Those Kennedy Kards

The now poignant Kennedy Kards deck was published in early 1963 when the public infatuation with JFK had been revitalized by his statesmanship in the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962.

JFK was the Jack of Hearts, First Lady Jackie the Queen of Hearts, and Bobby Kennedy, the King of Diamonds.

“Long live the King, Queen and Jack,” proclaimed an informational card that came with the deck.

Within the year, the Jack of Clubs, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, would be president.

(For more Kennedy Kards, see my Tumblr.)


  1. JSA says:

    The Ace of Spades was also Jack.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Jack of Hearts is appropriate.

    I’ve been convinced for years the reason Bobby and Jackie did not push hard publicly for a better investigation is that they didn’t want his sexual indiscretions revealed (or Bobby’s either).

    The plotters knew this in advance. It was key to the cover-up.

    No matter who pulled the triggers, the plotters were highly skilled insiders; they had to be to know in advance how the pieces would fall into place.

  3. Eric Hollingsworth says:

    When I saw the Jackie as the Queen of Hearts, I blurted out “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” Scary.

    • Manchurian Candidate:

      The cold war, the JFK assassination and the precipice of nuclear annihilation played out in real life & movies at the same time: “Seven Days in May” parallel to the JFK assassination; “Dr. Strangelove” a parody apparently is based on both Henry Kissinger and Curtis LeMay, etc.

      • Eric Hollingsworth says:

        “Dr. Strangelove” was actually a rewrite of the novel, “Red Alert,” a much more sober rendering that doesn’t include such characters as Major Batguano (“You’re gonna havta answer to the Coca-Cola company”).

    • Eric Hollingsworth says:

      Of course, it was the Queen of Diamonds that so plagued Raymond Shaw. There is considerable evidence that Richard Condon was a serial plagiarist.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Johnson is portrayed as an observant, scheming, oil-connected insider.

    One thing that’s always puzzled me: Why did LBJ on 31 March 1968 announce he wasn’t going to run again? As a law student, I took his action as a sign of personal defeat in Viet Nam.

    Maybe I was right. But in his final years in Texas, he went downhill badly. Not, I believe, because he felt he was responsible for a lot of deaths in Viet Nam. Rather, I’ve believed, because he knew he achieved the presidency illegally.

    • Eric Hollingsworth says:

      Well, to be fair, he’s also sporting some longhorns and it’s not unusual for a state to be portrayed by its major industries.

      He got hammered in the 1968 New Hampshire primary. I think that’s why he bowed out of the presidential race. His “nor will I accept the nomination” was probably face-saving.

      According to “Farewell America,” RFK’s assassination took a lot out of him.

      • Jonathan says:

        The plotters knew LBJ would go along with “LHO did it.”
        LBJ was a natural fit for the presidency.

        • Eric Hollingsworth says:

          LBJ was manipulable for a variety of reasons. He was also coarse and callous. Nevertheless, he kept JFK’s national security team intact (“I need you more than he did”).

          He also pushed through more civil rights and anti-poverty legislation than JFK could have been expected to do.

          I see Vietnam as LBJ’s inability or unwillingness to take as strong a stand against hawkish elements as JFK would have done. Still, he didn’t come to loggerheads with the Soviet Union over Cuba or Latin America.

          I really don’t think LBJ was such a bad stick. Perhaps his ultimate level of competence was ruling over the U.S. Senate. And he might not have been the greatest representative of the American People that we have ever known. But, like J. Edgar Hoover, although he might not have loved JFK and although he was saddled with flaws, I don’t think he would have been down with the murder of a U.S. president.

      • Paul Turner says:

        I didn’t read Farewell America, but I wonder how RFK’s death took a lot out of LBJ. Didn’t the two hate each other?

    • Lyndon Johnson on 3/31/68 was at 38% approval rating; 8 more points down and you are getting at impeachment levels. LBJ was going to lose the general election and probably lose the Democratic primary to Robert Kennedy.

      RFK was assassinated in June, 1968 … after LBJ withdrew from the race. And the first thing LBJ does is to secretly support Nelson Rockefeller for president (Dallek, “Flawed Giant,” p. 545). There are many people unaware of the close ties of LBJ & Nelson Rockefeller; and it is a critical thing to understand.

      LBJ simply could not handle the humiliation of losing. LBJ quit because:

      1) Loss of popularity (approval ratings in the 30s)
      2) Loss of leadership of the party (there were many challenges to the sitting president)
      3) Loss of confidence due to failing health (from high stress and years of heavy smoking)

      Lyndon Johnson was also a mental basketcase – on and off for years, he was nutty as a fruitcake, a dangerous almost insane psychopath.

      Let’s see what McGeorge Bundy had to say about Johnson.

      ArthurSchlesinger, “Journals:”

      January 15 1971

      Last night I spoke at the annual dinner of the Century. I sat next to Mac Bundy and we discussed, among other things, the Khrushchev memoirs. I remarked on the curious resemblance between Khrushchev’s account of the life around Stalin – the domineering and obsessive dictator, the total boredom of the social occasions revolving around him, the horror when invited to attend and the even greater horror when not invited – and Albert Speer’s account of the life around Hitler. Mac said, “When I read Khrushchev, I was reminded of something else in addition – my last days in the White House with LBJ.”

      [Schlesinger, Journals, p. 333]

    • Paul Turner says:

      Jonathan, it could well have been he felt personal defeat in Vietnam, but I also think he felt that if 42% of the voters in New Hampshire went against him, the rest of the way towards a re-nominatin would have been quite difficult for him.

  5. Paul Turner says:

    Let’s have Jack Ruby as the King of Clubs(as he was the owner of the Carousel Club).

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