February 28, 2012
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS, THE SECOND CONVERSATION II
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the second conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.
The second conversation was recorded on Tuesday, March 3, 1964.
Mr. Schlesinger asks Mrs. Kennedy if JFK’s interest in British history came from the period when his father was ambassador.
“No, because he really spent very little time there. It was all his childhood (reading) of Marlborough & Churchill.”
Mr. Schlesinger asks: “What did he think of FDR?”
“He often thought he was…a bit of a poseur, rather cleverly.”*
*I must admit that I had to go to the dictionary for this one.
A “poseur” is defined as a person who pretends to be what he is not. One who groups himself in a particular social clique but doesn’t believe in the principles held by said clique.
JFK’s coolness toward FDR, according to a footnote in the book, was a result of his father’s break with FDR over intervention in Europe, JFK’s resentment of Eleanor’s hostility to his presidential candidacy, & his own “lifelong aversion to all hero worship.”
Mrs. Kennedy recalls that Jack told her “how (FDR’s) foreign policy had been wrong & how he hadn’t been good there.”
Jackie went on to say that (Jack) “just seemed to devour all of (the former U.S. Presidents)….he used them all. That’s what he did.”
“But (Jack) had this detachment…(an ability) to look at….all sides. Maybe that’s what makes some people, like Jim Burns (author of the 1960 book “John Kennedy: A Political Profile) who wondered if (Jack) had a heart.”
A footnote in Conversations tells us that the last sentence of Burns’ book on JFK says that JFK’s ability to bring passion to the presidency “would depend on making a commitment not only of mind, but of heart.”
Jacqueline was so irate at this comment, she wrote Burns in her distinctive longhand:
“I think you underestimate (Jack). He has what may be the single most important quality for a leader–an imperturbable self-confidence. When you have someone like Jack, why write him off as a pathetic little string bean?”**
**James MacGregor Burns is a noted historian & authority on leadership studies. He holds a PhD in political science from Harvard & was a delegate to 4 Democratic national conventions.