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tv   History Bookshelf Dean Owen November 22 1963 Scott Farris Kennedy...  CSPAN  November 23, 2019 4:00pm-5:04pm EST

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>> next on history bookshelf, authors talk about the presidency and assassination of kennedy. of "novemberthor 22, 1963: reflections on the life, assassination, and legacy of john f. kennedy," and scott author of "kennedy and reagan: why their legacies endure." their remarks at powell's books in beaverton, in november 2013, 50 years after the j.f.k. assassination. [applause] renee.k you, and thank you to powell's books in beaverton, oregon for hosting scott and myself. it's an honor to be here this evening. here thisf you evening, who are 60 years or remember where you were when you heard the news that john f. kennedy had died?
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many of you are between the ages of 20 and 60, who do not where you were when you heard about the tragedy of 9/11? sudden, traumatic, unexpected events leave indelible images in our mind and in our psyches. i was seven years old on november 22, 1963. i was in the second grade, in a called hayward, california. and the older sister of a girl door --ass came to the because it was raining outside and we couldn't go out for the presidentsaid had been killed. of course, i didn't believe her. home,that day, i went across the street torks where -- to where my grandmother lived. saw my mother and grandmother watching television and i knew it was real. that weekend, i read everything could and watched everything i could on television about this extraordinary event. was the weekend that
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was the catalyst for my fascination, my wife would say obsession, with how the news public opinion. 55december of 2010, i turned and started wondering, what do i want people to remember me for? legacy?y i realized everyone has two legacies, a personal and a professional one. i've been married to the same woman for 31 years. it's because of her, i'm a christian. have two incredible daughters and a wonderful son-in-law. so that box, the personal checked.s i started thinking about, well, what about my professional one? thatided to go back to weekend in 1963. i like to talk to people, so i list of 100 people i wanted to ask about john kennedy and picked up the phone. and started calling. over the next two and a half people, talked to 100 not the original 100 from the list but many of them. i tried and tried
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and tried to get but couldn't. and bille fidel castro clinton. chay's widow to to fidel but was turned down. whothird was the woman wound up writing the forward. she passed away in julie. 10 -- in july. she's one of 10 people in my book who have passed away since them.rviewed i want to show you a brief slide show about 90 people in the book reflections onir john kennedy. afterwards, i'll come back for a scott will and then come up and speak. >> and i suppose i am a tourist hours. 24 >> i think that i, you know, became more realistic as a journalist and saw the larger screen probably and the
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consequences of daring action that can come even to america. so i do think it was a seminole time for me. the television set was, if you centrifuge for the country. from it in some fashion. i think his legacy was, in the boldness of his rhetoric and declaration. >> i met him as a young high school student. thes visiting my father at united states capitol. my father were talking. a photographer took a picture of me taking a picture of the two of then. he would spend time at the white house, sitting in his rocking chair, talking politics and sipping
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whiskey. they talked about running against each other. and decided that instead of wasting a lot of money, they travel around together and stop at different towns and debate each other. and it would have been very setrtaining and would have a high standard for future campaigns. they ought to be doing that today. >> as time went on, in the months, not the years, the months before he was killed, he had begun to shift direction a bit. and you could see him becoming a different person. he watched the pictures of young hosed, fire-hosed in the strets of -- streets of he toldam and onlookers, he said, this makes me sick. onmust have had that effect everybody or most people who saw it. but, you know, for him to feel means heand say that
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was moved by it and it shifted him. a huge enthusiast -- in fact i recently found, and then, you find something, when you're going through your thef, my notebook from period, which contained all my very carefully hand lettered "kennedy for president" message on it. in the conservative world, there of people -- it's become almost commonplace to suggest that john kennedy would a republican today, because he was pro tax cuts. was pro business. ad because of the support for strong defense, a strong foreign policy. j.f.k. jr. was born, the the answe anesthesia department held him up by the slapped his buttocks.
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after doing this for several infant became blue in color. i told him the baby needed to be intubated. he handed the baby to me and i passed a tube into the trachea of the baby. then handed the infant back to him to breathe into the baby, ofce he was the chief anesthesia. however, he was a bit nervous knocked the tube out. i then grabbed the baby back, reinserted the tube. for about six minutes breathed air into the lungs of the baby. i left the delivery room, one of the reporters asked me ie sex of the baby and replied, i could not give out any information. to that he'd have to talk pierre salinger, president kennedy's press secretary. was later written in the paper that a young doctor came didof the delivery room and not know the sex of the baby. was really good weather.
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came in and sat in my station. them with three of him. and he looked up at me. mind having do you your picture made with me? i was -- i was pouring that coffee and i said, it's my pleasure. said, it's my pleasure, he just busted out laughing. guess because of the -- we talked kind of south-like. and he did. he just started laughing. ha ha! snapped thehen they picture. restaurante in the beenold us that he had shot. and i just bawled. cried. and i and i still cry. president thatly
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i really loved. a it was a very -- it was seminole film for me, because of the attention it got and because of the respect that kennedy had from the american public. ad after we'd finished, i got call from the white house, me if -- would i like to meet the and president. washington.wn to arrived two hours early. so i was honored. maked an innate ability to you feel very comfortable. it was surprising, because all openeddden, a door behind me. and the voice, hi, cliff. just as casual as that. he knew people that i knew.
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>> right. >> so wasn't like we were complete strangers. well -- he he said, said very nice things. he couldn't have been more generous and more helpful. figured out how >> yes, he did. had this theory that the most successful whoticians are the ones mastered the dominant media, a medium of their time. kennedy came along. and he had this great wit and verve. was so good that he -- it presidency forever. i still think nobody has quite the way he did. it's hard to say anybody was television than ronald reagan. he was very, very good. think that kennedy was the one -- i mean, he could
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do the interview. he could do the press conference. he could make the speech. and he was just all-around better at it. think he set a style and he set a tone for the presidency. brought glamour to the presidency. he made a lot of young people want to take part in public service and serve their country. >> during the interviews for this book, november 22, 1963 -- "november 22, 1963: reflections on the life, assassination, and john f. kennedy," for me, it was a labor of love. in addition to contacting people you know, walter graham, tomly brokaw, i also wanted to find people who had interesting, funny or poignant encounters with john kennedy but who aren't
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well-known, people like priscilla johnson mcmillan, not a household name, but probably person who ever lived, who knew both john kennedy and oswald.ey there's only one. dr. ira cyler, whom you saw there, a second-year who happenedident to be in the delivery room when john f. kennedy jr. was born, not breathing. saved his life. and another gentleman, whom i much, as manyery of you may know, the kennedys son, born in august of 1963, patrick kennedy. he lived only 408 hours. the surgeon -- 40 hours. the surgeon who tried to save 30 of those hours had never spoken publicly about this incident ever before. he gave me his first-ever interview. not askeople i would them any questions about john kennedy's sex life or
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assassination conspiracy theories. more than enough has been written about both and people of thaty appreciative aspect. there are two or three family in the book,re including a nephew, christopher kennedy. an actor, a filmmaker and an author on various books on addictions. he lives in southern california. i'd contacted him and said what and like theo other people i sought after, i mailed him a letter. sure that the first thing he opened when he saw that thatr was a photo of him i'd found at the kennedy library in boston, a photo taken just his uncle was awarded the nomination in 1960. i called him a week later and i said, did you get the letter? yes. where did you get that photograph? i've never seen it before. will you send media copy? i said, will you do an interview? he said, yes. and i said yes.
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that's how i got one of the two nephews of john kennedy. other is robert kennedy jr. so, again, this was a labor of love. and frankly, i'm still pinching myself that it all really happened, because it was so much fun, so interesting. few of thejust a people whom i interviewed in person. i've developed some friendships that i know will last many, many years. to turn it over now to scott farris to talk about we'llcond book, and then take questions from all of you. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, dean. also join dean in thanking powell's in beaverton us i thank all of you for coming out. i thank c-span as well, who are to record this. so it's a great evening. the shooting of a president, a
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sitting president, is rare and traumatic. five sitting presidents have shot. ford, lincoln, garfield, and kennedy. and kennedy died. and one, reagan, survived his wounds. despite these different outcomes, the shootings of kennedy and reagan have multiple similarities and viewed on a timeline, they serve as a sort tumultuous to a very and sometimes disturbing period in american history. kennedy's murder was the first in a series of tragic events that dismayed the nation in the 1960's and 70's. it included the assassinations luther king jr. and robert kennedy, both in 1968. in the public consciousness, killers each had different motives, the murders are seldom considered unrelated acts. they're instead viewed con spear toirly -- conspiracy.
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conversely, less than two months after reagan's shooting and ii also, pope john paul survived an assassination if not likely approved orchestrated by the kgb. luckemed as if the world's had suddenly changed, for the better. was killedoln, who at the pinnacle of his presidency, the very week of the victory, neither kennedy's nor reagan's shooting occurred at a key moment in american became a keyoth event in our national life. the assassination of kennedy and reaganr assassination of profoundly shaped how we view each man. without these shootings, neither may have been considered a successful president let alone great ones. book, "kennedy and reagan: why their legacies endure," sprang from a news in february read ga gallup announced that americans consider kennedy
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our two greatest presidents. they sometimes shared this with they weret consistently ranked above everybody else. way, theot, b by the judgment of most historians. there are a few historians that rank one or the other man as great or near great and some consider one or the other below average or even worse. but collectively surveys show kennedy andlieve reagan were average presidents who had some significant achievements but also a number failures. but i was interested in the public perception and what especially fascinated me is that their popularity is growing and now seems bipartisan. americans surveyed today believe kennedy did a good job reagan'sent, while approval rating is 74%. to get these high numbers, the liberal icons, must have many republican admirers, conservativehe icon, must have many democratic ones. someclearly each possess
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qualities that continue to resonate with americans and this has caught the attention to to public attuned opinion. every presidential election cycle, we hear republicans search for the next reagan, while democrats look for someone rekindle kennedy's camelot. prospective candidates go to lengths to show they are worthy of inheriting mantle,he other man's from policies to haircuts, from their eloquence to their optimism. book, the first dual biography of both men, uncovers ine surprising parallels both men's lives and their policies, which may dismay some as key as well differences that continue to define what separates our two major parties today. hope you'll read the book to discover more about those surprising similarities. to brieflyant discuss how they became larger than life in a way that no
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politician would want to emulate. they both were shot. we need to recall that kennedy's murder in dallas on november 22, 1963 and reagan's wounding in washington, d.c. on march 30, occurred at moments when each man's presidencies flailing.ift, even the passage of each man's legislative agenda in congress was far from guaranteed. in each case, their agendas were languishing in congress. shooting then provided the impetus for creating their legacies. in the fall of 1963, kennedy's job approval rating had dropped to 56%. the lowest point of his presidency. and it seemed destined to fall more. much of this was from his loss of white support in the south over the issue of civil rights. generally the nation seemed stalled. kennedy had not won even 50% of the popular vote in 1960 and was sure he'd lose the entire south 1964, a region had carried in 1960. and he worried many other states
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well.t risk as look magazine was just one of many publications that ran 1963les in the fall of that explained kennedy could lose his re-election bid. kennedy's entire legislative package in congress, not just also proposalst for tax cuts, health insurance for the elderly, federal funding andeducation, foreign aid just routine appropriations were stalled and going nowhere. that will seem too familiar today, the columnist worried that congressional dysfunction in 1963 seemed a to the and kennedy had no immediate plans for breaking through that impasse. we recall as the kennedy legacy, especially the civil rights act of 1964, the tax cuts some credit with the economic boom of the 1960's and povertyitment to ending in america all occurred when lyndon b. johnson was president in largeere justified measure as memorials to kennedy, martyred president.
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had kennedy live, it is conceivable much of his legacy would never have occurred. perhaps it might have come later an open question which direction the civil rights movement might have gone had that legislation been further delayed. activists were already moving nonviolence. even martin luther king in his lincoln memorial, in an o of this overlooked passage, warned that america would be in for a rude awakening actions were no strong taken soon. it was the tragedy of kennedy's assassination that was the rude awakening that finally promghted congress to -- prompted congress to act. foredy had been president two years and 10 months when he was assassinated. reagan had been president barely weeks when he was shot, but he was in a situation similar to 20re kennedy many nearly years before. like kennedy, reagan had not won a great mandate in his first
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election. reagan had won just 50.75% of 11% ofular vote and only voters said they voted for reagan because they agreed with his conservative principles. 38% said they voted for him just carter.he was not jimmy the speaker, tipp o'neal, and confident they could thwart the president's plans for massive reductions in income tax rates which they believe unfairly benefited the rich. reagor's job -- reagan's job approval rating was 59%, the lowest of any president at such an early point in his presidency, and on the very day evans and novak had a syndicated column publish that headlined, the reagan honeymoon is truly over. the month after reagan was shot, o'neal and wright conceded democratic-controlled house would have no choice but to pass agenda. tax
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the shooting had made him too great a hero with the public to refuse his requests. displayed what kennedy himself, quoting hemingway, had defined as courage. grace under pressure. most americans did not realize realize how not close reagan came to dying. he lost more than half of his bullet thate entered his chest came within an inch of his 70-year-old heart. he had george washington university hospital waiting for save hisry that would life. reagan joked to his wife, honey, i forgot to duck. kidded with his surgeons that he hoped they were all republicans. he said, on the whole, i'd be in philadelphia. even when he lost his wife, when a tracheotomy tube was inserted his throat, he scribbled notes to the doctors and nurses, muchng if i had this attention if hollywood, i'd have stayed there. and when he was assured he wasld relax, the government running fine without him, he said, what makes you think i'd be happy to hear that?
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now, democrats would continue to contest other reagan proposals, in part by asserting he was insensitive to the less fortunate but they had a time making such charges stick. they said, as long as people hospitalized president joshing his doctors nurses, no critic will be able to portray him as a heartless man. reagan had personified what we think of as the finest qualities the american. there are many reasons why assassination was such a traumatic event. kennedys' of the legend is about what might have been, he did in fact inspire with suchcans accomplishments as founding of avoiding theps and cubanr war during the missile crisis. it was also because satellite had become newly
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available only months before the assassination. his assassination also became first globally shared news event in american history. have come to the conclusion that a key reason the assassination hit americans at deeply personal level was the presence and conduct of jackie kennedy. that she was even in dallas that anomaly.n the trip to texas was the first electione the 1960 that mrs. kennedy had joined her husband on a political trip. had not been west of middleburg, virginia, where the kennedys had a horse country estate. so when it was announced that mrs. kennedy, who was still anovering from the loss of infant son, that she would accompany j.f.k. to texas, it news.g present at the tragic event, she so than herre husband the focal point of all coverage. estimated that the average american family watched 32 hours of coverage of the funeral.tion and
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and this in the days when television channels went off the air at midnight. their eyes were focused on the grieving first widow. of college students found that attention to mrs. kennedy's actions and on theent bordered obsessive and her deportment was transported. most -- was extraordinary. the most powerful images were of mrs. kennedy's expression of ineffable tragedy, first in her blood-spattered pink dress and matching pillbox hat, and later, all in black, her beautiful sad face framed by a mourning vail, her two children hand.h mrs. kennedy worried that her husband's murder lacked meaning. that her husband had been killed by a deranged young man as someie referred to silly communist, she wished she had been martyred for the cause of civil rights or something noble. jackie became determined to husband's death with
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meaning. she directed the arrangements so lincoln'smimicked funeral of a century before, consciously linking her husband emancipator. it was she who came one the idea of the eternal flame to mark her husband's grave, then the conceit of her husband's presidency as a modern day camelot. the image stuck and changed the popular view of her husband from vital, flawedg, contemporary politician burdened into an ageless sage whose survival we believe would an american golden age. jackie took what had been a day national shame and instead restored the country's pride by that grief could be borne with extraordinary grace and resolve. that mrs. kennedy had made the darkest days the american people have known in deepest revelation of their inward strength. lady jane campbell said
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mrs. kennedy's poise and dignity had given the american people, from this day on, the one thing lacked.ays imaginmajesty. sinatra said jackie had become america's queen. muffled drums but the 34-year-old jackie also made the funeral seem personal. a reminder that not just a president had been killed but also a young family had been felled by a tragedy and two children left fatherless. to aical sentiment, tacked new york city newsstand, closed because of a death in the american family. by the time almost six-year-old caroline was heard consoling her right, you'll be all mommy, don't cry, i'll take care of you, and we watched two-year-old john jr. saluting the coffin. 80% of americans said they felt they personally lost someone close and dear. grief over the assassination caused some physical discomfort. the sense of personal grief is in the famous exchange
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when mary mcgroi told dinner day after the assassination, we'll never laugh again, to which one of her kennedy aide moynihan we'll laugh again, mary, but we'll never be young again. generateddy's dignity many classical illusions. -- and cbs news man dan rather predicted kennedy's assassination will still be years from thousand now in somewhat the same way people discuss the iliad. none of us will live long enough to know whether that prediction will come true. later,e we are, 50 years still discussing that dark friday afternoon but perhaps we grasped itsot fully ramifications. thank you. [applause] >> so we would love to take some questions and answers.
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do, let me remind you, we are being filmed for c-span. they have a nice boom mic here. so we're going to call on you as you raise your hands. you can direct it to both of us of us, but both dean and scottf president kennedy had not been assassinated, do you think his legacy would have been lesser or greater? >> i don't think it would have been greater. i hate to say lesser. i don't think it would have been. but the fact that he died and was assassinated, it allowed people to project whatever they wanted on him. when you're in office, you have thatke choices every day some people are not going to like no matter what you do. all of these things that happen later -- that would not have
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happened. he was a human being. he might have had a very successful term. he might have grown into a president that would have been great or near great. but you cannot expand on his legacy. >> very well stated. i would argue his assassination is part of his legacy and a scott said, his widow had very intentional effort to make sure people remembered her husband the way that she wanted, the whole camelot mystique. >> [indiscernible] >> don't be shy. the lovely lady back there. president kennedy did not have a particularly happy marriage though. it seemed like they did at the time. what led you to that conclusion? question.ou for that
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let me borrow a line from a biographer. the romance about jack and jackie was about them, not between them. wasrtunately, i think that true. there was an attraction. she was lovely, he was handsome, they were both educated. but their marriage was a marriage of convenience. jack kennedy was a renowned, happy bachelor. could not rund he for president if he did not have a wife. we had a number of woodworkers rs who ran for president. he was looking for beautiful, intelligence come -- , cultured wife. and the biographer thought that he pick someone who would tolerate his many affairs. she needed the money.
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she had a father who had been a philanderer and she believed that men were kind of this way and she would deal with that. but her father -- who she adored -- the cult in blackjack, had lost his fortune in the 1930's. so she had grown up used to a very nice lifestyle and that was gone and her stepfather made it very clear he was not going to sub port -- support his children. he had his own children. kennedy shemet jack was working as a reporter for "the washington times herald." to frenchn who like fashion, french cuisine, and the finer things in life she envisions herself. other fored each convenience. jack continued his philandering ways. he often left her home alone. she seldom traveled with him, before or after he became
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president. i think there were two things that started to make them a little closer. first, the trip to paris in 1961. jackie took paris by storm. she studied french. she loved french designers. the welcome she received really impressed her husband. made him realize, i really hit a home run when i marry this woman. and second, the death of their bornt son patrick, who was and prematurely died in august 1963. there was a tenderness there that had been missing in their marriage. butie lost the first child, prison kennedy, then senator kennedy, was off on a cruise. he did not even go home when he heard about her miscarriage. he started out callous, and by
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1963 developed tenders in. i would like to think the last part of the marriage was much happier. >> i would just add that in particular, on that point about , i death of their infant son would refer you to thurston park's book "jfk' is last 100 that" where he talks about extensively and it changed his view of his marriage, his view of his lifestyle, and brought the family closer together. more questions please? so --t was joe kennedy what was he so interested in having john kennedy or the older brother run for president? >> i can start and you can finish. >> sure. >> joe kennedy, i think,
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himself wanted to be president and became, as you probably know, the ambassador to england during frequent roosevelt's administration and later fell out of favor with roosevelt , ifuse of his tacit support not flat-out opposition, two at a filler and his rise in germany. son,s grooming his oldest joseph kennedy junior, to be running for president, and of course, he died in an airplane during world war ii over what was deemed a suicide bombing mission. so, the mantle of the expectation to become president -- fell to jack kennedy. the father, really, from what i , he was an
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extraordinarily controlling individual. and to give you an example -- in the book, a first amendment specialist, worked as a also worked in the kennedy administration on for robert kennedy -- talks about how he was presence when president-elect kennedy had breakfast with his brother to try to convince the brother to become attorney general. the brother robert had the day before gone to visit several political people in washington -- couple members of the u.s. edgar hoover's, j and others. hoover was the only one who encouraged robert kennedy to role ashe rule -- the attorney general, and the next day, he asked his friend to
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accompany him to the president-elect's home to have breakfast. on the drive there from mclean, virginia to the kennedys' home in washington, he knew he did not want to take the job. he knew, he said, his father was going to be really, really angry. because his father wanted robert to become attorney general. in that morning over breakfast, jack kennedy would have nothing of his brother's opposition. he wanted him to be attorney general. largely because of his own interest to have an insider he could trust completely for device and counsel, but also, i think, to some extent due to pressure from his father. quite kennedy senior was a character. he was 25, he was a bank president. he had a lot on the ball. never very bitter he was fully accepted in boston society because he was irish catholic. there was a great divide in
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boston. it was his goal in life to get if not becoming president himself, getting one of his kids to be the first catholic president of the united states. junior, doris kearns goodwin describes him as the golden child. he was talking a handsome, good student, good athlete. kathleen kennedy said it was heresy in the kennedy family to suggest there was anything jack could do better than his brother joe. it was a tremendous tragedy when joe died because of all of the hopes- all of the invested in joe kennedy. they were not sure that they would transfer those over to jack kennedy. he was shy and reserved.
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or they thought he was. sometimes parents do not know the kids as well as they think they do. reagan's older brother neil, handsome, more kennedyip -- when john and ronald reagan were young, no one thought they would be president, not like bill clinton in kindergarten with a said, this guy is going to the white house. -- where they said, this guy is going to the white house. hugo. we go. how did the president avoid the full consequences of iran contra and what is it not contaminate his legacy? >> very interesting. one of the things you learn when riding the book -- righting --
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, and i don'took need to be condescending, is how intelligent ronald reagan was. he was obviously very bright. he taught himself to read by the age of five. he was one of the most popular sportscasters in america, broadcast hundreds of baseball games he never saw in person. he would be in the radio studio in the telegraph would send him a sentence, two or three letters and he would make up the rest of the game and broadcast it for two or three hours and that requires a special kind of intelligence i can't grasp. but you like to play -- like he was not quite up on things. if he was in trouble, he would pretend, i don't remember that. i just don't know. when iran contra came up -- and a lot of liberals underestimated ronald reagan. he was ans thought amiable does.
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he may have been amiable, but he was no dunce. he used that image. when he got to iran contra, he played, i don't recall. and everybody because of this image believed him. oliver north later said, when he was no longer under oath, president reagan knew everything. because when president reagan cared about something he was intimately involved in the details. he cared a lot about iran. he cared about getting the hostages out. he cared about arming the contras. because it was near the end of his presidency but partly people did not believe he knew anything. so, the question -- i'm sorry? >> [indiscernible] right. and i think at that point, the question is why does it not still turn issues legacy even though the truth has come out? its after-the-fact. it's extremely hard in public
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opinion to change an image. you didn't,w, maybe but it's over. also there is the summit of gorbachev that completely overshadow everything else. the thawing of the relationship between the u.s. and the soviet union is really what he is remembered for. iran contra is an embarrassment, but really not more than that. yes? robert kennedy, the reason for him being assassinated along with his brother, was it because he clamped down on the mob, and his father paid the mob and this was the payoff for his brother and him? was that the motive behind all this? his father did pay a lot of money to have the union and the mob vote him in. john kennedy. there is so much speculation about why each man was
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assassinated. there have been extraordinary beyond belief about the motives of the alleged assassins and we just a no. we never fully will know, especially, i think about president kennedy's assassination. even if it was announced next is the definitive word on who was behind president kennedy's assassination, there would be immediate speculation -- it really was the grassy knoll, it really was the person from the tall old red building. i was in dallas in august to do for "theon an article los angeles time." you meet people on the street who claim to of been there. they probably want. who claimed that were seven or eight different shooters that day.
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abert kennedy, i think it's little more cut and dried that the individual accused of his assassination, who was tried and sentenced to prison, sir handsome man -- sir hand to hand sirhan, did it. we just don't know. and i don't care to speculate on things i don't know about. by vincentend a book bugliosi. it's called "reclaiming history." county to be the l.a. district attorney. conspiracy theory on jon's assassination and comes to the conclusion that frankly i come to an i am not going to expressing any expertise, that it was probably a lone gunman, lee harvey oswald. they were both shot by a deranged men. one was 23 years old, one was
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24. both loners. both tried to assassinate other famous people. also world had tried to -- oswald had tried to shoot a famous general. i think he stopped jimmy carter for a while. kennedy is the liberal icon. on the left. he was shot by a self-avowed marxist. a guy whopicture thinks that civil rights of gone too far -- he is shot by a self-avowed white supremacist. it does not make sense. but they were both very troubled young men. accept --hard to there's a book on lincoln that says it's hard to believe that a peasant can kill a king. we look for a bigger reason than that. >> what is the best prevention
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all -- professional opinion --ut how had kennedy's life bad kennedy' is life was at his death and now it may have affected his presidency. his health condition was serious. probably the worst thing he had was addison's disease. it is still not cured entirely. it was first diagnosed in 1947. they told him he would probably live another 10 years. he began to believe anything beyond 1957, he was living on borrowed time. that was part of the reason he always seemed to be in a hurry. he did not know if he was going to live. had many, many health problems. add back, asthma. he took medications that his health. potentially he would've died of natural causes had he not been
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assassinated. it was pretty serious and it was a constant concern. his brother robert had there was when his on earth brother was not in severe physical pain and that seems to be true. --let me read you something the doctor saying that kennedy said -- kennedy probably only had 10 years to live. this is commentary from eb white, one of kennedy's closest advisers in the white house, the also worked for john kennedy in the u.s. senate. not goennedy did peacefully over that little hope of turning 40. i remember the event even today. sometimes we joke or make gags about turning 40, but he was not joking. i don't know quite why, but i well he was not i was not aware, as others were,
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about his medical and physical problems. i might have thought, wow, have been going uphill and no i am going to be going downhill, but it was a brood awakening, -- a rude awakening, especially for a hot dog like he was. mentioned at the assassination,'s his support in the south is eroding. i have always wondered if the reason he was not more aggressive from civil rights was the fear of losing support among southern democrats. how much credit should he be given for keying up civil rights initiatives that followed his presidency? >> i think he gets a fair amount of credit. really ining, he was love with foreign affairs and he worried that civil rights ministrations would --
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demonstrations would embarrass the u.s. instead of being mad at the white supremacists, he was mad at the demonstrators, the freedom riders. angress was controlled by coalition of conservative democrats from the south, conservative republicans from the midwest. you're right. he did not want to lose support from the white south. he was hoping the civil rights movement was dissipating. thinking, they are happy, we will have quiet time and i can focus on the cold war and what to do with vietnam, etc. and then in the spring of 1963, several things happened, the most egregious being demonstrations in vietnam. -- in birmingham. they were trying to get them to
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integrate at lunch counters, transportation. no progress was been made. marlin decaying and other leaders played the last card they had, which was asked 1000 black schoolchildren, some as young as six, is to start -- to start eating the marches. they brought out the police dogs and the fire hoses. lyndon johnson went to them and said, mr. johnson, it's time for you to do something on civil rights. we think of lyndon johnson as a southerner -- he was far more progressive on race. that was partly because lyndon innson's wife was teaching segregated schools. he said you need to put the moral authority of the presidency behind this. and unlike the situations in mississippi, there were not riots that kill people. george wallace made a big show,
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but stepped aside. kennedy said, i want to go on tv and propose the civil rights legislation. the speech was being written as he was on live tv and they were handing them sheets of paper. at that point he said, this is a moral issue as clear as the constitution, as old as the scriptures. that was important turning point, but it did take him a while. >> question? >> yes, ma'am. getsuntil the microphone there. thank you for your patience. i was struck by your memories of kennedy's assassination. did you interview other people who were children when it happened? dean: oh, gosh, yes. andterviewed several people
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their comments about how it affect their families were also very poignant. as scott mentioned, it really -- people today, young people today can't fathom what it was like that weekend. there was nothing else on television. stores closed. people did not go out of their homes are they went to other people's homes to watch the coverage, and then on sunday morning, i am sitting in front and iparents television see a man get shot live on television. happened before in the history of this country. brokaw mentioned during the slideshow, television was the centrifuge for the country, what we all drew from it in some way.
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it was an extraordinary event, -- as bugliosi says in his book "reclaiming history" with beyond what happened the september 11 attacks. tragically, more than 2000 people died that day, but very few people knew who they were. as scott mentioned, kennedy's assassination was a death in the family. it was that moving. it was that tragic. it impacted everyone. for me at age seven, it was the catalyst for my career in journalism and communications. i was six years old. i was in first grade. i was in wyoming. i remember the principal coming
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on the loudspeaker. they said, children, i am going to send you back home. the president has been shot. i realized it was a really big deal on saturday when there were no cartoons. thecan see the caisson, project coffin. i was fascinated by the riderless horse with the boots backward and no. when you're six years old, boy, that is something. age.ine was roughly our so, if you were a kid, you could identify with -- kids were on tv. i think it did have a strong impact on children of a certain age who can remember. it was unique.
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images in my37 book, five of which have never been seen publicly. but my favorite images not a photograph. it's a drawing. by the son of robert mcnamara, who was a junior and john caroline. and john drew pictures for his -- young mr. miss mcnamara and dictated a letter to him that his mother wrote in the picture is particularly poignant, the illustration because john junior drew his favorite thing. airplanes. and of course, years later, he died in an airplane crash. that was very moving to me. do you have a question?
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>> so, with all of the interviews you have done and the research, both of you, what was or surprisinging with reagan's intelligence, but could maybe both of you share something that you were shocked or surprised learning? >> i think the one thing that scott withe most -- his research probably know about this -- one of the most interesting people i interviewed was a close friend of john kennedy who introduced him to jaclyn bouvier and they were close friends all his life there is the gentleman was reporter for a newspaper in tennessee.
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he had a funny feeling about it andcalled his friend jack he had no qualms about going to the house. still and theyry anuired the job to create atomic bomb and he was very angry he had to hear about this from the cia and was determined to create the bomb and detonate it. that was not something known previously. >> once present thing about the premise of the book was how similar ronald reagan and john kennedy were, both in terms of families they raised, they had these big brothers that beat them up all the time, nomadic childhood, and then in their policies, certainly the republicans really wanted to use
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jack kennedy as a lodestone. but kennedy cut tax rates more than ron reagan did. strange, the kennedy marriage, because as i grew up, any time you went to the supermarket, all of these magazines, jack and jackie, the greatest love story of history. that was probably the most surprising thing, reading your whole life, finding out they had this intense love affair, and the only letter he ever wrote "wish you were here." that was the length of their correspondents. correspondence. when he was inrs the navy, he adored her, but
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because of her marital circumstance, it could not be. that was someone he was looking for and i think if maybe he had been a little more open, jackie would've had the relationship, too, but they didn't. >> one more? >> sorry. book, youve in your mention they never really met each other, reagan and kennedy? that is true. it's very awed they would not have met. reagan was born in 1911, kennedy in 1917. very close in age, both very much in hollywood. joe kennedy senior was a heavy investor in hollywood. he made his money as a bootlegger, people say. that's not true. he made his money and banking, shipbuilding, and motion pictures. he created the rko studio. with reagan big
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in hollywood in kennedy going to hollywood. kennedy lived with robert stec for months trying to figure out what gave stars charisma. he saw here he cooper and said, this guy is jaw dropping when boring, but we go outside of the restaurant and we get mobbed. what is it? and can i get it? reagan probably made more speeches. he was the official corporate spokesperson for general electric and the host for general electric theater and later "death valley days." it was estimated he gave the speech, that he had been speaking for 250,000 minutes, which means to give the speech 8000 9000 times. and yet they never met.
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it was a very strange situation. never met. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. [indiscernible] [applause] >> would you like to sign some books? >> we would love to. >> the first row can come right up. the register is right there. [laughter] >> they won't take them back. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] >> history bookshelf features the best known history writers of the past decade talking about their books. you can watch the series every saturday at 4 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> tonight on "lectures in history" gettysburg college professor timothy shannon talks
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about diplomatic ties between european settlers and the iroquois in the western great lakes. here's a preview. >> when the europeans came to colonial america and met with native americans, it happened on native americans' terms. to ensure a good trade, to ensure peace, they had to get together and conduct diplomacy native american people and the protocols, the customs, the languages, the matter first were not european. they were native american in origin. this is a testimony to the amount of power native american had -- native american people had to conduct business on their terms. to do it by their method. so, frankly, when he ultimately publishes the treaty of lancaster, does send 200 copies to his agent in london, as he ,hinks that they might sell
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that people might be interested in learning this, learning about native american through -- native americans through the context of diplomacy. tonight at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern on " lectures in history. join the classroom here on american history tv. on american history tv, from the western history association annual meeting, outgoing western history association president martha sandweiss gave an illustrated talk about how historians can use photographs, and the stories behind the photographs, to study and understand the american west. professor sandweiss has been studying and writing about photographs for forty years and argues that more historians should use photographic archives in their work.


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