May 14, 2012
ONIONS BURKE & THE 1956 CONVENTION II
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Chapter 4 of the book by Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers with Joe McCarthy. It is published by Little, Brown & Company.
The title of Chapter 4 is Onions Burke & The 1956 Convention.
Kenneth O’Donnell writes that over the years JFK has come under criticism for what was perceived as avoiding the Joe McCarthy censure vote on December 2, 1954.
Kenny tells us “that charge was so unfair that it was ridiculous.”
He says that all the Senators knew that JFK was planning to vote for McCarthy’s censure, but the reason he was unable to do so was that “Kennedy was at the point of death when the….vote was taken, & unconscious or too ill….”
In the summer of 1954, Jack Kennedy had a debate with his doctors on whether or not to undergo spinal fusion surgery. Jack was warned that his chances of survival following the operation were 50-50.*
*JFK suffered from an adrenal insufficiency which increases the chances of shock & infection during surgery.
Kenny tells us that JFK was more than willing to take the risk.
“I’d rather be dead than spend the rest of my life on (crutches).”
The operation took place on October 21, 1954 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Just as the doctors had predicted, infection set in & Jack was given the last rites of the Catholic church.
But JFK rallied & was flown to Palm Beach to recover but then had a relapse & was taken back to New York for a 2nd operation.
Dave Powers spent the next 5 weeks by Jack’s side & “Jackie was with him all day & all night.”**
**At one point, Dave Powers saw the wound in Jack’s back left by the surgeries. He said: “(Jack) had a hole in his back big enough for me to put my fist in it up to the wrist.”