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Why
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Interview

Why
the Kennedy Men
matter



 

Ask Laurence Leamer



Laurence Leamer is a preeminent expert about the Kennedy Family. If you have questions for which you can't find answers on this website or in his books,  Sons of Camelot or The Kennedy Men, please feel free to email Laurence.

You can reach him at author@kennedymen.com. He'll reply to as many of your questions as he can, and we'll post the answers in this area for your reference. Keep coming back to find your answers!



Questions & Answers


From Todd Klinzing/Theisen
I know the Kennedy/Shrivers were insturmental in the Peace Corps, Special Olympics, Head Start, the Hudson River clean-up, Kennedy School of Busienss, etc. Is there a comprehensive listing of all the good works these families have done over the last few generations. I would love to see a compiled list to better comprehend their full impact on the world.
Thanks. Todd

Dear ToddóThat would be a great idea but one doesnít exist. It would include lots of things you and I know about and some things that arenít known at all. All the best, Larry Leamer





Mr. Leamer,
I have been interested in the Kennedy mystique for some time. I have purchased books through ebay and have seen some interesting things people have for sale. I came accross a thank you note from Jackie and here is the item number if you would like to look at it on ebay.(Item number:
3597399168).It is a for the JFK library. Do you know if this is authentic, because I was going to bid on it.It was to a man named Alfred Kern. I have more of a interest in Ethel and Bobby though, and I have a signed and typed letter from Ethel to George Segal about that RFK tennis tournament. Im sorry this is kind of long, but I new you would you would know something.
Sincerely
Shannon Smith
P.S. Where did you get your info for Ethel and have you ever seen Hickory Hill? We, as a family are going to DC this summer and wanted to go see the house....I know it's went up for sale and the listing price was something around 25 million~!!!!!~............Thanks

I don't know if the letter is authentic or not but one of the positive things about Jackie is that she never sent a boilerplate thank you note. There was always something unique. I've been to Hickory Hill several times. I don't know about the 25 million dollars asking price but I think I'll pass.





Hello Mr. Leamer.
I just saw you on the O'Reilly Factor.
I don't know much about the Kennedy's, but you make a very valid point: smut sells, and everybody knows it.
It is a great shame that our media has taken such a downward spiral.
Blessings, Phillip

Dear Phillip, I agree. It's sickening what has been happening. I'm so glad to get your email because when I got off the air, I was worried that I had been too upset. But it bothers me so much to see smut promoted as if it's the truth. Larry





Hi Mr. Leamer,
I truly enjoyed your unique look into the Kennedy Family, since I am a huge fan. I especially enjoy reading about the Shriver Family, they have all done so much for people with mental disabilities and the disadvantaged.
I saw the special on 48 hours and was disturbed by the comment Anthony Shriver made about Arnold Schwarzenegger. I wanted so much to believe that the things written about him were overblown. I figured if the Shriver family embraced him (according to Maria) then he had to be a good guy if not just a abnoxious jock. Was that carefully edited? or are they upset with the recent allegations about thier brother-in-law?
I heard you are writing a book about Arnold, when will that be completed?
Thanks for your time, Amy Finneral

Amy--I was kind of startled by Anthony Shriver's remark too. He's an in your face kind of guy, and I don't think he realizes how his comments sound sometimes. But I guarantee you next time Arnold gets together with the Shrivers, Anthony will be there. I'm finishing up the research on my new book on Arnold now. It will be out next year. Larry





Dear Mr. Laurence Leamer,
My name is Caitlin Casey. I am a student at Suffolk University. I am doing a research paper on The Kennedy Family for my English course. I first became interested in the Kennedy family due to my own family. They too share the interests of John F Kennedy, including politically. I feel that I have a lot in common with them, being of an Irish Catholic background and from Massachusetts. I am fascinated with the countryís obsession with the assassination of JFK.
I am writing to you because I was looking for some extra information. Specifically on the myths and truths of the family, background information dating back to Joseph Kennedy, why people believe in the Kennedy ďcurseĒ, and background information on the assassination. Anything you can provide will be helpful. I donít exactly have a specific thesis yet so I apologize for the broadness. If you have any suggestions, feel free. Also, if you have any names of other contacts that might help, that would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, Caitlin Casey

I don't mean to promote my own books, but I would suggest reading The Kennedy Men and Sons of Camelot. You can find The Kennedy Men in the library and maybe Sons of Camelot will be there too.





I wanted to know if the rumors about John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bassette Kennedy using drugs were true? And was JRK Jr and Bassestt's marriage in trouble? Thanks, Monica P.

Let's see. John liked to smoke marijuana and Carolyn would on occasion take cocaine but they were not addicts. There marriage was going through a tough time but the weekend before their deaths they were discussing having a baby.





Dear Mr. Leamer:
In 1960 I was a 'Kennedy-Johnson' girl appointed by Governor Vandiver in Georgia to accompany Senator Kennedy and Senator Johnson and Lady Bird should they come to Atlanta. We 18 year olds had the vote back then when most of the US didn't.
My grandmother Miz Mamie, was in business with Mr. Joe Kennedy during prohibition. No further explanation is needed. At 18 I was a striking red-haired Southern Belle although very naive in a Catholic convent sort of way. Senator Talmadge (Uncle Herman we called him) introduced me and the other Kennedy-Johnson girls (There were 5) to the Senator in Warm Springs, Georgia when he came to visit Georgia during his campaign.
I stepped forward and shook his hand. He was very gracious. He asked questions about what I was doing (going to business college) and my family. I told him about my grandmother and he threw his head back and laughed very loudly. He replied: 'Well, I will have to call Dad when I get back and let him know I met Miz Mamie's granddaughter. That should stir up some old memories.'
We continued to chat and I noticed the other gals were getting a bit upset that he had not moved on to meet them. Then Senator Talmade leaned over and whispered in my ear: 'Miss Boo, if you will get off the Senator's foot, perhaps he can move on.' I looked down and almost fainted from embarrassment. In stepping forward to shake his hand, I had stepped firmly on his right shoe and he was too much of a gentleman to tell me. I turned as red as my hair and he winked and moved on.
It was a day in my life that I shall never, ever forget. His autographed picture and an autographed picture of his brother Robert are in my living room here in NYC. I will celebrate my 62nd birthday April 5th. I look back now with a lot of tears. First Jack, then Bobby. After Bobby was buried I left the States and moved to Cuba to heal. I chose Cuba because that was the only place I had a friend at the time outside the country. On October 8th, 1968 I spent 9 hours with Fidel Castro at one of his safe houses. We spoke for hours about Jack and Bobby. I brought all of the news magazines about Bobby's death with me for him. What a night that was!
I cannot wait to read your book. Bunnye Hearne (now Anna Carroll)

What a fascinating letter!!! I just wish I had talked to you when I was writing The Kennedy Men.





Hello Mr. Leamer,
I am a UCLA student doing a report for my speech analysis class on the standards enforced and practiced within the times. I had heard that John Carroll had told you that he may have said he wanted a "full scrub" on Schwarzenegger when he launched the investigation... is this true? I just don't want to quote that unless I can verify that with you. Thank You,
Rona

I interviewed John Carroll for my biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger and he confirmed that this is a phrase that he may well have used.





Dear Mr. Leamer,
I am glad to see your new book is out. I bought my copy today! I always check your website for possible new books and the questions and answers.
I find too that I care for John Jr although he was just 3 years older than me, I still see the little 3 year ols toddler running around and playing with his father who enjoyed him so much.
I guess it is just the tragedy of President Kennedy's death even after so long it hurt me to realize what Mrs. Onassis, John and Caroline had lost.
I do not believe John was careless in flying the plane, I do not believe he lived his life carelessly. John and Caroline were raisied I think to be careing people, one of my prized possessions is a thank you note I recieved from them after the death of their mother, a thoughtful thing to think of others during their grief.
I was wondering if during your research if you found out whether or not Maurice Templsman stayed in touch with John and Caroline after Mrs. Onassis' passing. I have not heard anymore about him.
I also noticed your picture of John and Friday, did you find out why the dog went to Spain instead of Caroline taking the dog? I really feel sorry for Caroline..she must miss her family so much, she is so much like her mother..she likes her privacy. Again Thanks for the book... and for your time and replies.
Here for you is a photo of John from my collection... for me it brings a smile and a tear as well.
Thank you,
Michelle Morrissette


Dear Michelle--I'm glad you are interested in my work. I'm not going to spoil the reading of my book by telling you what I think about the questions. Why don't you write me when you finish the book and tell me if your beliefs have changed? John Jr. admired Maurice Tempelsman but after the death of Mrs. Onassis, he wasn't comfortable being around him that much. It reminded him too much of the past and his mother's death. I don't know why John's dog wasn't taken by Caroline. The cat went to one of John's closest friends. It sits in her apartment and constantly reminds her of John. And thanks for the photo. It's fascinating. Larry Leamer





Dear Mr. Leamer,
Our city has a Rosemary Kennedy Elementary School, named for the President's sister, and came across your book site today.
1) I was curious what kind of woman Miss Kennedy has been over the years, what kind of condition is she is and does she have any cognitive function to any degree? I've never been able to get a clear picture.
2) Do you have any indication that John Kennedy Jr. seriously intended to get into politics or did he just want to flirt with it and his fame around the edges? To me, he seemed amused at everyone's obsession with him and political potential but he didn't seem at all intereseted or serious about it.
3) With Kathleen Townsend's and Mark Shriver's electioon failures in Maryland and Joe Kennedy II's retirement from Congress, is the Kennedy political legend about to runs its course? Is there anyone interested in Uncle Ted's seat when he retires from the Senate?
4) How formidable a political presence is Patrick Kennedy? Does he want to move forward? Does he have serious potential?
5) Does Senator Kennedy intent to write any sort of autobiography once he retires? That would be a fascinating book!
Best wishes,
Steven Frasher
Riverside, California


Dear Mr. Frasher: I'm glad that there's a Rosemary Kennedy Elementary School. To my way of thinking she is the co-founder of Special Olympics. If there had not been someone in the family with mental retardation, I doubt if Eunice Kennedy Shriver would have founded Special Olympics in 1968. Rosemary Kennedy is aged now, the normal affinities of age worsened because she can not articulate what difficulties she is having. She has the mental age of a five year old. As to your second question, John Kennedy Jr. was seriously interested in politics. As you'll read in Sons of Camelot, he wanted to run for the Senate in 2000 and was upset when Mrs. Clinton arrived in the state. If he had lived he would have run in the near future. As to question three, those defeats proved that the Kennedys are no longer invulnerable politically and the best way to get a big name is to defeat one of them. Question four, Patrick doesn't come out in my book as having a big political future. He's done nothing his entire adult life but hold political office, and I think leaders need to have done more than that. And finally, as you'll see in my book, Senator Kennedy has kept notes and tapes for his entire career in the Senate and one day soon he will be writing his autobiography.





There's all this hype about Kennedy books, and all these new revelations. How do we know you're any different?" Harry Weiner, Ohio

Well, first of all I had the total cooperation of ten of the Kennedys and all of John Jr's closest friends. I've gone over the factual details of the book with the principals, and believe me this is about as close to the truth of these lives as you're going to read. I know some of it is so incredible that you think it's made up, but it's not.





I've always had a special concern for John Kennedy Jr. How does he come out in your book? Susan Merrick, New York

I've got a special concern for him too. You know I read the audio book of Sons of Camelot, and when I finished the editor said that he knew I had deep feelings about John because my voice changed whenever I was reading about him from my book. I care very much that I've captured his life in all its complexity and detail. That's what his close friends hoped I would do, and I have tried my best.





Is there one son of Camelot who you think stands above all the others. Tim J., Denver

I don't think so. I think John had the greatest political promise, but you know there are some extraordinary lives here and some very sad ones.





What are you proudest of about your book?

I guess that I got everybody to talk and I tried to get it right. There's nothing in Sons of Camelot that is not checked out. I was fortunate to write this book. It was a powerful experience in my life, and I'm glad too that it ends with Senator Kennedy in his office. He's made the greatest impact on the world of any of them, and it's right that the reader should go away thinking about him and what he has to say.





Do you think Michael Kennedy was a sex addict? Anonymous

He was not only a sex addict but a danger addict and an alcoholic.





Hello Mr. Leamer, I have gathered from information I have read, that you plan on writing a sequel to " The Kennedy Men". If so, can you tell me what years it covers, and what the general topic of interest will be ? - Thanks, Tony

The second volume will continue the story of the Kennedy men from JFK's assassination to the present. It is a very different tale than that found in the first volume and will include new material on Robert Kennedy's last years, Chappaquiddick and Senator Edward Kennedy's political career, and the lives of the young generation, with intimate looks at many of them.



Dear Mr. Leamer, I have a question about Rosemary. A friend at work said that she is still alive and she should be about 90. Is this true and is she still in a sanatorium? That was really sad what happened to her, and Joe did not get his wife's approval. To me it sounds like he just wanted to wash his hands with her, not to be bothered - that is really sad. Your book I really love, I never read any book on the Kennedys but this one is high on my home library list. I received your book from my daughter for my birthday. - I am at kevhead9465@aol.com thank you Mr. Leamer.

Rosemary is at St. Coletta's, a home for the mentally retarded, in Wisconsin. She lives in a little house next to the main facility and is watched over by several nuns. She often comes to visit members of her family now, especially Eunice and Sarge Shriver and their son Anthony in Florida. When I was writing The Kennedy Women, I visited St. Coletta's and saw how Rosemary was cared for. In my opinion, she is in truth a co-founder of Special Olympics, for without here I don't think the organization ever would have happened.



Dear Mr. Leamer, I just wanted to say thanks for the good book and I can't wait for part 2. No matter how many books I have about the Kennedys I always have room for more. The style and grace the Kennedys brought to the White House and to the country will never be matched.

I was reading the questions and answer section to your website, and noticed that you said Jackie was buried beside the President and their 2 children - Patrick and an unnamed daughter. The baby was delivered by caesarean section August 23. The name Jackie picked out for the baby was Arabella. Robert Kennedy arranged for the baby to be buried in St. Columbia's Cemetery, the coffin was marked "Baby Girl Kennedy".

Why the name Arabella was not put on the grave I don't know but that is the name Jackie chose.

Thanks again for the book ....Kennedy Women was good as well. - Michelle Morrissette (Ak112263@aol.com)

Thanks for teaching me something new.



The answer to this may be in your book, but I am currently unable to purchase anything which is non-essential. It is my hope to buy your book because I found your interview with Katie Couric this morning very interesting; in particular, the Parkinson's of which I knew nothing. My question is this: When I visited the Kennedy Memorial at Arlington National Cemetary in 1992, I saw a grave within that memorial for "Margaret". I knew that President Kennedy had a sister named Margaret, but I didn't think she would be buried at this place. Whose grave is that? Thank you very much. - Patricia Murphy-Rosenberg, Austin, TX...native Seattleite transplanted here.

I donít know where Margaret comes from. JFKís sisters were Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Pat and Jean. President Kennedy is buried next to Jacqueline, his wife, and two of his children who died in birth, an unnamed daughter who died in August of 1956, and Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who died in August 1963 two days after his birth.



Dear Mr. Leamer- I am currently enrolled in an American Heritage class at Brigham Young University. One of the requirements for this class is that I write a research paper. I was given many topics from which I could choose, but the topic that most interested me was JFK--A Catholic President. I chose this topic because unlike any of the other students in my class, I was actually alive during President Kennedy's administration. I am a 47 year old re-entry student with 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren! I wanted to write on this subject because President Kennedy's life and death had a huge impact on me and my family.

I have the book "Profiles In Courage," and I have just ordered (via the internet) your new book "The Kennedy Men 1901-1963". I don't know if your book addresses the issue of Catholicism, and if it was a factor before or after the election, but so far I have not been able to acquire much information. I also want to address the issue of courage and "arete." We have discussed these characteristics at length in class, and I understand that courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. I look forward to receiving and reading your book, and hope that you can find the time to respond. Thank you - April McKinney

Youíve got a great subject and I think youíll find material of value in The Kennedy Men. Let me tell you one story that got cut out of my book. In the Wisconsin primary in 1960, the columnist Joe Alsop happened to be on the same plane with Senator Eugene McCarthy flying to Milwaukee. McCarthy didnít think much of Kennedyís candidacy or his Catholicism, and he walked up and sat next to Alsop and started telling him stories about Kennedyís sex life. Alsop stopped him, saying that Kennedy was his friend, and he didnít want to hear such gossip. McCarthy went back to his seat, pulled up a red leather religious book and began reading. When Alsop arrived in Milwaukee, he went to Kennedyís hotel and told him the story. Kennedy said that when he was growing up one of the axioms was never trust a politician who reads a religious book on the trolley. Good luck with your project.



Is it possible to get a signed copy of your new book? If so, how? - Randy Sacia

Several people have asked about this. Iíve arranged with the Palm Beach Book Store in Palm Beach, Florida to ship autographed books. Their phone number is 561 659-6700. Their fax is 561 659-6594. Their e-mail address is info@palmbeachbookstore.com. Their address is
The Palm Beach Book Store,
215 Royal Poinciana Way,
Palm Beach, Fl. 33480.
If you have a special message youíd like on your book, you can either e-mail me or tell the store.




dear laurence - i consider myself a kennedy fanatic - i share the same birthday with jfk (may 29th) when i was in high school here in illinois i sent him a birthday card and was thrilled to receive one in return - my mom called me at my part-time job and she said you got a letter from the white house - you can imagine how excited i was -even tho the card was from mrs lincoln, the secretary, she told me that the president wanted to wish me a happy birthday - i was a celeb in our little town - it was great i have a huge collection of kennedy books, magazines etc even a bronze bust of jfk that my sisters gave me one year for my own kennedy library. i can't wait to get my hands on your new book - it's sounds wonderful - sincerely nancy patricia sundal of des plaines, illinois just outside of chicago = this is my son's computer for college and i am just learning how to use it - i hope this goes thru to you...thanks

Youíre doing just great, Mrs. Sundal. Iím delighted that my book will be part of your collection.



Can you recommend a Kennedy family tree that could be found on the internet? - Allson Griffin

I don't know where there's one on the internet. There's a good one in my earlier book, The Kennedy Women.



Dear Lawrence Leamer: I have not noticed any news about the oldest son of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy. Several years ago, he was widely publicized when he had his leg amputated because of cancer. Is this young man still alive, and if so, why have we not heard anything about him? - Sincerely, Terri Haddad

Ted Kennedy Jr. is doing fine. He's an attorney in Connecticut and active in causes involving the disabled.



Dear Mr. Leamer: You interviewed Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, for your previous book "The Kennedy Women". Would you please tell me if Ms. Townsend has strong ambitions to be the first Kennedy woman to run for the Presidency? If she does have these ambitions, would they likely conflict with other Kennedy relatives of hers, such as Representative Patrick Kennedy, who also has a promising political future? Thank you for answering my question. - Sincerely, Prof. Adhi Kari, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

I think Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's first ambition is to be elected governor of Maryland. Beyond that who knows? But I would say she has the best chance of any Kennedy of her generation to be the first Kennedy of her generation to be on a national ticket. But there are others too with ambitions and abilities include Mark Shriver who is running for Congress from Maryland. And Robert Kennedy Jr., a leading environmentalist, is not without ambitions of his own-and great accomplishments.



Perhaps you can tell me why Senator Ted Kennedy appears to be so indifferent to his personal health. I find it difficult to understand how a person who grew up in an athletic and healthy family environment as he did fails to take care of his own personal physical condition. Perhaps you can explain this overwhelming contradiction. - Sincerely, Steve Adolphus, Jr.

Senator Kennedy is definitely way overweight but you know nobody in the Senate works any harder than he does. Many members of Congress wanted to turn tail and go home worried about their own safety. Senator Kennedy believes in staying at his desk doing his work. Better a patriotic fat senator than a cowardly thin one.



Dear Mr. Leamer..could you please tell me if it is true that until Sargent Shriver married into the Kennedy family, his family was on welfare in Maryland? I heard that the Shriver family lost their family wealth in the 1930's depression, while old Joe Kennedy was making his big time. Is it also true that Eunice Kennedy is known in Washington circles as a very eccentric woman who has been known to wear a mink coat in high summer temperatures, as well as absent-mindedly shoplift from drugstores when she needs something and finds herself without money or friends from whom to borrow? - Sincerely, M. A. Orlando

This is all nonsense. Sarge Shriver, the first head of the Peace Corps, was from a family that had seen better times but he was far from poor. Mrs. Shriver may be eccentric but she's one of the great woman of the twentieth century, the found of Special Olympics, one of the most important social institutions of our time.



I noticed you are writing a book about Kenedys. I think these people are worse than comunists and fascists. Their father was a bootlegger and he spent lots of money to put his son J. Fitzgorald Kenndy into the white house as presidint. How much is this old man spending to have you wrirte more propganda about this Kendy legion? And what about the bootleg criminal crime sindicate that was trying to kill Cuba presdent, andhow the old man spent this $$$?? you should be shamed abut this story. - D.Littleton

What can I say? I tried to write an honest book with both the good and the bad included. I bet if you read my book you would find much to admire that you hadn't realized before though you probably wouldn't change your mind.



Dear Larry Leamer: There have been all kinds of rumors and stories about John F. Kennedy's sex life. Is this exaggerated? What does your book have to say about this? Thank you, in advance, for what I am sure is another excellent work from you. - Sincerely, Dan M.

Sorry to say it's not exaggerated at all. I was amazed at the extent of it myself. In the book I have the love letters that JFK wrote Guinila Von Post, a beautiful Swedish woman, in the 1950s when he was already married. I had the letters validated but I knew they were true when I saw that in the first letter he had Ms. Von Post respond to his aide's address. I also have the new story of a twenty-year old college student who in 1958 began an affair with Kennedy. He brought her to the White House and she stayed there for a couple of years. Shortly before Kennedy died, Jackie wrote her husband an exquisite seven-page love letter quoted in my book. Two weeks later he wrote a love letter to another woman. And so it goes.



Larry: Given that Joe Sr. suffered from a particularly virulent version of the Jew- hating virus, is there any evidence that any of his children got infected? If not, how come? - David Goldberg

The extraordinary thing is that none of them were afflicted. I mean Caroline Kennedy's husband is Jewish. Her grandfather is probably turning over in his grave. Max Kennedy's wife is Jewish. Senator Ted Kennedy is terrific on issues important to Jewish Americans. So is Rep. Patrick Kennedy.



What is your evidence that President Kennedy was taking drugs and endangering America by doing so? - Johnny Hoft, Washington, D.C.

There have been all kinds of rumors about this, and frankly I didn't believe most of this. But for my book I had access to the secret archive kept by Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy's secretary. Actually some of the tapes that are on this website are from things she kept. Among these papers are the bill that Dr. Max Jacobson, a New York doctor, sent to Kennedy in the White House and a number of letters to the president and others from Dr. Eugene Cohen, another New York doctor. Dr. Jacobson was treating Kennedy by giving him injections of a mixture of drugs including amphetamine. Dr. Cohen got so upset by this and other mistreatment Kennedy was receiving that he sent him a letter warning the president that he was putting the whole free world in danger. But Kennedy continued anyway, and the next year Robert Kennedy, the attorney general, had a vial of the drugs tested at the FBI.



Dear Mr. Leamer, What inspired you to write a book on the Kennedy family-when the family's life has been so prolifically covered over the years by biographies and autobiographies?What was the objective, or unique perspective which you felt needed to be uncovered? HPG

There have probably been a couple thousand books on the Kennedys, but no one had ever written a multi-generational history of the men in the family. It's unique too in that it deals with the psychological and cultural realities of manhood in the twentieth century. It was all supposed to be in one volume, but I came up with so much new material that there will be a second volume covering the years from 1963 onward. Beyond all the new material, I think there's a post-revisionist take in this book. It isn't like the early histories that were so glowingly positive about the Kennedys that they helped create the myths of Camelot. Nor is a savage rebuttal of that perspective. I try to sort through the negative and frankly add more of my own but include the positive and the noble as well. The Kennedys are such a seminal force in our lives that I'm sure ten or twenty years from now someone else will come along and offer a new and different perspective. But I think--or at least--I hope I have a balance that is right and that readers will see my book as fair and judicious.



I'm curious as to how you think President Kennedy would have responded to our current national state of crisis. - A. Mantil, San Francisco

It's very hard to predict with any specificity, but I would say that President Kennedy tended to speak with a loud voice and act more cautiously than his words suggested. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, if he had listened to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we would have bombed Cuba and probably invaded, and since the Russians had tactical nuclear weapons on the beaches, it all might have escalated into World War III. Then many Americans thought of Fidel Castro very much the way we think of Bin Laden now, as an evil demagogue trying to ensnarl millions in his demented schemes. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the military and diplomatic highpoint of the Cold War, but Kennedy understood that it was a battle waged not simply with a strong military defense but with a strong people building a freer and better society, and that it was battle for the minds of men waged over a number of years. So is our struggle today.