Monday, March 29, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (13)

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.

“He listened patiently to long statements concealed as questions….” p. 365. ……….. “He never tired of encouraging young men and women to enter politics and public service, and by his own example, I believe he invoked a profound change in this nation’s respect for that calling.” p. 373. ………. Of press conferences: “His answers were almost always brief.” p. 365. ………. “He deplored ‘the discordant voices of extremism’ which peddled their frighteningly simple solutions to citizens frustrated and baffled by our national burdens.” p. 375. ………. JFK: “Presidents are bound to be hated unless they are as bland as Ike.” p. 375.

[“Carrots” for cooperative members of Congress]: “…advance notification of federal contracts, special privileges for White House tours, detailed data on a bill’s effects, material for speeches and releases, birthday notes from the President, campaign help from the National Committee, autographed pictures from the President, and whatever flexibility was possible on patronage, public works and other budget items.” p. 399. ………. “Without notes he would cite all the discouraging statistics [about education]: only six out of every ten students in the fifth grade would finish high school; only nine of every sixteen high school graduates would go on to college; one million young Americans were already out of school and out of work; dropouts had a far higher rate of unemployment and far lower rate of income; 71% of the people, according to Gallup, expected their children to go to college but 51% had saved for it.” p. 401. ………. [On the Supreme Court’s banning school prayer]: “…pray a good deal more at home…attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity, and we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of all of our children.” p. 407.

To be continued.

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