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tv   Book Discussion on JFK in the Senate  CSPAN  January 1, 2014 5:45am-7:01am EST

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[applause] >> it's great to be around this table once again today because we have got some wonderful breakfast, and the people from all over the world, in due course we will have a chance to visit with all of them. the conversations go beyond breakfast. they continue on until everything going on in the world . diplomacy might better contract with our congress, our administrations, others in washington, the leaders. i am excited about taxes -- the idea. of course, it really follows through with work that course and my friend, john shaw has done an inspired me to have a new chapter in my life after the senate the continuing to think about the rest of the world, think about ways in which those who withdraw for service might be more effective and more
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humane. let me just say at the outset that this is an exciting day to talk about a new book above john f. kennedy, the pathway to the presidency. it is an exciting book. when i first read i wrote back to him. he may recall this very short letter. john, i wish that i have had this book before i tried to run for president in 1995. it really has been most destructive, and some of the things i learned from the buck in retrospect, although i do not intend to run again for presidency. i want to reassure you well that you really have to want to do it full time. as this book will illustrate, from the time that john kennedy entered his second term in the
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senate life he was ready to go for four years. and so therefore everything was aligned in that respect. i remember bob dole running. he was running in the year that i was trying in '95 and '96 and was successful. i remember very well, howard baker ran earlier than that because i was his campaign manager. but both of these individuals were leaders of the party to minority leaders in most cases as opposed to the majority leader's. in the bill very conscientious about doing there duties in the senate. i felt the same way about making all of the roll call votes and feeling that indiana had only to members of the senate. if one was gone 50 percent of whatever we had was absent. but it is a different style. if you decide to go for the presidency, the senate is there is a former, you can speak, have
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books of your own, take time to write those, as john kennedy said -- certainly did, and likewise to have an instructional process in terms of foreign relations. i was delighted to learn from jon's book, for example, that president kennedy was very eager to get on the foreign relations committee. and it took him awhile for his service. think it was four years or so prior him after he came into the senate that lyndon johnson to had, at least the power to make these appointments, but among the foreign relations committee. that gave me a good feeling. he was on the foreign relations committee, but he was not there really to spend time running out legislation, having tens of hearings, i presume, for almost
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every ambassador from the united states to every country, all of the appointments of the state department or so forth. as we celebrated foreign relations committees, a couple of years ago, the historical society gave me an opportunity to point out that the foreign relations committee hold more hearings or at least in those days, then any of the committee. at the time to process all the personnel. likewise, all of the various things that are occurring in the world. president kennedy contributed to visit to these, but this was not a preoccupation. we will was on his mind was the presidency and how he was going to prepare, really, to be a great president, how he was going to prepare, in fact, to be a candidate who would have an opportunity, as a matter of fact he already had experience at the convention prior to the one in which she was nominated in which
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she was almost the vice-presidential nominee, and he was, i suppose, instructed by what occurred during that time not to at least go through the same mistakes again. i don't want to tell the whole story of john's but before he has suggested talk again today, but i am excited about it because it does really offered, as he suggests, a pathway to the presidency. facts are, of course, historically, only one other senator had gone directly from the senate at that time, and only one has subsequently, namely, the president we now have, barack obama. i remember very well the first year the barack obama came to the senate. he was a faithful participant in our hearings. as a matter of fact, he was a junior democratic senator.
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was the chair at the time. we recognize back and forth. barack was the last one in the room by the time we finished. a two-hour hearing. almost everyone else had left but the two of us. and so i once applauded him relief for his diligence, his constancy in seoul and -- in all of this. well, he took me upon it. after i made a complimentary remarks in mid -- it was either april or may of that year he said, dick, no you go to russia every year. i would like to go with you this year. i was startled with his interest. out of the blue. i said, well, fine. let's do that. and so, as a matter of fact and the two of us went to russia in august at a time of senate recess and onto azerbaijani. they ukraine, as a matter of fact it now, i visited this past
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year azerbaijani. they are well aware of the visit , but certainly every picture that has brought obama and it has been elevated to a new status. people are very interested. likewise, even in arms control situation happens in russia, enlarged pictures of barack obama taking a look at missiles being chopped up in the process. it was an instructive time for him, but he was running for presidency, not going to run it for being secretary or chairman of the foreign relations committee. i admired his ambition, and it was an interesting person with him to work at that time. i mention all of this because there can only be so many presidents and so many senators. therefore in offering this pathway i am hopeful that the book will be in print for a long
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time because it will be a number of administrations, along, a number, but i would just say, it is authentic. i can say from my own experience, this is about to you ought to read very early on in your career if you want to be president. [laughter] not everybody wants to be president. some people, as a matter of fact, enjoy being members of the house or the senate or cabinet members, have other aspirations. i appreciate that. i am one u.s. thoroughly enjoyed 36 wonderful years there were given to me, but still, it has been important for us to understand the mechanics of government, but likewise, the aspirations that leads people to do great things to take great risk, try to take risks on behalf of their country. what really does mold the presidents, the challenges. i appreciate the writing of this
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book especially because he has been in valuable in terms of his interest in foreign policy. his work is a contributor to diplomats as well known to most of you. he has always been on hand, have found, in the subway of the senate. i can recall many, many days. i was not trying to date him, but i was certainly aware that he was tracking me down on that occasion. and himself really in his pursuit as a reporter, but likewise, piecing together bit by bit each story to make each thing with accuracy, and likewise, with grace. the book it he wrote about me was very generous, but nevertheless, i don't want you necessarily to skips certain chapters, but there are times in which john appears that i was
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not quite up to but i ought to be doing. and so, as a matter of fact, he has let me know that, and i have written that loud and clear. no way to retraces, of course, but at the same time palin it does lead you to believe that it is important to have great reporters around to emigrate coverage of the senate. it is important to the american people to have this kind of coverage. and john saw that he was the epitome of this. i appreciated the work that he did on the statement. likewise to mob before that on of very gifted diplomat as he rode my diplomat and gave a good idea of what happens to many of you in this room today your ambassadors and how you got here, what you do, how effective you may be, what is going to happen next. a remarkable book. i am confident that john f. kennedy, the pastor of the senate, is going to be
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successful. not only as it will be well read, but those to read it will profit and benefit by it enormously. it is a great privilege to be with john today here at the german marshall fund. this is the right place to meet. i want to -- just one final personal note, and that is the distinguished ambassador is here from montenegro. mentioned much in a run in particular because i just had a great visit to the country. i think it probably originated because it has become a part of our institute, part of our roundtable discussions, and montenegro is a country that is seeking the united states investment. there are american firms and really want to have ties with this country, there really came to love referendum, as you know, in 2006. 600,000 people, but a country of
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enormous power and beauty. and we dedicated remarkable apartments, the largest american investment made in mt. eiger today, but we also had the opportunity to discuss the nato prospectively with the prime minister and with the president around the table and a beautiful dinner up in the mountains. people gather together. understandably, the press was very interested in all of this. and the press will have to be determined by mountain havens, as to whether there were stabbed, but very clearly their intent now is to help for a nato summit in 2004 which takes up the question. i touch upon this because these are the sorts of events that happen around this table. and the source servants that john shaw covers because he was over in the senate foreign relations committee room for the
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rollout of our institute. he rode a very generous article about that. we were graced by secretary john kerry coming over, now a ranking member of the foreign relations committee, bob corker, my friend by my side turn my final years. these are people who are friends and yet at the same time, we need to talk to each other. cover the events, to understand the world and context in which is occurring. john shot does this so well. is my privilege to be with them on this very auspicious occasion. thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you for that kind introduction. as the senator was speaking, the many, many hours we spent talking about foreign policy. it's a five-year project i was working on the book. took a great week off and went
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to indiana with him and spent ten days in russia, ukraine, albanian. it was a good trip. i have been thinking a lot about the senator's career recently because i've had the good fortune to read a chapter about him in a book that is coming out next year. seven thinking about the senator's career and his accomplishments will be one of the points to make the end of the book, the good things he has done since he left the senate, you know, obviously the work your the marshall fund, the hoover institute, the hoover center, excuse me, the engine shipper ramsey is working on. i think the press sometimes the mother is a narrative about people who leave congress and all they want to do is become lobbyists and cash in. think there are a lot of people like the senator who do wonderful things when they leave the senate and we don't focus on that enough. so in this article i'm going to just focus of the great things he has done since leaving the senate. that will be fun to do. well, today when i would like to talk about is senator john f. kennedy. and i want to do it in the following way first to give you
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a sense of how he came to write this book. there were some 40,000 bucks allegedly on jfk. so you sort of have to ask yourself, is there really a need for another book? and that was sort of the first threshold that i had to cross. and i will explain to you why i thought that there was intelligence to write this book. secondly i want to just describe what kind of senator john f. kennedy was. and then lastly, i want to go into a little bit more stag live from. kind of counterfactual analysis and consider a couple alternatives pass that his career might have taken if the fates it chains just a little bit. and i will do that at the end of my remarks. the book actually arose directly out of my work. i was just at the end of the book. i had not identified all the research and a little bit of the riding. i was in the final chapter in a need to put his career into context and understand how we fit in with the course of history. so i had a meeting with the
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senate historian, and they give me some interesting things to read and think about. one of the things they suggested i look at was a report that john f. kennedy wrote in mid-1950s. as chairman of the special committee to determine the five best centers in american history it was an interesting project, and i will talk about it later, the sense of american midcentury that they would have the audacity to conduct such a study . i'm not sure that the institutional -- institutional system decided that they would launch something like that, but kennedy was assigned to do it, did a really good job, has a wonderful narrative about what it means to be an excellent senator. so i read that, was thinking about that in the context of senator hoover's career and this file has his back story of just how this committee actually worked. and to no one's surprise, and certainly not senator hoover's there was a paramount chief of a fair amount of political machinations even to determine the five best centers in
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american history. so i finished -- scent of a book, the university press. when on vacation. about the second day of vacation she went out. i was sitting by the eastern shore of maryland, by the chesapeake thinking, i wonder if it might be possible to register kind of a simple, narrow book on the kennedy committee showing just how kennedy was in charge of this project, why the start of a project like this was interesting, the back story, the political machination. during the vacation as guest of a proposal. and then i came home and i thought about it more and put together a formal proposal, contacted a wonderful legacy, and we started talking about the book. he liked it, but it might should be a little more abroad. we talked more and talk to a publisher and decided to write a book on jfk senate career. turns out, of these 40,000 books are so that are out there, there
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really isn't one on his senate career. and, of course, when you start a project that you sort of say, you know, i would like to think and relatively intelligent, but i am not that much smarter than everyone else. why is this the case? dagen no one else have gone down this path? and i think it is because they're is a conventional wisdom about kennedy's career which is that it was an inconsequential time, he really didn't do much. he used to just as a stepping stone. just passing through. the think like a lot of conventional wisdom there is no man of truth to it. announcing a sarong, but i do say that his senate career was much more interesting than that, particularly in the room a foreign policy. he love foreign affairs. could not get too much of it. in a thinking makes a major contributions to foreign policy debates, very active in labour legislation. he was also, i think, he did a lot to promote the institution of the senate through his work
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on the kennedy committee. and also interestingly, i think the senate changed him. when he arrived he was this sort of lightly regarded former house member not considered a very serious guy. eight years later he had become the democratic nominee for president. as senator hoover said he became only the second sitting senator to be elected president. and i think it is very, very intriguing how he was able to make that pathway from the senate to the white house. now also argue that i think that it was sort of the kennedy model, and the barack obama looked at. and i sure that he studied all the nuances of the campaign, but i think he got the basic theme that kennedy was able to articulate and saw how a back bencher could run for president and almost use his inexperience as an advantage rather than a burden. so let me -- with that as a context of what to describe the five ways to think about john f.
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kennedy as a senator the first, as a colleague, was like? there is a pretty substantial record of memoirs tomorrow histories. everyone sort of degrees. he was a cool, reserved, polite, formal, distant person. he was not one of the boys. it was somewhat aloof, sick a lot of the time. as i started reading about him and thinking about it, i think his personality type was much closer to barack obama then his own brother, ted kennedy, who in some sense was almost the exact opposite. and he knows it well. ted kennedy, there would be almost a party around his exuberant, talking, laughing, joking. and then more sensitively he was a patient person who love the legislative process, loves to work in it, and i don't think
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necessarily that jfk had that same sort of mind set. if i could just read a couple of sentences from a wonderful memoir, a gentleman by the name of harry mcpherson who wrote about call political education. and the book, among many other things to reschedule some of the characters of the senate at that time. and let me read just a few sentence. he will wonderfully capture kennedy in describes jfk as elegant and casual. he sat in the back row companies against the desk, wrapping his teeth of a pencil and reading the economist and the guardian. he was treated with affection by most senators, but he was all to the elusive, finding his way in other worlds outside the chamber . welty, handsome, bright, well-connected, he seemed to regard senate grandees as impressive but tedious. regarded by them as something of a playboy, a dilettante. his voting record was moderate and sometimes conservative,
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especially on trade in agriculture matters. he was not a prime mover in the senate. only once, the early 1960's, in handling a labor-management build the scene to emerge as a leader. then he stood in the center of the chamber, shattered his opposition tech challenge them to match his argument. i scarcely recognize that cool, glamorous figure. to lyndon johnson, believes he was an attractive nephew who sings an irish ballad for the company, but then when subtly disappears before the table planning and dishwashing began. to kennedy johnson must have seemed something of a gifted workforce, an original personality, a conventional politician. in comparably wise about the senate and directly uninformed or national politics. they were friends, and their respective order another.
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forehoof what i like about it in the jugular is the way he list their relationship between jfk and lyndon johnson. that was probably kennedy's most important relationship in the senate. johnson was the senate democratic leader during his entire tenure. he and a pretty iron grip on the democratic caucus. he made most of the committee assignments. in fact, i spent time at the kennedy library in boston and there was a very, very thick file of letters that kennedy wrote to lyndon johnson asking for a different committees. kennedy was on the labor committee and iran affairs committee and desperately wanted off the government affairs committee and wanted to be on foreign relations and as a backup on the finance committee. am i sages briefly, i will talk more about his time in the foreign relations committee, but kennedy finally was able to get on the committee in 1957 after four years, but at that point his presidential ambitions for
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his full frenzy, and he did not participate quite as actively as some wanted. there's a story, i am not sure if it is 100 percent true, the story has it that jfk was asked if he would be subcommittee chairman of foreign relations committee and he said, joy actually have to hold a hearing? and apparently the answer was, maybe one or two. so he said he would do so. think that is about the number of hearings that he actually help. one other piece of kennedy's sort of relationship that was striking, he was a wealthy person, but he served in the military, the navy. and he had a kind of easy way with some of his colleagues. one that he had neither does it with was barry goldwater who was in some ways in any logical opposite. but they have this sort of almost locker room tub of conversation relationship. and at one point kennedy was presiding of the senate. it was late in the evening.
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this and it was about ready to close down for the night. kennedy apparently had a social engagement planned. barry goldwater was on the senate floor just talking and talking and talking. kennedy was getting impatient. apparently he saw that, kept on talking. finally kennedy calls over a page in scrolls a note to the page commands to a menses, give it to go water. and so he still speaking. the page comes up and handsome and note. and goldwater looks down and he sees the note. in the did not take too long to read it. very simple. why are you always such a share it? [laughter] this probably had the effect of continuing bowater stockwell and to the night, but it's sort of showed the jack killer aspect of jfk. a second dimension of want to talk about with kennedy, a domestic policies and other. and kennedy did not love domestic issues. this was not why he became a senator.
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i sort of like an it to being a student, do your math homework before you go do literature or social studies and history. it was just something that he knew he had to pay attention to it. i don't think he was domestic. he had won in 1952 on a campaign that just effectively alleged the lodge was so interested in being a globetrotting senator and foreign policy that he was neglecting massachusetts. kennedy's them was i will do more for massachusetts. it is somewhat ironic because in some sense kennedy was charging bowater with being is that really kind of senator he won the beat. that was what he thought a senator should do a saw that it was electorally a vulnerability. he pushed very are an affront. so when kennedy was elected, as far politician. the first thing he did was a symbol of very, very detailed economic plan for massachusetts and new england.
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he hired ted forstmann who came out of his top aides to assemble is very detailed economic plan. and there had been a steady in the boston federal reserve bank. they had a lot to draw from. plataea this massive document. kennedy in his first month in the senate gave 32-hour speeches on his economic agenda for massachusetts. he later turned this agenda into dozens of bills. he wrote a hundred 60 page book on his agenda for massachusetts. he actually put together a delegation of new england senators. they would meet twice a month to talk among the issues here research shows that kennedy was smart, a shrewd politician and knew that he needed to pay attention to the home front and show that he was attentive to the needs of massachusetts. another domestic issue that was really kind of interesting was the construction of the st. lawrence seaway which was a
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big issue in the united states in the early 1950's. this was as a way that would link the lead to gush into the great lakes. had been discussed for a long time. it was -- all presidents were for it. most members of congress or fort but the new england senators and the seaboard senators thought that it will be harmful for some of the port cities, so they oppose it. kennedy opposes from the house. and he was not quite sure how to go. but then when he arrived in the senate he spent a lot of time thinking about it and reconsidering his opinion. and then in 1954 he decides to switch his position. and he gave one of the most important speeches of his senate career in which he said camino mmi certain this will help messages is? and not. will it hurt massachusetts? i don't know. canada is ready to go forward with it. it is going to go. we ought to be on the ground floor to actually help construct the seaway. it is in the national interest,
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the broad national interest to do this you way. reading from the news accounts, if kennedy supported commented that happening withheld the vote. in the support was considered a sort of pivotal issue or pivotal moment when people started to suspect, that it was going to pass. it also got kennedy some notice, the sense that he was not just a parochial senator but could have a sort of larger, national vision. interestingly tip o'neill, former house speaker, and his men more said that when kennedy decided he would support this in lawrence seaway was the first time in nearly was going to run for president. there was a sense, perhaps, some political regulation as well. one of the domestic a share want to touch on briefly was the labor issue. and that was a huge issue. some ways i think it might even be analogous to immigration. it was one of these dominant issues of the 50's. kennedy had served on the house labor committee for six years. he was on the senate labor
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committee for eight years. he was in the senate. was also in a very high-profile committee, mcclellan committee. this was the one domestic issue. paul douglas, fairness and other who was not very inclined to be complementary. he marveled at his ability to understand the nuances and complexities of labor laws, liberal legislation, and kennedy get involved in this very complicated effort to pass the reform. fifty-eight to 59. he passed and the modest bill and the house. it went into a conference committee. he passed a modest bill in the senate. it went into negotiations with the house. a very different bill emerged of what kennedy has some ability shape the final product. and that was when people thought that he had the potential to be kind of a serious, serious policy maker. i think kennedy left that
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experience and a never going to get involved in that kind of complex domestic issue again. certainly well on rent for president. i think that was interesting. kennedy as a foreign policy senator. think that might be particularly interesting to this group here. as i suggested earlier, kennedy love foreign affairs, history. this was his first love. i had a wonderful interview with harris wofford was a former senator. he was also an assistant of kennedy's when kennedy was a senator. kennedy could not get enough of foreign policy. it was the one issue that just really, really set them. my first real appreciation of kennedy as a foreign policy senator game. it was the book that he published in 1960 called the strategy of peace, which is a compilation of this in a speech. i was astounded his speeches on foreign policy because they were really remarkable documents. i mean, he's on and on tough
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issues. he put them in a really sophisticated, historical context. he would kendis the array of possible solutions and would offer a really detailed plan about how they should go forward on a particular issue. and there's a couple that just want to touch on briefly. the first one, and it is astonishing to read about it, but his role, or his thoughts on vietnam. he was very, very clear in his own head and this is the early 1950's, that france was on a mission that was going to fail in indochina and vietnam. it said there is seen as colonial occupiers. they're not going to win. the smartest thing would be cut their losses and get out. and he just had this very precious sense of just how all western power would not succeed in vietnam. and yet surprisingly and perplexing lee command a couple years later when the americans demand the law lot of the sort
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of skepticism and clear right view that he had to the french disappeared, and he thought that somehow the americans working with them are going to be able to make this situation work. and it is, i think, historians still puzzled but just how wise his early speeches were on vietnam and how they -- that they're acuity faded of the years. he knows why, whether he started looking more toward the white house and just not that he needed to be on the hawkish side of the issue or what actually was behind the shift. as you read his speeches, it is really quite striking. another issue, he was in some sense ahead of the curve, the french involvement in algeria. a number of really powerful speeches. the only really viable thing to do was to a grant algeria independence. what they're doing to try to have kind of a cause i independence that is just was not going to work. and it was very controversial to
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speak sharply. the french for angry. a lot of the european community was angry. at least the vinson, you know, upgrading and allied. so his views on an injury or interesting. and i was also amazed that some of his thoughts on the eastern bloc, the soviet union, and he was very, very clear that poland was the weak link in the soviet empire. he thought that the foreign policy statute at that time, the cadillac should be amended so that the u.s. to give generous financial assistance, exchange programs to poland saying, i think, this is a country that might not want to be in the soviet orbit. there might be ways that we can induce them into a little different status. he fought that battle really hard. and finally to my think you saw foreign policy as sort of the overarching theme to criticize president eisenhower.
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his view was that the eisenhower ministration was reactive, slow-moving, was not imaginative in the sort of used his critique of the eyes and our foreign policy to gain visibility within the democratic party and also to sort of project and self as this kind of aggressive, for cleaning, vibrant, new leader. and another dimension of kennedy as senator was as historian. he loved history. he wrote a pretty good book when he was a senior at harvard on great britain's foreign policy in the 1930's. he came to the senate in 1956, wrote a book called profiles in courage which became a national best seller. in 1957 he won the pulitzer prize. there is, as some of you may know, i have century debate as to how much of the book he actually wrote and how much was written by his assistant, ted sorensen, and others. but the 40,000 bucks on kennedy,
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probably about 5,000 have been written about profiles in courage. but in any case, this book gave kennedy a sort of stature within the senate. seven the mid-1950s they had decided to do this project, to look at senate history and determine the five best centers in american history. one of the things that is dragging what this project is just sort of the kind of vision of the window that it gives you in the united states at that time. there was enough institutional self confidence and national self-confidence that they could do a project like this and without apology, without expecting chuckles or the public to be camino, rolling their eyes. it was a serious project, one that actually lyndon johnson, as majority leader, was interested in, created, created a special committee that he at first was chairman of, but then he got
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involved in other legislative matters. kennedy became the chairman, and there is a wonderful letter in the archives in which richard nixon, vice president, president of the senate, writes a letter to senator john f. kennedy, formerly a admitting him chairman of this new committee to probe and to study. and it was not -- it was in some says the one project that jfk was fully in charge of as a senator. he took it very hard, but theater is really interesting process which they surveyed leading historians and political scientists. they invited comments from leaders across the country. there's a wonderful -- there also indebted comments -- invited, up two former presidents are still living. and this is also in the archives , stumble across rivers larry kennedy. basically says, not really know very much about the senate. maybe henry clay and john
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callahan. it's all i can really -- all i really have to say. in the next file, there is a long, long memo from harry truman in which she gives -- he nominates 42 senators for this position. and there were many sketches about books they have written to me know, travel interest. german took this as this major project and wrote a term paper on a press herbert hoover spent probably a lot to three minutes and read just a very cursory note. kennedy jumped into this project . he loved it, and he presided over a group of very distinguished senators who were part of the kennedy committee. mike mansfield became a legendary senate majority leader on the committee. richard russell, in legendary senator, a german by the name of styles bridges from new hampshire who was one of these quiet forces in the senate and 1950's to be no one really knew very much about him, but he was
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a real powerhouse. then his son ahmad and ahmad john brinker. five of them got together and negotiated fee. as the talks unfolded, they quickly came to agreement on three of the five. these are three senators who are very prominent before the american civil war. john callahan, in reply. so they agree quickly on the street, the great triumvirate, but then there were not certain about the other two senators. and they decided to choose a leading progressive from the 20th-century and a leading conservative. for the conservative they chose robert taft to have passed away, a stalwart republican senator from ohio. when it came to the progress of there were decisions. kennedy very much wanted to select george norris, a very kind of aggressive, popular senator from nebraska. but the current senator from nebraska had had some run-in's and said, you're not going to select him. in fact he wrote a letter was
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looks an awful lot like a threat of a filibuster if kennedy actually went forward and suggest to him. and also styles bridges was on the committee. so they ended up doing -- choosing robert from wisconsin. so this was a project that -- and it was interesting for me to just read the paper work, try to piece together the deliberations of the committee and just see the kind of inquisitive, thoughtful aspect of kennedy. he was writing letters, some of his friends who are historians trying to get there sense of things. it was something that he just really, really loved. i think his work on a solidified his reputation as kind of this sentence, you know, and house historian. i think it was also very politically useful because it helps him land his reputation as is rising and start, but also someone who is steeped in american history, suggested a kind of something that he needed
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to signalize he was gearing up to run for president. so the final aspect of kennedy's senate career when i talk about -- is president of can it. here, i think, senator hoover said, you know, he had long wanted to run for president. a lot of people think that he decided to run. his brother was killed in world war two. the mantle of the family was passed him. certainly by the time he entered the senate he was thinking of it i think some people, it is hard to gauge whether political career turned. jfk, and 1956, the senate mentioned was the year. he profiles in courage came out, became a national best seller. he was the star of the 1956 convention, sort of like obama was in 2004. he married a film to introduce the convention. the nominated adlai stevenson. he came within just a handful of votes to become the vice presidential nominee.
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that fall he became the most popular surrogate on the campaign circuit circuit traveling around the country. ostensibly promoting stevenson's campaign, but probably also interested in increasing his visibility. and, you know, stevenson was defeated seven in early november of 1956. in three weeks later kennedy was in hyannis port for thanksgiving vacation. at a little private meeting with his father and came out and told his aides that he would be running for president in 1960, you know, four years down. in his rationale was, i came within a handful of votes of becoming vice president during nothing. finance been for years, i certainly can get the nomination . i think kennedy's, his four year credit for the presidency is interesting to look at, in part because of the model, largely because it is very rare that a sitting senator can go to the white house, warren harding in
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1920, kennedy in 1960, while in 2008. but i think kennedy had a really shrewd sense of another use the senate as a launching pad for the presidency. think his first insight was that when those of opportunity in american politics open and close quickly. you can be a hot commodity one day, but you know, the wheel turns. a couple months or years later your forgotten. in a think he had a sense that, you know, he was not after 56 and there was no one else who was clearly, you know, in line for. he had to -- this was his time, his time to run. several people said we until 64. he said, it's either going to happen in 1964 is that going to happen. he had that sense. coming with that sense of the mission was the single mindedness. as he was fighting for the nomination he and other competitors. hubert humphrey, lyndon johnson
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were both -- senators, but were much more ambivalent, smart, you know, sort of confused about whether they're primer responsibility was in washington or on the campaign trail. kennedy did not have that confusion. he knew where he needed to be. he was on the campaign trail pushing hard. a great moment in the 1960 campaign as kennedy is about to win the democratic nomination in los angeles. and lyndon johnson as into the race of the last minute. he was then majority leader. johnson still thinks he has suggested hero kennedy's nomination. he has his joint appearance before the texas delegation, johnson's delegation. and so johnson, you know, he starts citing all of his legislative achievements and just says, the pass a civil rights bill in 57. they're working and another in 1960, and he is talking about all the work he was doing. i had to up fight filibuster's
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and quorum call after a quarrel, for coracle. some people or not your answering quorum call, but i was. a clear reference to kennedy. kennedy comes up and says, want to say, you know, lyndon johnson as a great job answering quorum calls. if you need someone to answer quorum calls, user guide. but that is not what a president does. he said, i think he is a great leader and he should stay as the senate democratic leader, said a majority leader. and so in a certain way and a kabuki way he sort of turns johnson's experience and across the toss against him and it became almost a liability as opposed to an asset. and i think also, i think kennedy in a related way was very, very clear on the perils of being considered as an insider and saw that americans deny typically alexa insiders as president. your so he sort of went the other way and said, no, that is not really all i am. and a different kind of senator.
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and he used that as a political asset rather than a liability. let me end with my sort of foray into the speculative rome. so much of kennedy's career, used to think of what might have been. it strikes me that there are a couple of points when his career might have done differently. a first was to me was elected in 52, reelected 58 and won the presidency vera -- very nearly it's richard nixon. you wonder what if he had lost. literally 10,000 votes, a couple of states and nixon would have been president. what we can deal done? you know, there's a school of thought that says you would have just kind of, you know, hunker down and run again in 1964. there are some who think maybe he would have actually redoubled his efforts and try to be a consequential senator. people of that school sometimes site is brother ran in 1980, was
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defeated, and then decided that he wanted to put all his energies into being a great senator and became, you know, one of the real dominant centers of the '20s century. i think that is an interesting analysis, but i think the temperament between jfk and ted kennedy were so different that i don't think the analogy really holds. i just don't think that there is really much in his background to suggest, at least at that point his career that he was ready to just jump into being, you know, senator again. and not sure what he would have done. but i'm not sure he would have done that. another scenario would have been, if kennedy had lived, and reelected in 1964 and served out his second term and left the senate in january 1969 what he had done? and there are some who say, including a good friend of his, the kennedy talk to him about at some point in the future running for the senate again. and even if his wife said that
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he had talked about that in a family gathering. the detective and his brother ted was feeling a little uncomfortable because he just won the senate seat. as we found out later, they may have found another seat in a different state had chosen to go that way, but it is interesting to think that perhaps kennedy might have to you know, after a certain amount of time back to the senate as kind of a senior statesman. and the one hand in that direction is his book profiles in courage when he writes about john quincy adams who had been a president, he was defeated, and then he ran for the house and served a number of years as a very distinguished house member, independent, outspoken, did not feel like he was beholden to anyone. and it might be a kennedy might have thought about doing something like that at a certain time after he left the white house. that is something that, of course, we will never know. it is an area of conjecture that i find interesting. let me just wind up my comments.
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thank you for listening. glad to answer any questions and hear any comments. [applause] >> first of all, i can't wait and i was not paid to do this, to read the book is unexamined territory. anyone who has lived here for so long, before i ask my questions to my one subplot him i came here to hear about the book. here in the district of columbia. i don't know if you remember our last conversation. you were -- the elevator doors closing. thank you for 1978 making d.c. a part of america by voting for the d.c. voting rights amendment which would grant for the first time representation both the house and the senate.
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sixteen republicans. you were the last living surviving serving republican senator. and so as a d.c. resident and someone who aspires to join america, maybe this is a belated think you. you also voted for a modicum of democracy when d.c. and your job or going to come with an additional house seat. senator hatch and bennett, that was in their self-interest to do with. i found it interesting, the three republicans who were senators voted for d.c. i told them, and aware of this, one thing in common. there were former mayors. so accept this as a belated thank you. thank you for your indulgence. 1956 was my first political memory. if i can just add to it, maybe in the book, this is when tv did not come on.
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i'm from chicago. this is really hitting home. my grandmother said this young man drove the john kennedy almost got nominated. stevenson threw open the convention. fascinating. the other two candidates, as you know, from the same state. kennedy says later, perot in the book. i have not even read it. that was the best thing that ever happen because it would have been a running mate of stevenson. i remember bobby kennedy sang he bought for one because he said christmas cards to all the delegates. he learned something. and i'm so glad you mentioned here. that book, people from murray, is the very best. he died about a year ago. he was a wonderful, wonderful writer. those little -- if you have not read it, a little synopsis, it absolutely miracle.
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i'm so glad you said it. but now the question, you did mention joe mccarthy. and bobby kennedy, his brother, worked on the mcclellan committee. would you address that? and in keeping in character, any mention -- the constitutional amendment provided which the senate had to vote that gave d.c. their right to vote for president, the 23rd amendment. what was his interaction with the district of columbia? and even more. and then i will close with this line that i think you would enjoy. it would gene mccarthy said about three senators when he ran . nominated stevenson, the democratic convention. he thought he should be considered a senator as president. he said, prices liberal and home free. and twice as catholic as kennedy commend them twice as smart. i wonder if you ever heard that
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one. >> joe mccarthy in d.c. mccarthy, did he vote? >> she did not. he abstained. >> well, kennedy -- one thing, kennedy was still a lot. and it was actually ten months from the middle of 54 to the middle of 55 where he was gone. he was recuperating. it was december 54. so there was a procedure called peering which he could have cast his -- made his views known. but it was a very complicated relationship because mccarthy was a family friend. he had -- yes. joe mccarthy was a senator from wisconsin who has -- was one of the real sharp cold warriors and involved a lot of accusations about people's patriotism and that sort of thing.
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so kennedy had, you know, the family knew him well. i think kennedy was at his wedding. mccarthy was the kennedys. there was a history. kennedy was a shrewd guy and sought by the mid-50s, early 50's that mccarthy was a bit of a toxic senator, and so we kind of kept his distance. he was very wary. people come up to him, what do you think about joe mccarthy. he would give very terse answers so, you know, kennedy did not vote on the censure. and in the line then was that it was because he was ill. ted sorensen in his memoir in 2008 addresses it in some detail and he says that that is true. he said, had can he really wanted to go on the record he could of called periodic it had made arrangements. end sorenson view was that kennedy made a political decision not to cast his vote.
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he had a lot of support. so he was a complex figure. kennedy was very careful in how we tried to operate around them when kennedy served in the house who is on the d.c. committee. adelle remember all the details but have a section in the book were described the various initiatives. he was a big champion of the city. >> i remember -- my mind is cluttered with this degree in 1958 among the minority leader from california and get when i was a republican governor of
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california. i will never forget. he ran for the senate bill read a switch positions. the minority leader of the senate ran for governor. you were supposed to be an executive. the governor perry the irony is they both lost. >> pat brown and then a few years there committed suicide. his wife -- is life really a role after that. >> i can't wait to read the book >> thank you for your questions. other questions or comments? >> kennedy and the senate he took his seat nell's.
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what did he learn? you must start with some research. >> i did. and it was -- i mean, a was an interesting time. kennedy's health was probably the worst of his life at that point. people said that he was like a skeleton demean a seated command extremely thin. he had what turned out to be addison's disease. he was considered to be a sort of lackluster, low energy, house member. the one thing he was was an incredible, incredibly interested politically. so he was elected first and 46. he briefly thought about running for the 748, decided that was probably not a good time. from 48 to 52 he did something which house members did not really do back then. he went home every weekend. he would go home on thursday night, and he would just, massachusetts and spent four years going to, you know, ice-cream socials and church
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breakfast. he actually had in his apartment in boston, a map of the state of massachusetts, highlight map, and it would put a little tense, yellow or white pants where reed would get to a community. he said, as soon as i fill up this number to run for senate. so his house years or interesting, but it really was -- i mean, they broke the illness and the fact that he really then was looking for the next -- the next phase. so some issues that he was interested in. he was very interested in housing. this was a big issue in the aftermath of world war ii. he was also a very sharp critic of harry truman on some foreign policy issues. there was a big debate about who lost china. the view was that the german administration had not been sufficiently supportive of the nationalist group and against the communists. there was this big debate, who lost china, and kennedy went to
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the house floor and just hammered the administration, he named to diplomats specifically and said, these people as a dancer for. so he -- i mean, liberal and domestic issues and sort of a hawkish foreign policy. travel lot. a lot of times and his own dime and a lot of times when congress was a session. one point he took a five week trip to europe when the house was still in session. he was going around, well-known enough that he was meeting with prime ministers, presidents and generals. but the house years it was an interesting, complex time. there might be a book to write their, but it is intriguing. one other point, when you read the memoirs of kennedy -- he was not a natural politician, particularly as a young man. he was reserved and quiet. and it was hard for him to -- i mean, he was not the sort of
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person that just loves to just go up to someone. in fact a man at one point in an interview -- talking to a friend he said, and the sort of person when a monoplane i would rather sit and read about and talk to the person next to me. he said to my knowledge my personality is rare for politics. he saw hubert humphrey, the exact opposite, but was the kennedy decided to run this which went on and is reticent, differential, quiet person the rim self into it, and he was going door-to-door. he was just relentless. in the thing about kennedy for all the advantages that he had with wealth and famous family, he now worked his opponent. he outworked in 1952. he worked humphrey and lyndon johnson in 1960. i mean, he was not a natural politician, but when he decided to run a race, he was a fiercely competitive, very tough, from the -- formidable back.
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>> a question. you mentioned a critique of defense policy in vietnam and the algerian and poland. and obviously what he had said about vietnam in algeria, how was that received in the u.s.? positioning himself for a presidential run? just curious as to how -- >> it was considered very controversial because the cold war was still in its intense phase and there was a sense that kennedy had sort of transcended what was appropriate. that there was -- there were several people is a committee should not come on the floor of the united states senate and criticize an ally. he actually gave his first speech -- i forget the exact date, but he ended up giving a very lengthy 11 week later saying, have gotten a lot of responses last week, and i feel like and the jury spine, first of all, why give that speech and also to respond to a little bit
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of the blow back and have gone. and then the kennedy files in boston there is this huge file on algeria. tons of mail from diplomats. and also, you know, american foreign policy establishment is said, you know, this is not an appropriate role for junior senator to be coming on the senate floor and, you know, dissing and allied. so was very controversial. >> i forgot one other subject matter which really does have something to do with his presidential term. it was considered going to slow in civil rights. he had dealings with seven committee chairmen who were holding up civil-rights. the 57 bill was a very weak bill. no wonder if you could talk about from mississippi, walter george, richard russell, and the difference making between his brother who served a short time
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in the senate and john kennedy, when bobby kennedy was on the judiciary committee, jim eastland had written a book, to seek a newer world. and bobby kennedy had written a book, to seek a newer world. said it is not too late. tell me, how was he on civil rights to rescue was criticized for not moving when he was president of civil-rights by virtue of the fact that he would lose the support of the south in 1964 and the seven committee chairmen. did he build up any relationships, personally with them where he could move these bills based upon his tenure in the senate with the same people? >> i think the short answer is that kennedy, if he felt like he was on the fence on civil rights in the senate. he thought it was an impossible issue politically because he was trying to era have a political base that included both
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conservatives and the south. it felt like he needed to win in the south to win the presidency, and he also needed liberals. and just, when you read about his senate years commencing slyke sort of almost a nonstop effort to just avoid getting pinned down, and it just -- and several people, paul douglas was very critical. paul douglas held regular meetings and civil-rights and dollars invited kennedy. kennedy declined to come. so it was a very, very politically controversial issue commanded seemed like he spent most of his energy trying to avoid getting pinned down on that. >> one short question. cold war history. but specifically on berlin crisis, strike me that, of course, soviet leaders actually considered kennedy 90's, not
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experience. so and in your findings did you find anything interesting, his opinions, soviet leaders. >> kennedy became one of the leading critics of president eisenhower and challenged as an hour on the right. eisenhower was too concerned with balanced budgets and trying to, you know, scaled-back the defense establishment. he cited what was then referred to as the missile gap and alleged gap between the u.s. and the soviet union. so kennedy, in his senate years, was very, very hawkish. and he actually was, you know, something of a conservative. and then when he went into the
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white house there was a sense that he is 42, 43 years old. his initial meetings with khrushchev were very, very tough i think he actually walked out of one meeting saying, you know, that's the hardest meeting never been at. he just dismantle me. so there is a sense of personal softness which, again, is somewhat ironic given this is that he was a war hero, incredibly disciplined, a tough person politically. but his early meetings with the soviets were not, you know, were not successful. they thought that he was weekend, but could, perhaps, pushed around. >> how would you say that president kennedy, say foreign policies, especially issues such as syria, such as, you know, is around palin palestine.
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>> one of the questions. i think about a lot. perhaps, and decisive. maybe in the sense of syria, having sort of lay down your markers and then not really adhered to it. so there might have been a sense that once you made a commitment you have to really continue to honor. it is so hard to really kind of extrapolate that. think it would be unfair to kennedy and to obama if i really were to say much more than that. >> between the way. >> world views.
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>> i do think that the kennedy temperament was a lot like obama. i really do. it was the same sort of analytical approach to problem-solving. he likes to hear people out. he likes to discuss. he also probably would not be the most tightly organized manager. you know, he had a kind of a free-wheeling white house operation. his management style in some sense was the same. but that is about as far as i can go on that. >> could you describe developed during his time at the senate. as you just laid out to may seems to me, everything and have written or read, is seems to me that it was a very political decision.
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in opportunistic politician who was trying to get to the white house. he never confronted, even though he could have. he made those decisions on indochina later in his presidency without really being decisive. he used a completely false accusation of miss out against the eisenhower administration which was completely unfounded. it seems to me, his presidency, policy terms. ..
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which came out with an alarmist report saying united states had fallenhich behind. sta i think it was called the gatesd report. 1080 sort of pounced on that. it helped further the narrativer that he was arguing and to have a blue ribbon panel that president eisenhower had chosen. n argument to advance but i don't dispute that there was a hard political aspect, and i don't
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know -- on domestic policy i do think that he was committed as a strong supporter of labor although not an on critical one. he was also very careful on civil rights as i mentioned and was very politically attuned. i don't really feel like i'm quite -- i read a lot about the presidency but the final view on what were the main political goals of john f. kennedy that will be the next book but it's a great question. a really is an important one. >> thank you so much for the great presentation. i have more of a general question from your presentation it seems like jfk became a president through some i


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