March 21, 2012
JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION I
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 begins our report on the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.
The sixth conversation was recorded on June 2, 1964.
Arthur Schlesinger asks “What was the President’s feeling about these dealings with West Germany?”
Jacqueline Kennedy answers:
“(Jack would) say ‘What do you have to do to show the Germans that you care?’–that we would defend Berlin.
(He) really got irritated with the Germans.
It wasn’t until after his visit to Berlin in June ’63 that he finally did convince them. And then he was really happy after that.”
Mrs. Kennedy discusses JFK’s mood in the aftermath of his meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961.
“I always thought with Jack that….all the best things would happen. But you could see….he was really in a gloom.
I thought–‘Cannot even Jack make this turn out for the best?'”
Schlesinger then says that after the Berlin thing was ending in November of 1961, “Nehru came & made his visit.”
Mrs. Kennedy responds:
“Yes, &–that was a rather nerve-wracking visit. Lots of consultations with Galbraith, & everything. And Galbraith kept saying Nehru wanted no fuss, & everything private.”*
Jacqueline Kennedy continues….
“Jack had a most unsatisfactory time with Nehru when he’d been a congressman in India.
He said they’d warned him, ‘Whenever Nehru gets bored with you, he taps his fingertips together & looks up at the ceiling.’
And Jack said he’d been there about 10 minutes when Nehru started to look up at the ceiling.”
The President brought Nehru to the “Honey Fitz”…
“Caroline & I were waiting…at the front door (& Caroline had) a little flower for him & made a curtsy. That’s the 1st time he sort of smiled.”
Mrs. Kennedy continues….
“Well, we got sort of, to be a little bit friends in Newport, & then the helicopter & the plane. And you know, he always takes your arm.
He was sort of sweet to me & they did bring the most touching, thoughtful presents for the children.”
Mr. Schlesinger asks “Was (JFK) disappointed in Nehru?”
Mrs. Kennedy responds…
“I think he was. I think the meetings got absolutely nowhere & there was an awful lot of tapping the fingers & looking up at the ceiling.”
*Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) Prime Minister of India who, according to a footnote in the book, JFK found ‘grimly unaffected by his charm.’