Last night’s episode of The Kennedys works for me. Greg Kinnear becomes Mr. President, really.
Part IV pares away the layers that may have led to Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s debilitating stroke only a few months into Jack’s presidency. From earlier episodes we learn that Joe internalized the trials that his sons faced before, during and after the 1960 election. It begins with Joe visiting Sam Giancana in Chicago to ask for his support over Richard Nixon in the election. Sam is unconvinced. But Francis (Frank) Sinatra makes a little deal with Sam promising him that Jack and Bobby will go after “little fish” and leave him and his men alone. Hoover has audiotape ”evidence” of these meetings.
My library is bursting with books on the Kennedy family. And one thing stands out—how Sinatra was thrown under the bus by the family. He meant well but ignored boundaries and Joe came down like a ton of bricks on him with some well-placed insults, then showing him the door.
Speaking of doors, drugs (speedballs) are delivered behind closed doors by one Dr. Jacobson (AKA Dr. Feelgood) to an ailing Jack, who could not rest, walk, sit or stand for very long due to his interminable back pain. A bad back feeds a bad temper. Jacobson was referred by a friend, was first used by Jack, then by Jackie. .
Prescription drugs were already part of Jack’s arsenal to alleviate Addison’s disease. Doctors believe that ensuing orthopedic problems, mostly the bad back, were the result of daily shots of cortisone taken for decades for the Addison’s. Despite Jack’s pain he would still play tennis, football and golf often with one knee and his back wrapped tightly (knees often suffer referred pain from a bad back).
Then came the Russians, threatening to wall off West Berlin during this time, and Bobby had to pinch-hit because Jack did not trust intelligence on Nikita Khrushchev. So, after some thought Jack decided to stay out of the “domestic dispute” between those two countries.
Part V will revisit what happened at Ole Miss, in Oxford, Mississippi when a black man attempts to integrate the university and the brothers must negotiate with the dogs of the South.