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The Death of a President

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Forty-three years ago this month, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of these United States, was felled in Dallas by Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist and dishonorably discharged Marine.

For most of my life, November 22 was always commemorated as one of the darkest days in American history. In recent years, such commemorations seem to have been fading.

President Kennedy was riding that day in a motorcade with his wife, Jackie, Texas Gov. John Connally and the latter’s wife, Idanell, and Texan Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Kennedy had come to Texas to shore up a rift among Texas Democrats.

As soon as she saw her husband had been hit with gunfire, Mrs. Kennedy showed herself willing to sacrifice her own life to save her husband’s. She threw herself across her husband to shield his body from further gunfire as if she were a secret service agent, rather than America’s First Lady. Alas, it was too late.

Gov. Connally also was wounded, and his wife, Idanell Brill "Nellie" Connally, helped save his life by “pull[ing] the Governor onto her lap, and the resulting posture helped close his front chest wound (which was causing air to be sucked directly into his chest around his collapsed right lung).”

Later that day, aboard Air Force One, Vice President Johnson was sworn in as America’s 36th President.

On April 10, 1963, Oswald had attempted to assassinate right wing Army Gen. Edwin Walker; one hour after assassinating the President, he murdered Dallas Patrolman J.W. Tippit, before being arrested in a Dallas movie theater, during which Oswald tried to shoot yet another policeman. Two days later, Oswald was himself murdered by Jack Ruby, as lawmen sought to transfer Oswald from police headquarters to the Dallas City Jail.

Jack Kennedy has become, like his erstwhile fling, Marilyn Monroe, a Rorschach Test, onto which people (particularly leftists) project their preoccupations. Thus do conspiracy obsessives – “theorists” is much too kind a term – project the notion that the President’s assassination had issued out of a conspiracy so immense, including at least two assassins, and dozens of string pullers and marionettes, with the identity of the specific participants – the Cosa Nostra, the CIA, Fidel Castro, et al. – depending on the imaginings of the obsessive in question.

Likewise has Kennedy’s presidency been fetishized by left wing obsessives and family retainers, who have turned him into a socialist demigod who supported massive economic redistribution and radical “civil rights.”

The best way of summing up the real JFK versus the fantasy version propagated by the Left and by Kennedy courtiers since his death is by comparison and contrast to President Richard M. Nixon, Kennedy’s opponent in the 1960 election (an election that JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy Sr., may well have stolen for him, with a little help from friends in places like Cook County, Illinois, and Duval County, Texas).

Kennedy has been portrayed as a left wing saint and Renaissance man, who gave us or supported (or would have, had he lived) the War on Poverty, civil rights for blacks, and utopia. Nixon, by contrast, was a right wing Mephistopheles (“Tricky Dick”), and an anti-intellectual, racist, fascist warmonger.

Politically, Kennedy and Nixon actually had much in common. Both were unapologetic anti-communists in matters domestic and foreign. Nixon successfully prosecuted for perjury the traitor and Soviet spy, Alger Hiss (which inspired the Left to work tirelessly thereafter to bring about Nixon’s destruction), while Kennedy (“Ich bin ein Berliner”) was an unequivocal supporter of West Germany against Soviet imperialism, and risked nuclear war when he faced down the Soviets during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. (Due to the statute of limitations, Nixon could not prosecute Hiss for treason or espionage.) On the negative side of the ledger, Kennedy betrayed the exiled Cuban anti-communists who carried out the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba by withholding promised air support, thus turning the invasion into a fiasco.

Domestically, at least in fiscal matters, Kennedy was considerably to the right of Nixon. Early in Kennedy’s administration, he signed off on what was then the biggest tax cut ever which set the economy on fire. In light of Kennedy’s fiscal conservatism and belief in self-reliance (“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”), it is highly unlikely that he would have signed off on a program for massive federal welfare programs. The War on Poverty was the idea of Lyndon Johnson, who exploited the nation’s mourning for JFK to ram his programs through Congress.

By contrast, Nixon introduced price-and-wage controls, a move that was far to the left economically of the Democratic Party, even after Kennedy. And it was Nixon, the hated “racist,” not Kennedy or even Johnson, who institutionalized affirmative action. Note that over 30 percent of blacks voted for Nixon for president, over three times as high a proportion as ever would vote for George W. Bush for president.

For over thirty years, leftist Democrats have sought to tar and feather Nixon as a “racist” for his “Southern Strategy” of appealing to Southern whites with promises of “law and order.” The presuppositions of the leftist critics are: 1. A non-leftist may not campaign for the votes of groups that may potentially vote for him, but rather must hopelessly chase after the votes of people who will never vote for him, thereby guaranteeing his defeat; and 2. Because the explosion in crime was primarily the fault of blacks, no politician may ever campaign on behalf of “law and order” (in other words, see #1).

Since leftists have long controlled the media and academia, no successful counter-movement has ever been waged against the Democrat Northern Strategy that continues to this day inflaming and relying on racist blacks for their violence and their votes.

If anything, Nixon was a stronger supporter of “civil rights” than Kennedy. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested during the 1960 presidential campaign, Nixon wanted to call King’s parents in support but let his advisers talk him out of it. Conversely, Kennedy did not want to make the call, but let his adviser, future senator Harris Wofford, talk him into calling “Daddy” King, which resulted in Kennedy winning the black vote.

In August 1963, the Poor People’s March, in which Martin Luther King Jr. would give his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, was almost shut down by the Kennedy Administration without King even getting to speak.

The march had been organized by A. Philip Randolph, the legendary socialist founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the nation’s first successful black labor union. Randolph was planning on giving a radical leftwing speech written by Stanley Levison, a communist advisor to both Randolph and King, but as historian David Garrow tells in his biography, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the President’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, acting in his brother’s name, threatened literally to pull the plug on the demonstration were Randolph to deliver the planned speech. Randolph relented, and gave a considerably toned-down speech.

There is no record, to my knowledge, of Nixon ever censoring a political speech, much less one by a civil rights leader.

As for Southeast Asia, Kennedy got us inextricably involved in the War in Vietnam; Nixon got us out.

Kennedy repeatedly jeopardized national security, both as a naval intelligence officer during World War II, and while President, due to his obsessive womanizing. By contrast, even Nixon’s sworn enemies have failed to find any evidence of his cheating on his beloved wife, Pat.

And as for the two men’s intellectual status, Nixon was clearly superior. The notion of Kennedy as an intellectual was the product of a PR campaign engineered and financed by the future president’s father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. The elder Kennedy got his son’s undistinguished, pro-appeasement (echoing the elder Kennedy, who was a Nazi sympathizer) Harvard senior thesis, Why England Slept, published as a book, after having it rewritten by erstwhile family retainer, New York Times columnist Arthur Krock; later, the book Profiles in Courage was ghostwritten for JFK by another family retainer, Theodore Sorensen, in order to give the young senator the “gravitas” necessary for a run at the White House. Working on behalf of JFK and Joe Kennedy, Arthur Krock campaigned relentlessly with members of the Pulitzer Prize board, and succeeded in gaining JFK the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for biography, yet another fraudulent Pulitzer that has never been rescinded.

(Shortly after Kennedy was elected president, he would stab Krock in the back, using future Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee as his tool of choice.)

Liberal Kennedy-biographer Richard Reeves (obviously not a Kennedy family retainer) has reported that both of JFK’s books were “knockoffs” of works by Winston Churchill, and plagiarized Churchill.

And yet, in my childhood, children of all ages were taught in so many words, that Kennedy was a god-genius, and we learned to worship everything about him.

About forty years ago, when I was in second or third grade, my mom bought me a paperback copy of Profiles in Courage through the Scholastic Book Service. I read at least one of the eight profiles, but all I recall is that at one point, the author wrote a paragraph that wound on for over one full page. Since the author was supposedly JFK, and everyone knew that JFK was a genius, that meant (at least it did to my young mind) that writing endless paragraphs was a sign of genius.

And in 1977, when I took my first philosophy course, at Sullivan County Community College in the Catskills, my professor, Richard Magagna, bragged that he had the same talent for reading incredibly rapidly by scanning left and right while plowing down the middle of the page that JFK had had. Well, perhaps Magagna had that talent, but I doubt that Kennedy did. More than likely, it was yet another JFK-as-genius myth. After all, had Kennedy been so brilliant, he never would have written or approved his inept, never-ending paragraphs.

Richard Nixon, on the other hand, really did write a series of important books on politics. But although Nixon was a true Renaissance man, he was a Republican, and so while the Kennedy hagiography of the press, Hollywood, and academia would slavishly promote the myth of Kennedy as Renaissance man, in the same parties’ corresponding demonography of Nixon, the last thing they were going to do was to give Nixon due credit for his very real intellectual accomplishments.

Meanwhile, in a dissenting voice from the left, in former conservative Garry Wills’ 1982 JFK book, The Kennedy Imprisonment – A Meditation On Power, Wills depicts Kennedy as a ruthless, pathologically lying sociopath.

So, where does that leave us? Must we choose between the fictional but pervasive image of JFK as saint-genius and Wills’ version of him as Devil?  If we jettison our illusions about the political leaders we support being compassionate, kindly, fatherly (or insert your romanticized cliché of choice) types, and admit that the ruthless, pathologically lying sociopath has been a frequent Oval Office type, that still does not free us from the obligation of weighing the virtues of this sociopath against that one.

While it is ludicrous to speak of a man who – through no fault of his own – inhabited the office for only two years and ten months as a “great president,” John F. Kennedy had his moments. He gave us a tax cut of historic dimensions, faced down the Soviets, founded the Peace Corps, and started the race to the moon that culminated in 1969 with Neil Armstrong’s world historical walk. And that ain’t chopped liver.

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About Nicholas Stix

  • Sisyphus

    You seem to be overlooking the obvious. Whether real or imagined, “image” is everything in politics. For starters, JFK was seen as charismatic, youthful and vigorous. He was an inspirational orator and physically attractive. He was quick-witted, funny, and smooth. Nixon, on the contrary, while undeniably intelligent, was largely seen as introverted, paranoid, awkward and dull. Such intangible qualities, or lack thereof, are fundamental to public perception and should not go unmentioned.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    A couple of points.

    First: the president who first got us involved in Vietnam was Harry Truman. The president who got us inextricably involved in Vietnam was unquestionably Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy unquestionably escalated involvement in between, but let’s not exaggerate it.

    Second: I don’t dispute Nixon’s genuine accomplishments, especially those of his foreign policy; nor do I dispute his intellect or political savvy. However, let’s bear in mind that he contributed a great deal to his own “Demonization” by virtue of his massive abuse of power that turned the GOP against him as surely as the Democrats (lest they take ALL the blame for soiling his reputation).

    I won’t pretend Kennedy was a great president. His accomplishments, while impressive, were few. But since we’re contrasting with Nixon, I can’t pretend he was a great president, either. The good he did was outweighed by the bad–unfortunate but absolutely true.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Nicholas, I don’t have anything to really say in response to this article, but I do think it’s one of your most interesting and I found it a good read. Keep up the good work.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Nick, I’m all for taking the Kennedy legend down a peg, especially as John’s reputation still confers credibility onto Teddy. It’s hard to believe that some people respect Ted Kennedy, much less voted for him in the 1980 primaries.

    I’m not ready to redomesticate Nixon though. For all his merits, he was a sucker for intellectual novelty. Thus he could be talked into wage and price controls and Friedman’s monetary policy. He couldn’t resist the appeal of a crazy scheme, like going at Russia through China, or winning an election by breaking into the opponent’s campaign headquarters. He was too clever for his own good.

    Sisyphus, are you implying that the focus on image is a good thing?

  • Mohjho

    Excellent article Nicholas. Seems that most of our perceptions of great people are remembered as myth. Is there any historical figure that is not somehow understood through a biased story line?

    As for Kennedy, your last paragraph is enough for me to label JFK as “pretty good”. However I will always give that benefit to a leader that simply doesn’t screw things up too badly.

    However Kennedy was a privileged child of a wealthy and ambitious family and thus his true nature is suspect. Myth or no myth I’ll stick with the facts, the hell with Camelot.

    And then there is Nixon. I remember him well. He seemed a very nasty and uninteresting person. All his foreign policy gains seemed to be wiped out by his cynical betrayal of our political system. I still picture him next to Joseph McCarthy during the House Un-American Activities Committee. Nuff said.

  • STM

    Great article, although I’m a bit nonplussed by the comparisons with Richard Nixon, and especially the bit about Vietnam: true, it was Kennedy who upped the ante in Vietnam (and who left LBJ with more trouble than a bag full of cats) but Nixon had no choice in terms of getting America out of the war. It was already a lost cause and a defeat of monumental and tragic proportions.

    In one of the more bizarre memories of my childhood (another was doing nuclear air raid drills underneath my school desk), I remember sitting with my parents in front of the TV watching the news of Kennedy’s assasination, and my mother openly weeping.

    That would be understandable if they were Americans but they weren’t … and we were living in England at the time. The whole of Britain went into mourning as if he’d been THEIR president, so when you’re talking image, it had gone way beyond the shores of the US.

    Also, his popularity there was in direct contrast to that of his father Joe, who was a reviled figure among Britons.

    As the US ambassador in London at the time of the Battle of Britain and the subsequent night Blitz on London, and who, as a well-known anti-British, anti-semitic Nazi sympathiser had predicted the quick demise of Britain (which in the wake of Joe’s gloomy forecast sent Goering’s Luftwaffe literally crashing to Earth then fought on alone against the Nazis for another two years), begged Roosevelt not to side with Britain.

    However, Roosevelt had become friends with Churchill and Kennedy was subsequently recalled to Washington but he lives on in the memories of Britons as a duplicitous and unpopular figure in their history, in no small part for his reputed dislike of Jews given the outcomes of the war.

    That his son, barely 20 years later, went on to occupy their consciousness in such a way is quite amazing and a testment to Kennedy’s own character as much as anything.

    He was nothing if not the consummate politician and the right man for the right time. No other US president in recent history lives in the memories of non-Americans the way Kennedy does.

  • http://jetfireone.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    This is the biggest load of right-wing horseshit I’ve read in quite some time… and I’ve read a lot.

  • STM

    It’s still a worthwhile alternative view of history, though Jet. I suppose Nicholas’ politics will be his politics, but challenging perceptions is never a bad thing.

    The interesting part about all this is that JFK’s father was an avowed Nazi sympathiser and friend of the Viscountess, Lady Astor, the Virginian-born British parliamentarian who favoured appeasement with Hitler prior to WWII. So the two men would almost appear at first glance to be at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

    I blame Joe’s catholicism for his views, and John’s clever pragmatism for his.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Jet, STM,

    I remember watching the debates between Nixon and Kennedy on TV as a child. Nixon looked like a thief who deserved to be hauled off to jail, while Kennedy looked like a media star. From watching the debate, it was obvious who had won. But many of those who had listened to it on radio, felt that Nixon had won. Why?

    Because Nixon, the better debater, did not take into account the importance of the visual image. John Kennedy, whose father rooked people off in the cinema business as well as running illegal liquor, was always very aware of the importance of the visual image. He had learned it from his scum of a father.

    It should be noted that John Kennedy learned more than that from his father. Joe Kennedy was dogged by his paramour, Gloria Swanson, whom he had dumped in 1930. John Kennedy, after having made the main thrust of his points with Marilyn Monroe, had her done in. She never bothered him, or anyone else, again.

    Nixon was a typical CFR type fellow, who worked with folks like Nelson and Dave Rockefeller and who was far more dictatorial in style. This, in addition to the “old Nixon, new Nixon” images pushed by the media, made him a lot less popular than he could have been. Had he actually pushed the negative income tax proposal harder and backed it up with compensations for working mothers (part of the original plan), he would have wound up a lot more popular than he actually was, Watergate and all.

    Nixon’s policies were crafted the way von Bismarck’s were. He upended the “liberal” side of the fence and took enough of their policies to make the “liberals” unhappy. But it was always clear who he really represented – the rich moneyed élite he wanted to be part of so bad.

  • http://jetfireone.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Oh, I see, so it’s okay to lay the sins of the father on the son…

    I get it now.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    No Jet,

    Get some history right. “Jittery Joe” Kennedy, upon his return to Hyannisport in 1940, worked on getting his sons into the US senate, the governor’s mansion or maybe even the white house. The first step was making sure they had combat records in the military. His first son, Joe Jr. died fighting WWII. His second son, John, nearly died in the Pacific, but came back alive. The third son, Robert, went to law school. So did the fourth son.

    Joe Kennedy worked with what he had, and worked hard to teach his boys how to negotiate the not very pleasant world of climbing to the top. One of his lessons, I’m sure, was not to leave dissatisfied women lying around as liabilities, a problem that Joe Kennedy had in Gloria Swanson.

    Another lesson was the importance of the visual image as connected to the voice. Swanson was one of the actresses who successfully made the transition from silent films to talkies, and Joe Kennedy was poking her right around the time she was doing so. He was also in the cinema distribution business right around that time, and saw the importance of a good media image of both looks and voice in terms of profits in his pocket.

    So he learned by watching. He may have been a contemptible coward, but he was not stupid, and applied what he learned to his sons’ benefit.

    Each man carries his own sin, but John certainly learned from his daddy. And then he committed his own sins, which were worse in their own way.

  • ss

    “There is no record, to my knowledge, of Nixon ever censoring a political speech, much less one by a civil rights leader”

    Nixon had an ‘enemies list’ that included journalists and political cartoonists.
    Nixon authorized a program to discredit the anti war movement that included federal agents breaking into the office of Abbie Hoffman’s psychiatrist. They did this under no legal authority, simply at the request of the executive branch.
    Nixon made no secret of the fact he considered college protest criminal at best, treason at worst. Unarmed protesters were shot to death at Kent State and Jackson State while Nixon was in office. I’m not saying Nixon gave an order, but he did let it be known he wouldn’t be horribly upset if something along these lines were to happen. And then it happened.

    As ‘defenders’ of free speech and dissent go, Nixon was a little better than Vladimir Putin. Not by much though.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    #1 — November 27, 2006 @ 02:06AM — Sisyphus

    You seem to be overlooking the obvious. Whether real or imagined, “image” is everything in politics. For starters, JFK was seen as charismatic, youthful and vigorous. He was an inspirational orator and physically attractive. He was quick-witted, funny, and smooth. Nixon, on the contrary, while undeniably intelligent, was largely seen as introverted, paranoid, awkward and dull. Such intangible qualities, or lack thereof, are fundamental to public perception and should not go unmentioned.

    Sorry, Sisyphus, but that is not the way it was. You are retroactively projecting the Camelot myth that was manufactured by the Democrat media after the election, onto Kennedy during his campaign. As for Nixon, you are repeating Democrat talking points, rather than describing public sentiment towards Nixon.

    Had the American public seen JFK in such romanticized terms, and Nixon in such negative terms, Kennedy would have won in a landslide, rather than in the closest election of the 20th century, and only then, thanks to massive election fraud.

  • Bliffle

    Kennedy was not the angel the delusional democrats project, nor was Nixon the devil he is often portrayed as. The problem is that we, as voters and citizens, keep looking for angels to worship and devils to castigate. The solution? Stop considering personalities and start considering issues. There’s no need for one to throw all their allegiance to one person and then abandon all reason. That way lies slavery.

  • Baronius

    SS, I always hear about the Enemies List, but as far as I know nothing ever happened to Nixon’s enemies. There was talk of killing Jack Anderson, which is pretty terrifying. But it was never acted upon. Roosevelt had his opponents investigated by the early IRS; Johnson sent people to Goldwater rallies with itching powder. Nixon kept a list of Jews in the Department of Labor. Johnson investigated opponents’ campaign staffs, looking for homosexuals. Kennedy’s remarkable luck in close elections is suspicious (although I’m no expert on the subject). All in all, Nixon wasn’t much worse than his predecessors, and nothing like Putin.

  • Nancy

    As pointed out by Ruvy, what Kennedy had most was relentless & brilliant PR, most of it concocted by those employed by his old man, Joe Kennedy, one of the most rapacious, ruthless, ambitious s.o.b.s ever to emerge on to the American political scene, & his maniacally social-climbing wife, Rose, a female political Machiavelli with a will & spine of steel who liked to project a faux image of ultra-pious domesticity. Until the death of Joe, Jr., John was nothing (relatively speaking). It was only after the death of his elder brother that the ferocious parental ambitions focused on him as the new Crown Prince of a future Kennedy Royal Family which Joe & Rose envisioned as taking over & dominating US politics for the next century, at least.

    Most of John F.’s ‘legends’ are just that: smoke & mirrors, half-truths & romanticized lies that, repeated often enough by syncophantic (& paid off by Big Daddy Joe’s money) media types, eventually came to be accepted as gospel. Even John’s ‘heroic’ episode in WWII with the PT boat has been vastly exaggerated from the actual facts; & it has long been known (& even exposed) that his literary works weren’t his at all, but the efforts of professional ghosters with his name on it. Stealing &/or taking credit for other people’s work or ideas has long been a Kennedy tradition, dating from the very first bog-trotting Kennedy to come over in steerage back in the early 19th century, the ancestral Patrick, brewer of rotgut whiskey back when it was still legal, who kept a hole in the wall that became a “saloon” only decades later when it suited the family to upgrade their circumstances. The sorry episodes with Teddy all his life are symptomatic of the real Kennedy modus operandi: make lots of money, any way you can, and use it to buy what you want (or get you out of trouble). The Kennedy clan was able to do this because they also had a forged network & support group (in today’s terminology) of Boston Irish Catholics plus the connivance of the very powerful as well as corrupt RC church – the Cardinal of Boston was early on a shield & staunch pillar of support of the Kennedy agenda, which in turn was supposed to provide a wedge of political power into US politics for the Vatican. One of the things most fascinating to historians or those of us who just like & appreciate political skullduggery in history is the incredible web of interlocking agendas & threads which was Bostonian/Irish American political history. And of course the Kennedys were the apex as well as the vanguard of it all.

    In any event, Kennedy – in fact, the whole family – is vastly overrated. Only the untimely demise of all three of the most promising young males prevented them from utterly taking over the US political scene (as with most I-A RCs, the girls were ignored & relegated to breeding or ruling from behind the curtain, as it were). Understandably traumatized by the multiple assassinations of John & Robert, the 3rd generation of projected Kennedy powermongers never did materialize, except in very attentuated form. Frankly, in today’s atmosphere of ultra-exposure, none of them would be able to operate in such a chrysalis of PR & fabricated imagery as did John F. or Bobby. Teddy is, quite literally, a political dinosaur, probably the last of his species, thank god.

    Poor old Dick Nixon was his own victim, impaled by his own hubris, suspicions, & just plain nasty personality. He surely was one of the most unpleasant, vindictive, & vulgar men who ever made it to the top, unable to rise above his early defeats. Truly, he had some VERY good accomplishments while in office. Alas, he hoist himself on his own petard with his penchant for surrounding himself with such criminal sociopaths as Liddy, Mitchell, Haldeman, et al. A judge of character he was not, and in the end, that was what did him in, together with his thirst for “getting” all those he considered his enemies, real or imagined, which led to his rampant abuse of power. The man was his own worst enemy & never knew it. A true anomaly & a fascinating study in perverse character & wasted potential. I think had he been even a little less psychotic he would have been possibly one of our best presidents; he certainly had the moxie for it, but it was all misdirected. Unfortunately, in his day most of the modern anti-psychotics & antidepressants weren’t available, even to the rich or powerful.

  • Nancy

    Nixon had the FBI investigating various supposed ‘enemies’ of his mind’s imagining; unbeknownst to him, J. Edgar was also investigating HIM up the wahzoo, probably for future blackmail potential purposes, as he (J. Edgar, that is) did with everybody. I believe quite a few persons lost jobs, positions, or got their career paths truncated thanks to Nixon; like you, however, I never heard of any actual murders on the order of Putin’s putative activities. Anybody know of anything or any investigations into such? I imagine most of it still is under national security blackout, even with the freedom of information act.

  • ss

    I’m not claiming that Nixon gave orders to have anyone murdered. I’m also not claiming that DC, particularly the FBI and the Oval Office, were free from abuse of power before Nixon.
    Still, Nixon’s response to an era that had an unusual amount of disruptive protest wasn’t to control the disruption through legal channels and maintain the rights of dissenters. Nixon’s response was to greatly expand the illegal activities the governement was already engaging in in an attempt to eliminate dissent; inside the beltway, in the media, and on the street.
    And people did die at Kent State and Jackson State.
    Again I’m not saying that Nixon ordered this or even did anything to specifically orchestrate either event.
    Still, the fact that disruptive but unarmed protesters were gunned down-
    Twice
    -under the same administration that was expanding the illegal activities the governement was engaged in in an attempt to eliminate dissent…
    Not as bad as Putin, I’ll grant you that. No deliberate assainations carried out by thugs with a wink and a nod from the government.
    But among American Presidents, Nixon came alot closer to that type of governing than he could ever excuse.

    On the other hand, we can agree that Kennedy was a greatly over rated President.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    Michael (#2), I wrote a long response to you, but got blocked, due to a forbidden word (“Error: [3103] Banned word”).

    I have no idea what the word was, but have previously been told that such no-no words have something to do with spam. I just wrote to Christopher, to determine what the problem is.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    #3 — November 27, 2006 @ 14:09PM — Dave Nalle

    Nicholas, I don’t have anything to really say in response to this article, but I do think it’s one of your most interesting and I found it a good read. Keep up the good work.

    Dave

    Thanks, Dave.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    The banned words can often be unexpected. For example, off and on the word ‘cialis’ has been banned, causing the word ‘socialist’ to be banned as well because it’s in there. Leading me to wonder if Cialis is a secret plot to drug Americans and turn them into socialists.

    Dave

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Awww, Nicholas, now you have my curiosity piqued. Can you give me a Cliff’s Notes version of your long response?

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    #2 — November 27, 2006 @ 09:54AM — Michael J. West

    A couple of points.

    First: the president who first got us involved in Vietnam was Harry Truman. The president who got us inextricably involved in Vietnam was unquestionably Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy unquestionably escalated involvement in between, but let’s not exaggerate it.

    I cited Kennedy as I did, based on his having sent over 15,000 “military advisers” to South Vietnam (what do 15,000 military officers do in a nation as small as South Vietnam? They must have been tripping over each other all the time!) and Richard Reeves’ point that JFK had toppled the Diem regime. Reeves evoked Colin Powell (“You break it, you own it.”). Thus, I don’t see that Kennedy would have handled Vietnam any different than Johnson did with the same cabinet (particularly Robert McNamara at Defense). Once Kennedy deposed Diem, the massive war/troop build-up was a fait accompli.

    Second: I don’t dispute Nixon’s genuine accomplishments, especially those of his foreign policy; nor do I dispute his intellect or political savvy. However, let’s bear in mind that he contributed a great deal to his own “Demonization” by virtue of his massive abuse of power that turned the GOP against him as surely as the Democrats (lest they take ALL the blame for soiling his reputation).

    I won’t pretend Kennedy was a great president. His accomplishments, while impressive, were few. But since we’re contrasting with Nixon, I can’t pretend he was a great president, either. The good he did was outweighed by the bad–unfortunate but absolutely true.

    I think that Nixon’s reputation is based not on his “massive abuse of power,” but due to a double-standard, according to which actions which Democrats consider “massive abuse of power” when done by Republicans, are ignored when committed by favored presidents (Democrats and Lincoln, whom millions of Democrat voters, including apparently most blacks, assume was a Democrat). Lincoln, for example, had every newspaper that criticized him shut down for the duration. Kennedy initiated at least three plots to assassinate Castro. The Clintons were more a criminal association than a marriage (Travelgate, Filegate, Gropegate, conspiracy to obstruct justice following Vince Foster’s suicide, and even a post-administration criminal conspiracy, BVDgate).

    (But even as I am acutely aware of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s crimes, I credit Bill with being the most fiscally conservative president since Ike.)

    As I wrote in July 2004, when after former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was caught stealing classified documents from the National Archive (BVDgate), one can’t help wondering what American, and even world history, would have looked like, had the American media at the time, instead of being dedicated to the destruction of Pres. Richard M. Nixon, been dedicated to his protection at all costs, pronounced Watergate a non-story, and refused to pursue it. For that is what today’s media, dedicated as they are to the preservation of Bill Clinton’s legacy, John Kerry’s presidential candidacy, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects, have done with BVDgate. There never would have been a President Ford, a Vice President Rockefeller, or for that matter, a President Carter. Further down the road, you have to wonder if there would have been a President Reagan, the toppling of the Berlin Wall, or an Islamic World War on America. And to return to the example of journalism, one has to wonder how much of the late 1970s’ and 80s’ consolidation of leftist power in newsrooms and university journalism faculties that followed, were consequences of the successful campaign to “get” Nixon.

    P.S. Verboten “word” 3103 turned out to be “geocities.com.” I recall one of the censors demanding I remove all links to my own Web site (at geocities) in an article a few months ago, even though that meant destroying my ability to support statements I was making. At that time, and as recently as a few weeks ago, geocities wasn’t yet on the list. I guess the censor in question got it added since then.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    P.P.S. The verboten form of 3103 includes “http://” plus a slash at the end of the previously cited term.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/ Nicholas Stix

    P.P.P.S. This infernal machine changed what I wrote! I said that the verboten form includes h-t-t-p plus colon plus double slash, plus the previously cited term, plus a slash at the end.

  • STM

    Dave said: “The banned words can often be unexpected. For example, off and on the word ‘cialis’ has been banned, causing the word ‘socialist’ to be banned as well because it’s in there. Leading me to wonder if Cialis is a secret plot to drug Americans and turn them into socialists.”

    Why don’t I find that last line of your post surprising??

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    I cited Kennedy as I did, based on his having sent over 15,000 “military advisers” to South Vietnam (what do 15,000 military officers do in a nation as small as South Vietnam? They must have been tripping over each other all the time!)

    Small, yes, but densely populated. In fact, there were about 20 million people in South Vietnam. To put it in some perspective, there are only 28 million people in Iraq–where we have 130,000 soldiers, a number that has been criticized by both lefties and righties as too small.

    and Richard Reeves’ point that JFK had toppled the Diem regime. Reeves evoked Colin Powell (“You break it, you own it.”).

    First, it is an exaggeration to say that JFK toppled the Diem regime. There was a coup d’etat by the army, which the administration did not actually have any hand in either planning or executing. What they DID do was covertly sanction it and promise not to interfere. Innocent they were not, but sanctioning and not interfering is NOT the same as participating or masterminding.

    Second, considering that the Diem assassination happened less than three weeks before Kennedy’s own assassination, there’s not an awful lot of subsequent developments on which to base a conclusion in either direction. Considering that the administration publicly expressed “shock and disappointment” over the coup, it might actually have presented the PERFECT excuse for extrication. All that had to happen was something that Kennedy didn’t like, and who knows? It might have come to pass.

    Thus, I don’t see that Kennedy would have handled Vietnam any different than Johnson did with the same cabinet (particularly Robert McNamara at Defense). Once Kennedy deposed Diem, the massive war/troop build-up was a fait accompli.

    Mostly covered above. But remember that the buildup was a response to the Gulf of Tonkin. You could argue that LBJ was just waiting for the proper excuse, and you’d be right–but that was LBJ. Kennedy’s actions might, or might not, have been different. He had McNamara, sure, but he also had his brother as his closest adviser (which LBJ did not), and Bobby proved himself in the Cuban Missile Crisis to be FAR more level-headed than McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, and many others in the administration.

    I’ll get to the Nixon v. Clinton argument another time. That’s good enough for now, and my wife is calling me from the other room.

  • Baronius

    SS, I understand. You just hit a nerve of mine by mentioning the Enemies List. I saw a recent story on TV about one of the supposed great political cartoonists of the last 50 years. All his peers were talking about how “courageous” he was. I was not impressed.

    Self-indulgent political commentators depict themselves as heroes. They say that they “speak truth to power”. Except for matters of slavery and civil rights, Americans have never spoken truth to power, because there’s no power in the US. Not extralegal power, anyway. Most Americans have protested something or signed a petition without fear of reprisal. I can’t think of anything less courageous than, for example, drawing a cartoon that criticizes the president. Oh, another example: me. There’s nothing noble or bold about arguing online.

    And while I’m careening off-subject, it’s not a “boycott” if you stop watching a tv show you don’t like. It’s called “changing the channel”. Humans like to make their every action sound important, don’t they?

    Back to the topic at hand…

  • STM

    It was Kennedy who upped the ante in Vietnam, no question. The number of advisers there was about the equivalent of two regular divisions (enough, you’d think, at first glance).

    LBJ then upped the ante further because he had to, and in the process dragged my country into the war as well. While the catch-cry here was the well-known “all the way with LBJ”, it was indeed Kennedy who had decided that US involvement was going to be at more than token level.

    The first Victoria Cross awarded to an Australian soldier in Vietnam was to an “adviser”, Warrant Officer Kevin Wheatley (posthumously).

    In remembering the myth of Camelot, people should also remember that it was Kennedy who left Johnson with the tragic legacy of an unwinnable war and ultimately it was his decision that led to so much heartbreak.

  • Clavos

    It was Kennedy who upped the ante in Vietnam, no question. The number of advisers there was about the equivalent of two regular divisions (enough, you’d think, at first glance).

    Kennedy initiated the real escalation, true. But LBJ was the first to send entire battalion and division sized units over, starting in the summer of 1964. By the end of 1966, 400,000 US troops were there (Kennedy sent about 16,000)and by the time LBJ was done, we had 500,000 in country.

    What really bothered me was that LBJ never even learned how to pronounce Vietnam: he called it “Veetnam.”

    Sort of like GWB’s “nukular.”

  • STM

    LBJ was a Texan, too, wasn’t he? He came on a visit to Australia because we and New Zealand were the only genuine western democracies that had supported his war effort by actually sending troops. I’ll give you some background Clav, although I know you know a fair bit about it.

    Initially, after first sending “advisers”, the Australian government dispatched the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), in June 1965 to serve alongside the US 173rd Airborne Brigade in Bien Hoa province.

    Later, as the ante was upped, more units including elements of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force were despatched and the American brass gave the Australian Task Force and the New Zealanders their own area of operations (Phuoc Tuy province) and left them be to conduct their own operations.

    The Australian war effort was quite different to the Americans’, employing active long-range patrolling including by the SAS and in large part, it remained relatively peaceful with a hearts-and-minds program despite some well-known clashes (including the all-night battle fought in the rubber plantation at Long Tan against a large force of North Vietnamese).

    In that firefight, a good percentage of the Australian dead and wounded were National Servicemen, or draftees, as there was a ballot system operating in Australia much like that of the US. That was the beginning of the end.

    Johnson’s war was very unpopular here, and in 1966 on a visit to Australia there were violent protests that also involved fisticuffs with US secret service agents as his motorcade wound through Melbourne.

    By 1970, the anti-war movement had really gathered momentum, as it had in the US, and in the end the election of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1972, partly on a promise to bring home the troops, brought our involvement to a very timely end – given what transpired later.

    Here, we haven’t forgotten that although it was the Menzies and Holt Liberal governments (it’s a misnomer … the Liberal Party here is generally to the right of Attila the Hun) who offered our support under our alliance with the US, it was actually Kennedy who really got the whole thing started. However, he is still remembered fondly. That is a classic example of the paradox of the Kennedy era.

  • Baronius

    STM, a good many people believe that the Vietnam War was winnable.

    For the last few years, the press has been comparing Iraq to the ‘quagmire’ of Vietnam. It’s been pretty well drilled into us that Vietnam couldn’t be won by the military. Now is the time that I see the Iraq/Vietnam comparison, as a weak-willed nation fails to live up to its commitment.

  • STM

    The war in Vietnam was unwinnable simply because of the way it was conducted. It has nothing to do with a weak-willed nation. I don’t believe the US is weak-willed but it does seem to blunder around sometimes without any idea of what’s really going on or what needs to be done. That’s the fault of those giving the advice to your leaders.

    The conduct of the Vietnam war and the strategy employed was the problem. Sending vast numbers of troops and masses of materiel wasn’t the answer (and still isn’t now) in terms of how the war needed to be fought. It could have been won with a genuine counter-insurgency campaign.

    The same thing had been done successfully in Malaya a few years earlier with vastly smaller numbers of troops (although the insurgency wasn’t at the same level it was in Vietnam). It’s a problem for the West Point-style cadres running the Pentagon. “It wasn’t invented here, so it’s no good.”

    The “you have nothing to teach us” attitude is a peculiarly American thing when it comes to the military and in truth, quite arrogant and as we have seen, can also be very detrimental … and here’s my view: had the US had the balls to use its might to attack North Vietnam en-masse, the situation might have been different.

    I guess that’s what happens when you’re a superpower. However, none of that explains what is happening in Iraq. They are very different issues. The problem there is that really bad planning for the peace, rather than the war, created a power vacuum that the insurgents were able to exploit, and it’s of course snowballed.

  • Clavos

    STM writes:

    The conduct of the Vietnam war and the strategy employed was the problem. Sending vast numbers of troops and masses of materiel wasn’t the answer (and still isn’t now) in terms of how the war needed to be fought. It could have been won with a genuine counter-insurgency campaign.

    Bingo!

    And the real irony is that a pretty good parallel can be drawn with our Revolutionary War in that the British weren’t able to adapt to the guerilla-style warfare waged by the Colonials; a major (though not the only) reason for the British loss.

    Seems US don’t learn, even from our successes.

  • STM

    Yes, you are absolutely right Clav … the parallels do apply even from 230 years ago. But the Brits DID learn.

    As far back as the Peninsular War in the early 1800s, they were using small cadres of specially trained troops in early versions of hit-and-run counter insurgency operations in French-occupied Spain. Even during the war of 1812, many of their successes against the US were the result of these kinds of tactics, including the burning of Washington.

    They have continued to apply that kind of doctrine in most conflicts (even in WWI in the middle-east, despite being stuck in horrific stalemated trench warfare in Europe), and notably in WWII, whilst employing succesful hearts-and-minds campaigns to win over the local people.

    It is worth pondering: if you are going to do this stuff, make sure it causes the least possible trauma to all concerned.

    In my view, the proof is in the pudding for the Poms. Most of the nations that were part of the old British Empire, and many of which were conquered or subdued militarily, now remain part of the vast British Commonwealth of Nations.

    That is what is so tragic about America’s position in the world today and how it is seen by others in the way it conducts itself militarily, as in the view of most serious observers, the US can’t be viewed as anything but a generous, compassionate, fair and magnanimous nation that still employs a genuine degree of altruism in its foreign policy.

    It must break the hearts of the average American, knowing that they are not warmongers for the sake of it, to be viewed by many in the world as bullies.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, really. Blame the people dishing out the advice at the top end in Washington. They should be strung up by the cods.

    That is what is so sad about the current impasse, and the truth is most Iraqis are glad to be rid of the murderous and despotic regime of Saddam. Sadly, we have won a just war but now appear to have lost the peace.

  • http://members.aol.com/droberdeau/JFK/DP.jpg DRoberdeau

    Mrs. Kennedy never “threw herself across her husband to shield his body from further gunfire” as this writer fabricated. The writer should actually watch the Zapruder film. After her husbands head was blown open, she did crawl quickly rearward out onto the limousine’s trunk to retrieve a piece of his head that had been blown rearward. It is documented by both of the Connally’s that she then yelled, “I’ve got his brains in my hand!,” and, further documented that she gave this piece of his head to a doctor at Parkland hospital and asked him, “Will this help?” For a professionally surveyed map of Dealey Plaza detailing precise victims, witnesses, and photographers locations, evidentiary artifacts, suspected assassins locations & bullet trajectories, and other important considerations please see my site

  • http://www.alexconstantine.blogspot.com Alex Constantine

    Nicholas is a CIA Mockingbird, and his “work” is deceiving his readers with shaggy-dog stories about Oswald and the circumstances of the murder by Nick’s Nazi buds. Transparent lies pass for commentary these days, because “conservatives” have gotten fat on propaganda, and mental laziness leads them to accept the word of frauds like Nick. Nixon was a fascist. Fascists killed Kennedy. It’s no more difficult than that, but we must have a steady diet of fabrications to obscure the facts. Malleable “conservatives” have discredited themselves with this sort of bilge, and Mockigbirds should be laughed off the web.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com Nicholas Stix

    #33 — November 29, 2006 @ 20:16PM — STM

    The war in Vietnam was unwinnable simply because of the way it was conducted. It has nothing to do with a weak-willed nation. I don’t believe the US is weak-willed but it does seem to blunder around sometimes without any idea of what’s really going on or what needs to be done. That’s the fault of those giving the advice to your leaders.

    The conduct of the Vietnam war and the strategy employed was the problem. Sending vast numbers of troops and masses of materiel wasn’t the answer (and still isn’t now) in terms of how the war needed to be fought. It could have been won with a genuine counter-insurgency campaign.

    The same thing had been done successfully in Malaya a few years earlier with vastly smaller numbers of troops (although the insurgency wasn’t at the same level it was in Vietnam). It’s a problem for the West Point-style cadres running the Pentagon. “It wasn’t invented here, so it’s no good.”

    The “you have nothing to teach us” attitude is a peculiarly American thing when it comes to the military and in truth, quite arrogant and as we have seen, can also be very detrimental … and here’s my view: had the US had the balls to use its might to attack North Vietnam en-masse, the situation might have been different.

    I guess that’s what happens when you’re a superpower. However, none of that explains what is happening in Iraq. They are very different issues. The problem there is that really bad planning for the peace, rather than the war, created a power vacuum that the insurgents were able to exploit, and it’s of course snowballed.

    You generalize too much about West Point, America, etc. In Vietnam under Westmoreland, we had the problem of poor strategy. Abrams corrected that. The military did not lose Vietnam; weak diplomacy, in giving in too much to the North Vietnamese, and the later refusal of America to live up to her promises to provide air support to the South Vietnamese did.

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com Nicholas Stix

    #36 — December 1, 2006 @ 12:34PM — DRoberdeau [URL]

    Mrs. Kennedy never “threw herself across her husband to shield his body from further gunfire” as this writer fabricated. The writer should actually watch the Zapruder film. After her husbands head was blown open, she did crawl quickly rearward out onto the limousine’s trunk to retrieve a piece of his head that had been blown rearward. It is documented by both of the Connally’s that she then yelled, “I’ve got his brains in my hand!,” and, further documented that she gave this piece of his head to a doctor at Parkland hospital and asked him, “Will this help?” For a professionally surveyed map of Dealey Plaza detailing precise victims, witnesses, and photographers locations, evidentiary artifacts, suspected assassins locations & bullet trajectories, and other important considerations please see my site

    Fabricated? I should see Zapruder? Where do you think I saw what I wrote?

  • http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com Nicholas Stix

    #37 — December 6, 2006 @ 15:21PM — Alex Constantine [URL]

    Nicholas is a CIA Mockingbird, and his “work” is deceiving his readers with shaggy-dog stories about Oswald and the circumstances of the murder by Nick’s Nazi buds. Transparent lies pass for commentary these days, because “conservatives” have gotten fat on propaganda, and mental laziness leads them to accept the word of frauds like Nick. Nixon was a fascist. Fascists killed Kennedy. It’s no more difficult than that, but we must have a steady diet of fabrications to obscure the facts. Malleable “conservatives” have discredited themselves with this sort of bilge, and Mockigbirds should be laughed off the web.

    “Mockingbird”? “Mental laziness”? “Nixon was a fascist”? Get a translator and/or a psychiatrist for this guy. In fact, after reading one paragraph from him, I need a psychiatrist!

  • STM

    Nick Stix said: “You generalize too much about West Point, America, etc. In Vietnam under Westmoreland, we had the problem of poor strategy. Abrams corrected that. The military did not lose Vietnam; weak diplomacy, in giving in too much to the North Vietnamese, and the later refusal of America to live up to her promises to provide air support to the South Vietnamese did.”

    I beg to differ … while diplomacy also failed, the military DID lose the Vietnam War, strategically at least, a fact that many former high-ranking US military men also now admit. They also say the strategy of big-business style build-ups like those of WWII was the wrong way to undertake the kind of conflict that was necessary there. It should bring no shame to admit that, either. No military force is invincible: Ask the vets.

    Sorry to dissappoint you, and I know 20-20 hindsight is a marvellous thing, but it is now taught as a classic example of how not to conduct a counter-insurgency campaign.

    There has only been one successful long-term counter insurgency campaign in the latter half of the 20th century, which was the Malaya Emergency conducted against communist forces from 1948-60, which then extended into Konfrontasi (1963-66), the Indonesian campaign against the newly-independent state of Malayasia, which Indonesia’s leaders considered a continuing front for British imperialist ambitions in South-East Asia.

    At the outset, they were very similar conflicts to Vietnam, as well. And you’ll note in the case of the Malaya emergency, it took a long time. The proof is in the pudding: Malaysia, a democratic islamic state, and its breakaway sister state of Singapore, have political and economic stability and living standards that are the best in the region (although they do have their problems). Please don’t allow jingoistic notions of US military invicibility to cloud reality.

    Both the campaigns I have mentioned are now taught as classic examples of how to conduct a successful counter-insurgency operation. Perhaps they just got lucky, who knows? But what they did, worked – unlike Vietnam. In this case, the facts of history cannot be denied.

    It is also worth noting that I am also admitting a failure by my own country here, which also contributed a significant military and diplomatic effort in support of the US during the Vietnam war, so I’m hoping you read the entire post.

    You must do your homework on these things Nicholas before you give me a rap over the knuckles.

  • http://mischistory.blogspot.com Harryfreeloader

    “Oswald” killed JFK?

    Prove it!

    You’d be the first since the United States government couldn’t.

  • martha morgan

    Nicholas: Just found you on the computer. Enjoyed the article and the comments. Your article was informative, being a 76 year old woman I was around when the events Happened. However, I disagree about Mrs. Kennedy moving rearward in the limousine carry the President and his party. She is holding onto the hand of the Secret Service agent as he is trying to get into the limousine,clearly he other hand does not have anything in it. So many stories have erupted since that sad day in Novemeber, however, I for one still have doubts about the assassination and
    whether we will have the true facts. I do not believe that anymore information will come forth and the people will still hold onto the thought of a young family man our President being killed
    and find it still a fairy tale to dream about. If knowing what I do now, I would have voted for Kennedy, he wasnt as ruthless as his Father, however his old msn was far smarter. His old mans money and ruthlessness got JFK into the White Hous.

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