campaign offices, Joe paid cash for Jack's advertising. John T. Galvin, who was in charge of the advertising, recalled that `It was handled so that very few people knew...There was a campaign law that limited campaign contributions. It didn't affect us very much.'
"Joe also received crucial support from his friends in the media. For example, William Randolph Hearst, who owned the Boston American newspaper, had one of his reporters check in at Jack's headquarters every day. No other candidate got such special attention. Joe also got Hearst to ignore Jack's opponent Michael Neville, the Mayor of Cambridge, and the paper would not accept his advertising.
"Joe spent $300,000 on Jack's first campaign, according to House Speaker `Tip' O'Neill, equivalent to $2.2 million today. O'Neill said that the sum was six times what he himself spent in the same district during a tough race six years later. In O'Neill's view, Joe was the `real force' behind the Kennedys.
`Joe Kennedy was an ongoing factor in Massachusetts politics,' O'Neill said. `Every time a Democrat ran for Governor, he would go down to see Joe, who would always send him home with a briefcase full of cash.'
"On November 5, 1946, Jack Kennedy was elected to Congress. Seven days later, he filed a report with the Massachusetts secretary of state certifying that no money had been collected for, or had been spent on his campaign.
"JFK's First Senate Campaign
"Having been elected to Congress three terms, Jack Kennedy began a race for the Senate in April 1952, seeking the seat held by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
"The race was still a toss-up when Joe Kennedy learned that John Fox, owner of the powerful Boston Post, was in desperate need of money. The Boston Post, which had a circulation of over 300,000, had been credited with helping defeat Michael Curley in his last campaign in 1949, and with being responsible for getting Maurice Tobin elected Governor of Massachusetts. Under Fox, the Boston Post favored Republicans. The newspaper had endorsed Eisenhower for President, and was expected to endorse Lodge. Indeed, those close to Fox confirmed that he `hated JFK.'
"Fox had bought the Boston Post in 1952 for about $4 million. As a down payment, Fox had paid $2 million for the newspaper, but the IRS immediately took it for back payment of his own taxes. The publisher soon found himself unable to pay his bills.
"It was generally assumed that the Boston Post would endorse Lodge, but Fox was desperate for funds, and Joe Kennedy was only too happy to help out. Two days before the election, following a private meeting with Joe Kennedy, Fox gave a front-page endorsement for JFK.
"Former Massachusetts state Senator Robert L Lee said the Post endorsement of JFK was the `turning point' in the campaign. Lee believed that if Lodge had received the paper's endorsement, it `would have been sufficient to put him back in the Senate.'
"During a House subcommittee hearing in 1958, Fox admitted that Joe Kennedy had given him a $500,000 loan late in 1952. He insisted that he `repaid it with interest,' and that it had nothing to do with his paper's endorsement of Jack. Joe issued a statement saying that the loan - the equivalent of $2.7 million today - was 1purely a commercial transaction for 60 days only with full collateral, at full interest, and was fully repaid on time...'
"Raymond Faxon, Fox's friend and vice-president of the publisher's investment business, revealed the truth about the transaction for the first time years later.
"Faxon revealed that two days before the election, John Griffin, the editor-in-chief of the Boston Post, informed Joe that the paper was about to endorse Lodge. He also told him that Fox was desperately in need of cash, having been turned down for a loan by local banks. Joe called Fox and asked him to meet at a local club which Fox owned. In return for an endorsement of Jack, Joe offered Fox a loan that, contrary to what both men later said, carried no interest and was not fully collateralized. `Fox needed the money, and he got it from Joe,' Faxon said. It was $500,000. The whole thing was a payoff.'
Based on Faxon's recollection that a bank would have charged interest of about five percent at the time, the interest waived amounted to about $10,000, the equivalent of $54,000 today. Aside from that, making any loan to such a shaky financial operation without full collateral represented a bribe. `No bank would have made the loan,' Faxon said. The word 'payoff' was exactly what it was.'
"Riding the Boston Post endorsement, Jack won the Senate race, beating Lodge by less than six percent of the vote.
"Jack reported expenses for the campaign of $349,646. That amount would not have covered even the cost of the billboard advertisements alone. It was widely assumed that the true cost of the campaign was several million dollars.
"Now that Joe had gotten Jack elected to the Senate, he told his son to find a wife. In May 1952, Jack Kennedy had been introduced to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. When Jack brought Jackie to Hyannis Port in the Spring following the election, Joe decided she would be Jack's wife.
"Jackie had 'all the social ingredients that Joe Kennedy thought would help Jack achieve the Presidency,' wrote C. David Heymann in 'A Woman Named Jackie'. As usual, Jack did what his father told him to do, and on June 24, 1953 the couple announced their engagement.
"Jack's friend Lem Billings said, `Joe Kennedy not only condoned the marriage,
he ordained it.'"
"JFK's Presidential Campaign
"Jack, if you don't want the job, you don't have to take it. They're still counting votes up in Cook County."
- Joe Kennedy
"If Joe Kennedy had one area of expertise, it was manipulating the media. Long before spin doctors and political gurus talked of `packaging' Presidential candidates, Joe shaped Jack's image more effectively than any Madison Avenue executive. 'We're going to sell Jack like soap flakes,' Joe said.
"In fact, Joe routinely paid off publishers as well as public officials to get what he wanted. Thomas Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, recalled that Joe routinely `gave cases of Haig & Haig Pinch Bottle Scotch to press people - to people at the Globe, to political writers, and to a lot of people in Washington.'
"Joe sent expensive jewelry to female columnists, a confidant said, and gave cash to others. `He distributed a substantial amount to journalists,' the confidant said. In addition, `Reporters took consulting assignments. Some of these guys were pretty amenable to consulting fees and gifts.' Columnists, especially, were `for sale' - not to mention politicians. For such purposes, Joe always kept large stashes of cash.
"Joe's friend and confidant Frank Morrissey recalled that Joe had once called him to Hyannis Port to help him move $1 million in cash from the basement of his home. `A big northeast storm was coming up, and the old man was afraid a lot of the cash would get wet,' Morrissey said.
"Already, Joe had persuaded a top television executive in New England to give Jack lessons in going before a camera. `He was consumed by the fact that TV would make the difference in the Presidential election,' the executive said. As one aide put it, `The old politicians relied on their experience, but Joe and his boys left nothing to chance.' Joe, it seemed, had `learned a lot of tricks from the movies' during his Hollywood days.
"Henry Luce, a long time friend and ally of Joe Kennedy, was editor-in-chief and principal stockholder in Time Inc. The founder of Time and Life, Luce was arguably the most powerful publisher in America, and Joe had cultivated their relationship since his Roosevelt days. For years, Luce had given Joe frequent and complimentary press coverage in the magazines he controlled, and Luce's equally favorable coverage of Joe's son had been critical to JFK's early campaigns.
"In 1956, Luce was vacationing with Joe on the Riviera when he cabled his editors and suggested they devote more space to Jack Kennedy, who `was emerging as a national figure.'
"In November 1957, Fortune magazine listed Joe Kennedy as one of the 16 wealthiest people in the country, with a net worth of $200 to $400 million.
"On December 2, 1957, Jack's smiling face appeared for the first time on the cover of Time magazine. As ordained by Joe, he had just begun his bid for the Presidency.
"George Smathers, a family friend and Senator from Florida, claimed that 'Joe had a good deal to do with getting Luce to put Jack on the cover of Time. Jack had not made any great record as a Congressman or Senator. It was nothing outstanding in terms of what others were doing. Lots of Congressmen had more legislative accomplishments than Jack.' Giving such prominence to a fledgling candidate was unusual, and the cover story which called Jack the `Democratic Whiz of 1957' gave him a tremendous boost.
"Just weeks before Jack appeared on the cover of Time, Joe had bragged to his friend Cardinal Spellman, `I just bought a horse for $75,000, and for another $75,000, I put Jack on the cover of Time.' Spellman recalled that Joe was `very proud of the fact that he had spent $75,000, and now he would not have to spend as much on advertising.' The sum was equivalent to $385,000 today. `He did not say whether he paid it directly to Luce,' Spellman added.
"Several months later when Jack learned that Life magazine was going to run a story saying that evangelist Billy Graham was coming out for Nixon, Jack called Luce to complain that the story would be unfair. When Joe called and put the pressure on, Luce ordered the story killed.
"During an interview on ABC-TV in December 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt said that `Senator Kennedy's father has been spending oodles of money all over the country, and probably has a paid representative in every state by now.' She said she had been told that Joe would spend `any money' to make his son the first Catholic president. Many people told her of money spent by Joe on Jack's behalf. `Building an organization is permissible,' she said, `but giving too lavishly may seem to indicate a desire to influence through money." <author's note: Do ya think?>
"Joe solicited author William Bradford Huie to distribute cash to politicians who would help Jack, according to what Huie later told a Time reporter. Huie said he routinely made payoffs of $1,000 (equivalent to $4,800 today), and promised he would reveal more details, but died before he could.
"Meanwhile, Joe cranked up the media campaign. In October 1959, Look began running a series of articles about Jack. Prepared with the family's cooperation, they may as well have been written by Joe himself.
"One article declared that Jack was in excellent health, when in fact he had been diagnosed in 1947 as having Addison's disease, a failure of the adrenal glands. When a Boston reporter suggested that Jack should disclose his health history, a Kennedy aide replied, `No, old Joe doesn't want that to be done. We can't do it now.'
"Another article tried to downplay Joe's role in the campaign, fictitiously reporting that Joe had little influence over his son and had no interest in spending money on political campaigns. `In political circles,' the article claimed, `the Kennedy's are not regarded as big spenders.'
"On January 2, 1960, Jack Kennedy formally announced his Presidential candidacy, and declared that the White House must be `the center of moral leadership.'
"Two months later, Jack began his affair with a former actress named Judith Exner. While seeing Jack, Exner was also seeing Sam Giancana, who was the head of the Chicago Mafia and a former partner in Joe's bootlegging business. Giancana, who was credited with at least 200 killings, was considered one of the most powerful men in organized crime. He controlled betting, prostitution, loan sharking, and owned interests in three Las Vagas hotels.
"Jack and Bobby identified the West Virginia Primary as key to winning the nomination. The state's nomination was 95 percent Protestant and a win there would convince convention delegates that Jack's Catholicism would not be an issue in the Presidential election.
"Jack's opponent in the Democratic primary was Hubert Humphrey, the Senator from Minnesota, who was beloved by West Virginia coal miners for his longtime union support and folksy, old-fashioned campaign style. But Humphrey's small-town ways were no match for the Kennedy bandwagon's deep pockets and high technology. There is no doubt that Jack's huge TV budget also helped.
"The Kennedy men were not content to rely on statesmanship alone. At Jack's request, Exner arranged a meeting for him with Sam Giancana, who agreed to use his influence with West Virginia officials to ensure victory there.
"Giancana sent his lieutenant, Paul 'Skinny' D'Amato, into West Virginia to get out the vote. D'Amato met with sheriffs who controlled the state's political machine. He forgave debts many of them had run up at his 500 Club in Atlantic City and handed cash payments to others.
"FBI wiretaps reveal that Frank Sinatra also distributed large mob donations to pay off election officials.
"Years later, in a People magazine story, Exner described how she had introduced Sam Giancana to Jack, who asked for the mob's help in financing the campaign. While it is not documented, it is clear Giancana gave money to the campaign. After the election, an FBI wiretap picked up Giancana talking with Johnny Roselli, a mob associate. He said his donation had been `accepted,' yet complained that Bobby Kennedy, whom Jack had appointed Attorney General, was cracking down on organized crime. He said he expected that `one of these days, the guy will do me a favor...'
"Giancana apparently had believed that in helping Kennedy's campaign, he was gaining a friend in the White House and protection from future prosecution by the government.
"Meanwhile, Joe was funneling money to politicians to swing the West Virginia primary.
"Tip O'Neill recalled that Eddie Ford, a Boston real-estate man, `went out there with a pocket full of money.' O'Neill said Ford would `see the sheriff, and he'd say to the sheriff, 'Sheriff, I'm from Chicago. I'm on my way south. I love this young Kennedy boy. He can help this nation, by God. He'll do things for West Virginians. I'll tell you what. Here's $5,000. You carry your village for him or your county for him, and I'll give you a little reward when I'm on my way back.'
"O'Neill said, `They passed money around like it was never seen.'
"One of the most important contributions Joe Kennedy made to his son's campaign was to create the Ken-Air Corporation, purchase for it a $385,000 Corvair twin-engine turboprop airplane, and then lease it to the candidate for the ridiculous sum of $1.75 a mile. Joe got a large tax deduction, while the plane gave Jack a tremendous advantage over Hubert Humphrey in the Democratic primary.
"While Humphrey either wasted time waiting around airports for commercial flights or lumbered about in his campaign bus, Jack Kennedy sped here and there in his private plane, covering more territory in less time and at less expense.
"In providing the cash for Jack's campaign, Joe Kennedy used the Catholic Church and, in particular, Cardinal Cushing. One of the couriers told author Peter Maas how it worked:
"`For example, if Boston area churches had collected $950,000 on a particular Sunday from collections, Joe would write a check for $1 million to the diocese, deduct it as a charitable contribution, and receive the $950,000 in cash. Thus, in this example, the church got a contribution of $50,000, Joe could deduct the entire amount on his income tax, and he could use the money to pay off politicians without fear that it would be traced.'
"'The cash is untraceable,' Maas said. 'Part of the money goes to the diocese. He gets a contribution from Joe Kennedy for more than what the cash is. It's brilliant. Nobody can trace the money.'
"In 1966, Cushing admitted that he had played a role in making payoffs to ministers. He told Hubert Humphrey, 'I'll tell you who elected Jack Kennedy. It was his father, Joe, and me, right here in this room.' Cushing explained that he and Joe decided which Protestant ministers should receive `contributions' of $100 to $500. As Cushing described the tactic, 'It's good for the church, it's good for the preacher, and it's good for the candidate.'
"Maas also recalled that as a writer for the Saturday Evening Post he interviewed a political operative in one dirt-poor town in West Virginia who told him his county was for Humphrey. `A few weeks later, I interviewed him again, and he said the county was for Jack. I asked what had changed, and he said with a smile, 'My workers each got $20, and I got $150. We're for Kennedy.'
"When Jack Kennedy narrowly defeated Hubert Humphrey in the West Virginia Primary, Humphrey withdrew from the Presidential race. It was the most important victory of Jack's campaign.
"On July 11 the Democratic National Convention nominated John F. Kennedy for President. Some party leaders were leery of Jack, however. Truman opposed him, telling reporters, 'I'm not against the Pope, I'm against the Pop.' Eleanor Roosevelt regarded Jack as one of `the new managerial elite that has neither principles nor character.'
"Meanwhile, Jackie had learned about Jack's philandering and developed a visceral dislike of politics. `She was ready to divorce Jack, and Joe offered her $1 million to stay until Jack entered the White House,' said Igor Cassini. 'He paid $1 million for her to stay with Jack until he was elected. He didn't tell me, but my brother and I learned about it.'
"On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected President, defeating Republican Richard Nixon. Jack received 34,226,731 votes to 34,108,157 for Nixon. The popular vote margin, 118,574, was the equivalent of a win by one vote in every precinct in America.
"Kennedy's Electoral College majority was 303 to 219. The winning margin was provided by the state of Illinois, where in the 11th hour, the votes that came in from Cook County's mob-dominated West Side put Jack over the top.
"`Actually, and this goes without saying, the Presidency was really stolen in Chicago, without a question, by the Democratic machine,' recalled mobster Mickey Cohen. 'I know that certain people in the Chicago organization knew that they had to get John Kennedy in.'
"In the weeks before his inauguration, Jack began interviewing candidates for more than 70 key posts in the new administration. At one point he complained to his father, 'Jesus Christ, this one wants that, that one wants this. Goddamn it, you can't satisfy any of these people. I don't know what I'm going to do about it all.' Joe Kennedy replied, 'Jack, if you don't want the job, you don't have to take it. They're still counting votes up in Cook County.'"
Excerpt from "The Dark Side of Camelot" by Seymour Hersh (description from The Reader's Catalog):
"Investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh shows us a John F. Kennedy we have never seen before, a man insulated from the normal consequences of behavior long before he entered the White House. His father, Joe, set the pattern with an arrogance and cunning that have never been fully appreciated: Kennedys could do exactly what they wanted, and could evade any charge brought against them. Kennedys wrote their own moral code. And Kennedys trusted only Kennedys. Jack appointed his brother Bobby keeper of the secrets - the family debt to organized crime, the real state of Jack's health, the sources of his election victories, the plots to murder foreign leaders, and the President's intentions in Vietnam. The brothers prided themselves on another trait inherited from their father - a voracious appetite for women - and indulged it with a daily abandon deeply disturbing to the Secret Service agents who witnessed it. These men speak for the first time about their amazement at what they saw and the powerlessness they felt to protect the leader of their country.
"Nixon said no to recount in '60" by Jack Torrey
November 10, 2000
"After the exceedingly close 1960 election, the New York Herald Tribune published the start of a series suggesting voter fraud in Texas and Illinois might have tipped the Presidency from Vice-President Richard M. Nixon to Democrat Senator John F. Kennedy.
"When the first four stories had been published, Nixon summoned reporter Earl Mazo to his office. `Earl, those are interesting articles you are writing,' Nixon said. `But no one steals the Presidency of the United States.'
"The Herald Tribune killed the rest of the series. It was the final act in a Presidential election every bit as close as this year's race between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore. And just like this year's allegations of voter irregularities in Florida, reports swirled in 1960 that fraud in key states could have cost Nixon a majority in the Electoral College.
"While legal challenges are expected in Florida this year, Nixon met Kennedy one week after the election and made clear that he would neither demand a recount nor contest the election in court. Although Nixon's admirers consider his decision as one of his finest moments, his detractors dismiss it as self-serving, claiming a recount could have exposed as much Republican fraud as Democratic irregularities.
"But no matter what his reason, a divisive Constitutional crisis was avoided during the height of the Cold War.
"`Whatever Nixon's inner feelings about his just due, whatever his motives for not challenging the election returns, his decision was both personally unselfish and profoundly in the interests of the country and of the President-elect,' wrote former New York Times columnist Tom Wicker in his biography of Nixon, `One of Us'.
"In his 1978 memoirs, Nixon claimed that a recount would have taken more than a year and one-half `during which time the legitimacy of Kennedy's election would be in question,' which he claimed would be `devastating to America's foreign relations.'
"`And what if I demanded a recount and it turned out that despite the vote fraud, Kennedy had still won? Charges of 'sore loser' would follow me through history and remove any possibility of a further political career.'
"The Kennedy-Nixon race featured two young, aggressive candidates in what was the first modern TV campaign. The election was so close that Kennedy used to keep a note in his pocket with the numerals 118,574 - the number of votes by which he won.
"Kennedy won 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219. But Republicans charged that that there was voter fraud in Texas and Cook County, Illinois, where the political machine was controlled by Mayor Richard Daley - father of Gore's campaign manager, Bill Daley.
"A shift of 4,480 votes in Illinois and 25,000 in Texas would have given Nixon the Presidency. Although voter fraud in those states has never been proven and there is every reason to believe Republicans were stealing votes in southern Illinois, Republican <author's note: There is no evidence Republicans were stealing votes; this is a desperate attempt by the Left to deflect the worst political crime in U.S. history> Senator Everett Dirksen, R., Illinois, campaign manager Len Hall, Republican National Chairman Thurston Morton, and longtime adviser Bryce Harlow pleaded with Nixon to challenge the result.
"But Harlow later told Wicker that Nixon simply replied, `Bryce. It'd tear the country to pieces. You can't do that.'
"Others were eager to avoid a messy fight. Former Republican President Herbert Hoover telephoned Nixon in Florida after the election and suggested a meeting with Kennedy. `I think we're in enough trouble in the world today,' Nixon recalled Hoover telling him. Kennedy, who worried that Nixon would demand a recount, flew from Palm Beach to Key Biscayne. While Kennedy relaxed on the porch of one of the hotels, Nixon went inside and fetched Cokes for both.
"`How the hell did you carry Ohio?' Kennedy joked, referring to Nixon's narrow victory in a state Democrats expected to carry.
"According to Nixon's account, the two never even discussed a potential recount. Instead, the discussion centered on whether Kennedy should bring Republicans into his administration and whether to recognize Communist China. When they emerged to meet the waiting reporters, a Kennedy quip made it clear there would not be a challenge. `I asked him how he took Ohio, but he did not tell me,' Kennedy joked. `He's saving it for 1964.'"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Sinatra and the Dark Side of Camelot" is a recent book by George Jacobs and William Stadiem. Jacobs was the personal valet of Frank Sinatra from 1953 to 1968. In the book, Jacobs writes that when Joe Kennedy visited Sinatra in Palm Springs, Sinatra "rolled out the red carpet for him," inviting fabulous and beautiful hookers. Sinatra called Joe "Mr. Ambassador." Kennedy "told nigger jokes throughout meals, he'd call Indians savages and blacks Sambos and curse the hell out of anyone who served him from the wrong side or put one ice cube too many in his Jack Daniels. 'Can't you get any white help?' he needled Mr. S. 'Aren't they paying you enough?'"
Jacobs, who is African-American, said Joe was "cruder about Jews than he was about blacks." He called them "sheeny rag traders." Louis B. Mayer was referred to as a "kike junkman."
"What's the difference between a Jew and a pizza?" Joe asked. "The pizza doesn't cry on its way to the oven."
These comments were made during the time his son was campaigning for the Presidency. Jacobs wrote that poor Sinatra, a fair man who fought for civil rights, cringed but held his tongue because he needed the Kennedy's for his own purposes. Jacobs was appalled at the man whose "craven appeasement of Adolf Hitler when he was Franklin Roosevelt's Ambassador to the Court of St. James."
Jacobs goes on to say that Kennedy's reputation as a "Boston Brahmin" patriarch was as far off the mark as saying "JFK was faithful to Jackie." "Joe was mobbed up to his collar pins," he writes, "with Sam Giancana at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago…with Meyer Lansky in Miami; with the one-armed bandit Wingy Grober in Tahoe. If anyone's fortune was tainted, it was Mr. Ambassador…His money was fuck-you money. Old Joe said fuck you to everyone."
Sinatra, who was connected to organized crime, too, wanted political power and thought the Kennedy's were his ticket. JFK dangled an ambassadorship to Italy, and spoke of his running for the Senate in Nevada. Sinatra was at first wary of the Kennedy's, who were associated with Joe McCarthy. Robert Kennedy had worked for him, and then gone after his friends in the Mafia with the McClellan Committee.
Sinatra's first connection to the Kennedy's was through his fellow "rat packer," Peter Lawford, who was married to one of Joe Kennedy's daughters. Peter was "whips-and-chains kinky and not the slightest bit ashamed of it," preferring hookers to the slutty groupies who made themselves to Sinatra and Kennedy. According to Jacobs, Lawford's wife, Pat, had sex with Sinatra.
Lawford and John Kennedy shared a love for prostitutes and cocaine. Jacobs also claims that Judith Campbell Exner was a prostitute who met Joe Kennedy first, before becoming the concubine of President Kennedy and Giancana. She would be the go-between that connected the Kennedy Presidency with the Mafia. Jacobs wrote that he could not understand why Joe Kennedy would favor hookers after having movie stars like Gloria Swanson. His son liked them despite the fact that he had affairs with sex stars of his era, like Marilyn Monroe.
Jacobs liked JFK.
"I want to fuck every woman in Hollywood," the Democrats' leading man told Jacobs "with a big leering grin." Kennedy asked Jacobs if Shirley MacLaine had a "red pussy," and confessed that Joe had arranged for Marlene Dietrich to masturbate him when he was a kid. He arranged to have Sinatra set him up with numerous Las Vegas showgirls, and was enthralled with women who shaved their private areas. He called it "naked lunch." Kennedy claimed to Sinatra, who hated drugs, that he only snorted blow because his back hurt.
Giancana preferred a Nixon Presidency, because actual law-and-order from the Republicans was better than actual criminals like the Kennedy's. He hated Bobby Kennedy, but Sinatra talked him into backing JFK, and helping with the vote fraud scheme.
The song "High Hopes", sung by Sinatra and used as JFK's campaign anthem, was Joe's idea. When Sinatra tried to produce "The Execution of Private Slovik", screenwritten by a Blacklisted writer named Albert Maltz, Joe went crazy.
"What's this Commie Jew shit?" he screamed at Sinatra. "You stupid guinea." Sinatra dropped the project. When Kennedy was elected, Joe did not allow Sammy Davis, Jr. to perform at the inaugural, even though Davis had campaigned heavily to help deliver the black vote at a time when it was still split fairly evenly between the Republicans and Democrats. Joe hated Davis for being a black who had succeeded against all odds. He considered him a "pushy nigger." Sinatra begged Joe to let Davis be part of the party, but the old man said no. He allowed Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson and Nat King Cole perform because they were "nigger niggers" who knew their place, but Joe called Sammy "the nigger bastard with the German whore," a reference to his white wife.
With his man in the White House, Sinatra waited for his hard work to pay off. He planned to host the new President in Palm Springs. Kennedy rebuffed him and stayed at Bing Crosby's instead. He had used Sinatra, and now was finished with him. Sinatra learned his lesson, cleaned up his own act, and became a Republican the rest of his life.
John F. Kennedy had served three terms (six years) in the House of Representatives. In 1952 he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He had been 36 when he married 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier, a journalist with the Washington Times-Herald. Early in their marriage, Senator Kennedy’s back started to hurt again and he had two operations. While recovering from surgery, he wrote a book about several U.S. Senators who had risked their careers to fight for the things in which they believed. The book was called "Profiles in Courage", and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. Kennedy wrote a fair portion of the book while laid up in the hospital. All the research and most of the writing was done by a young speechwriter, Theodore Sorenson, who was paid by Joe Kennedy. Joe then bribed the Pulitzer people into awarding his son. That same year, the Kennedy’s first child, Caroline was born.
At the age of 43, Kennedy was now the youngest man elected President and the first Catholic. Before his inauguration, his second child, John Jr., was born. His father liked to call him John-John.
John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States.
John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address
Friday, January 20, 1961
"Vice-President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice-President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom - symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning - signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.
"The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe - the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
"We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
"This much we pledge - and more.
"To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do - for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.
"To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom - and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
"To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required - not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
"To our sister Republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge - to convert our good words into good deeds - in a new alliance for progress - to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.
"To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support - to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective - to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak - and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
"Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: That both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
"We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
"But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course - both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of Mankind's final war.
"So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
"Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
"Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms - and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
"Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
"Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah - to `undo the heavy burdens...and to let the oppressed go free.'
"And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
"All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
"In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
"Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, `rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation' - a struggle against the common enemies of man: Tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
"Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, north and south, east and west, that can assure a more fruitful life for all Mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it - and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
"And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
"My fellow citizens of the world: "Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on Earth God's work must truly be our own."
The Proudest Boast
- President John F. Kennedy, June 25, 1963
City Hall, West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany
"I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor, who for so many years has committed Germany to Democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.
"2,000 years ago the proudest boast was 'civis Romanus sum.' Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'
"I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!
"There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the Free World and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that Communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it's true that Communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. "
"'Laßt sie nach Berlin kommen.' Let them come to Berlin! Freedom has many difficulties and Democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin.
"While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it. For it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.
"What is true of this city is true of Germany - real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with goodwill to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all Mankind.
"Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one, and this country, and this great continent of Europe, in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."
"I believe that this nation should commit itself…
- President Kennedy
May 25, 1961
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth…
"No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish…
"But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever Mankind must undertake, free men must fully share."
Kennedy's almost three years in the White House have been a called a "modern Camelot." This term only came about after his death. Jackie wistfully reminisced, in an interview with Theodore White, about what was and could have been. She referred to it as "Camelot" after the semi-mythological Court of King Arthur that seemed so promising in forming an English Republic of sorts, but fell apart when the King discovered his favorite knight, Sir Lancelot, was having an affair with his wife, Guinevere.
Kennedy and his socially conscious wife immediately set about separating themselves from the Boston Irish reputation that his horrid father had established. They held fancy dinner parties and invited the likes of Andre Malraux, French Minister of Cultural Affairs, Madame Malraux, and violinist Isaac Stern to help give them "class."
President Kennedy, together with his wife and two children, brought a new, youthful spirit to the White House. They celebrated American history, culture, and achievement with artists, writers, scientists, poets, musicians, actors, and athletes. Jacqueline Kennedy gathered the finest art and furniture the United States had produced. She restored all the rooms in the White House. Washington was enthralled. It was done at enormous cost to the taxpayers. When the bill was presented to the super-rich Kennedy, even he said it was more than he could afford. True to the Roosevelt/New Deal tradition he passed it on to the budget.
The Kennedy’s two young children, Caroline and John-John, were often seen laughing and playing. After all their machinations, cheating, manipulations and public relations, Kennedy was faced with the actual task of the job. It is how he handled this task that he is able to crawl out of the corruptions that his father stood for. Nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union was a real threat. The Cold War, as it had come to be known, was unlike any other war the world had seen; a struggle between good and evil.
President Kennedy worked long hours and read six newspapers a day.
"I am asking each of you to be new pioneers in that New Frontier," he told his Cabinet. The New Frontier was both a place (outer space) and philosophy. He urged discoveries in science and in education, employment and other fields. He truly believed in Democracy and freedom for the whole world.
Kennedy created the Peace Corps. Through this program, which still exists today, Americans can volunteer where help is needed. They can help in areas such as education, farming, health care, and construction. Many young men and women have served as Peace Corps volunteers and have won the respect of people throughout the world.
President Kennedy's greatest accomplishment was launching the United States into the exploration of space. This program had actually started under President Eisenhower, with strong backing from Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. After World War II, the U.S. had captured the top German scientists, including Werner von Braun. Combined with U.S. technological superiority, which had resulted in creating the atom bomb first, the U.S. led the way in the area of jet propulsion. In 1947, a homespun West Virginian with no college education, Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier above the high desert of California. Yeager had been a war hero in the skies of Europe, shooting down multiple German planes in pitched "dogfights."
Considered the "ace of aces" among the test pilots who had the "right stuff" at Edwards Air Force Base, Yeager was not selected for the space program because he did not have the college background required. After the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik in 1957, the "space race" was on. Kennedy inherited it full throttle. He loved the romance of exploration, which tied perfectly with his vision of New Frontiers. JFK put Lyndon Johnson in charge of the program, which eventually re-located its headquarters to Texas.
The Soviet Union was ahead of the United States in its knowledge of space. President Kennedy was determined to catch up. He said, "No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space." He asked Congress to appropriate $20 billion for the project, with the goal of landing an American man on the Moon before the end of the decade. The program was an enormous success. Alan Shephard became the first American in space in 1961. John Glenn became a national hero in 1962 when his craft had to land with possibly damaged heat shields that could have burned him alive. Gordon Cooper flew a perfect mission in 1963, and by the time the Mercury program was complete, the U.S. held the upper hand over the Russians. Kennedy's support is rightfully credited with giving the imprimatur of glamour and prestige to the program. It continued successfully (with a few tragedies) throughout the Johnson and Nixon Administrations.
History renders an incomplete judgment and analysis of President Kennedy's civil rights record. It is almost a miracle that John, Robert and Teddy Kennedy developed genuine compassion for minorities despite being the sons of Joe Kennedy. On the other hand, perhaps it is not so unusual. The children of post-war Germany had the Holocaust all but forced down their throats, and as a result developed ultra-liberalism, pacifist tendencies.
Early writings of Joe, Jr. indicates that he was more likely to follow his father's racist, anti-Semitic leanings. But the three surviving sons were fair-minded. Very little major civil rights legislation occurred under JFK's watch. This fact creates more questions than answers. Lyndon Johnson oversaw major accomplishments in this area. Many have discerned that he was carrying out the original intent of Kennedy. While in theory this is probably true, political realities intercede with the theory. American politics creates strange bedfellows. The two-party system, which requires compromise between liberals, conservatives and all other political stripe, makes for unpredictability. Politicians who are not likely to be their architects orchestrate many accomplishments of a groundbreaking nature. This has come to be known as the "Nixon goes to China" theory. It is as old as the "peculiar institution" language in the Constitution, the Jefferson-Alexander states' rights vs. central government argument, the Missouri Compromise, and as new as Bill Clinton's welfare reform.
Instead of calling it "Nixon goes to China," it could just as easily have been called the "Redneck Johnson is the friend of the black man" theory. Robert Kennedy took up the mantel of civil rights for blacks and Mexican laborers in the 1968 Presidential campaign, and Senator Teddy Kennedy has hitched his career to carrying on his brother's work. Because the Kennedy name is so intricately associated with civil rights, it is assumed by history that JFK was a leader in this area who would have led the way throughout the revolutionary 1960s. In 1960, he had scored major points by speaking out on behalf of Martin Luther King, Jr. and meeting the Reverend's wife, Coretta Scott King, after the civil rights leader had been jailed.
Vice-President Nixon made an enormous tactical error in refusing to act on King's behalf. He feared his base of white support would erode if he did this. The great shift of black votes, which had been Republican after Lincoln emancipated the slaves, began to move tectonically to the Democrats. Roosevelt's welfare state policies had started this trend, but Eisenhower had maintained respectable black support. He oversaw Truman's order to de-segregate the military, his administration supported Brown vs. Board of Education, and he had sent troops to Arkansas to protect black students at Little Rock's Central High. Voters understood that Southern Democrats had blocked Ike's efforts at further reform.
But 1960 was a major turning point. Jackie Robinson is a symbol of the civil rights struggle, and his personal attitude is emblematic of the changes that occurred that year. Robinson grew up in Pasadena, California, and was a college man who starred in baseball, football and basketball at UCLA. During World War II, he served as an Army officer. He was handsome, intelligent, happily married and highly articulate. Branch Rickey, the owner and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decided that he was the right man to break baseball's notorious color barrier. In 1947, Robinson endured abuse in his rookie year. He also became a hero to both blacks and whites who believed in the cause of equality, and went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Robinson was his own man. He settled in Connecticut, where he raised his family and supported the Republican party. He was a member of the moderate Eastern Taft/ Rockefeller wing of the G.O.P., and supported Nixon. But when Nixon failed to act on Dr. King's behalf after his 1960 jailing, Robinson withdrew his support. So did millions of other black Americans. By 1976, black Republicans like Wilt Chamberlain and Sammy Davis, Jr. were deemed oddballs among an electoral special interest group that voted 90 percent Democrat.
In 1962, Kennedy put his brother, the Attorney General, in charge of getting James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi. RFK leaned heavily on Mississippi Governor Ross Barnes and Meredith entered. The issue of blacks enrolling at Dixieland colleges became a national emergency. In Alabama Governor George Wallace stated that he supported "segregation now, segregation forever." The Kennedy's set up task forces within the Federal Bureau of Investigation to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, and actively met with civil rights leaders to promote the cause. They were popular with Hollywood glitterati like Harry Belafonte, and the imprimatur of Kennedy glamour for the first time made racism something considered uncool, passe.
That being said, the Kennedy civil rights record is incomplete for two reasons. The first is obvious. Because he was assassinated, and his brother left office a year later, the accomplishments of the Kennedy-Johnson years are credited mostly to LBJ. Nobody doubts that the Kennedy's were committed to this cause, but their geographical origins and family wealth hampered them. As Massachusetts Democrats, complete with Haa-verd accents, they were easy symbols for Southern contempt; liberal Yankees determined to change the established traditions and way of life, all protected under the infamous guise of "states' rights."
Also in 1962, Kennedy sponsored legislation to cut income tax rates by 20 percent. He also proposed a 10 percent reduction in corporate income taxes to spur economic growth and job creation. Then Senator-Ted Kennedy voted for it. The cuts resulted in great success. Total national employment grew by more than 1 million jobs in four years. The economic growth rate climbed from 4.3 to 6.6 percent.
The cuts resulted in increased revenues, helping to balance the budget. Total income tax receipts grew from $48.7 billion in 1964 to $68.7 billion in 1968. This represented a faster rate of revenue growth than had been achieved in five years prior to the tax cuts.
"It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues too low," Kennedy told the Economics Club of New York in 1963. "An economy constrained by high tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance the budget, just as it will never create enough jobs or enough profits."
By virtue of this evidence, it is revealed that President Kennedy was a "supply side" President. As a result of the lower taxes that he achieved with the help of Republicans in Congress, Americans increased their work effort, businesses increased their investment spending, and the economy accelerated to a new level, as he predicted it would. Ironically, he did face some opposition from the G.O.P. on this most Republican of issues.
"Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other," Kennedy said. "It is between two kinds of deficits - a chronic deficit of inertia, as the unwanted result of inadequate revenues and a restricted economy - or a temporary deficit of transition, resulting from a tax cut designed to boost the economy, produce revenues, and achieve a future budget surplus. The first type of deficit is a sign of waste and weakness - the second reflects an investment in the future."
Kennedy never resorted to "rich-bashing," the common refrain of his modern party, led by his younger brother. His tax cuts reduced the top income tax rate from 91 to 70 percent, a 21-point cut in taxes on the rich. He also advocated reducing taxes on stock ownership, and vowed a reduction in the capital gains rate that he never pushed through because he was killed first.
"The tax on capital gains directly affects investment decisions, the mobility of and flow of risk capital…" he said, "the ease or difficulty experienced by new ventures in obtaining capital, and thereby the strength and potential for growth in the economy." The best means to grow the economy in 1962 "is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system - and this administration <has> pledged itself…to an across-the-board, top to bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes…"
These Reaganesque comments and official policy are very telling. First, it indicates that JFK recognized that the Keynesian economic model of Roosevelt's New Deal was a thing of the past. In building the Great Society, Johnson and the Democrats did a major about-face, refuting their previous President. Nobody has refuted him more than Teddy Kennedy.
Second, JFK's actions indicate that successful Democrat administrations enact Republican philosophies, while failed Democrat administrations do not.
Third, in the George W. Bush Administration, similar tax cuts have been enacted and proposed as a matter of gradual policy. Republican tax cut policies are not as "drastic" as JFK's were, yet the Democrats, particularly Senator Kennedy, vehemently argued against them despite their historic effectiveness. If anything, the Republicans would enjoy greater economic success if they would reduce taxes more, per the JFK model.
It was in an attempt to mend the broken fences that Kennedy ventured to Texas in November, 1963. He faced major obstacles. However, Kennedy played hardball politics and the South was still Democrat. I believe that he would have worked a series of political deals, in the wheeler-dealer tradition of Huey Long, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, to orchestrate major legislation in his second term (1965-69). This is only a theory. It would have required commitment and political audaciousness on a par with any of the politicians Kennedy wrote about in "Profiles in Courage". He would have been involved in the Vietnam War and would have needed the patriotic, hawkish South to help him. It is not a surefire guarantee that major civil rights legislation would have occurred on his watch.
Johnson was the quintessential Southerner, a "good ol' boy" prone to use the N-word in private company. But he had grown up poor in Texas' Hill Country, painting himself as the former schoolteacher who had empathy for the Mexican immigrants in his classroom. Being the former "master of the Senate," he was the right man to twist arms and push his legislation through. He laughed at the ironic fate of his Presidency, which was that an old school type like himself would merge as the "friend of the Negro."
It was during the Kennedy years that thousands of Americans joined to peacefully protest injustice. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders did not feel President Kennedy supported them enough. The President did not favor the increasingly public protests and marches. By June 11, 1963, however, President Kennedy proposed a new Civil Rights bill to the Congress and he went on television in support of it.
"100 years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free," he said. "This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds…[and] on the principle that all men are created equal." This speech and his legislative proposal makes it clear that his heart was in the right place. The only question left regarding his legacy regarding this issue is whether he would have aggressively gone to bat for it, as Johnson did, and as it required. The bet from here is that he would have.
On November 21, 1963, President Kennedy flew to Texas on a strictly political trip. The next day, as his car drove slowly past cheering crowds in Dallas, he was shot and died a short time later at Parkland Hospital. Police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the murder. On November 24, Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald, silencing the chance to hear first-person information about the event. The Warren Commission was organized to investigate the assassination and to clarify the many questions that remained.
President Kennedy's death is the conflagration of disparate elements of the national consciousness. It rivals Lincoln's in its pure tragedy. The killing of a President in and of itself does not cause such sorrow. William McKinley had been killed, but there was no outpouring of grief to rival the Lincoln or Kennedy deaths. Kennedy was seen as the epitome of health and vigor, even though subsequent revelations indicates that his Addison's Disease was so severe that he was forced to survive on a terrible daily cocktail of drugs. The notorious "Dr. Feelgood," Max Jacobson, administered them. Questions have cropped up whether Kennedy was ever incapacitated enough by the drugs, the disease and the pain to effect his decisions. There is no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that this was ever the case. His back was consequently sore, and he lived in great pain. It is not entirely beyond belief that his love of extra-marital sex, including an affair with a teenage college intern, provided some therapeutic physical value for him. Seven times in his life, Kennedy had become so ill that a priest read him his Last Rites. He was prone to infections, and had a poor immune system. It is pure speculation, but Kennedy very easily might not have survived until January of 1969.
His assassination caused great disruption in America. Conspiracy theorists cropped up, with blame falling at varying times and from varying sources upon Fidel Castro, the Mafia, John Birch right wingers, rogue elements of the CIA, hawkish generals in league with the Military Industrial Complex, and Lyndon Johnson himself. Conflicting testimony, spotty films of the event, and questionable physical and forensic evidence has clouded the issue to the point where it is far more muddled today that when the Warren Commission concluded that Oswald was a Communist lone gunman.
The "Kennedy curse" became a popular refrain, especially among the families' numerous detractors. Various tragedies that followed over the years only reinforce this view. Atheists, agnostics, humanists and Democrats doubtfully give little credence to this theory, but those of us who believe in such things as God and Satan, good and evil, and the very real power of these forces of the Universe, consider the possibility that at some point in his life, Joseph P. Kennedy, wishing not to leave any stone unturned, called forth the presence of the devil and made the aforementioned deal. In his mind, not unlike "deals" he had made to acquire unlimited wealth, power in Hollywood, and political capital, this agreement was to "make my son the President of the United States."
Such a negotiation is bound to result in some serious "Bad Karma," and this no doubt is what he got, regardless of whether it happened for a reason, or was the result of plain, old-fashioned poor luck. If "my son" was supposed to be Joe, Jr., then Joe, Sr. was dealt a devilish blow when his eldest son was killed heroically, in a war he bitterly opposed, by a foe he advocated doing business with. Then he watched his next son move through the political travails with an ease and grace perhaps unmatched in American history, virtually gliding to victory after victory, eventually defeating a man, Dick Nixon, who worked, slaved and grinded his way up every inch of life's ladder.
No sooner did the old man accomplish his life's goal, the magnum opus of his existence, than he was felled by a debilitating stroke that left him a mute spectator to the otherwise-glorious events he had painstakingly built. He was forced to helplessly watch his second son murdered in Dallas, and his next son murdered in Los Angeles, his own physical ailments making emotional outlet impossible. He simply had to endure the torture, to let it eat away at him from the inside out, without the ability to share his grief. The devil works that way.
The "bad Karma" may have resulted from Earthly acts of sin, as well. John Kennedy was born with wealth, looks, intelligence and connections. He suffered ill health, but cheated death over and over only to die by the gun. He was made to believe that he could have anything he desired. He took that premise to heart. He had any woman he wanted, with no regard for whether she was the wife of a friend, a Nazi spy, or the effect his cheating had on his own wife.
He ascended to the White House by virtue of the worst political crime in American history. Richard Nixon won the 1960 election. It was stolen from him by Joseph Kennedy, Mayor James Daley, and elements of Lyndon Johnson's Texas Democrats. Nixon was the son of a failed grocery store and gas station owner. His mother was a long-suffering Quaker woman. He lost two brothers to horrible diseases. He had fought for everything - grades, college, law school, a legal career, and the affections of his wife. He was a moral man with few vices and no desire to stray from his marriage. He was devoted to his children. He had parlayed his Naval career, hard work and political acumen into two terms in Congress, when he withstood the wails of the American Left in going after their slick Communist darling, Alger Hiss. He pursued and caught Hiss, creating the awful historical truth that, despite desperate attempts by the liberals to deny this truth, the government was infiltrated by Red controllers,
His star rose under Eisenhower, and his ship apparently had come in when he entered the 1960 campaign as the odds-on favorite, the heir apparent to the Supreme Commander, and titular head of a great party. It was all stolen by a man who had been handed everything. On top of the election fraud, Joe Kennedy and his people had campaigned like nobody in history. Payoffs, bribes and corruption on a never-before-seen scale were the order of the campaign. Journalists were put on the payroll. The Kennedy's controlled entire newspapers. JFK's womanizing and ill health were off-limits. Nixon refused to stoop to the level of emphasizing these issues.
JFK, tanned and handsome, won numerous votes after debating Nixon on television after the Vice-President had been hospitalized and refused to use make-up to cover his five o'clock shadow. Nixon was in charge of an ambitious Eisenhower-Allen Dulles plan to overthrow Castro using Cuban exiles forces. It was top secret. Kennedy had been briefed on the classified operation and knew Nixon could not talk about it, so JFK made a big point of criticizing the Vice-President for not having the very plan he knew he had. Nixon, constrained by national security, was forced to hold his tongue.
It is ironic that Kennedy's greatest success, the Cuban Missile Crisis, was an event that never would have happened had Nixon been President. Kruschev knew Nixon all too well, and never would have pulled such a stunt with him in office. But he had sized up the playboy Kennedy at Vienna in 1961, determining that he lacked real strength and fortitude (which, for all his faults, were not things he lacked). The Kennedy style of playing both ends against the middle cannot be disassociated from his eventual fate, raising the specter that somehow in the end he played himself against both sides until these sides closed in against him. Remember that his father bought stocks short against the crash of 1929. He opposed the war in Europe, but his son wrote a book advocating just that very thing. He strongly backed Joe McCarthy and put his son to work on his behalf, yet the family is an icon of the liberals who most adamantly opposed McCarthyism.
Bobby went to work against organized crime on the McClellan Committee in the 1950s. He went head to head against Teamsters' leader Jimmy Hoffa, declaring war on the Mafia as Attorney General. Juxtapose this with the fact that Joe, Sr. was a member of organized crime; they were friends with Frank Sinatra, who introduced them to many "useful" mob associates; they did business with Sam Giancana and JFK shared Judith Campbell Exner with him. Add to that the fact that JFK wrote memos indicating a purported desire to withdraw troops from Southeast Asia just as the U.S. was escalating its involvement there. Finally, the Kennedy image is one of the most convoluted in history. They are a family of incalculable wealth who, to this very day, receives a percentage of every bottle of Canadian Club sold. Members of the family have been quoted saying that they virtually had no knowledge that the Great Depression was happening when it happened, because they lived the most privileged possible life during those years. Somehow, this family is associated with the most liberal issues of support for the poor, the dispossessed and the discriminated against.
There is, in viewing the Kennedy's, an inexorable feeling that they are very much style over substance, especially on social issues. They are the ultimate "limousine liberals," lending their Hollywood glamour and glitzy charisma to photo-op ghetto politics. The Republicans, with their tough-love, real-life policies of personal responsibility are painted as the unfeeling "bad guys." The Kennedy style was effective and worked for many years. In recent years the simple emergence of Truth has slowly but surely diluted and discredited this style.
JFK died violently in November, only a few months after the supposed suicide of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn's ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, immediately blamed the Kennedy's when he heard of her death. Marilyn had come under the sway of Frank Sinatra, who would fly her to the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe for wild orgy sex in which she reportedly was passed around from Rat Packer to Rat Packer. JFK most likely participated in these and other gangbangs. It was around this time that she and Kennedy began their affair. In May, 1962, Marilyn was poured into a skintight dress and carted onto a stage where she sang a breathy version of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to Kennedy. This was the last straw. Everybody in the press knew JFK was sleeping with the sex symbol, but nobody wrote about it. Had Nixon been doing such a thing, it would have made every headline (although, considering his stuffy image, it might have helped him out). Marilyn's public crooning had the appearance of a stripper performing in front of a roomful of men stroking wood. The Kennedy's decided she was too much of a liability. Bobby was assigned to let her down easily. Marilyn threatened to go public, and Bobby gave her a "sympathy affair" in the vain attempt to mollify her. Desperate for attention, she continued to threaten to blow the lid off her relationship with not one but two Kennedy's. She died shortly thereafter.
There is evidence that Bobby, who was in Los Angeles when she died in August, 1962, communicated with her by phone on the night of her death. Officially, she took too many sleeping pills. The implication of numerous reporters and truth-seekers is that Kennedy had his minions snuff her dead. It has never been proven, but considering the Kennedy methods, it is a very likely scenario. The bottom line is that whether the Kennedy's murdered Marilyn Monroe or not, it is the kind of thing they would do!
Finally, Kennedy allowed Diem to be assassinated in Saigon one month before his own death. Five years later, his father saw his brother, Robert, ascent to the precipice of the Democrat nomination for President. The issue is not without doubt, but the bet here is that had RFK lived, he would have beaten Richard Nixon in 1968. Absent Dallas, the Ambassador Hotel and Chappaquiddick, events that help make the 1960s look like a big Greek tragedy, old Joe very easily could have seen his sons control the White House from January of 1961 until January of 1985!
Were dark forces at work? Did the forces of goodness combat them? Who benefited from those forces? Eight years of Ronald Reagan and victory in the Cold War provide one potential answer to that question.
The Kennedy Assassination
John F. Kennedy visited Dallas on November 22, 1963. Despite reports of threats, tinged by racism as a result of his proposed civil rights initiatives, he was warmly welcomed. Kennedy and Governor John Connally boarded limousines leading the motorcade through the town.
When they arrived in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 in the afternoon, it turned right from Main to Houston Street and just seconds later it took the 120 degrees turn into Elm Street passing the Texas Schoolbook Depository.
After passing the Stemmons Freeway sign, Mrs. Connally heard a crackling sound. When she turned to look at the President, she saw him taking his hand to his throat covering a shooting wound. The next second Governor Connally felt a shot in his back.
"There were either two or three people involved or more in this or someone was shooting with an automatic rifle," Connally later was quoted saying.
Seconds later he heard a third shot. Mrs. Kennedy thought they were firecrackers from the motorcade. She turned to Kennedy and saw her husband being wounded by a headshot. This was the last and final shot.
The Secret Service was caught off guard. They received criticism when it was revealed that many of them spent the previous evening in The Cellar bar that was owned by an acquaintance of Jack Ruby.
45 minutes later, Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit. He was not provided a lawyer and was accused of murdering Kennedy. On Sunday morning, November 24, 1963, he was to be handed over to the state prison. In the garage of the police building, he was shot by Jack Ruby in front of hundreds of journalists and millions of TV watchers.
The Warren Commission was formed a week later and eventually concluded that Oswald acted on his own, shooting from the sixth floor of the schoolbook depository, using the found Italian Mannlicher-Carchano rifle. Witnesses offered differing versions from the Warren Commission. Many heard shots from the nearby Grassy Knoll, and said a cloud of smoke was visible in that area. Men with rifles were seen by people in downtown Dallas prior to the arrival of the motorcade. It has never been confirmed whether these "men with rifles" were mysterious Secret Service men in Dealey Plaza.
"We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did," Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry admitted to newsmen. "Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand."
Oswald told Dallas Police he was eating lunch on the first floor of the depository in what was called the Domino Room at the time of the assassination. There is some evidence to back up his statement.
A third wounded man does not fit into the version of the Warren Commission. James Tague stood near the triple underpass ahead of the motorcade and was wounded by a passing bullet. Because the first shot wounded Kennedy's throat, the second Conally's back, and the third was the headshot, there must have been a fourth shot. This created the "magic bullet" theory. This bullet was supposed to cause the seven wounds of Kennedy and Connally.
Abraham Zapruder was a bystander filming the event directly across from the Grassy Knoll that day. His film shows the assassination in full length. It shows an opened umbrella of the "umbrella man" despite the shining sun and cloudless sky. More photos show two suspicious men behind the fence at the Grassy Knoll, one with a rifle. They have been called "Black Dog Man" and "Badge Man" because of their unknown identity. The Warren Commission never mentioned these men and never made any effort to find them.
In the three-year period which followed the murder of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, 18 material witnesses died, six by gunfire, three in motor accidents, two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, three from heart attacks and two from natural causes. In the late 1970s, the House Select Committee on Assassinations looked into the matter. The Committee was inconclusive, but the various discrepancies cannot help but raise disturbing conspiracy theories.
It was determined that Oswald was a Communist who killed Kennedy because of his Cuba policies. There is conflicting evidence whether Oswald really was a Communist, or had been been "set up" as one. Oswald was an ex-Marine, but he had lived in the Soviet Union and took a Russian wife. He returned to the U.S. with his wife. This set of facts is highly irregular.
Speculation could go on forever. The Kennedy assassination is the greatest unsolved crime in the history of America, if not the world.
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy was passionate, ruthless and idealistic. Somehow, he is everything to all people. He was his own man, breaking from the Johnson hawks in the Democrat party to oppose the Vietnam War in 1968. He is considered the ultimate loyalist, to his brother and his family. Despite being the son of a blatant racist and anti-Semite, he is a hero to African-Americans and Hispanics, whose cause he strongly took up in association with Cesar Chavez. Still, of all the Kennedy sons (Joe died too early to render real judgment), Bobby most closely resembles his father when it comes to playing hardball, hatchet politics. All of the acts that the Nixon Administration was found "guilty" of during Watergate - wiretaps and break-ins - were routinely ordered by Attorney General Kennedy. He authorized the bugging of Martin Luther King and Johnson continued the practice.
Kennedy's dirty campaigning and official tactics were the genesis of Nixon's justification for Watergate and the "dirty tricks" campaign of Donald Segretti. Nixon, having been burned in 1960, vowed never to let such a thing happen again.
Born on November 20, 1925, in Brookline, Massachusetts, the seventh child of Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy, "I was the seventh of nine children," he later recalled, "and when you come from that far down you have to struggle to survive."
He attended Milton Academy and, after wartime service in the Navy, received his degree in government from Harvard University in 1948. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School three years later. His real education was the Kennedy dinner table. Discussions of history and current affairs dominated.
"I can hardly remember a mealtime," Kennedy said, "when the conversation was not dominated by what Franklin D. Roosevelt was doing or what was happening in the world."
In 1950, Kennedy married Ethel Skakel of Greenwich, Connecticut, daughter of Ann Brannack Skakel and George Skakel, founder of Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. Robert and Ethel had 11 children. In 1952, he managed John's U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts. With his brother elected, he served on the staff of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Kennedy's work confirmed reports that countries allied with the United States against Communist China in the Korean War were also shipping goods to Communist China.
When McCarthy's controversial tactics became a liability to his future, Kennedy resigned from the staff, later returning to the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations as chief counsel for the Democratic minority. Then he became chief counsel for the Senate Rackets Committee investigating corruption in trade unions, winning him national recognition for his investigations of Teamsters Union leaders Jimmy Hoffa and David Beck.
In 1960 he managed John F. Kennedy's Presidential campaign, and in this capacity history must hold him accountable for official responsibility in the most terrible political crime ever to occur in America. The stealing of the 1960 election no doubt emanates from the root of Joseph P. Kennedy. Attendant blame must be aimed at Mayor Daley, who orchestrated the fraud in Chicago (Cook County), Illinois. Lyndon Johnson must be held accountable for the "tombstone vote" in Texas. Illinois and Texas both went to Kennedy. Had these states been won by Nixon, as they really were, the Republicans would rightfully have won that election.
RFK, as the campaign manager, was the man where the "buck stopped." It was his responsibility to stop the fraud before it occurred, or to expose it once it became apparent. He failed in this responsibility. Of course, he was not going to expose a crime he was complicit in. Like his older brother, he was a man of enormous gifts, charisma and admirable quality. Like his older brother, he accomplished many things for America. But like his older brother, his ultimate legacy is tainted by scandal and a failure to follow the most basic premise of America, which is to play fair and square.
He was considered one of the most effective Attorney Generals in history. As titular head of the Department of Justice, he found himself at loggerheads with J. Edgar Hoover. He launched a successful drive against organized crime, and gained convictions against Mafia figures that rose by 800 percent during his tenure. He was committed to the rights of African-Americans to vote, attend school and use public accommodations. He carried the political water for his brother in this regard.
"We will not stand by or be aloof," he told the University of Georgia Law School in 1961. "We will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 [Supreme Court school desegregation] decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law."
In September 1962, Attorney General Kennedy sent U.S. Marshals and troops to Oxford, Mississippi to enforce a Federal court order admitting the first African-American student - James Meredith - to the University of Mississippi. A riot followed, leaving two dead and hundreds injured. Robert Kennedy saw voting as the key to racial justice. He collaborated with President Kennedy in proposing the most far-reaching civil rights statute since Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed after President Kennedy was slain on November 22, 1963, is attributed to Johnson, but one of its architects is Robert Kennedy.
He was President Kennedy's closest advisor and confidant. He played a major role in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, developing the strategy to blockade Cuba instead of taking military action that could have led to nuclear war. Negotiations with the Soviet Union ensued on removal of the weapons. It was this episode in which RFK first broke from his father's shadow ("hatchet man" and "ruthless politician"). He became a "man of conscience."
After President Kennedy's death, Robert Kennedy attempted to integrate himself with the Johnson Administration regarding prosecution of the Vietnam War. He was too big of a political star. LBJ rebuffed this effort. RFK resigned as Attorney General and, in 1964, was elected to the United States Senate from New York. His opponent, incumbent Republican Senator Kenneth Keating, labeled him a "carpetbagger."
"I have [had] really two choices over the period of the last ten months," he said at Columbia University. "I could have stayed in - I could have retired. And I - my father has done very well and I could have lived off him...I tell you frankly I don't need this title because I [could] be called General, I understand, for the rest of my life. And I don't need the money and I don't need the office space...Frank as it is - and maybe it's difficult to believe in the state of New York - I'd like to just be a good United States Senator. I'd like to serve."
Kennedy, aided by President Johnson's landslide, won the November election by 719,000 votes. As Senator, he assisted underprivileged children and students with disabilities and the establishment of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation to improve living conditions and employment opportunities in depressed areas of Brooklyn. For well over 30 it has been a model for communities across America.
Kennedy realized during his Senate years the power of addressing the needs of the dispossessed urban poor, the young, racial minorities and Native Americans. He fought against poverty, journeying into urban ghettos, Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta and migrant workers' camps. There are two RFK's. On the one hand, Kennedy has been viewed as a disingenuous rich kid, playing the politics of white guilt that marks the 1960s. On the other hand, he lent his name, talent and considerable clout to issues long ignored by mainstream America. In the final analysis, it says here that Kennedy's social conscience is real, and his actions noble.
"There are children in the Mississippi Delta," he said, "whose bellies are swollen with hunger...Many of them cannot go to school because they have no clothes or shoes. These conditions are not confined to rural Mississippi. They exist in dark tenements in Washington, D.C., within sight of the Capitol, in Harlem, in South Side Chicago, in Watts. There are children in each of these areas who have never been to school, never seen a doctor or a dentist. There are children who have never heard conversation in their homes, never read or even seen a book."
He sought legislation encouraging private industry to locate in poverty-stricken areas, to make jobs for the unemployed, and stressed work over welfare. His human rights agenda extended to Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Africa, where he advocated the rights of people to criticize their government without fear of reprisal.
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal," he said in a 1966 speech to South African students, "or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Kennedy will mostly be remembered for his controversial quest to end the war in Vietnam. He was one of the architects of the war, and in the Senate had originally supported the Johnson Administration's policies in Vietnam. But he called for a greater commitment to a negotiated settlement and a renewed emphasis on economic and political advancement within South Vietnam. As the war escalated, Senator Kennedy questioned President Johnson's prosecution of it. He finally broke with the Johnson Administration in February of 1966. His proposal was participation by all sides (including the Viet Cong's political arm, the National Liberation Front) in South Vietnam. Taking responsibility for his role in the Kennedy Administration's Southeast Asia policy, he urged President Johnson to cease the bombing of North Vietnam and reduce the war.
"Are we like the God of the Old Testament that we can decide, in Washington, D.C., what cities, what towns, what hamlets in Vietnam are going to be destroyed?" Kennedy asked in a speech. "Do we have to accept that? I do not think we have to. I think we can do something about it."
On March 18, 1968, Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democrat Presidential nomination.
It was "an uproarious campaign, filled with enthusiasm and fun...It was also a campaign moving in its sweep and passion," in the words of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. The Kennedy campaign is considered a watershed aimed at ending complacency in America. He attempted to bring together the races, the poor and the affluent, the young and old, and operated a high-wire act that was part rock concert, part Greek poetry.
1968 was the season of discontent and violence in America, with war waging on the streets of the cities, the college campuses, and in the jungles of Vietnam. Kennedy won critical primaries in Indiana and Nebraska and was received like a god across the nation.
On June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after claiming victory in the key Primary that put him over the top on the road to the nomination, he was slain by a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan, who opposed his backing of Israel. He was only 42 years old.
RFK's speeches and quotes
"Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?'"
(after George Bernard Shaw)
Ripple of Hope
"Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation...It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
(Day of affirmation address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
On the Death of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black...Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: `To tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.'"
(Statement on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Indianapolis, Indiana, April 4, 1968)
1968 Presidential Campaign
"I think we can end the divisions within the United States. What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis. And that what has been going on with the United States over the period of that last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions - whether it's between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups, or in the war in Vietnam - that we can work together. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country. And I intend to make that my basis for running."
(California victory speech, Los Angeles, California, June 4, 1968)
"On this generation of Americans falls the burden of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say all men are created free and are equal before the law. All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity."
(Speech, Law Day exercises of the University of Georgia Law School, May 6, 1961)
"Since the days of Greece and Rome when the word 'citizen' was a title of honor, we have often seen more emphasis put on the rights of citizenship than on its responsibilities. And today, as never before in the free world, responsibility is the greatest right of citizenship and service is the greatest of freedom's privileges."
(Speech, University of San Francisco Law School, San Francisco, California, September 29, 1962)
"Democracy is no easy form of government. Few nations have been able to sustain it. For it requires that we take the chances of freedom; that the liberating play of reason be brought to bear on events filled with passion; that dissent be allowed to make its appeal for acceptance; that men chance error in their search for the truth."
(Statement on Vietnam, February 19, 1966)
The Democrat Party
"And as long as America must choose, that long will there be a need and a place for the Democratic Party. We Democrats can run on our record but we cannot rest on it. We will win if we continue to take the initiative and if we carry the message of hope and action throughout the country. Alexander Smith once said, 'A man doesn't plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity.' Let us continue to plant, and our children shall reap the harvest. That is our destiny as Democrats."
(Testimonial dinner for Lieutenant Governor Patrick J. Lucey of Wisconsin, August 15, 1965)
"The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country."
(Address, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 24, 1967)
"We must recognize the full human equality of all our people - before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this not because it is economically advantageous - although it is; not because the laws of God and man command it - although they do command it; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do."
(Day of affirmation address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
"The future is not a gift: It is an achievement. Every generation helps make its own future. This is the essential challenge of the present."
(Address, Seattle World's Fair, August 7, 1962)
"The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of bold projects and new ideas. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the great enterprises and ideals of American society."
(Address, University of California at Berkeley, October 22, 1966)
"Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly."
(Day of affirmation address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
"Nations, like men, often march to the beat of different drummers, and the precise solutions of the United States can neither be dictated nor transplanted to others. What is important is that all nations must march toward an increasing freedom; toward justice for all; toward a society strong and flexible enough to meet the demands of all of its own people, and a world of immense and dizzying change."
(Day of affirmation address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
"I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil."
(Speech, Athens, Georgia, May 6, 1961)
Quality of Life
"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product...if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
(Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968)
Violence and Lawlessness
"What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.
"No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.
"Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded."
(On violence, Cleveland, Ohio, April 5, 1968)
Voice of the People
"All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people - speaking out - in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out - in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes - let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of Mankind."
(Address, New York City, January 22, 1963)
"This world demands the qualities of youth: Not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease."
(Day of affirmation address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966)
" Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty "
- Senator Ted Kennedy, 1973
"Chappaquiddick has been called 'the most brilliant cover-up ever achieved in a nation where investigative procedures are well developed and where the principles of equal justice prevail, at least during some of those moments where people are watching.'"
- "The Last Kennedy" by Robert Sherrill
"The mysteries of the case continue to haunt Ted Kennedy as well as the authorities who investigated them. Charges of ineptitude and lack of diligence abounded, as did insinuations that the machinery of justice crumbled beneath the power and prestige of the Kennedy family. George Killen, former State Police Detective-Lieutenant, and chief of a never-revealed investigation, lamented that the failure to bring the case to a satisfactory conclusion was `the biggest mistake' of a long and distinguished police career. Senator Kennedy, he said, `killed that girl the same as if he put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger.'"
- "Senatorial Privilege" by Leo Damor
Ah, Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy. Somehow, this man embodies, in one loud, drunken, righteous wave of indignation, everything that people love and hate about the Kennedy family. He is in many ways the "last Kennedy." Scandal and tragedy has not eluded them since Bobby's killing. In 1969, Teddy drove a car off a bridge in Martha's Vineyard, killing his female companion. One of Bobby's sons died of a heroin overdose. In the early 1990s, a Kennedy nephew sexually assaulted a girl in the families' West Palm Beach compound. The drunken Teddy entered the room dressed in a shirt and nothing else, lookin' for some "sloppy seconds."
JFK's son, John, Jr., by far the most honest and promising hope among the "new Kennedys," died in a plane crash in 1999. A nephew of Bobby's wife, Ethel, murdered a girl in Greenwich, Connecticut in the 1970s. Using his name and Kennedy imprimatur, Teddy-style, Michael Skakel evaded punishment for decades. New police forensics, orchestrated by an honest, discredited cop, Mark Fuhrman, secured his conviction.
Teddy was the youngest boy. Riding his older brother's coattails, he managed, beginning in 1962, to get himself elected to Congress and the Senate from Massachusetts. He has held his seat ever since. Unlike Joe, Jr., Jack and Bobby, (but like his father), he never served in the military. Of the three surviving sons, he most resembles his father as a liar and a cheat. At Harvard he paid others to take his tests, although he did not lack in the brains department. He graduated and then successfully negotiated the University of Virginia Law School, where his roommate was future U.S. Senator John Tunney (D.- California).
He was blessed with the Kennedy good looks and oratorical skills. He also embraced the philandering ways of his father in a manner that makes Jack look reticent and Bobby an outright monk. After Bobby's death, all the Kennedy hopes fell on his broad shoulders. Unlike Jack and Bobby, he had the husky look of the former football player he was. After the Ambassador Hotel shooting, he became the de facto Presidential hopeful of his family and his party. There was talk of nominating Teddy at the Chicago convention in 1968, and in retrospect that might have been his best shot at the White House. But everything came too soon that hot and violent Summer. The party stayed with Hubert Humphrey.
Richard Nixon was utterly and completely paranoid of the Kennedys and of Teddy. It was, above everything else, a desire to know inside information about Kennedy and his plans that drove the plumbers into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.
Everything changed for Ted Kennedy, his family, the country and the world, in July of 1969. Had Chappaquiddick not occurred, Ted very possibly would have been elected President. Chances are he would have run in 1972, and made it a close race that the popular incumbent, Nixon, would have won. With one national campaign under his belt, he probably would have won against Gerald Ford in 1976. If this happened, the Reagan Revolution might never have occurred. The history of America would have been much different. The concept of the Soviet Union folding under the pressure of the eight-year Reagan military build-up, in 1989, seems remote if Teddy holds office from 1977 to 1985.
Every Summer, the Edgartown Yacht Club sponsored the Edgartown Regatta off Martha's Vineyard. The Kennedys had been attending for years. It was at these events, in the heart of friendly "Kennedy country," that the family let their hair down most visibly. Reports of drunken orgies and gangbangs, with reports of broken furniture, women used like porn sluts, and a trail of littered cottages and psyches left in their wake, are legion. Bobby, the supposedly devout Catholic and father of 11, had reportedly done his most notorious sexual work in this atmosphere (if one discounts his short affair with Marilyn Monroe).
Two Kennedy boats, the Resolute and the Victura, were entered in the 1969 races. Ted Kennedy felt that the weekend was the right time to resume the sex parties that had been put on hold after Bobby's death the year before. Bobby's campaign staff had been known as the "Boiler Room Girls." They were known for their youthful sexuality and vivaciousness. Many female Kennedy staffers were expected to submit to the sexual advances of the family as if they were hookers. This was known ahead of time, the girls accepted and even welcomed it. If they did not agree to these conditions they could just work for somebody else, or become Republicans, God forbid! Because it was so well known, they did not complain and the whole situation was "understood."
Joseph Gargan, Ted Kennedy's cousin and lawyer, reserved rooms for the women at the Katama Shores Inn near Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. Teddy and the men would stay at the Shiretown Inn. Gargan looked for a cottage on the water which would serve as the site for a party after the races.
Gargan settled on the Lawrence Cottage on the nearby island of Chappaquiddick, near the beach. It was separated from Martha's Vineyard by a narrow channel, accessible only by a ferry between the hours of 7:30 A.M. and midnight.
Gargan had become the man who "fixed" Teddy's problems, and they had been numerous.
"Joey'll fix it," was the common refrain whenever Teddy got too drunk, and went too far with a women. Gargan's ability to "fix it" was put to the ultimate test at Chappaquiddick. The party included Ted, his lawyer, cousin and co-host, Gargan. Other guests included Paul Markham, lawyer and former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts; Ray LaRosa, former fireman and Kennedy campaign worker; Charles Tretter, a lawyer, head of the Boston Redevelopment Commission, and a Kennedy campaign aide; John Crimmins, Senator Kennedy's part-time chauffeur, and the Boiler Room Girls - Mary Jo Kopechne, Rosemary Keough, Esther Newberg, Susan Tannenbaum, Nance Lyons and Mary Ellen Lyons.
Senator Kennedy's wife, Joan did not attend the Regatta weekend because she was pregnant.
Following Bobby's death, Ted's drinking and sexing had been discouraged now that he was the hope of the family, and a major Presidential contender. Ted had increased his drinking after his brother's death, and was understandably troubled. He showed signs of recklessness beyond his previous exploits. Life writer Brock Brower concluded that Ted's fast living was an escape from his inevitable candidacy for President.
"Some thought his drinking had got beyond the strains it was supposed to relieve," he said. John Lindsay of Newsweek saw "an all too-familiar pattern emerging." Whether Ted's drinking was a "cry for a help," or even an unconscious attempt to create a scenario whereby he would not be required to run, or be, the President is a cause for speculation. It is understandable that he would fear the burden of leadership such a life would put him under. He also would not be human if he did not consider the very real prospect that he was the next target of an assassin's bullet. This is not a sympathetic assessment of Kennedy or his family, but it would be wrong to discount the effect of tragedy on his actions. Either way, by the Summer of 1969, Kennedy was slipping out of control.
Senator Kennedy's driver's license had expired on February 22, 1969 and had not been renewed. Driving with an expired license was only a misdemeanor. The license problem was "fixed" by officials at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, under the direction of Registrar Richard McLaughlin, before the legal proceedings began. Kennedy had a record of serious traffic violations. In 1958 he had been convicted for reckless driving.
Kennedy had previously been fined $15 for speeding in March, 1957. The interesting thing is that Kennedy repeated the same actions in 1958 as he had in 1957.
"And here comes the same car," the patrolman was quoted. "And to my surprise, he did exactly the same thing. He raced through the same red light, cut his lights when he got to the corner and made the right turn." Looking inside the car, now stopped, the officer discovered Kennedy, stretched out on the front seat and hiding.
Court officials never filed the mandatory notice of the case in the public docket. Kennedy's name had not appeared on any arrest blotter. Instead, a local reporter discovered the case when he spotted five warrants in Kennedy's name in a court cash drawer.
Three weeks after his trial, Ted was caught speeding again, still operating without a valid license. In 1959, Kennedy was stopped for running a red light and fined.
These offenses had occurred in Virginia, where he had been a law student, but he a Massachusetts driver's license. The family managed to keep the record off the Registry of Motor records. When he faced the court after Chappaquiddick, these records did not factor in the evidence to support a charge of manslaughter, which they undoubtedly would have.
"Any person who wantonly or in a reckless or grossly negligent manner did that which resulted in the death of a human being was guilty of manslaughter, although he did not contemplate such a result," describes manslaughter in Massachusetts at the time.
"It's automatic in Massachusetts when a person is killed in an accident for the prosecutor to bring an action for criminal manslaughter," said Gargan.
Less than a week after Chappaquiddick, the Oregonian reported an accident in Salem, Oregon, in which a car crashed through the chain on a ferry while crossing the Willamette River. A passenger riding in the car had drowned, but the driver escaped from the car and swam to shore. The driver was charged with negligent homicide.
The following is the written statement given by Ted Kennedy to Police Chief Dominick Arena on the morning of July 19, 1969. The Senator stuck to this version of events despite contradictory evidence and witness testimony.
"On July 18, 1969, at approximately 11:15 P.M. in Chappaquiddick, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, I was driving my car on Main Street on my way to get the ferry back to Edgartown. I was unfamiliar with the road and turned right onto Dike Road, instead of bearing hard left on Main Street. After proceeding for approximately one-half mile on Dike Road I descended a hill and came upon a narrow bridge. The car went off the side of the bridge. There was one passenger with me, one Miss Mary ________ <there was a blank space here because Kennedy was not sure of the spelling of the dead girl's last name, and instead offered a rough phonetic approximation>, a former secretary of my brother Senator Robert Kennedy. The car turned over and sank into the water and landed with the roof resting on the bottom. I attempted to open the door and the window of the car but have no recollection of how I got out of the car. I came to the surface and then repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car. I was unsuccessful in the attempt. I was exhausted and in a state of shock. I recall walking back to where my friends were eating. There was a car parked in front of the cottage and I climbed into the back seat. I then asked for someone to bring me back to Edgartown. I remember walking around for a period of time and then going back to my hotel room. When I fully realized what had happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police."
Senator Kennedy said he was unfamiliar with the road. Earlier on July 18, he had been driven over Chappaquiddick Road three times, and over Dike Road and Dike Bridge twice. Kopechne had been driven over Chappaquiddick Road five times and over Dike.
In his statement to police, Ted Kennedy claimed that after escaping from his submerged automobile, he "repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car." What he did was flee. Instead of finding immediate help, which might have saved her life, he made scarce, knowing that he was intoxicated and would be charged for driving in such a condition unless he could hide out long enough for the alcohol to leave his body.
At the inquest, the Senator elaborated on his story.
"I was fully aware that I was doing everything that I possibly could to get the girl out of the car," he stated. "And that my head was throbbing and my neck was aching and I was breathless, and at the time, hopelessly exhausted." When he abandoned his rescue attempt, he let himself float to shore.
"And I sort of crawled and staggered up some place and was very exhausted and spent on the grass," he said, indicating that he rested there on the banking for 15 to 20 minutes.
Kennedy always maintained that he delayed reporting the accident because he was "confused and in shock." The Senator's statements regarding his rescue attempts suggest that in fact he was quite aware that Miss Kopechne's life was in peril and that immediate action was in order.
He testified that after he regained his breath, "I started walking, trotting, jogging, stumbling as fast as I possibly could. It was extremely dark. I never saw a cottage with a light on." Kennedy said he walked back to the Lawrence Cottage in "approximately 15 minutes."
Sylvia Malm was only 150 yards from the scene of the accident. Her daughter had been reading under an open window facing the bridge until about 11:45 P.M., but did not recall hearing anything. The light burned all night at the back door of the house, visible from Dike Bridge. The Reverend and Mrs. David Smith were certain that they had left a light on in one of the bedrooms that was also visible from the road.
The Malm's and the Smith's saw no possibility that Senator Kennedy had not seen their lights. Had he sought their help after the accident, the girl may have been saved. Re-tracing Kennedy's walk, it was observed that Dike House was so close to the bridge, there was no way he could go down that road and not see that house. Several other houses along the road all had lights on. Kennedy avoided all of them like the plague, because his obvious drunkenness was still apparent. While Mary Jo Kopechne theoretically fought for breath in the murky water, Ted Kennedy waited out the night, desperately avoiding contact with anybody who could bring attention to him and his drunk driving.
It was estimated that had Kennedy immediately gone to the first house and alerted somebody, then the fire department could have been at the bridge in three minutes!
Detective Bernie Flynn eventually put together a scenario for the accident:
"I figure, we've got a drunk driver, Ted Kennedy," he said. "He's with this girl, and he has it in his mind to go down to the beach and make love to her. He's probably driving too fast and he misses the curve and goes into Cemetery Road. He's backing up when he sees this guy in uniform coming toward him. That's panic for the average driver who's been drinking; but here's a United States Senator about to get tagged for driving under. He doesn't want to get caught with a girl in his car, on a deserted road late at night, with no license and driving drunk on top of it. In his mind, the most important thing is to get away from the situation.
"He doesn't wait around. He takes off down the road. He's probably looking in the rear-view mirror to see if the cop is following him. He doesn't even see the fucking bridge and bingo! He goes off. He gets out of the car; she doesn't. The poor son of a bitch doesn't know what to do. He's thinking, 'I want to get back to my house, to my friends' - which is a common reaction <luckily, the crew members of PTA 109 were not skippered under Teddy Kennedy's command>.
"There are houses on Dike Road he could have gone to report the accident, but he doesn't want to. Because it's the same situation he was trying to get away from at the corner - which turned out to be minor compared to what happened later. Now there's been an accident; and the girl's probably dead. All the more reason not to go banging on somebody's door in the middle of the night and admit what he was doing. He doesn't want to reveal himself."
Richard McLaughlin, the Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles, previously known for his tough stance on drunk driving, actively participated in fixing the Senator's expired driver's license. Privately, he offered that leaving the scene of an accident and delaying a report for more than nine hours foreclosed a drunk driving charge.
"It effectively deprives officers of evidence of chemical testing and direct observation of the operator," he said. "So if you wanted to avoid a drunk driving charge after an accident - that's how you do it." Which is highly, precisely, and to quintessential effect, that with which Kennedy did.
When Kennedy reached his handlers, he gave them all the details. He was driving drunk with a single girl on his way to have sex. They immediately went to work "handling" the situation. Hillary Clinton modeled her "handling" of the destruction of her husband's women on their efficiency. Teddy's admission of guilt was never used against him because he invoked Kennedy lawyer-client privilege via Gargan and Markham, preventing them from giving any information to authorities. Senator Kennedy was not in a "state of shock." He was deliberate and calculating in his effort to cover up his involvement in the accident, while at the same time concealing the fate of Mary Jo Kopechne from those who could have saved her.
When the three men reached the bridge, Gargan recalled seeing the Senator's car upside-down in the middle of the pond. Kennedy guessed that it had been at least 45 minutes since the time of the accident. Gargan drove across the bridge and parked the Valiant on the beach side with the headlights shining over the water. Both Gargan and Markham stripped naked and dove into the water.
"All I was interested in was saving the girl," Gargan said. "I wasn't thinking about anything else."
A strong current was running through the narrow channel which made swimming difficult. The two men struggled against the current for some time, trying to find a way into the car. Gargan was eventually able to locate a door handle and yanked on it. The door wouldn't budge. He moved around the car until he found an opening he presumed to be a window. He pushed his body into the car, but was unable to see in the dark water and could only "grope around to see if I could touch anything." Gargan began running out of breath. In panic he pushed himself out fiercely, cutting his arms and chest as he exited the car.
"I found it hard to believe the Senator had been in a major automobile accident. His face bore no traces of any marks. He never sat down or appeared in any kind of physical discomfort. If he had been injured, in shock, or confused, nothing of it lingered in our meeting, to my observation."
- Police Chief Dominick Arena
Kennedy wore a neck brace in subsequent public appearances, even though he had not suffered injury. The brace was designed to curry public sympathy. On Tuesday, July 22, 1969, Senator Kennedy wore it as he left St. Vincent's Church with his wife, Joan, after the funeral Mass for Mary Jo Kopechne.
Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. His sentence was suspended with no jail time. He walked, for all intents and purposes, scot-free, with the exception of the fact that his scumbag character became that with which was now known (or confirmed) by millions worldwide. The judge determined that the bad publicity and possible detriment to his political career "punished (him) far beyond anything this court can impose, the ends of justice would be satisfied by the imposition of the minimum jail sentence and suspension of that sentence - assuming the defendant accepts the suspension."
The proceeding took seven minutes. State law mandated a minimum of 20 days in jail for the crime he committed. The fact that Kennedy avoided even that small inconvenience was simply the overriding of law. The press immediately identified it as a show trial; a deal worked out in advance.
Mary Jo Kopechne was sacrificed at the altar of the Kennedy family, but in an ironic way she is a hero of the right. Had she not died, Ted Kennedy very likely might have been elected President of the United States. The perverted hopes and dreams of Joseph P. Kennedy would have been fulfilled - still and again.
Nevertheless, Teddy Kennedy continued to be elected every six years by the citizens of Massachusetts. He has been shown to be a drunken buffoon who drove his wife into a dizzying downward sexual and alcoholic spiral, the butt of tabloid covers showing her arriving at New York parties dressed like a prostitute. His sexual dalliances had none of the glamour of his brother's Hollywood-style escapades. Instead, existing in the "gotcha" atmosphere of the post-Watergate era, his acts were revealed in grainy photos depicting his naked body, looking like a beached whale, humping some floozy in a boat off the Florida coast.
When Alabama Senator Howell Heflin observed one of these National Enquirer covers, he remarked dryly, in the thickest possible Dixie drawl, "It appeahs that the Senatah has changed his position on off-shore drillin'."
Politically, Kennedy has maintained steadfast observance of all the far Left's most sacred principles, which by 2003 have, one by one, been shown to be either plain wrong or no longer of much political value. He is a staunch advocate of abortion. The fact that he is somehow allowed to maintain the fiction of Catholicism despite this advocacy is astounding. He is a complete welfare state liberal in an age in which every Democrat with the slightest need to maintain competitiveness has adopted a position that is more or less where the Republicans were 30 years ago. While there are still New Deal liberals, they commit political suicide on the national level.
Kennedy is an environmentalist and a taxer. These are issues that one can disagree on. His positions at least can be admired in that they seem to represent core principles, and core principles are something that can be admired. He remains an important member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and takes his job as defender of the abortion flame very seriously in this capacity. His muteness when Clarence Thomas faced sexual harassment charges from this committee was deafening, however. He has struck an odd kind of friendship with George W. Bush, who upon taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue invited Teddy to watch the Cuban Missile Crisis thriller "13 Days" with him. Whether this was strictly symbolic or not is in dispute. Both Kennedy and Bush are members of political dynasties. In this they have something in common that almost no other Americans can relate to. At this point, all indications are that the Kennedy dynasty is on the way out. The Bush dynasty is the one historians will say shaped the early part of the 21st Century. The second half of the 20th, however, was an age in which the Kennedy name ranks among any others in influence and importance.
All in all, Ted Kennedy remains a hero of liberalism and the Democrats. His popularity has been reduced mostly to the salons of Manhattan, Harvard Square, and the Left Coast bastions of Hollywood and San Francisco, though. In "fly-over country" he is a laughing stock. It is the specter of Kennedy that still drives Republican "stop Kennedy" fundraising drives. The fact that he is still so popular, and the fact that the Kennedy name is still magic within Democrat circles, offers undeniable insight into what makes the Democrats tick.
The story of this family is filled with contradiction. There is virtually nothing that Joe, Sr. offers history, and in fact it is possible that he is the most evil "legitimate" American of the American Century. But his two eldest sons were legitimate war heroes. John Kennedy's performance in the Cuban Missile Crisis is also heroic. He was not so heroic in his handling of the Bay of Pigs, but that mess started with Eisenhower and cannot be blamed entirely on JFK. Jack was a strong anti-Communist who met the early challenge of Vietnam. To theorize that he would have withdrawn the U.S. from the region is incomplete and, frankly, not likely. His civil rights record is promising and he deserves high marks. He also had no real, traditional morals and hurt people with little respect for their feelings. He benefited from too many advantages without counter-balancing it with humility, although he did possess a self-deprecating sense of humor. He probably had Marilyn Monroe killed. The coup he "allowed" in Saigon resulted in the death of a head of state. His own assassination martyrs him but considering everything on balance, there is a dark sense that what "goes around comes around."
Robert Kennedy helped orchestrated the "political crime of the century" in stealing the 1960 election from Nixon. He helped keep the world safe during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He did very good work in civil rights, as Attorney General, in the Senate and as a Presidential candidate. He was a staunch anti-Communist, but his record as a late-developing dove is incomplete due to Sirhan Sirhan. He stood up to the mob, but also was probably the guy who gave the nod to Marilyn's killing.
Ted was a drunken slob, but to his credit he has found a wife later in life, settled down, and appears to have licked alcoholism. His cowardice may have killed Mary Jo Kopechne. His lack of traditional morality is a disgrace. The mind's eye picture of him standing in his shirt with no pants or underwear while his nephew laid the groundwork for a tag-team sex party that became rape cannot be omitted. Still, there are central tenets of political faith that he truly believes in, and whether one agrees or disagrees with them. He has intelligently advocated on behalf of the dispossessed in the tradition of Robert's 1968 campaign.
John Kennedy, Jr. was, as best as anybody can tell, a good man without benefit of PR spin, which is quite the accomplishment. Had he lived, he may have used his name to accomplish great things. The guess here is that he would have. Whether this meant politics, and with his name, politics means the White House, is not known, apparently even by his close associates. In "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger poses the question, "Who killed the Kennedys?…When after all, it was you and me." Mick's premise is that dark forces destroyed John and Robert, ostensibly before they could give the world the full value of what they were capable of. The 1960s folk anthem "Abraham, Martin and John" offered a similar refrain. The death of John, Jr. works against the premise that the deaths of each of these Kennedy's "saved" the world from some kind of disaster their growing hegemony and power might have become. John, Jr. seems, and I must emphasize seems to lack the craven hardball, ruthless, cutthroat tendencies of Joe, Sr., Jack and Bobby.
If one wishes to continue with the metaphysical discussion of the "Kennedy curse," and why such fate befell them, as if loosed from Bobby's favorite Greek poet, Aeschylus, then it comes back to the root of their evil, the father. Remember the words of Harry Truman, who when asked if he feared that a Catholic President would adhere his faith more to the Vatican than the country.
"I'm more worried about the pop than the Pope," plain-speaking Harry replied.
The Kennedy story is one of near-misses, brushes with power that did not quite materialize, one shortened Presidency and two others that could have, but did not, happen. If the disasters, assassinations, scandals, the lobotomized daughter, the frauds and the crimes are part of some cosmic payback, then the payee is Joe Kennedy, Sr. He was a man who got away with all of his worst sins. Or did he? Possibly he was prevented by God and God alone from achieving the Presidency for himself, then made to pay by a laughing Satan when his innocent sons first fell prey to his kind of success, then "paid" for it with their lives and reputations. If the Clintons made a similar "deal with the devil," they learned to avoid the kinds of caveats that may have befallen Joe Kennedy's "contract."
So, with all of this baggage to unload and sort through, the question then comes down to their legacy and the meaning of their politics. The judgment of history does render greatness on Jack and Bobby, just as it does Franklin Roosevelt. FDR likely let the Japanese attack U.S. forces at Pearl to draw the country in to the war, then allowed Short and Kimmel to take the blame. He lied, he deceived, and he ran as close to a dictatorial Presidency as any man this Democracy has ever known. But the extraordinary times he lived in demanded what he had. He gave the full measure of it. Greatness is accorded him after a review of his career that is not unlike a criminal trial that goes back and forth and finally renders a "not guilty" verdict on the suspect.
Jack and Bobby are not part of the same grand adventure as FDR. They had looks, style, substance and an appeal that gives them real star quality, but is not enough to elevate them to political greatness. But they are popular and iconic parts of this nation's collective conscience. They represent something that many feel can never be attained again. Their deaths do for them something their lives may never have done. The prospect of their unfinished business remains intoxicating. The Kennedys are forever linked in opposition to Nixon. The first impression of this vision favors the Kennedys by a wide margin.
Everything that touched them seemed golden. Jackie Kennedy's life after JFK is questionable, at best, yet she somehow was a woman who held the wide admiration of that crowd of onlookers who seem to fill the grandstands at the Academy Awards every year. She loved Jack, but she was as calculating in her marriage to him as a political consultant. She calculated her social status the way the consultant calculates electoral votes. Her marriage to Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis was a blatant money sham, yet she survived the obviousness of it, maintaining the fiction of class and propriety to her dying day.
To love the Kennedys and all they stand for requires not a leap of faith, but an acceptance of their sins. It is in this acceptance that the Democrats lay themselves bare in a way the Republicans never have, and likely never will. The Left counters that "Tricky Dick" Nixon remains a hero of the right. However, to compare his second-rate burglary with Illinois/Texas '60, the possible murder of Marilyn, Diem's killing, and all the other acts of Kennedy excess is not something the Left wants to do. They will lose that argument. Joe McCarthy's name may pop up, but the Left really does not want to get into that mess. It inevitably leads to the fact that their side really was infiltrated by, and did the bidding for, Joseph Stalin.
Now, with the ascendancy of the Bushes, the Democrats find themselves squirming at the comparison. The Republican Bush's may not be everybody's political cup of tea, and they do not fulfill the vicarious fantasy of wild sex with the likes of Angie Dickinson and Marilyn Monroe. But in all the ways that average people raising kids in average American cities and towns judge right and wrong, separating real heroism from an Alec Baldwin movie, the Bush family runs Texas circles around Joe Kennedy's clan.
When all is said and done, a true analysis of the Kennedys should leave the thinking Democrat with the difficult conclusion that in order to do and be a part of the right thing, he had best switch to the Republicans.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism