tv JF Ks Last CSPAN November 18, 2013 7:00am-8:01am EST
and thank you carla for a wonderful book. >> thank you for coming. [applause] >> we invite you to come up and have your book signed. thank you all, and good evening. [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching the tv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. >> next on booktv, thurston clarke recalls the last 100 days of president john f. kennedy's life, which began on the day his two-day old son, patrick died on august 9, 1963. the author reports that during the final months of kennedy's life he gained a greater
understanding of the civil rights movement, sought a better relationship with the soviet union, and presented his doubts on the u.s. involvement in the non. this is about one hour. >> thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be back at politics and prose, one of my favorite bookstores anywhere, not just in washington, d.c. i'd like to ask you, who here has seen the portrait of kennedy in the national portrait gallery in the halls of kennedy? that's great. you know it's quite unlike any of the other portraits. it was painted by the estranged wife of -- the story behind how the portrait happened to be there i think is a kind of interesting one and, in fact, i opened my book with it. i'd like to share it with you just briefly. she was supposed to paint one portrait for the truman library in independence, missouri, and
she was chosen because everybody knew that john f. kennedy was too restless to sit for portrait painter. so william weldon thought let's get elaine it was not as the fastest brush in the east. she was supposed to spend one day. she came to palm beach over christmas, spend one day, take some charticle, take some drawings, to the portrait. that's not what happened. she stayed for four days and i shall explain she mesmerized by kennedy's appearance them by his variety of expressions, his graceful positions of the college athlete, his incredible eyes, and finally she admitted ifalpa teen ebay in love with him. well, i would say more than a teeny bit because for the next year, all she drew and all she painted was john f. kennedy. she got back to new york and she realized she had only seen one
aspect of them. rather important aspect she'd seen him in person but she decided she wanted to capture his essence she's going to have to watch them whenever he came on tv and cut out the photographs from life and from the new times come and she pasted them all over her wall. pretty soon she was working on 36 oil canvases. she had to climb a ladder to reach them. the first picture in my book shows elaine reaching up to try to do something to one of her top kennedy portrait. so what had she found? i think she found what historians and biographers and journalist have found for decades since, and that is kennedy's own business, his secrecy, his passion for secrecy and compartmentalizing his friends and aspects of his life. ted sorenson his aide and speechwriter wrote different parts of his life, works and thoughts were seen by many people but no one saw it all.
anyway, elaine de kooning's expenses at trying to capture the essence of john f. kennedy confirmed my suspicion as i started writing this book that discover the essence of a secretive, elusive man who carp -- who compartmentalized his life. you had to look into every compartment and to understand what he was called a pragmatic president, you have to look at him through every prism. and in my case this meant writing and noted that wove together the personal, the political, and the presidential in ways that the each illuminated each other. and by doing that i hope to solve what i come, have come to believe is the most enduring and tantalizing mystery about john f. kennedy. not to children but who he was when he was killed -- not who killed him. i say intended because of course we can never know if he would
have succeeded. so because more than most middle aged men and more than most presidents, kennedy was a constant work in progress changing from a moving target. i decided to solve the mystery of what he would've done after doubts if it survived, you had to look at the man in the last 100 days. in other words, not the jfk of the disastrous first 100 days in the bay of pigs, not the missile gap, cold warrior of his 1960 campaign against nixon, not the president who, for two years, disappointed the civil rights movement who could not get much of his legislator from through congress and was reluctant to engage in arms control, and sometimes seemed paralyzed of his victory in 1960. now, to understand what he accomplished and tried to accomplish in these 100 days i
think have to go back to the inauguration, and specifically to robert frost, and the poem frost wrote but couldn't deliver because of the sun bouncing off the snow banks on the very cold, snowy day. two days later frost came to the white house and gave kennedy a copy of this poem and read it to him. the poem celebrated the kind of courage that kennedy had praised in "profiles in courage" from his pulitzer prize winning book, and concluded by predicting quote a golden age of poetry of power of which the beginning hour, as they party, frost turned round and said, be more irish than harvard. poetry in power is the formal for another augustan age, don't be afraid of power. at the bottom of a type thank you note to frost afterward, kennedy scrawled its poetry and power all the way. well, i say not so fast, jfk.
because there was indeed poetry in his first two years come in his inaugural address, in his speech during the cuban missile crisis when he said in the case of a nuclear war quote even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouse. -- mouth. he didn't marry yet the power of the presidency to the portrait of his work. it's economic adviser would say instead of attaching and decisive president during the shoot, kennedy was, in fact, quote an extremely hesitant person who checked the ice in front of him all the time. now, in the introduction to "profiles in courage" which i believe i like the rest of the book, kennedy wrote himself, he praised the eight senators he was about to profile for possessing quote the breathtaking -- the brilliance of the scholar, well, maybe kennedy.
the breath of the man above carte -- party in section, not yet comic andy. and the belief in the ripeness of their cause. and all these heroic men, people who had sailed with the wind and told a decisive moment when the conscious and events propel them into the center of the storm. this is what happened to kennedy in june 1963. the events were first the terrifying close brush with nuclear war that happened during the cuban missile crisis, and the secret correspondence with khrushchev that followed that right through the rest of kennedy's presidency, and the brutal suppression of african-american demonstrators in birmingham, alabama, in the spring. in two successive days, in june 1963 kennedy delivered a speech of which you had last marry the power of the presidency to the poetry of his words, became more irish than
harvard, and stopped checking the fitness of the political eyes. in his june 10 commencement address at american university he announced his own unilateral suspension of atmospheric nuclear tests and proposed negotiations with moscow for a treaty being nuclear testing. this was a dramatic break from the cold war rhetoric of eisenhower and truman, and of his own. and during this speech he called for not merely peace for all americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace for our time but peace for all times. poetry married to power. because he's within six weeks, the test ban treaty had been initialed, negotiated, initialed and signed. the next evening he delivered a televised address on civil rights that was called the strongest civil rights speech made by any president, lincoln
included. after saying that race has no place in american life or law community was sending congress a civil rights bill and called civil rights a moral issue as old as the scriptures and as clear as the american constitution. after hearing him speak, martin luther king, jr. turned to a companion and said, can you believe that white men not only stepped up to the plate, he hit it over the fence. that was not the kind of thing that martin luther king was saying about john kennedy just a month or two before. so during his last 100 days, kennedy would be consumed by first negotiating the test ban treaty and then persuading the senate to ratify it. and with getting his civil rights bill through congress. by doing this he was addressing what was essentially the two great threats to the republic, the nuclear war and racial
conflict. he realized more than anyone if he could solve both of these he would be judged a great president. he often refer to something called the high court of history. all presidents governed with an eye to history, but i would say that not all care deeply about how the hig high court is goingo judge them. and if historians rank presidents by ambition rather than achievement, i think kennedy would be close to the top. to use martin luther king's metaphor, swinging for the fences from his first day in office determined to be ranked with orb of lincoln and fdr. after meeting kennedy in the white house in 1962, isaiah berlin, the british philosopher, notice whenever kennedy spoke about churchill, lenin and napoleon, this is quoting berlin, his eyes shone with a particular glitter. it was quite clear that he
thought in terms of great men and what they were able to do. berlin called his ambitions in this regard terrifying but rather marvelous. churchill and de gaulle had worked at making themselves heroic figures, and had proved that greatness can be forged in a combination of willpower and historical circumstances. in the summer 1963, kennedy believe with the civil rights movement and the test ban treaty he had found these circumstances. one thing i was struck by a gang and again as i did my research was how much kennedy was haunted by lincoln. and why not? every day, every week brought the 100th anniversary of some great event in the civil war or lincoln's presidency. in fact, when he commissioned source and to write a first
draft of his inaugural address, he told them to go study the gettysburg address and learn its secret. he also invited karl sandburg lincoln scholar, to the white house for a private tutorial on lincoln's greatness and busted in place when sandburg said to them, there has never been a more stable set of circumstances for president to face since lincoln. more evidence of how much he was thinking of lincoln, after he successfully settled the cuban missile crisis, he turned to an aide and said, tonight is the night we should go to the theater. he also invited the historian and lincoln expert david herbert donald to the white house and peppered him with questions like how did the president a quite greatness? what separated the great from a mediocre president? would lincoln have been ranked a great president if not assassinated?
afterwards, donald wrote to a friend, this is a man determined to go down in our history books as a great president, and he wants to know the secret. now, in the rest of my talk i'd like to concentrate on the ramifications of the test ban treaty it specifically we can talk in the question. about kennedy's personal life, his relationship with jackie over the hundred days and civil rights and vietnam as well but i'd like, for right now i would like to show you how signing the test ban treaty led to what i call kennedys forgotten detente. a detente largely forgotten i think because of a historical black hole that erased from public and historic memory a lot of what was going on in the hundred days beforehand. you all know how, that how determine kennedy was, put a man
on the moon. that's not news to anybody here, but limited that's just part of this detente i'm going to talk about. it was also during this detente secret negotiations with castro through intermediaries. at the same time that both castro and kennedy are at odds. kennedy had approved a program of sabotage. there was also a plan to reduce a thousand advisors from vietnam. but most of all what struck me most of all is kennedy's reversal on the space program. now, in fact, i like to say had kennedy lived we might have seen eureka garden and neil armstrong taking a first step for mankind together. on the moon. at me tell you why. during the 1960 campaign, kennedy told a scientific
journal that quote certain aspects of the exploration of space might be handled by joint efforts, and said in his inaugural address, let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its care. together, let us explore the stars. he changed his mind pretty quickly after the soviet union launched its first human into orbit in april 1961 within weeks sector a defense mcnamara and nasa administrator webb had presented him with a report recommending a program to land an american on the moon before the cds -- before the soviets did. they argued that dramatic achievements in space symbolized the technological power of a nation. and although such achievements may be economically justified the use should pursue space projects aimed at enhancing national prestige recognizing that competition in space was part of the battle along the fluid front of the cold war.
for a competitor like kennedy, a race to the moon was the ultimate competition and he embraced it. he gave a nationally televised address to a joint session of congress in 1961. he compared the exploration of space to export like lewis and clarke, and said that we would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. but over the next to your skin to be remain somewhat conflicted about the moon project, program. the romantic, the visionary kennedy likened the daring and challenge. but the practical kennedy, a kennedy who checked the ice fretted about the cost and wondered if it was just a cold war stunt. things began to change in the summer of 1963. at a july 20, 1963, press conference the reporter asked him to comment on rumors that the russians were abandoning the moon race and whether we should reconsider our own program.
he answered that america had to push on with its own program and called a moon landing important for its own sake, because it would demonstrate the capacity to dominate space. five days later, u.s. and soviet negotiators and moscow agreed on terms of the test ban treaty. it was signed on august 5. on august 26, soviet ambassador came to the oval office, and we know went on because kennedy had a taping system that he activated when he thought there was something interesting, particularly something he wanted to use in his memoirs. he was very competitive in advance about these memoirs. he knew that arthur schlesinger and soldier were going to write memoirs, but they wouldn't have the actual tapes of what had gone on during these important meetings. anyway, the ambassador tells him, it's important now not to stop at what has been achieved but to make further steps from the good start taken by us and
urge that there be no slowing down of the base. kennedy also said that he agreed, he hoped there would be no slowing down and would be more agreements, but the ambassador kept pushing. kennedy, to promise more agreements. agreements. he said, let's sign the city a shady and agreement now and kennedy was worried about more arguments being signed before the senate even ratified the test ban treaty. he said we have to find a right time for this. the ambassador pushed back. finally, kennedy said maybe our two nations should coordinate our space programs and then he said since neither of us is exploring space permanently purposes, the programs were largely a matter of scientific prestige at the prestige turned out to be fleeting three-day wonders. does this sound like the kennedy who said this was a great challenge and would have -- no. this is the kennedy after the test ban treaty had been signed. he said finally if we are both
going to the moon we ought to go to the moon on some version or we don't use so many resources for something that is in the final analysis not that important. this was not just an off-the-cuff remark to dobrynin. a month later he told nasa administrator webb quote space has lost a lot of its glamour and wonders if beating the russians there should be a priority. now, the test ban treaty and the soviet insistence on following it up probably accounts for kennedy's sudden change of mind, it has been seemed likely, the treaty would lead to more agreements and before the reduction of cold war tension than beating the soviets to the moon was less important and harder to justify. given the costs and the joint program could symbolize and further the emerging detente. given the option of being remembered as a president who ended the cold war probably seemed like a sure path to immortality and the favorable
ruling from the high court of history and putting a man on the moon ahead of the soviet union. there were plenty of other signs of this detente throughout the fall. chris jeff wrote kennedy in a personal letter on september 10 that he hoped the treaty would lead to a real turning point and the end of the cold war. british foreign secretary sir alec douglas home's in a speech to the united nations general assembly spoke at the beginning of the end of the cold war, and after conferring with kennedy in early october he told reporters we have begun the process of reaching a detente with the soviet union. cia reports that fall, spoke of soviet hard-liners discontent with the present direction of soviet policy and soviet moves aimed at a relaxation of tensions. "the new york times" reported the 1963 general assembly had experienced the most harmonious start since the first session in
london in january 1946. at that session when soviet foreign minister gromyko visited the u.n. in september, secretary of state dean rusk and inform them that kennedy wanted to build on the success of the test ban treaty and suggested they have a private discussion of how this could occur. so they took a drive to the suburbs and walked along a road without interpreters. once they were alone, rusk told gromyko that kennedy wanted to reduce the size of u.s. forces in europe, news that would have dismayed america's nato allies. it was an offer, or make a later wrote that quote, seized our attention. and, finally, in kennedy's speech now long forgotten speech to u.n. general assembly on september 20, he began by praising a detente saying today the clouds have lifted, and then he sprang his surprise.
saying that in the field of space exploration there is room for cooperation. i include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon. he asked, why a move i should be a matter of national competition? why they should be duplicated research? he proposes vincent to them and not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all our countries. and then he concluded with some poetry, a note of the great optimism. i believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. he said, the test ban treaty was a lover and reminded the delegates of our committees of explaining the principles a lover has said, give me a place where i can stand and i shall move the world. my fellow inhabitants of this planet, let us see if we can move the world to a just and lasting peace. this was big news at the time. i don't know if you can see
this. this was "the new york times" front page. the next day. see the banner headline? it says kennedy asked joint moon flight by u.s. and soviets as pieces do. urges new accord. cold war call. washington is surprised by kennedy's proposal. this was kept very close to is just. he only told a couple of his advisers. here's kelo, said blogs are out of date. soviet condemns china on the test and. i leave this up here and you can look at it afterwards if you would like. again, largely forgotten. later, a few weeks later there was a meeting between kennedy and gromyko in october and the war agreements. kennedy took gromyko away from interpreters, away from everybody else and they went out on to the terrace in the white house and then they had a very private conversation about where
they were going to go from here, and kennedy explained that he couldn't move too fast because there were a number of hardline hawks in his own party. and he said there has to be the proper timing for this. i didn't, you have this feeling of kennedy putting the brakes on the soviets because of domestic political problems. anyway, the test ban treaty and this detente also had a lot of effects, other aspects of the kennedy presidency. one of them, i could just go over one. i'm just going to talk for about another five or 10 minutes and then we'll have a lot of time for questions. i think it contributed to something that i was very skeptical but when i started my research, and that is whether kennedy would have replaced lyndon johnson as his running mate. now, this idea was thrown out by
kennedy's secretary lincoln in her book in 1968. and, frankly, nobody who's close to kennedy believed her. let me just step back and give you some reasons why johnson didn't fit into kennedy's detente. first of all, he was adamantly opposed communist more of a hawk and kennedy on vietnam but was also adamant about to the wiki where we are going to sell surplus wheat to the subunit and kidney saw this as an important part of the emerging detente and johnson was against it so much he turned to ken o'donnell, kennedy's close aide and he said this is the worst political mistake kennedy has ever made, and the posse said, and you go tell him i said that. this is not going to endear lyndon johnson to kennedy. another thing happened, september 2 johnson flies to
cape cod to see kennedy. is about to go on his goodwill trip to scandinavia in the study says, i'd like to add poll into the itinerary. outlasting kennedy wanted was lyndon johnson going to poland. he was going to speak off-the-cuff, not that his speeches had been seen by the state department, so kennedy completely decoded and then said, the having of the speeches are planning to deliver? johnson handed the speeches he was going to deliver, and kennedy took a pencil and crossed out a lot of stuff. i wish i could find out what the crossed out. i looked in the johnson library. i looked in the kennedy library. it's not there but i guess it was some tough gold record that kennedy thought was inappropriate. anyway, the 12th of november today convened the first reelection of his election team
to its unlikely kennedy forgot to invite johnson, which he did. because he knew he was sensitive and he knew his feelings would be hurt. one of kennedy's complaints about johnson was he was too sensitive. sorenson said he been excluded because he was quote not part of the indus are going to do not have the warmest relations with or full confidence of everyone in that room. i think that includes jfk. anyway, if kennedy was undecided about whether to run with johnson, it's doubtful he wants them to attend a meeting to plan an election for which he was going to be excluded. the next they kennedy stopped at lincoln's desk to chat as she was reading the memorandums on the meeting and she said, staging a convention as exciting as 1960, was going to be difficult because if we knew what was going to happen. he said, oh, i don't know about that. it might be a change in the ticket. all right, then about a week later on the 19th, the famous
conversation happens between kennedy and lincoln, the controversial one. kennedy's schedule was very light. he had just been to tampa. he had just been to miami and he spent long stretches that morning sitting in a rocking chair in her office rocking back and forth, speaking slowly. he talked about the reception in tampa and miami to the wonderful pictures of him and john that were going to appear in look magazine. the famous one of john coming out from underneath is a desperate he said if i am reelected i'm going to spend more and more time making government service and honorable career. he thought it was absurd in the space age the chairman of the congressional committee could tie up a bill indefinitely come and told lincoln, i'm going to advocate changing the outmoded rules in relation and congress. i'll need a running mate and 64 he believes as i do. who is your choice of a running mate? lincoln asked. looking straight ahead and
without hesitation he said, at this time i'm thinking about governor terry sanford of north carolina, but it will not be lyndon. stanford was a logical replacement. he supported kennedy in 1960. he was part of the enlightened new south that kennedy wanted to court. sanford later said that he had no doubt that kennedy had said this, although he never mentioned it to him but he thought it might've been one of those things you say just to get it off your chest. others have been a lot less charitable. in his 1977 biography of robert kennedy, arthur schlesinger questioned lincoln's veracity riding when he informed bobby a for account, bobby insisted that his brother never intended to replace johnson saying, can you imagine the president ever having a talk with country with a subject like that? a historian writes that's lesson just dismissal of the johnson story is quote in line with that given in virtue all books on
kennedy or johnson, and recounts interviews with sausage and sorenson in which they told carol that lincoln was a flighty brother rattle brained woman. so much for earning a ba from george washington university in the '40s when being the daughter of a congressman and having two years of law school, two more years and john f. kennedy had, by the way. what's the truth? i was skeptical at first, but then i found in boxes six of lincoln's personal papers in the jfk library, or notes, her shorthand notes. she said she wrote her down in her diary. her diary was actually somewhat scatterbrained. she would write on anything at hand, a piece of memo paper, and engagement book. anyway, i found two sheets, four by five and have inched member and headed the white house washington dated november 19, 1963, and there it is, the conversation transcribed exactly
as she reported it in her book. there's been recently released information that confirms that jfk would have seriously consider replacing johnson. in ted sorenson's 2008 memoirs he reported that when he asked jackie to read the manuscript of his 1965 book and make comments in the margins, she deleted or modified every complementary reference to johnson. she criticizes sorenson statement that the two men had enjoyed quote a deep mutual respect writing, i think you overstate this a bit from jfk's side. had been crossed out the entire sentence. she told sorenson at his glowing references to johnson did not quote reflect kennedy's thinking, adding, you must know as well or better than i is diminishing opinion of the men picked as his term progressed he grew more and more concerned about what would happen if lbj
ever became president. he was truly frightened at the prospect. the transcripts of jackie kennedy's 19 safety for oral history interviews with licensure were published in 2011. and income she described her husband becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of a johnson presidents. and repeatedly saying oh, god, can you imagine what would happen to the country if lincoln was president? well, -- lyndon. a few, a few days after of course evelyn lincoln's conversation with kennedy he was assassinated. and at the funeral, fidelity, the official delegate from the soviet union, from khrushchev, was first deputy premier. jackie took his hand and said to
him, tell mr. khrushchev from me that my husband and mr. khrushchev would have brought peace to the world by working together. now, mr. khrushchev will have to do it alone. a comment that speaks balkans about her regard to johnson. -- speaks volumes about her regard to johnson. i think that the forgotten detente magnified degrees in the morning, particularly abroad the following his assassination. bobby kennedy tried to comfort jackie afterwards by telling her that if jfk had been shot in 1961, after the bay of pigs, he would be remembered as the worst president ever. and he knew, both of the new jfk well enough to know that this was actually a comforting thought. anyway, the university of chicago did a survey within days
of the assassination, and they discovered that 53% of americans reported crying real tears between his death and funeral. even a third of white southerners said that they tried. they told pollsters that they mourned him as if he was someone close, very close and dear, a result perhaps of giving a press conference that was televised every 16 days. george bundy said he mourned him more than his father. jimmy carter cried for the first time since his father tried. and de gaulle said to a friend, i am stunned they are crying all over france. it was as if he was a frenchman, a member of their own family. elaine koenig -- elaine de kooning said it was a personal loss. she threw down her brush and did not paint for an entire year. now, because americans and foreigners felt they knew him, and given almost a family
member, they wanted a moral close at hand that they could visit. and so we get the roads, bridges, highways, buildings named for him creating this grief stricken empire of asphalt and mortar and brick and bronze. more named for him and lincoln and washington. and as i say in the book, an empire so extensive that if you could extinguish every light on earth except those eliminating something named for john f. kennedy, nuts launched from the kennedy space center could look down and see a web of flights stretching across europe and north america. and they would see more if west virginia changed its name to -- or if massachusetts had stamped land of candidate on its license plate. george orwell once wrote that it was impossible to prove definitively that shakespeare had been a great author.
and said there is no test of literary merit except survival, which is in itself an index of majority opinion. i that stand alone can be have been a great president. author james macgregor burns the road the only authorized biography of jfk before the election said, although it was an admiring biography, burns criticized him for lacking moral passion, too much to his intellect, jewish to start. in short, being more harbored an -- harvard than irish. face explain -- lacking passion had excited such passionate grief, burns wrote, was it that he was handsome? his wife and kids? a statesman who have cute kids? he concluded it had to be something that transcended all this. i think the transcendent reason was that kennedy was being mourned for his promise as much as for his accomplishments.
and that those accomplishments and the promise had become more evident than the hundred days preceding his assassination. i think the israelis statesmen put it best, after defining tragedy as the difference between what is and what might have been, he called kennedy's death quote one of the most authentically tragic events in the history of nations. thank you very much. [applause] >> we've got 20 minutes. i'm going to do one thing, i will have this up here and i bet. if anybody is arrested in coming and seeing, i have -- i think i have a shorthand from evelyn lincoln that i can put up here, okay? there it is. okay, who would like the first question? that are lined up.
go ahead. >> it can be could have gotten this 64 civil rights act of congress because i have my doubts about that. first of all johnson had the assassination factor, which kennedy wouldn't have had. i think he would have passed it in 60 fight. i think that one of -- there's an extraordinary article that came out in look magazine shortly after johnson was reelected. and in vatan, they asked all of the same majority and minority leaders, nancy diehl and dirksen, the house, charlie hallock and -- helping, somebody. dirksen was in the senate. anyway -- no, we're going to figure this out. [inaudible] spinning no, no, no. no.
albert. all right. now, they all knew, they dealt with johnson for years. they knew that he was a thing to give man, that he was a proud man. and yet if they're going to have to deal with him for four years. but did here's what they tell the "look" magazine. it just can't be trying to memorialize kennedy. mansfield said in the assassination made no difference, the adoption of attacks on civil rights bill might have taken longer but they would've been adopted. dirksen said the program was on its way for november 221963, it's time had come to house minority leader said the assassination made no difference. the program was already made. these may have been exaggerations but this is poking a stick into johnson's i. i don't think these people would have said it unless they believed there was a certain amount of truth to it, okay?
>> i guess my question is sort of a follow. i'm from massachusetts. i was itching in high school when kennedy died. we were at the symphony that day. listening to you, reminds me of a discussion of them are recent president who really was not a great success in congress, and never really was very interested in congress. what i remember from november was it seemed like the civil rights bill and most of the other domestic agenda was kind of stuck. >> the civil rights bill had actually gotten through the house judiciary committee, because they back and kennedy had done some horse trading and mayor richard daley of chicago had leaned on some people. so it was through the first hurdle at the time it interesting, charlie hallock when he got together with kennedy afterward, kennedy asked them and charlie said sometimes a guy does the right thing and then he said, every time i go
down to hot springs georgia, hot springs or warm springs? he says, my colored chauffeur can't sta state enough to but he said it makes me so angry. it was for him, it was a personal thing. the tax bill i think definitelyy would have passed. i don't think anybody doubts that. i think the civil rights bill could have taken longer but i think it would've been passed eventually in 65. >> the problem in those days was southern democrats spent exactly, that was the problem. that's why getting into the house judiciary committee with the support of transcendent and a lot of republican members was a big deal for kennedy. >> thank you very much for passing doctor q. offered to share a little bit with us about vietnam. what evidence have you uncovered about what jfk might have done?
>> right, right. first of all, it's true that he increased the advisors up to 16,000. but the alternative if he had taken the advice from all of his advisers, on i think six different occasions they advised him to send combat units to vietnam. this was suggested in 1961. i think it was taylor -- i'm just not -- he refused to do. he repeatedly refused to send combat units to the non. he wouldn't do it. -- units to the. he repeatedly told friends and others in private that he would not in combat units ever, no matter what happened, and that he planned to draw down the advisors to it was announced in october of 1963 the united
states, the kennedy administration was pulling a thousand advisors out of vietnam with a view to having them all out at the end of 65. there's a long discussion of this in the book. i'd like to read you a few other things, and this has come out more recently. these are things that have been said by george bundy, mcnamara in their oral histories and in the memoirs in the last 20 years. mcnamara wrote in his memoirs that the great preponderance of kennedy's remarks both before and after his interview, he was referring to an interview with hotly and brinkley, was that the south vietnamese must carry the war themselves are the united states could not do it for them. in his 1971 or at history,
patrick said they some exposure to the presidents of you over that nearly three-year period, i thought he was looking for an opportunity to pull back and it would've been hard to persuade to reverse course. he admitted it was impossible to know for sure what he would have done that says, my view is consistent with everything he did do and said he for his death. adding, he would've been reluctant to involve ourselves to extend that johnson did. john connolly wrote in his autobiography, my guess is that jack kennedy would have withdrawn american troops in vietnam short in his second term. he was less charmed by the generals, and that's servitor, and johnson and less susceptible to the pressures. i believe he had already concluded that the war was unwinnable. walt served in both administrations. first as an advisor to kennedy in the white house and in the state department, and finally as johnson's national security advisor. he was wavering talk on the non-who pushed for more robust
american commitments. while writing a ski lift in aspen, he turned to her and said, i'm doing better with johnson because kennedy wouldn't listen to me about vietnam. anyway, there's a lot more about it in the book. spinning anything about met george bundy? >> yes, i have met george. easier spent i mentioned that because he was to be yes, yes, yes. in 1993, arthur schlesinger wrote in his diary that met george bundy told them that quote on reflection he did not think that jfk would've ever sent ground forces into the vietnam war. >> thank you. >> hello. thank you very much. this is the question that has always haunted me to be honest with you, and i really can't find an answer to it anywhere.
maybe in your research you have found something -- >> i hope so you're. >> especially because you talk a lot about the test ban treaty, et cetera, et cetera to me, the other issues that kennedy -- the alliance for progress which was pointing in the direction of them willing to accept to a certain extent -- i'm from the caribbean, so i'm from a different part of the world but to accept a certain level of independence within brackets but certain level of independence, nationalism. he talked i think with khrushchev about accepting some -- >> this will be tito. he was open to having castro become the tito of the caribbe caribbean. and this is the gist of the conversations between kennedy, and also the gist of a secret message that he left it in the, go ahead. >> i'm working on that. i don't buy that. i think the history -- but the
question i would want to ask is about, the sheer historical luck that i think we have. basically the cuban missile crisis in october not become a real, real disaster. and it seems to me, my theory about this is that luckily, both intellectual classes and both political classes, going back to du, exploding nuclear weapons, right clicks in both countries, came to a certain extent independent from one, to the conclusion that this was not a workable weapon. what i'm asking you, and if you know something about this context, if you know, for example, what mao was saying at the time, what would've happened, right, if in somewhere this -- these two political classes didn't have that? is to prove that this is exactly
what happened to lead in essence, the military leadership class is very much in favor of doing something much more than kennedy was. did you find anything to back up this idea? >> i'm afraid that's above my pay grade. one of the things about writing microdistribution what a particular time under a microscope and you see things that other people missed. that's not a period that i put under the microscope, i apologize. yes, timothy. >> thurston, as an admirer of your stellar intellect in september 1951 i look forward to reading this wonderful book, and i read all of the reviews i think on the book. all of them said it's a great book, except "the new york times" gave you a little crap. and my question is linked to that. they laid out with their headline about what if and what might've been, and can you talk
about the political expediency versus principle? what would the great jfk had done were he alive on the great air in afghanistan and the great tears in iraq? what would he do if syria, what would you do in egypt? >> given what he was intending to do in vietnam, and his suspicion of the generals, which started with him being of course a junior officer in world war ii and they had a traditional suspicion of the brass which was magnified by the bay of pigs when all of the brass told it was going to succeed and you should go ahead. and then for the cuban missile crisis when the brass wanted him to launch preventive strikes. i don't think he would've listened to the military to the extent that our current and recent and current presidents seem to be doing.
to answer that. and as for what might've been, i make it very clear in the book that i'm talking about, which i think is fair game, what kennedy in tended to be. not what would've happened, but what he would have intended to do. now, the corollary to that is, let's remember this is a man who accomplished a lot of what he intended. he was the youngest elected president. he was the first catholic president. he was determined to be a war hero. didn't pass his physical. he finally got another physical. he got himself in geneva out of intelligence so he could be in combat in the pacific. he ran against henry capital lodging in 1952. people said he would be creamed, and debug the eisenhower landslide in one. he won a pulitzer prize. i have a thing in the book where he tries to seduce a pulitzer prize winner margaret coit in
1953 shortly before his marriage to jackie, and he -- after he failed, she won't give into him, they are driving around washington, and he points to the white house and says, see that? i'm going to be there. and then he talks to her about winning a pulitzer prize. these are all in mark critz diaries and papers at the university of north carolina queensboro that they never been seen before. i went down there, found them. this'll happen. there's also a very interesting moment that happened when he is trying to seduce her, and to use this in the book, talking about kennedy being allusive, and i said he was even allusive to himself sometimes. because when she finally rebuffs him, he springs up from the couch and he says in a kind of anguished tone of voice, i'm happy, i'm sad, i'm glad, i'm gay, i'm sad. i don't know who i am sometimes.
written in her diary just a week later. >> of. thank you for coming and thank you for answering questions. i have a question about your process of writing these types of books. i enjoyed the micro-history of the time period. and doing a book on jack, is that more base off of other research that you've done, or is it just a personal interest? >> it was actually listening to everybody talks about obama's first 100 days. the 100 days, 100 days, and then i thought, 100 days. candidate, what happened in his last 100 days? i knew his first 100 days were not worth looking at. so i thought what happened in the last 100 days? i knew about the test ban treaty but there was other stuff i didn't know that came to me. i did a few weeks of research.
and then a lot of the research for this book had to be done in the kennedy library, the oral history and the papers because there's not many people alive who had conversations with him. but luckily a lot of the people who knew him of course had written their memoirs. and also another thing is that people remembered the last conversation he had with him. and so some of those conversations i found out was very useful for the book. people remember the last words with him. >> thank you. >> sure. >> i'm going to figure which one of a dozen questions i want to ask. i guess the one is on relations to the soviets. now, a couple problems. johnson of course continued for the first year the line but in october of 64 the soviets kicked christians out and took a more hardline spent exactly. >> congress would have never allowed a joint mission with new
armstrong. >> i don't know. you know, we say that congress wouldn't have allowed a joint mission, and we have to remember that in 1963, people were still terrified, lived in terror of a nuclear war. anything that was going to make that less likely. kennedy went out west in september of 63 to go into goldwater territory and is going to give these speeches about a subject the board him, environmental a college and everything. he gave the worst speech some the journalist said of his presidency the first couple of days. suddenly when he got the billings, montana, he threw in a line about the test ban treaty, the reduction, and there was applause and there was foods and cheers. and he threw away the rest of
his speech, ma speeches and he spoke about nothing but peace. he spoke about peace and the dangers of nuclear war. people were hungry for this i think within a year of the cuban missile crisis. and he had an absolute triumph in moment at the mormon tabernacle when he gave probably the best received his speech at the western shore. and it went on and on. and afterward she said i'm going to run on peace in 1964. this is going to be my campaign, peace. but i agree, again, that gets into the question of christian of the kennedy having been assassinated, didn't have any affect on what happened to khrushchev? anyway, thank you. >> i just wanted to point out that the president's efforts, the secret correspondence between himself and the premier
of the soviet union -- the efforts between the president and the premier of the soviet union in regard to space paid off, according to the survey, the prime minister's son. about a week and a half or two weeks before dallas, khrushchev had accepted kennedy's offer of going to the moon jointly. >> yes, you're right. on kennedy, on the other hand can be made this trip to what was soon the kennedy space center, and saw, stood underneath the missile and got so excited he rocked back and forth and he kept saying to himself, when this goes a we'll be ahead of the russian. so he kind of got all excited about it. but i think, i think he was serious about it.
thank you very much, everybody. [applause] >> the books are for sale up in the front. [inaudible conversations] >> november 22, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of president john f. kennedy and there are several books that have been published to mark the event. for this months booktv bookclub we want to know what came the book you're reading. throughout the month join other readers to discuss the kennedy books published this year. go to booktv.org and click on bookclub into the chat room. you can check out some of the bookclub resources we have posted. including book reviews and videos on the booktv archives and you can log in as a guest or through your facebook or twitter account. to post your thoughts on the kennedy book you're reading. then joined booktv on saturday november 30 at 11 a.m. eastern for a life google+ chat to
discuss books on the 35th president. contact booktv via facebook or twitter to sign up for the live chat. >> every weekend since 1998 booktv has brought you the top nonfiction authors, including -- >> increasingly women's identities are tied up to the work anyway which we may not like, at which we may find disturbing and unnatural but it is, in fact, true. whether that some of my -- recently chosen to be the ceo of yahoo!, when she was visibly pregnant and it was asked how much maternity leave to want to take him and she said basically none, like the fact that such women exist, it's not the way i would do -- i took plenty of maternity leaves, but i feel like that is a growing -- that is a kind of woman that there can be space for. the fact that there are some stay-at-home dads are very