Friday, March 26, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (12)

Special Counsel to the Late President. New York: Bantam Books. 1966.

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.

On the Bay of Pigs fiasco: “All my life I’ve known better than to depend on the experts.” ………. “He could find and fret over one paragraph of criticism deep in ten paragraphs of praise.” p. 348. ………. “When the newspapers erred, however, as they sometimes did, Presidential corrections or even press retraction rarely had the impact of the original story.” p. 350. ………. “…he read Time and Newsweek faithfully and felt their condensed hindsight often influenced their readers more than daily newspaper stories.” p. 354. ………. “…a study of Time’s treatment of Eisenhower’s first year as compared with Kennedy’s…amassed considerable evidence to show that, by the use of loaded adjectives, clever picture captions and a careful selection of quotations out of context…the two administrations were put in very different lights [Eisenhower positive, Kennedy negative].”

“It is true that he believed the press had responsibilities as well as rights—including the responsibility to get the facts straight, to consider the national interest and to save their bias for the editorial columns….” ………. “This nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage.” p. 359. ………. “On the basis of our own reading, Salinger and I prepared lengthy lists of possible difficult questions—usually far more difficult than most of those asked [at televised press conferences].” p. 362. ………. Of regular press conferences: “It’s like preparing for a final exam twice a month.” ……….p. 363.  “Above all, the televised press conferences provided a direct communication with the voters which no newspaper could alter by interpretation or omission.” p. 364.

To be continued.

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