Friday, November 22, 2013

Camelot, And Its Fanatics

Today is, as you know (probably), the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. I figured it behooved me to write something for the occasion, because, you know. It's sort of important.

Problem is, I started to type this post and....of course, I couldn't think of a single substantive thing to say. Because hey, I didn't experience it; I wasn't born for another quarter-century. I can't relate to it on an intimate level. Besides, Bev already said most of the relevant stuff along those lines. I know it's a big deal for my parents' generation, because they all usually talk about it every year at this time. And I can understand why, to an extent. After all, I did experience 9/11, a similar traumatic experience after which the world was never quite the same again, so the mental break it represents makes sense. A CBS commentator made the interesting point that 11/22/63 was when the Baby Boomers' parents went from being the youthful, optimistic "Greatest Generation" of the post-war era to the middle-aged, stodgy "squares" of the late '60s and '70s. Could be.

And of course, JFK himself has a lot to do with the traumatic nature of the event. He projected youthful vigor, he was a war hero, and though he may have been more of an intellectual lightweight than anyone would admit at the time, he was of course a brainiac compared to two or three of his successors. There's a charisma there that you can't deny. Just look at the many conservatives who have tried to claim ever since that Kennedy was really one of them. (They're wrong about that, I believe--although certain of his positions would be very unsettling to the leftists of today.) But, look: There's no reason to think Kennedy wouldn't have faced the same problems as LBJ, what with Vietnam (which he did a lot to get us into), domestic upheaval over civil rights (which he was ambivalent about for a very long time), and so on. Maybe he would have handled those problems better than Johnson did; but the truth is, JFK had the good fortune--assuming you define getting sniped in the head as "good fortune"--to die before he really had to tangle with them, allowing his memory to be sanctified by American liberals.

So I don't believe there was ever a "What should we learn?" from the assassination. And if there was, presumably it would have been discovered in the past fifty years. There wasn't a bright, shining path that was suddenly taken away from America, however much some people want to believe there was. Which, of course, is why the conspiracy theories flourish around Kennedy: No one wants to believe that so much youth and promise could be snuffed out by one lone gunman who's a bit off his rocker. It had to be a conspiracy.

And, naturally, also the result of a "climate of hate," as they called Dallas afterwards. Because, after all, Dallas is in the South, and the South opposed civil rights, which Kennedy was making a few moves towards; ergo, Kennedy was killed by hateful racists. The NYT headline the next day read "Kennedy a Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in Nation." The same paper, in a recent retrospective, continued to label Dallas "The City With a Death Wish in Its Eye," which had utterly failed to come to terms with the atrocity that had happened within its bounds. None too surprising for the New York Times, because they're liberals, and that's what liberals do. But it was also bound to happen, because when you deify a leader as much as Kennedy has been, there's almost always an accompanying demonization of someone else. Which is never good, because using the "hatred card" (a term I just made up) to exploit a tragedy is just as bad as hatred itself.

So....yeah. I guess if there is a lesson from the JFK assassination, it's to embrace the occasional randomness of the universe, and not to see every tragic event, such as the death of a world leader, as the result of large-scale malevolence. Sometimes bad things just happen, like a nut with a rifle deciding one day he's going to put a hole in your head, and that fact of life can't be changed. Best to just accept it.

Kind of bleak, I know. So, er....heard any good jokes lately?


Rustbelt said...

Sorry, T-Rav. No jokes. And, unfortunately, I think you've hit the nail on the head as to the conspiracy theories. It's, oh, so much grander to think that JFK died for something and was a martyr- like Lincoln. Not someone who died at the hands of a nut who wanted a government job (Garfield) or by a loser who just wanted fame (McKinley). Of course, in Kennedy's case. it turned out to be the latter. (Roast in Hell, Oswald.)

That being said, over the last few years, I've been watching old school news coverage of this and other events just to see how things have changed or stayed the same. (Assassinations, NASA launches, political conventions, etc.) So, for the 50th anniversary, I decided to post NBC's coverage of the assassination. I chose it over the others because I hate Cronkite's guts, and ABC's footage appears to have been filmed literally behind the set. (It's so unprofessional I couldn't finish watching it.) I've also annotated it, so if you don't have the time and just want certain, you can skip.

Rustbelt said...

Part 1:

0:00- First Bulletin: First report of 2 shots fired, blood on President Kennedy’s head
(Note: In 1963, none of the major networks were set up to cover breaking news. They would all have to scramble to set up the desks and equipment following their bulletins.)
0:40- actual coverage begins (after picking up following the bulletin)
1:08- Connelly shot; automatic weapon?
1:14- Rep. Albert Thomas confirms Kennedy, Connelly shot and wounded, but alive
5:00- Report that 3 shots were fired
6:29- Video feed begins with anchor Bill Ryan from NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City
6:50- NBC anchor Frank McGee; Ryan goes over the reason for Kennedy’s trip
8:30- Chet Huntley reports on Kennedy’s speech that morning in Fort Worth
8:47- Bob MacNeil reports over the phone; technical difficulties force McGee to repeat MacNeil’s information from Parkland Hospital; Kennedy seriously wounded; Jackie Kennedy not hit
10:48- MacNeil reports that shots came from a building behind the motorcade; MacNeil, who was in the motorcade, heard the shots; several witnesses claim to have seen a man with a weapon in a window
13:05- 1963 technical problems; McGee and Huntley attempt to fix a speaker to a phone for MacNeil, but it doesn’t work very well
14:40- Picture of Presidential limousine from motorcade
15:00- Connelly has been moved at Parkland, thinking he may be more seriously wounded than Kennedy
16:26- WPAB-TV (NBC affiliate in Ft. Worth) newsman Charles Murphy reports a young man is in custody, but the feed breaks up
18:18- after connection is restored, Murphy reports no confirmation that the suspected gunman or gunmen has been arrested; one man [this is not you-know-who] has been taken into custody near the Triple Underpass in Dealey Plaza, but says he’s innocent; 2 Roman Catholic priests have been called to Parkland
19:32- President Kennedy has received blood transfusions
19:54- NBC anchor David Brinkley with initial report from NBC’s Washington, D.C. bureau; Senator Ted Kennedy informed of shooting on Senate floor; White House watching network news for updates
22:08- WPAB reporter Tom Whalen runs audio recording of interview with witness Jean Hill (with reporter James Darnell); Hill claims Kennedy was shot, fell over, and that more shots rang out after that; Hill claims that shots were fired from the hill
24:17- Whalen adds that unconfirmed reports indicate a rifle has also been found in Dealey Plaza, described as a “30-30”
25:10- more technical problems with MacNeil’s report; President Kennedy has received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church [this doesn’t necessarily mean his condition is fatal]

T-Rav said...

Rustbelt, I'm not seeing a link. Did you mean you'd post it here?

Honestly, all the assassins have been nuts. Czolgosz was an anarchist, so that goes without saying, Guiteau bounced from cult to cult, Oswald was just as much a ne'er-do-well, and Booth had basically alienated his own family by the time he shot Lincoln.

Rustbelt said...

27:40- Associated Press reports that Mrs. Johnson says her husband, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, has not been hurt
29:20- Governor Connelly was hit in the back; Connelly doesn’t know what happened
30:05- FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has ordered the Dallas FBI Branch to begin all-out investigation into attempted assassination of Kennedy and Connelly
31:53- Picture of President and Mrs. Kennedy arriving in Dallas that morning; cites Kennedy’s speech given to Dallas Citizens’ Council, also that morning
33:00- Report that Senator Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy plan to fly from Andrews Air Force Base to Dallas
34:16- Parkland has put out a call for a neurosurgeon
34:36- Report that Senator Ralph Yarborough saw Kennedy’s lips moving on way to Parkland
35:20- Huntley recalls death of President Roosevelt in 1945, but is cut off quickly
35:32- FLASH- Ryan reports (via AP) that two priests say Kennedy is from bullet wounds; no confirmation
36:34- Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson have been removed from Parkland
37:08- WBAP reports that the Dallas Police Department has informed all officers that President Kennedy has died; still no official confirmation
37:40- MacNeil reports from Parkland on press conference briefing from Acting White Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff: PRESIDENT KENNEDY IS DEAD; Kilduff says that Kennedy died around 1:00 P.M. (CST), about 35 minutes ago; MacNeil then goes over the details (McGee is still repeating for MacNeil, not knowing that the problem with the direct line has been fixed)
41:15- MacNeil gives first mention of the Texas School Book Depository; he mentions that witnesses claim the shots were fired from the second floor
42:01- MacNeil wraps up and McGee wipes a tear from his eye
42:29- Ryan, mentioning that Johnson will now be president, first refers to Kennedy as ‘the former/late president’
42:53- Brinkley reports that Johnson will be sworn in; muses on who may be allowed to give the oath to Johnson and the new order of succession [the 25th Amendment won’t be passed until 1965]; mentions that Senator Kennedy was presiding over Senate when news of shooting came in; Cabinet members en route to Japan have turned around; Kennedy children don’t know what’s happened; Dallas police have found foreign-made rifle
49:05- Two shots were fired from the ‘right rear;’ not sure about third shot
49:49- Huntley recalls 1950 attempted on life of President Harry Truman by two Puerto Rican nationalists at Blair House
50:37- George Burkley, chief White House medical officer, said Kennedy was hit in right temple of his head
50:57- WBAP reports that a car wanted in connection with the assassination has been found in Fort Worth and a person arrested
51:13- Adds that Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippett was shot and killed by a man in car only minutes after Kennedy and Connelly were shot- about miles from the assassination scene
52:00- Interview with witness John Hofen of NBC News (a soundman); Hofen says people thought the first shot was a cherry bomb
54:43- Kennedy’s body hasn’t left Parkland; a bronze coffin has been brought in


Rustbelt said...

55:53- White House flag lowered to half mast
56:10- report that a gun was spotted in a warehouse by a witness; three shots fired; notes that Kennedy is first president to be assassinated since McKinley in 1901; McGee grimly mentions that no president elected in a ‘zero’ year in the last 100 years has finished his term alive
58:09- Video of NBC flag in Washington at half mast; Martin Nagursky reports on reaction from officials in Washington
1:05:30- Picture of people on sidewalk in Dealey Plaza
1:08:00- Kennedy’s body is being moved from Parkland; MacNeil then gives detailed information (at least what’s available) from the assassination scene
1:12:20- Live feed from United Nations Headquarters in New York City, where delegates are giving condolences to American Ambassador Adlai Stevenson; Secretary-General U Thant (Burma) speaks
1:14:23- A British 3-0-3 rifle was found by J.C. May of the Dallas Police, along with three 3-0-3 shell casings in a sniper’s nest; interview with Charles Brent, last man to see President Kennedy prior to limousine going under triple underpass
1:17:29- Report that a Secret Service agent and a Dallas police officer were also killed. McGee and Ryan (Huntley has left) discuss if the officer is the same officer mentioned earlier. Not sure.
1:19:12- McGee refers to Johnson as ‘President Johnson.’
1:19:23- Early report that Johnson’s swearing-in will take place at White House.
1:20:47- Governor Connelly has been operated on and has good vital signs; more overseas reactions; USSR has sent an official report to its citizens that Kennedy died in a hospital after, quote- “being attacked by persons believed to be among the extreme right-wing elements.’
1:22:47- Another arrest in Fort Worth. Man denies having anything to do with assassination.
1:23:33- Weapon recovered may not be British, but may actually be a German Army mauser rifle; three spent cartridges and one inside; some chicken remnants also found
1:25:47- picture of shocked Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough
1:27:00- more overseas reactions
1:28:04- Video of flag lowered at White House; report on Kennedy family; government shut down; official reactions; crowd outside WH; not sure if Johnson has taken oath
1:33:00- McGee muses on possible assassin; not sure if it’s connected to the shooting of the Secret Service Agent (an unconfirmed report) or the Dallas police officer (Tippett)
1:34:01- Jackie Kennedy has left Parkland; Kennedy’s body to be in Washington in about 2 hours
1:35:44- NBC reporter Irving Levine reports from Rome
1:37:00- MacNeil with doctors’ report; surgeon Malcolm Perry says president suffered head and injuries, possibly from same bullet; attempted resuscitation; MacNeil notes conflicting reports due to information on bullet wounds; Johnson has not left Dallas
1:40:46- Dallas police have arrested a man for the murder of the police officer (Tippett)
1:41:10- WBAP shows film of prayer at the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy was to have spoken that day


Rustbelt said...

1:44:13- Update on arrest- man arrested in a theater in Oak Cliff section of Dallas for murder of Dallas police officer; man had a pistol; no evidence of connection with Kennedy’s assassination
1:45:32- NBC Reporter Jeff Pond with bystanders’ reaction on NYC streets; one man blames ultraconservative hate groups in Texas; another believes it was segregationists/conspirators
1:48:54- more reaction from Washington; possible arrangements; NBC reporter Richard Valeriani reports live from White House; Senator Barry Goldwater releases statement on the loss of President Kennedy; reflection on the 1960 Democratic Convention
1:56:58- first confirmation of Johnson’s swearing-in (around 1:30pm, CST) as 36th president; statement from President Eisenhower
1:58:30- more reaction from USSR; Soviets telling their people it was right-wing perpetrators
2:03:00- Connelly suffered three wounds- in chest, wrist, and leg; no word if a sniper has been arrested
2:03:57- WBAP with first video footage of the motorcade and scene in Dallas
2:05:15- camera shakes as assassination takes place, people fall down, Stemmens Freeway, Parkland, emergency room entrance

Rustbelt said...

It's up now, T-Rav. It took a moment to put up because my MW pages were too long. I also have parts 2 and 3 of the feed, with annotations. But if you want, I can stagger those throughout the day if you'd rather I not put it all up at once.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - any time an American President is assassinated, it is, as Joe Biden once said, "a B.F.D." I think you got it exactly correct by likening it to 911. Kennedy was glorified by the press because he was young, handsome, and a Democrat. Like Arnold Palmer at the Masters, he was perfect for television, and protected by the press.He did speak well, and was not overexposed. Today, 70% of citizens think there was a conspiracy. This is due to the vast number of theories and books written, not to mention Stone's movie. That tended to start with Jim Garrison, and a bunch of others jumped on the bandwagon. I think it is probably due to the fact there were so many witnesses (unreliable) the assassin lived in the Soviet Union, and was murdered (silenced?) before he could be brought to trial. I honestly think some liberal historians want to believe right wingers in the military industrial complex were to blame just like they want these killer nuts today to be tea party gun nuts.

T-Rav said...

Rustbelt, if you know how to post a link to the feed itself, you can also do that. It makes me no mind either way.

T-Rav said...

Jed, thanks, and just like 9/11, it's clearly one of those events where you divide time into "before" and "after."

I think one factor in why the Left was so eager to blame conservatives/Southerners/the military-industrial complex was because it fit the overall narrative, and when they found out Oswald's background, he obviously wouldn't fit the bill. Supposedly, Jackie Kennedy remarked just after the shooting that "He didn't even get the dignity of being killed for civil rights. It' had to be some silly little Communist." No, they were deeply invested in this conspiracy theory where the "forces of hate" cut him down.

Rustbelt said...

Okay, T-Rav. Here's the rest. (My notes are shorter, since less information is coming in and the reporters are beginning to repeat what they have.)

Part 2: LINK

0:00:11- Statement from former President Herbert Hoover
0:00:49- Video report on Kennedy’s stop in Houston the day before
0:03:07- Air Force One is en-route to Washington; details on swearing-in
0:04:42- NBC reporter Ellie Able reports on effect on U.S. foreign policy; particularly in communist bloc
0:06:32- Report that man arrested in theater for murder of Dallas officer may be the assassin; report that gunfire was exchanged in theater and that another officer was killed; suspect reportedly said “it’s all over now”
0:07:39- WBAP with video from witnesses in Dealey Plaza; man breaks up; witnesses Jean Hill (interviewed earlier) and Mary Moorman; more motorcade
0:14:03- WBAP told by Detective Jim Leavelle that the man they arrested, Lee Harvey Oswald (first time he’s been named), is likely the killer of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippett; it also reported that Oswald worked in the School Book Depository, along brief mention of Oswald’s time in USSR; Dallas PD won’t confirm if Oswald is connected to the assassination
0:15:59- Ryan notes conflict with wire reports of conflict in theater not mentioned by WBAP involving Oswald
0:17:04- (some technical problems) more information on Oswald’s background
0:19:28- Air Force One will arrive one hour later, 6:30pm EST
0:20:41- McGee recalls swearing-in of President Coolidge; news on Kennedy and Johnson relations
0:22:30- Video report on Kennedy’s visit to San Antonio the day before
0:24:10- NBC reporter Peter Hackis reports on Kennedy and space exploration
0:28:28- Statement from American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson
0:29:42- Report of murdered Secret Service man now known to be false; details on Jackie Kennedy, confirmed she was with Johnson when he was sworn in
0:32:04- WBAP shows video shot of earlier events at Parkland
0:34:49- Reaction from French President Charle de Gaulle; recorded report on reactions from Canadian government in Ottawa
0:38:13- latest report from Washington; technical difficulties with live reaction from Senator (Majority Leader) Mike Mansfield of Montana (D); problem soon fixed at scene; notes on Johnson; also Illinois Senator (Minority Leader) Everett Dirksen (R) and Oregon Senator Wayne Morris (D)
0:43:39- McGee and Ryan hold up newspapers with ‘PRESIDENT DEAD’ headlines; more information on Oswald, who is now a ‘prime suspect’ according to Dallas PD; pictures of the Depository and rifle; choppy info on possible shots
0:48:04- New York Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller (audio) makes statement
0:50:45- Former President Dwight Eisenhower speaks to reporters (more like a press conference)
0:55:56- Connelly’s condition upgraded to ‘satisfactory’


AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I couldn't agree more. I don't care about JFK... pure and simple. The guy was a lightweight who bounced from failure to failure and almost destroyed the country. He wasn't a conservative. He wasn't a genius. He would not have steered America to some utopia.

The only reason he matters today is that Liberals love exploiting his death... what's new.

Rustbelt said...

0:57:08- Update from Washington; Air Force One to land at Andrews Air Force Base in about an hour; details on White House and Kennedy family; crowds outside WH
0:59:13- Reaction in Ireland (where Kennedy visited)
1:00:04- Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (D), Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, reacts
1:03:04- From Washington, effect of assassination on Presidential Cabinet; initial indication that Kennedy will be buried in Boston
1:10:04- Reaction from Bonn, West Germany; West German Air Force have been put on highest alert in case of Soviet attack
1:12:09- Reaction from the United Kingdom
1:15:19- From Washington, latest plans for President Johnson (when he arrives); also plans for Kennedy viewing
1:18:10- NBC reporter John Chancellor reports from West Berlin
1:20:25- Air Force One due in about 30 minutes; latest plans for viewing in the White House; no word on public viewing
1:23:05- Condolences from the USSR representative, Andrei Gromyko
1:23:48- Statement from Pope Paul VI
1:26:30- Ryan reads a portion of the speech that Kennedy was supposed to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart that afternoon
1:28:40- Reaction from Winston Churchill
1:29:29- Reaction from New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes (audio)
1:31:19- Dallas Police now say Oswald is being questioned for the murders of both Tippett and Kennedy; reports in that Oswald was involved in pro-communist activities in New Orleans; chicken remnants found in Depository has some thinking that sniper ate there and waited a while before the assassination
1:36:29- Reports that doctors at Parkland knew Kennedy would die when he arrived
1:37:20- Dallas PD Captain Will Fritz calls Oswald ‘a good suspect,’ but no more
1:37:50- McGee muses that early beliefs were that right-wing groups killed Kennedy; now, the apparent prime suspect is a leftist
1:38:26- First picture of Oswald; first mention that he is a former Marine
1:40:00- Ryan recalls day that FDR died
1:45:25- FEED SWITCHES FROM ROCKEFELLER CENTER TO ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE; (notable technical problems with the sound, several other reporters can be heard as well)
1:45:50- lights visible from plane
1:46:25- Air Force One visible under TV lights
1:46:53- stairway rolls up
1:47:10- passengers begin to disembark
1:47:43- cargo carrier (for the casket) in place

Rustbelt said...

Part 3: LINK

Note: Some host segments, bumpers, and supers from A&E’s ‘As It Happened’ were left in this segment by the poster. (And despite the tag, this is clearly highlights from about 7 hours' worth of footage.)

0:00:42- Men with casket come into view.
0:01:00- Casket in full after being set down in carrier.
0:01:55- Carrier lowered.
0:02:19- Ambulance drives up.
0:02:38- Casket is moved with great difficulty to the ambulance by presidential aides and servicemen.
0:03:09- Robert and Jackie Kennedy in view.
0:04:25- Ambulance leaves Air Force One (bound for Bethesda Naval Base).
0:05:40- President Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson step off Air Force One.
0:07:55- Johnson makes first public address as president.
0:08:40- Johnson begins meeting with other Washington officials on the runway
0:11:00- Johnson boards the Presidential helicopter.
0:14:00- Presidential helicopter leaves Andrews Air Base for the White House.
0:19:55- Reaction former Vice President Richard Nixon; U.S. Naval will fire tributes every half hour for the late president
0:21:08- Presidential helicopter arrives at White House
0:21:57- Johnson gets out of the helicopter.
0:27:59- NBC’S Huntley-Brinkley Report begins (Huntley reporting)
0:28:21- NYC sidewalk reaction from earlier in the day
0:30:00- Recap (WBAP); earlier interviews repeated
0:34:30- Huntley delivers some of his famous ‘righteous fury’ against hate in the United States- which he aims at extremists of all sides
0:36:00- Brinkley narrates video of scenes around Washington; more official reactions
0:36:51- Replay of Kennedy’s ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’ speech, civil rights speech
0:44:40- Rundown of information about Oswald
0:45:16- Interview of Oswald by local reporters after he was arrested for distributing leaflets (Fair Play for Cuba Committee) and disturbing the peace in New Orleans that summer
0:46:52- First shot of the famous picture of Johnson being sworn in.
0:47:00- Interview with Newsweek correspondent Charles Roberts, who witnessed Johnson’s swearing-in
0:50:00- Oswald has been formally charged with killing Officer Tippett, but not for killing President Kennedy; more information on the shots (the chicken is mentioned again), the location, and the rifle; McGee then recaps all the available information
0:53:47- New York City in virtual silence, despite crowds
0:57:59- Recap/obituary of the life of President John Kennedy.
1:09:07- Senator George Smathers of Florida (D) talks about Congressional meetings following the assassination
1:10:00- Commentary on the ‘violent country’ that America is (reporter unidentified)


Rustbelt said...

1:14:59- Reaction in San Francisco (via affiliate KRON); again, right-wingers are blamed for the assassination
1:17:25- Ryan notes the irony that a government loan allowed Oswald to return to the United States from the Soviet Union
1:18:30- Brinkley says that Dallas police report no prints found on rifle before being sent to FBI
1:19:48- MacNeil (on-camera for first time) reports from WBAP, recounting the events of Kennedy’s day up to, during, and after the assassination
1:28:02- Video of Donald House, who was arrested, but cleared and released
1:28:40- First video of Oswald being led through Dallas Police Headquarters, as reported by NBC reporter Tom Pettit
1:29:32- Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry says a print was found on the rifle
1:30:30- Dallas Police have performed paraffin [wax] tests have been performed Oswald; chicken from Depository mentioned again
1:31:00- Return of Kennedy Cabinet members (who had been on their way to Japan when the assassination took place and they immediately turned around)
1:32:47- David Brinkley wraps up the days events (it’s well after midnight on the east coast when this airs) and ends coverage from Washington
1:35:05- Dallas Chief Curry announces that Oswald has been charged with President Kennedy’s murder
1:35:40- Reaction from Austin, TX, where Kennedy was to have wrapped up his trip
1:36:26- More footage and information on Oswald; video of Marina (wife), Marguerite (mother), and June and Rachel (daughters) Oswald; Oswald denies the charges to the cameras; Sergeant Gerald Hill comments on Oswald’s arrest
1:38:50- Report on unfortunate history of Kennedy family
1:40:58- McGee announces the end of NBC’s broadcast day

Patriot said...

T-Rav... "History is written by the victors" right? Who knows what happened at past events and unfolding history. Imagine the official version of O'Care (and O himself) that will be out there in 50 years. Look at the difference of opinion happening in real time with it and then what "history" will settle on.

I remember there was a lot of angst and nervousness of JFK being a Catholic (Papist). Many Americans didn't (and still don't) trust Catholics to act on their own volition. They think all Catholics are mind-numbed followers of the Pope and there is some secret Illuminati like code that dictates their every move.

As Catholics, I can remember my parents wondering if JFK could be elected because of his Catholic faith. Nowadays, no one even mentions his faith and the role it had in his electoral prospects. Yet it was a BFD at the time.

Also, the hagia fication(sp?) of Kennedy began almost immediately:

"With experience in analyzing foreign cultures from his time abroad, T. H. White took up the challenge of analyzing American culture with the books The Making of the President, 1960 (1961), The Making of the President, 1964 (1965), The Making of the President, 1968 (1969), and The Making of the President, 1972 (1973), all analyzing American presidential elections. The first of these was both a bestseller and a critical success, winning the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. It remains the most influential publication about the election that made John F. Kennedy the President. The later presidential books sold well but failed to have as great an effect, partly because other authors were by then publishing about the same topics, and White's larger-than-life style of storytelling became less fashionable during the 1960s and '70s.
A week after the death of JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy summoned White to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port to "rescue" her husband's legacy. She proposed that White prepare an article for Life magazine drawing a parallel between her husband and his administration to King Arthur and the mythical Camelot. At the time, a play of that name was being performed on Broadway and Jackie focused on the ending lyrics of an Alan Jay Lerner song, "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot." White, who had known the Kennedys from his time as a classmate of the late President's brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., was happy to oblige. He heeded some of Jackie's suggestions while writing a 1,000 word essay that he dictated later that evening to his editors at Life. When they complained that the Camelot theme was overdone, Jackie objected to changes. By this telling, Kennedy's time in office was transformed into a modern day Camelot that represented, “a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers, and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back.” Thus was born one of the nation's most enduring, and inaccurate, myths. White later described his comparison of JFK to Camelot as the result of kindness to a distraught widow of a just-assassinated leader, and wrote that his essay was a "misreading of history. The magic Camelot of John F. Kennedy never existed." (Wikipedia)

Thus history, and myth, is made. Look at how we remember Kennedy now, and we can see the importance of being the first to create the myth which will forever be viewed as "real."

I expect the same with our current "young, hip and cool" President. The myth has already been started.

Anthony said...


Both parties boast large cults of personality IMHO. Reagan was awesome, but if I had a dollar for every time I've read some say something ahistorical like 'The terrorists wouldn't have dared attacked us if Reagan were president and if they did he would have wiped the out!' I would not need to work for a living.

Lots of people like to pretend that if X dead person were still around everything would be rainbows and sunshine. The hard truth is that a lot of things in the world have their own momentum so while one man with the right talents can make a massive difference, nobody can mold the world like soft clay.

Its also worth keeping in mind that great leaders like all men, are in part products of their time so if someone invented a time machine and extended the lives of great leaders, they wouldn't necessarily be the people they once were.

Critch said...

As a Memphian I've always felt for Dallas...both cities were blamed for murders that just happened to occur there...Hubert Humphrey and Jackie Kennedy had to push JFK into the Civil Rights; I don't feel he was ambivalent, I think he was scared of losing the South in 1964. I'm not sure how JFK would have been remembered if he had lived and finished a 4th term. The economy was doing fairly well under him, who knows, maybe he would have done something decisve in Vietnam, as opposed to LBJs piss-anting everything. JFK was not a liberal by the standards of that day, he was a moderate. He was pro-2nd Amendment, pro-business, and pro-military...

tryanmax said...

I don't know a lot about JFK, which is to say, I know quite a bit about the myth but have never bothered to suss out the reality. That said, I feel comfortable saying the the worst thing he ever did was to take LBJ as his VP. Policies aside, the man was a skunk of a human being.

T-Rav said...

Critch, ESPN featured a special this morning on the experiences of the NFL teams the Sunday after the assassination, especially the Dallas Cowboys, who were playing on the road and experienced a lot of open hostility because it was "their" city that killed him. It was narrated by Dan Rather--which I find somewhat amazing, given that Rather did a lot to perpetuate that particular myth (reporting that Dallas schoolchildren had cheered JFK's death even though he knew the story wasn't true, etc.).

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I do want to stress, I don't have any negative feelings toward Kennedy, any more than I have very strong positive feelings. Counterfactuals are tricky things, but it's entirely possible his charisma might have steered the country through the breakers of social unrest and the civil rights upheaval, and he might have prosecuted the war in Vietnam more effectively. But maybe not. Truth is, there's no good reason to think he would have brought us utopia.

T-Rav said...

"Many Americans didn't (and still don't) trust Catholics to act on their own volition. They think all Catholics are mind-numbed followers of the Pope and there is some secret Illuminati like code that dictates their every move."

Patriot, you leave my grandfather out of this! :-)

I don't believe Obama will get the same glorifying myth as Kennedy has. For one thing, the assassination naturally caused people to revise their opinions of the man in hindsight, which hopefully won't happen to Obama. Plus, it was much earlier in Kennedy's term. And with Obama's policies so visibly backfiring on him, I doubt he'll be remembered quite so fondly after he's left office. I hope not, anyway.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I know much less about LBJ than I do about Kennedy. All I could really comment on are his policies--which, as they include the dramatic expansion of Social Security, the introduction of Medicare, and starting up the college tuition spiral, and many other aspects of our wonderful welfare state, left a lot to be desired.

T-Rav said...

Folks, I'm gonna be gone for a few hours. So you amongst yourselves, all that.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Same here. I don't view JFK as anything really. He was a guy who wasn't a very good President who got shot and his family are skunks. The end. What bothers me is the canonization and how Boomer-age MSM types can't shut up about the guy.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, True. And I get sick of hearing everyone on the right trying to steal Reagan for some crackpot idea he never would have endorsed or trying to make him into some superman he never was. Reagan was a great president who did some great things for America. We can learn a lot from his successes (and his failure), but not if we make stuff up about him.

On JFK, what kills me is that the MSM won't stop drooling about this guy. They are constantly, openly looking to recreate this fake Camelot with whoever their latest crush is. And they've blown JKF into this totally unreal figure who would walk through the crowds and heal the sick and unhip with his hands and would have got us all living in peace and racial harmony on the moon if only he had a few more days in office. Get over it, people.

EricP said...

No jokes, T-Rav, just a transcript of one of my favorite SNL sketches (sadly, no video available -- thanks, NBC):

The Forum

Phil Kubec.....Joe Piscopo
Tom LaPorte.....Jim Belushi
Carol Halpin.....Robin Duke
Third Guest.....Tim Kazurinsky

Phil Kubec: Good evening! I'm Phil Kubec, welcome to "The Forum." This week marks the 20th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy. I suppose every American remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard that the President had been shot. Now, this week we have asked three Americans, chosen completely at random, to come on the show and tell us their stories. What is your name, Sir?

Tom LaPorte: Uh, Tom LaPorte.

Phil Kubec: Okay, Tom. Do you remember where you were when you heard that Kennedy was dead?

Tom LaPorte: I sure do, Phil. I'll never forget it. I was a freshman at Boston University at the time, and I remember walking across the Commons to go to class, and I heard a couple of guys talking. They were talking..

Phil Kubec: [ interrupting ] Whoa, whoa, whoa.. hold on a second. How old are you?

Tom LaPorte: I'm 29.

Phil Kubec: Mmm-hmm.

Tom LaPorte: So, anyhow, I was walking across the Commons, right? And I heard these two guys..

Phil Kubec: I..I'm sorry, Tom. I don't mean to interrupt you again. You were 9 years old, and you were a freshman at Boston University?

Tom LaPorte: No, no, no, I was 18. Anyhow, I was walking across campus, and I saw these two guys talking..

Phil Kubec: Hold on, Tom. Again, I'm sorry. Let me get this straight - you didn't know that President Kennedy had been shot for nine years?

Tom LaPorte: Well, Phil, you know, I was never really big, you know, on current events..

Phil Kubec: We're talking about the President getting shot, here! I mean, the President of the United States! How could you have missed it?

Tom LaPorte: Well, you know.. I usually turn to the Sports page first. I like to catch that first..

Phil Kubec: [ exasperated ] The Sports page?! This was one of the biggest stories of the decade!

Tom LaPorte: Well, maybe it was a big story in Dallas, but..

Phil Kubec: This was not a local story! I can't believe this! Have you ever heard anything so stupid in your life?

Tom LaPorte: [ defensive ] Yeah, well, I'm sure I know a lot more about sports than you do!

Phil Kubec: Fine! Fine! [ turning to the next guest ] Uh, what's your name, please?

Carol Halpin: Carol Halpin.

Tom LaPorte: Tell me, Carol, how did you first hear that President Kennedy had been shot?

Phil Kubec: Well, Phil, this is a little embarassing, considering what transpired here.. but, uh.. he told me. [ indicates Tom ]

Phil Kubec: What?!

Carol Halpin: Backstage. Just before the show.

Phil Kubec: You mean, you didn't know about the Kennedy thing until tonight?!

Tom LaPorte: [ laughing proudly ] What a dork, Phil!

Phil Kubec: Have you people been in a coma, or what?

Carol Halpin: Well, I.. I must have been watching another channel..

Phil Kubec: [ outraged ] Another channel?! It was on all the channels! He was the President, for God's sake! Everybody on Earth knew about it the day it happened, except for you two people sitting right here!!

Third Guest: Uh, excuse me. Are you people talking about President Kennedy?

Phil Kubec: Yes!

Third Guest: Oh, what. Did something happen?

Carol Halpin: He's.. he's been shot.

Third Guest: Oh, no! No! No, he's been shot! [ starts weeping ]

Phil Kubec: [ disgusted ] That's it for me. Join us next week on "The Forum", when our guest will be Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

Tom LaPorte: [ intrigued ] Wait a minute.. you mean, there's Americans.. on the moon?

Phil Kubec: [ angry ] Yes!

Tom LaPorte: [ excited ] Alright! [ turns to Carol ] Give me five! I can't believe it! On the moon!

[ fade to black ]

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, That's hilarious!

Koshcat said...

I wasn't born until 1970 so it is not any more of an event to me than say Lincoln being shot. It is all historical. My favorite Kennedy moment is his Moon speech.

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

That is how you motivate people to support a project with a relatively fuzzy purpose.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That is probably the one achievement of Kennedy's that I truly like -- pushing the space program. In terms of his speech, yeah, they don't write like that very often and certainly not in some time.

EricP said...

>>Eric, That's hilarious! >>

Just wait till Lincoln's birthday for another, even funnier, SNL flashback (also starring Piscopo).

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, One of my favorite SNL moments was when Jimmy Stewart visited Ronald Reagan in the White House and Reagan is acting like a senile old guy to get rid of him but he won't leave. And then Reagan finally has enough.

Reagan: "Don't make me kill you, Jimmy!"
Stewart: "Dutch... you've changed!"


Backthrow said...

My father (who was 27 at the time of the assassination) always says that Kennedy's political fortunes were failing at the time, and very well might not have been re-elected in 1964... and that a lot of what LBJ did, policy-wise (Vietnam escalation, Great Society, etc), as president was opportunistically trying to "out-Kennedy" Kennedy, since he rode into office on a wave of sympathy, thanks to the assassination. Dad wasn't a fan of either president ("Kennedy was an incompetent, who brought use closer to the brink of thermonuclear war than any other president, before or since."), and thinks JFK's "war hero" credentials were more fabricated/exaggerated than actual, to bolster his chances of being elected in 1960.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - I apologize for not participating up until now. I have been running a marathon of a day and I just now have time to read everything.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Make sure you get plenty to drink! Re-hydration is important after marathon days.

BevfromNYC said...

If by "re-hydration" you mean drinking red wine, then...yeah, I'm "re-hydrating". It's what I call "going to Toronto" without the crack.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Yep. That's what I mean.

Rustbelt said...

After this early morning's overkill, I just have a few more thoughts to add.

About ten years ago, when I was still in school at OSU, I got to meet Jack Park, Ohio State's top football historian. He'd was signing copies of his new 'Buckeye Football Encyclopedia.' (And he was nice to sign enough to sign a personalized copy for me.) Eventually, we got to talking about the OSU-UM rivalry. About that time, he pointed to the cover of his book- a picture of OSU memorabilia. In the lower right-hand corner, was a ticket for one of those games with its stub still on. Mr. Park said that was his unused ticket for the 11-23-63 edition of the game- which was to have been played the day after Kennedy was killed. (It was ultimately delayed for one week.) To call that an unexpected, and rather chilling, revelation, would be an understatement.

And just to throw some sanity on the situation, here's a documentary (LINK) from 10 years ago (the 40th anniversary), hosted by Peter Jennings that acts as a conspiracy-buster.

T-Rav said...

Bev, I was on the road, and then forgot to check the site, so don't feel bad about anything.

Rustbelt, the refutations of the conspiracy theories are out there, sure enough, but no one wants to acknowledge them.

CrisD said...

I was in 2nd grade when Kennedy was assassinated. I was from a Catholic family and attended a Convent School. Both my parents had voted for Kennedy because people said you couldn't be Catholic and be President. That day the nuns, as you can imagine, went bananas and upon news the President had been shot interrupted class, led us to the chapel to pray for the President and probably called our mothers to come get us.

Here is the most important part of this HUGE event: it introduced an incredible amount of civil/social/political chaos. Race relations, riots, the pill and sex mores, RFK and MLK assassination....I grew up in the rest of grade school and middle school with incredible upheaval. It was topped off with nightly war scenes of Vietnam (and ultimately bringing down Nixon with Watergate--assisted by no other than the young Hilary Clinton).

My attitude as a graduating High School Student in 1976 was: Hippies stink, drugs will fry your brains, and vote Republican. [My parents never voted Democrat after Kennedy but they were always teased me about how conservatively inclined I was at a young age]

T-Rav, I share my story because I think, no matter how many people tell you what they think the event did, each person has a particular perspective. Ultimately, I would say that those times were very rocky and at least I did not like it one bit! :)

I loved your very insightful post


AndrewPrice said...

Cris, I grew up under Carter and then Reagan (born 1970), and that was my attitude exactly! " Hippies stink, drugs will fry your brains, and vote Republican." :D

T-Rav said...

Thanks, CrisD! And that was pretty much my attitude by the time I graduated high school, too! (Though with less support from my family....)

Individualist said...

T-Rav "randomness of the Universe"

but but Oswald was a Communist who defected to Russia, he handed out pro Cuba pamphlets ... naturally it was a Soviet conspiracy

and and Ruby was a mobster who was assassinating the assassin so obviously the Soviets paid the mob to kill Kennedy

So so since Kennedy wanted to go to the moon it must have been the Space Aliens mind controlling the Soviets to pay the mob to kill Kennedy so that they did not have to put up with the humanity coming to their back porch...

Humans are after all the hillbillies of the Universe... Look at Miley Cyrus and her foam finder sexual aids.. enough said!

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