The best thing to happen to the Kennedy political dynasty and its legacy took place over the course of 11.2 seconds at 12:30 PM on November 23, 1963. That is when an Antifa activist, acting totally on his own, fired three bullets from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository into the motorcade of the 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Two of the bullets hit Kennedy, and he was declared dead at Parkland Hospital at 1 PM.
The shock of Kennedy’s death threw a cloak of undeserved glamour over the Kennedy administration. The 1,036 days during which Kennedy was President came to be called the Camelot Era after a popular 1960 musical of the same name.
Unfortunately, Kennedy’s reputation as a modern-day King Arthur is undeserved. Kennedy’s Camelot glittered, but it was not gold. Problems that still plague American culture in particular and the West more generally took shape during his administration. Kennedy died just before the problems of his administration’s actions became apparent.
Nevertheless, Kennedy and his family did many things right. Kennedy’s father Joe Kennedy, Sr. was an able steward of money at a time with wealth could quickly vanish. Joe Sr. was also an America First politician who sacrificed a great deal for his views. And his son John’s record of service during the Second World War was unquestionably heroic. Even after the war Kennedy struggled mightily against his physical disabilities, including Addison’s disease. His older brother was even more heroic, and his younger brother Robert was also quite talented. And the Kennedy administration helped to end the considerable distrust between Catholics and Protestants in the United States.
This essay, however, intends to focus on John F. Kennedy’s negatives. The Kennedy administration had four major problems. First, Kennedy had a flawed world-view with a healthy helping of narcissism and hubris. Second, he was not truthful and engaged in reckless sexual behavior. Third, although Kennedy was what Wilmot Robertson called an assimilated minority, his administration was filled with minorities who helped spark considerable social friction in America. And finally, Kennedy’s cabinet and staff was badly managed and collectively made poor choices.
Aggression at Munich, Defeat in Saigon
In 1940, when Kennedy was a senior at Harvard, he wrote a critique of the British government’s “appeasement” of Hitler. This thesis, with considerable help from Kennedy’s father and media magnate Henry R. Luce, was published as the book Why England Slept in 1940. The book recounts the now-standard narrative that the British should have gone to war with Germany before September 1939.
This idea should be called the “aggression at Munich” school of international relations. The idea is that “dictators” should be countered with military action at the first inkling of trouble. This worldview was uppermost in the minds of Kennedy, his circle of advisors, and his immediate successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Kennedy did not take into consideration that it was possible that factors other than appeasement had led to the war, such as International Jewry’s irrational reaction following Hitler’s rise through democratic means and the Western powers’ failure to appease him enough. Had there been appeasement at Warsaw, it is entirely likely that there would not have been a war, that the British Empire would have survived in some form, and that the National Socialist Party would have eventually been swept away in Germany. (An insightful recounting of British missteps leading to the war can be found here.)
Kennedy’s belief in the “aggression at Munich” concept caused him to make two spectacularly disastrous decisions. The first was the attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in the Bay of Pigs invasion that failed on April 20, 1962. The other was his decision to involve America in the Vietnam War. Henry Luce, who helped Kennedy publish his first book, was a major promoter of American involvement in Vietnam.
Narcissism & Hubris
Kennedy’s first serious mistake after winning the election happened before he took the oath of office, when he gave a speech to the Boston Congress on January 9, 1961. The talk is commonly refered to as “The City on a Hill speech.” It is inspiring and delivered with excellence, but it should be looked upon as ill-advised and insensitive. The problem is in the following:
For no man about to enter high office in this country can ever be unmindful of the contribution [Massachusetts] has made to our national greatness. Its leaders have shaped our destiny…[i]ts principles have guided our footsteps …[i]ts democratic institutions…have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states. For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this commonwealth: “We do not imitate – for we are a model to others. (My emphasis.)
New England’s Yankee heritage is indeed great. There is much to be proud of. The problem is that, in the other regions of North America, New Englanders have a lean and hungry look. The beacon lights of Massachusetts were only lit after Massachusetts men finished their bayonet work and cannon fire. By the end of the 1960s, Southerners were talking about a Second Reconstruction, and they were leaving the Democratic Party in droves. In Cuba, the white Spanish population viewed Yankees as hypocritical Bible-quoting pirates. Fidel Castro’s comments about Kennedy were remarkably similar to King Philip of Spain’s statements regarding Queen Elizabeth of England’s privateers.
Lies & Private Recklessness
Sexually reckless behavior puts every endeavor only a phone call away from destruction, and Jack Kennedy was reckless in that way. His most potentially damaging relationship was with a 19-year-old intern named Mimi Alford. The young intern even had a tryst with the President during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
I recall that in the late 1990s or early 2000s, after this information came out, Kennedy’s still-living former aides went on TV to insist that this was not true. It was true, of course, and one should reflect upon what important matters Kennedy might have missed when he was arranging for a visit with Mimi.
Many in the American establishment today bemoan the fact that a vast swath of the American public doesn’t believe the mainstream media and the government anymore. President Obama blamed the problem on internet-driven “information bubbles.” But the seeds of this mistrust weren’t sown by search engine algorithms; they were planted as early as the night Kennedy was elected.
Kennedy won by voter fraud, most notably in Chicago. The fraud, like Kennedy’s sexual dalliances, was known in the mass media, and was eventually even known by the public at large, but the former chose to never investigate it. The biggest lies however, lay in Kennedy’s foreign policy, including the ever-expanding number of American troops in Vietnam, as well as the American-sponsored operations in Cuba. In war, truth must be shrouded in lies, but in Vietnam and Cuba, the purpose of the lies was to deceive ordinary Americans and some of Kennedy’s own officials. The lies didn’t deceive America’s rivals, though. The Castro government was well aware of the pending American operations and prepared for them, and the North Vietnamese were likewise prepared.
This pattern of lies to fool Americans continued throughout the succeeding Johnson administration.
A Minority Occupation Government
John F. Kennedy was an assimilated minority, but he staffed his administration with a great many Jews. Wilmot Robertson wrote:
Jews returned to Washington in force when John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in 1961. Arthur Goldberg was appointed secretary of labor and Senator Abraham Ribicoff, secretary of health, education and welfare. When Goldberg moved up the Supreme Court, Willard Wirtz succeeded him. Other Kennedy appointments included Newton Minow, head of the Federal Communication Commission; Mortimer Caplin, chief of the Internal Revenue Service, and Pierre Salinger, presidential press secretary . . . Three of Kennedy’s principle aides and mentors were Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Theodore Chaikin Sorenson and Richard Goodwin.
Kennedy’s team was not the first administration to have so many Jews. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration also did, but FDR at least reached out to the American majority, especially in the South. Indeed, one could easily make the case that FDR was something of a white advocate. Kennedy was not at all a white advocate.
During the 1960 election campaign, Kennedy made a point to call the wife of the saintly Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. to console her after the latter was (justly) put in prison. This phone call was a cynical election ploy, but it gave King the opportunity to engage in a sub-Saharan protection racket until the Democrats were swept from power in 1968. The racket went as follows: sub-Saharans would riot somewhere, and the Democrats would immediately respond with a payout or giveaway program.
Kennedy himself was never fully on board with “civil rights,” but many on his staff were. “Civil rights” was a long-running project of the organized Jewish community. In the early 1960s, Kennedy sent troops and US Federal Marshalls to force the integration of schools in the South.
Probably the biggest disaster was Kennedy’s book A Nation of Immigrants, sponsored by the Jewish ethnonationalist group, the Anti-Defamation League. It was most likely ghost-written by Myer Feldman. The book helped ease the way for the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act, a law which has been pushing America ever-closer to a fate of endless civil strife and violence such as we have seen in Lebanon ever since.
The Bay of Pigs
The Kennedy team did successfully manage the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. That crisis’ resolution turned out to be one of the administration’s few achievements that didn’t turn into a disaster later.
The Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Kennedy administration gave the go-ahead to land a large force of Cuban exiles from the United States in a remote area of Cuba, where they were supposed to be met by ordinary Cuban rebels who would support them. Once Castro’s government was overthrown, it was to be replaced by a new government of the exiles. American involvement was to be kept secret, so the decision was made not to support these forces with air cover apart from some obsolete B-26 bombers flown by CIA pilots.
When the invasion took place, Castro quickly mobilized his forces and they used their T-33 fighters and Hawker Sea Furies to sink two of the exiles’ ships. After three days of fighting, the exiles surrendered. Meanwhile, the Kennedy administration went on record as saying that it was not an American operation. The lie was quickly uncovered, and it was a disaster.
Wilmot Robertson wrote:
The failure of the United States to prevent the Sovietization of the richest, most important and most populated West Indian island stands as one of the gigantic blunders in American diplomatic history. The events represent a classic cautionary tale of how American national security is damaged when the liberal-minority coalition impinges its political and social dogmas upon the conduct of foreign affairs.
Cuba has been a thorn in the side of American foreign policy ever since. The faulty assumptions, poor contingency planning, and misread data in that affair was often repeated elsewhere. With a few exceptions, the same team involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco also made decisions which led to the murder of South Vietnamese President Diem and the escalation of the Vietnam War. The disasters of “civil rights” and mass immigration can also be laid at their feet.
Kennedy’s Poor Handling of His Staff
Peter H. Wyden, who wrote a book about the invasion of Cuba, argued that Kennedy and his hubris bore the lion’s share of blame for the debacle:
Inevitably, [Kennedy’s] personality and power shaped events more than they shaped him. The initiative and responsibility were his. He relished both. Action. That’s what he had become President for. That’s what the country wanted. “Vigah,” as he said it, especially after the sleepiness of the Eisenhower years. It was “the hour of euphoria,” Arthur Schlesinger later wrote. The flowering of Camelot . . . His confidence in his own luck was unbounded. “Everyone around him thought that he had the Midas touch and could not lose,” Schlesinger wrote. No man ever wore bigger seven-league boots.
All of that was true, but Kennedy also had a dedicated team working day and night for him. None of Kennedy’s staff objected to the plan that was obviously doomed to failure. This and many of the later debacles came about because of Kennedy’s poor handling of his staff. This can be parsed into three categories. First, Kennedy’s staff believed in “civil rights.” Second, Kennedy had prominent men working for him who he did not fully utilize or take into his confidence. Finally, his staff was prone to what Irving L. Janis called groupthink.
“Civil Rights” Believers Always Misread Data
Believers in “civil rights” accept the obviously wrong belief in sub-Saharan equality as a religious creed. Thus, “civil rights” supporters end up misreading data in other ways as well. In Cuba, Castro was addressing genuine problems in Cuban society and was an anti-imperialist nationalist. The American government cut deals with such people all the time in the 1960s. What Kennedy and his staff didn’t realize was that to Cubans, the United States was an imperial power.
The American government should have either continued to support Cuba’s previous President, Fulgencio Batista, while encouraging him to reform, or should not have gone so strongly against Castro at the Bay of Pigs. It was only after the failed invasion that Castro swung towards the Soviet Union.
After its defeat, Castro pointed out the Kennedy administration’s failure to correctly read the data:
Imperialism examines geography, analyzes the number of cannons, of planes, of tanks, the positions . . . The revolutionary examines the social composition of the population. The imperialists don’t give a damn about how the population there thinks or feels.
Kennedy had three extremely prominent and experienced politicians on his staff who he failed to utilize fully. The men in question were Adlai Stevenson II, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Had Kennedy better employed these men, he’d have spared himself and America a great deal of trouble.
Adlai Stevenson II was a two-time presidential candidate who lost to Ike, but otherwise he was a highly successful politician. Stevenson was from Illinois, ethnically part of the American majority, and from a prominent family. His grandfather, Adlai Stevenson, had been Vice President under Grover Cleveland in his second term. His great-grandfather, Jessie W. Fell, was a Pennsylvania Quaker and Illinois pioneer who was on Abraham Lincoln’s campaign team. Stevenson himself was a United Nations ambassador during the Bay of Pigs operation. Kennedy failed to inform Stevenson of the pending operation, and he thus inadvertently lied to the UN about the affair and ended up terribly embarrassed. And despite Stevenson’s position, background, and experience, Kennedy didn’t ask for Stevenson’s advice prior to the operation.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was also part of the American majority. His grandfather, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., had been a prominent Massachusetts Senator. Lodge had run against Kennedy in 1960 as Vice President. Kennedy then appointed Lodge as US Ambassador to South Vietnam in 1963. This appointment was a gross misjudgment, as ppointing a rival to a critical spot created a moral hazard. Lodge could have easily done things to make Kennedy’s life more difficult, and Kennedy might not have been able to truly control Lodge. It is certain that the relationship between the two men is not fully understood. It is also certain that Lodge supported the coup that killed President Diem, which ultimately forced America into ever-deeper involvement in Vietnam.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was also American majority. Kennedy’s VP came from a prominent family that had been involved in Texas politics since the days of the Texas Republic. While JFK was personally kind to Johnson, his aides and staff were terribly cruel. Robert Kennedy was the most hostile towards Johnson. The relationship was so bad that Johnson made poor decisions in part because of what he thought Robert Kennedy would say about them. In sidelining Johnson as Vice President, the Kennedy administration failed to utilize a talented legislator. LBJ argued against the assassination of President Diem. In the end, LBJ would catch the blame for Kennedy’s sins.
Psychologist Irving L. Janis argued that the Bay of Pigs disaster was the result of groupthink by Kennedy and his staff. Kennedy’s team were shrewd thinkers, highly intelligent, and accustomed to speaking their minds, but as a group they had come to seek concurrence over wisdom, fostered over-optimism, were not vigilant, thought in slogans, and believed in the weakness and immorality of out-groups. They were an in-crowd of cool kids, drunk on their own self-righteousness.
When they briefed Senator William Fulbright on the plan, Fulbright argued passionately against it. Kennedy’s in-crowd closed ranks and the invasion went forward towards defeat anyway. Janis describes the Kennedy administration’s groupthink as follows:
- The illusion of invulnerability.
- The illusion of unanimity.
- Suppression of personal doubts.
- Self-appointed mindguards who prevent alternative ideas from taking root (most notably Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Robert Kennedy).
- Docility fostered by suave leadership.
- The taboo against antagonizing valuable new members. (The President created an informal group norm that shielded the CIA from criticism prior to the invasion.)
The Kennedy Assassination Conspiracy Theories are the Result of Misread Data and Wishful Thinking
The day Kennedy was shot, the three television networks switched to live news broadcasts. Reporters speculated on air that Right-wingers and “hate groups” were behind the slaying before the facts were in. They dialed in on the fact that, about a month prior to Kennedy’s assassination, Adlai Stevenson was struck with a sign by Mrs. Cora Lacy Frederickson while giving a pro-United Nations speech in Dallas. Mrs. Frederickson was an anti-UN protestor. On the day of the assassination, the above anti-Kennedy handbill was circulated, claiming that Kennedy was “Wanted for Treason.” Indeed, Kennedy privately called Dallas “nut country” prior to going there.
However, the Right’s frustration with the Kennedy administration was not unjustified, and the true danger to Kennedy in Dallas was not housewives with signs — it was an Antifa Leftist with a rifle.
Lee Harvey Oswald, son of Robert Edward Lee Oswald, Sr. and New Orleans Cajun Marguerite Frances Claverie, was the killer. The best book demonstrating Oswald’s guilt is Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1993) by Gerald Posner. To summarize, Oswald was a Leftist who murdered a public figure — what anarchists call “propaganda of the deed.” He left a trail of evidence from his sniper’s nest to the theater where he was arrested, and eyewitnesses saw him firing his rifle. All the stories about the Grassy Knoll and crossfire is misreading the evidence.
I’ll speculate that the technocratic Leftists who allied with Kennedy in the early 1960s got so wrapped up in conspiracy theories rather than recognize the clear evidence of Oswald’s guilt as a result of several factors:
- “Civil rights” supporters always misread data.
- Kennedy’s supporters badly wanted to believe that the domestic American Right were the “real killers.”
- It had been thirty years since a Left-wing anarchist had assassinated a public figure, and people had forgotten the fact that anarchist assassinations were common between 1870 and 1933.
- The shooting seemed to have no motive, but in fact there was great political meaning. Kennedy was in Dallas to patch up issues with conservative Democrats stemming from “civil rights.” Oswald was an anarchist/Leftist who would have been welcome in FDR’s Democratic Party, but was unwelcome in Kennedy’s. In other words, the Democratic Party was unstable, and the assassination was the result.
I’ll add here the fact that it was unusual — but not unheard-of — for a Southerner to be on the political hard Left between the end of the Civil War and the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In the early 1960s, Left-wing Democrats praised the memory of the Confederacy. In fact, in 1887 the anarchist Albert Parsons, a Confederate army veteran, was hanged for carrying out bombings in Chicago. Thus, Oswald the Southerner was not really out of place as a Southern hard Leftist in 1963 — but he was the last.
When we attribute the assassination to a vast conspiracy, Kennedy gets absolved from any blame for the disasters stemming from the decisions he made.
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 Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority (Cape Canaveral, Fl.: Howard Allen Enterprises, 1981), Third Edition, pp. 165-166.
 Ibid, p. 528.
 Peter H. Wyden, Bay of Pigs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), p. 316.
 Ibid., p. 295.
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