Almost every respondent wrote that the fact of his being the first black president will loom large in the historical narrative â€” though they disagreed in interesting ways. Many predict that what will last is the symbolism of a nonwhite First Family; others, the antagonism Obamaâ€™s blackness provoked; still others, the way his racial self-consciousness constrained him. A few suggested that we will care a great deal less about his race generations from now â€” just as John F. Kennedyâ€™s Catholicism hardly matters to current students of history. Across the board, Obamacare was recognized as a historic triumph (though one historian predicted that, with its market exchanges, it may in retrospect be seen as illiberal and mark the beginning of the privatization of public health care). A surprising number of respondents argued that his rescue of the economy will be judged more significant than is presently acknowledged, however lackluster the recovery has felt. There was more attention paid to China than isis (Obamaâ€™s foreign policy received the most divergent assessments), and considerable credit was given to the absence of a major war or terrorist attack, along with a more negative assessment of its price â€” the expansion of the security state, drones and all.Â
What else did Bobby Kennedy know? Last year, the son and namesake of the late Attorney General Robert Kennedy revealed publicly that his father had considered the Warren Commissionâ€™s final report, which largely ruled out the possibility of a conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to be a â€œshoddy piece of craftsmanship.â€ Robert Jr. said his father suspected that the president had been killed in a conspiracy involving Cuba, the Mafia or even rogue agents of the CIA. Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a close friend of the Kennedy family, would disclose years later that he was told by Robert Kennedy in December 1963, a month after the presidentâ€™s murder, that the former attorney general worried that the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was â€œpart of a larger plot, whether organized by Castro or by gangsters.â€ Schlesinger said that in 1966, two years after the Warren Commission report, Kennedy was still so suspicious about a conspiracy that he wondered aloud â€œhow long he could continue to avoid comment on the reportâ€”it is evident that he believes it is was poor job.â€
Newly disclosed documents from the commission, made public on the 50th anniversary of its final report, suggest that the panel missed a chance to get Robert Kennedy to acknowledge publicly what he would later confess to his closest family and friends: that he believed the commission had overlooked evidence that might have pointed to a conspiracy.
The documents show the commission was prepared to press Kennedy to offer his views, under oath, about the possibility that Oswald had not acted alone. An affidavit, in which Kennedy would have been required to raise his right hand and deny knowledge of a conspiracy under penalty of perjury, was prepared for his signature by the commissionâ€™s staff but was never used. Instead, the attorney general became the highest ranking government official, apart from President Lyndon Johnson, who was excused from giving sworn testimony or offering a sworn written statement to the commission.
The decision to scrap the affidavit is another example of the extraordinary deference paid to the attorney general and his family by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the commissionâ€™s chairman. In an unsworn August 1964 letter to Warrenâ€”already public and long seen by historians as evasive, if not as an effort to mislead the commission outright about what he really knew and suspectedâ€”Kennedy said he was aware of â€œno credible evidence to support the allegations that the assassination of President Kennedy was caused by a domestic or foreign conspiracy.â€ Kennedyâ€™s private papers, however, suggest he struggled over signing even the unsworn letter to Warren.
There you go, some JFK conspiracy content for you on an early Tuesday morning.
The best-selling nonfiction book when he was killed was Victor Laskyâ€™s â€œJ.F.K: The Man and the Myth,â€ a dubiously researched jumble of smears and innuendo, including the stale rumor that Kennedy, an observant Catholic, had suppressed a previous marriage to a Palm Beach socialite. The book was briefly removed from circulation by its publisher, Macmillan, after Kennedyâ€™s death.
Kennedy hatred was deepest, perhaps, in the South, where civil rights battles had grown increasingly tense. â€œWhite violence was sort of considered the status quo,â€ Diane McWhorter, who grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and is the author of â€œCarry Me Home,â€ a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the racial unrest of 1963, said recently.
â€œThere had been so many bombings that people had accepted it,â€ Ms. McWhorter said. But in May, the cityâ€™s blacks struck back, attacking the police and firefighters and setting several businesses on fire. In September, only two months before Dallas, white supremacists in Birmingham planted a bomb in a black church, killing four young girls.
Kennedy himself was a reluctant supporter of civil rights legislation, but when at last he called for it, many Southern whites were enraged.
â€œI was in my gym class at the Brooke Hill School for girls,â€ Ms. McWhorter recalled. â€œSomeone came in and said the president had been shot, and people cheered.â€
Last month I argued that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was doing more harm to the national interest, or at least doing so more noticeably, than any of his Republican or Democratic colleagues on Capitol Hill.
Events during the budget/debt-ceiling “negotiations” suggest that he was just getting started back then. By comparison with Cantor, Speaker John Boehner has shown a touching national-interest big-heartedness. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, no fan of bipartisan agreement, has at least based his hyper-complex “make the President do it” debt-ceiling scheme on the premise that the nation should not be forced into default — not even on a Democratic president’s watch.
But Cantor? As Jonathan Bernstein and Matthew Yglesias have pointed out, he has gone straight from the White House-Congressional negotiating sessions, prepared a slide show (you can see it here) purportedly based on their contents, and used it to encourage House Republicans to pocket all of the hypothetical concessions the Administration has discussed while making none of their own.
So why does this matter?
It’s easy to forget at times like these, but the whole ponderous U.S. political/governmental system is made of actual human beings, who — even as they respond to large-scale ideological, political, financial, and interest-group pressures — can still choose to behave better, or worse, in a given set of circumstances. And the difference between good and bad behavior can make a difference. (If JFK’s national security council had been much more hair-trigger and impatient during the Cuban Missile Crisis, or if Khrushchev had been, world history would have been different.)
And if a leading party in a very important set of negotiations has shown that he’ll walk right out of the “bargaining” room, release a distorted version of what has just been discussed, and use it to whip us his side to more demands, that makes a difference too. For the worse. The prospects for an agreement now are worse because of Rep. Cantor’s presence in them. That’s not because he’s a conservative — so, obviously, are Boehner and McConnell. It’s because he’s acting like a weasel.
This is late but we all need to deal with disappointment in our lives.
Memorable events for 2009:
- Heading to Chicago
- Thanksgiving weekend freezing at the lake
- Freezing at the cabin in late April with snow on the ground
Favorite books I read in 2009:
- The BLDGBlog Book
- The War by Ken Burns
- The Kennedys by Peter Collier & David Horowitz :: Quite good as it followed the family after RFKâ€™s assassination and the tragedy that kept following even the next generation of Kennedys.
- Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization by Jeff Rubin :: By far my most depressing read of the summer. He gave a more comprehensive explanation of the complexity of peak oil, the economy, and what the future is going to look like.
- The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson :: I reviewed it here.
- Liarâ€™s Poker by Michael Lewis :: I havenâ€™t laughed so hard reading a book like this in a long time.
- Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell :: Raw I.Q. and talent isnâ€™t enough.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau :: Despite written in a writing style 150 years old, it was a great summer read and a perfect to be reading at the cabin.
Favorite TV Shows I watched in 2009:
Favorite movies I watched in 2009:
- Cue tumbleweed. I never watched a single movie in 2009. I bought a lot of movies but just never watched any of them.
Favorite food for 2009:
- I rediscovered my love of Shreddies.
Best Sporting Moments of 2009:
- Denver starts the season 6-0.
Worst Sporting Moments of 2009:
I am not a member of the Canadian Missionary Alliance and I havenâ€™t made up my mind who I am going to vote for in the election but I found this article in the Vancouver Sun about Harperâ€™s evangelical faith a little over the top.
I am not sure how this is any different than in the 60s where John F. Kennedy was labeled an â€œagent of the Popeâ€ because he was Roman Catholic.
The images used in the article show the bias as does the author ripping on Harperâ€™s church for not having crosses at the front. I guess this begs the question, â€œhow many crosses does a church need for it to be adequately Prime Ministerial?â€ It goes on to insinuate that most of itâ€™s members support Harper. Well the church is in Calgary, Alberta, he is their local MP, and attends the church. If they hated him, that would be a news story.
I know the story was posted on a blog but it is a blog that belongs to the Vancouver Sun, written by a beat writer that is employed by them. Maybe having an editor take a look over those things might be a good idea.