Special Counsel to the Late President.
: Bantam Books. 1966. New York
Why read it? To understand Kennedy’s philosophy of the Presidency. His humor. His wisdom. He could think on his feet. His ability to own up to his mistakes and to learn from them. To appreciate the vast range of responsibilities faced by the President. His style. You won’t learn any of the details of his extra-marital affairs in this book. It focuses on John Kennedy, an American who was elected President by one of the narrowest margins in history. He instilled a spirit of confidence in the American people, and his assassination destroyed that spirit.
“He required a personal staff…one that represented his personal ways, means and purposes—to summarize and analyze…products and proposals for him, to refine the conflicting views of various agencies, to define the issues which he had to decide, to help place his personal imprint on them…. p. 289. ………. “He often expressed impatience with lengthy memoranda from certain aides which boiled down to recommendations that he ‘firm up our posture’ or ‘make a new effort’ on some particular problem.” p. 290. ………. Those of us in the White House Staff with policy responsibilities often differed from each other and from the President in the deliberations preceding a decision…but none of us ever questioned his decision once it was final.” p. 291. ………. “And like the entire Kennedy Cabinet he was cool under pressure, more pragmatic than dogmatic…. p. 305. ………. “…with few exceptions, he held Cabinet meetings only because ‘I suppose we should—it’s been several weeks since the last one,’ and with few exceptions these meetings bored him.” p. 317.
“No decisions of importance were made at Kennedy’s Cabinet meetings…and few subjects of importance…were ever seriously discussed.” p. 317. ……….. “Kennedy relied considerably on his Cabinet officers, but not on the Cabinet as a body.” p. 317. ………. “The National Security Council…is an advisory body to the President…. In the final analysis, the President of the United States must make the decision…and it is his decision…not the decision of the National Security Council or any collective decision.” p. 319. ………. “During these eight months he could at times be privately bitter about the mistakes he had made, the advice he had accepted, and the ‘mess’ he inherited.” p. 329. ………. “The only thing that surprised us when we got into office was that things were just as bad as we had been saying they were.” p. 329.
To be continued.