It has never been any secret that many serious people at the top of the U.S. government did not believe that President Kennedy was killed by a proverbial “lone nut.” But the elites of Washington have always preferred to ignore such suspicions.
Until today, when former New York Times reporter Phil Shenon reports in Politico magazine on the conspiratorial suspicions of one David Slawson, a retired law professor who investigated JFK’s assassination for the Warren Commission and now admits he got it wrong.
Slawson’s views are not unprecedented in elite power circles of Washington. Far from it.
Barbara Leaming, biographer of Jackie Kennedy, on the First Lady’s ordeal after her husband was killed by her side. Read more
Comedian Vaughn Meader shot to fame in early 1962 with his spot-on but affectionate send-ups of President Kennedy and his family. His LP record The First Family won a Grammy in 1963. When JFK was killed in Dallas, Meader was shattered and his career was over. He died in obscurity in 2004. He lives on in the heaven known as YouTube.
“Now a half century later, it is time for all the Jacqueline Kennedy letters to be available for historians, allowing for a more full and accurate understanding about one of the most dramatic moments in 20th century U.S. history. Efforts by the Kennedy family to keep these letters at bay only mute our comprehension of what truly happened on that tragic day in Dallas and the kind of psychological damage that gun violence can wreak on the lives of innocent survivors.”
via The anguish of Jackie Kennedy – CNN.com.
Jackie Kennedy’s private thoughts about Dallas
A few things are known for sure. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, 34 years old and dressed in a U.S.-made knock off of a pink Chanel suit, was looking at her husband’s face with concern from inches away when a bullet shattered his head.
After that horrible moment, Jackie had to pull herself together, give Jack the funeral he deserved. She assumed that her husband’s enemies had killed him. A week after the assassination, she and her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy confided in a friend, William Walton. They said they believed Dallas was the work of a high-level domestic plot, meaning JFK’s enemies on the political right.
But mostly Jackie didn’t want to think about who killed Jack. She was close to insane with grief, clutching to her brother-in-law who was devastated as well. She was often suicidal. And so Jackie fades from the crime story. The men who dominate the discussions of JFK conspiracy theories are often united in ignoring the views of the woman closest to the crime.
Howard Willens, former Warren Commission staffer, has responded to Philip Shenon’s article in Politico about Attorney General Robert Kennedy being a “conspiracy theorist” and my post, “Why RFK refused to swear there was no conspiracy.”
In a new post at HowardWillens.com, Willens says the dispute should be broken down into three questions:
“The former first lady constantly provided graphic details of her husband’s death to friends and family and contemplated suicide, [author Barbara] Leaming reveals. Although she put on a stoic face publicly, Kennedy struggled for decades internally.” Read more
Another problem with the Warren Commission’s report just surfaced in Vanity Fair: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t believe the single bullet theory on which the Commission’s findings depend. Neither did John and Nellie Connally. In other words, the Commission ignored the testimony of the three witnesses closest to the gunfire.
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. Read more
Jackie Kennedy’s private thoughts about Dallas
Defenders of the semi-official theory of JFK’s assassination sometimes suggest that anyone who disagrees is deluded or dishonest. Dale Myers and Gus Russo have dubbed the benighted souls “the conspirati,” a term intended to convey disdain for those allegedly emotionally needy or intellectually incompetent people who doubt the claim that one man killed JFK for no reason.
The problem with this trope, alas, is the facts. There were plenty of astute observers of American power in 1963 who rejected the official theory of a “lone nut” and concluded President Kennedy had been killed by his enemies.
Here are six six U.S. government insiders in 1963 who suspected a JFK was killed by a conspiracy.
With USA Today picking up on Gayle Nix Jackson’s search for the original version of her grandfather’s film of President Kennedy’s assassination, Gerda Dunckel’s film of Orville Nix talking about what he saw and heard on November 22, 1963, is timely.
JFK Assassination – Orville Nix’s Film Stabilized and Enhanced – YouTube.
Father Joseph Leonard, pen pal of Jacqueline Kennedy
From The Irish Times last week.
“After her husband’s assassination in 1963, Jackie Kennedy confided to Fr Leonard how she became “bitter against God” and struggled to find comfort in her deep Catholic faith.
“I have to think there is a God – or I have no hope of finding Jack again.” She added, with bittersweet humour: “God will have a bit of explaining to do to me if I ever see Him.” Read more
The pink Chanel suit worn by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on the day her husband was killed is a Shakespearan icon of the tragedy of November 22: a woman’s beautiful garment soaked in her husband’s blood.
“I didn’t want to pander, to become part of the cottage industry of Kennedy books,” says novelist Nicole Mary Kelby about her new book, The Pink Suit. .”This book is not about cute clothes. It’s about how Jackie Kennedy set out to redefine how Americans defined themselves. Mamie and Ike Eisenhower (the Kennedys’ predecessors in the White House) were Grandma and Grandpa.”
This book isn’t even a book about Jackie Kennedy (she only appears once and is referred to throughout only as “the Wife”). Rather, it is a book about something that is now almost equally important: How November 22 shaped the way Americans understand themselves.
In a finely reported piece for Esquire last November Chris Jones recreated the scene on Air Force One on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.
Here’s the first meeting of now former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson, now the wife of the President of the United States.
“I don’t know what to say,” Lady Bird says. “What wounds me most of all is that this should happen in my beloved state of Texas.”
As the United States lurched towards war over Soviet missiles in Cuba in October 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy refused the suggestion that she leave her husband in the White House and move to a safer location.