Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (21)

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.

“Indeed, the most successful diplomacy, in his view, was more often dull than dramatic. Drama usually came with what he called ‘collision courses,’ direct confrontations.” p. 581. ………. JFK: “Unless man can match his strides in weaponry and technology with equal strides in social and political development, our great strengths like that of the dinosaur, will become incapable of proper control, and man, like the dinosaur, will vanish from the earth.” p. 584. ………. JFK: “Together we shall save our planet or together we shall perish in its flames.” p. 587. ………. “To those who argued that instruments alone could do the job [of going to the moon], he replied that man was ‘the most extraordinary computer of them all…whose judgment, nerve and ability to learn from experience still make him unique’ among the instruments.” p. 593. ………. JFK: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills….” p. 594.

JFK: “They [the members of the Peace Corps] lived with those people in their villages, spoke their languages, helped them develop their natural and human resources, and received no compensation other than the satisfaction of helping others.” p. 598. ………. “Liberals denounced [the Peace Corps] as a gimmick…conservatives dismissed it as a nonsensical haven for beatniks and visionaries…. Communist nations denounced it as an espionage front…and its own backers threatened to dissipate its momentum by talking, even before it started, of a UN Peace Corps and a domestic Peace Corps and a dozen other diversions.” p. 598. ………. Latin America: “With a rate of infant mortality nearly four times our own, a life expectancy less than two-thirds our own, a per capita annual product less than one-ninth our own, an illiteracy rate of 50 percent, a lack of schools and sanitation and trained personnel, runaway inflation in some areas, shocking slums in the cities, squalor in the countryside, and a highly suspicious attitude toward American investments, where were we to begin?” p. 601.

To be continued:

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