July 31, 2012
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we conclude our report of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy. It is published by Little, Brown & Company.
We will conclude Chapter 12 & go on to Chapter 14. (We are skipping Chapter 13, ‘Our Short Stay with LBJ.”)
The title of Chapter 14 is “Reminiscences”
At the close of Chapter 12, “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye,” Kenneth O’Donnell recalls that at one of the last press conferences, a reporter asked JFK why he wanted to serve a 2nd term as President.
“Well, I find the work rewarding. I have given before….the Greek definition of happiness. It is the full use of your powers along lines of excellence. I find, therefore, that the Presidency provides some happiness.”
It would be with the thoughts of re-election that JFK met on November 13, 1963 to discuss the coming campaign. It was at that meeting that the trip to Texas was finalized.
In the final chapter of this great book, Kenny writes:
“The memories will always keep coming back.”
Kenny tells us that John F. Kennedy was ‘sincerely unpretentious’ & did not take himself so seriously.
He writes that JFK “despised cliches & was probably the only President….who flatly refused to make any mention of General Lafayette in a speech on good relations between (the U.S.) & France.”
Kenny admits, however, that Jack Kennedy was “the world’s worst loser. Even in small things, a race against a traffic light or a bet on a golf match, he hated to be beaten.”
“Everybody who worked with (JFK) agrees that he wanted to know everything there was to know about a subject.”
“Above all, we remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the most skillful politician of his generation.”
And Kenneth O’Donnell & Dave Powers conclude with these words:
“(The) conviction that a career in politics would be his best way of helping to keep the world & the nation at peace was never weakened. To John Kennedy, politics was keeping peace.
He died when he was looking forward to bright years….
James Reston* said it well when he wrote….
‘What was killed in Dallas was not only the President but the promise. The heart of the Kennedy legend is what might have been. All this is apparent in the faces of the people who come daily to his grave on the Arlington Hill.’
As the hand-lettered farewell message at Shannon Airport suggested, we hardly knew him.”
We have been publishing this blog with very few daily breaks since November 2010 & have been gratified by the great interest of so many visitors to JFK+50.
It is now time, however, to take a little break.
Please give us a few days off & we will resume JFK+50 after a much needed vacation.
*James ‘Scotty’ Reston (1909-1995) was a long time correspondent for the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice & interviewed Nikita Khrushchev after the Bay of Pigs & President Kennedy after the Vienna Summit.