Unfortunately, Mother Jones and the L.A. Times have recycled another poorly documented JFK theory: James Reston Jr.’s claim that Lee Oswald was aiming at Govermor Connally and accidently hit JFK in the head.
The biggest attraction of this theory is that it extracts November 22 from political debate because it defines JFK’s death as an apolitical act unrelated to his policies. This is a comforting thought, especially to smart liberal reporters like Kevin Drum who feel the need to state an opinion on a major historical issue but really don’t want to get bogged down in the evidentiary and ideological morass that is the JFK assassination debate. (Can’t say as I blame him for that.)
The biggest problem with Drum & Reston’s theory is the facts. They don’t have many.
Reston’s sole Secret Service source isn’t particularly credible and, more importantly, his claims are not corroborated. Yes, pages may have been torn out of Oswald’s notebook but that doesn’t mean the missing pages concerned Connally.
Oswald didn’t hate Connally, nor did he hate JFK. (Oswald thought JFK was a typical politician, though he liked his civil rights policies) And the evidence that Oswald fired any shots, while circumstantially strong, would not have survived courtroom scrutiny from competent defense counsel. All of which is why no serious scholars of the JFK assassination have found merit in Reston’s theory. In JFK studies, it is an idiosyncratic outlier.
Finally, the odds that the fatal shot to Kennedy’s head was accidental are like the odds that a monkey tapping randomly on a typewriter could write a Shakespeare play. Sure, its theoretically possible. That doesn’t mean it has ever happened or ever will.
One definition of a conspiracy theorist is a person who is incapable of distinguishing what is possible from what is probable. In this sense, Kevin Drum is a conspiracy theorist.