The Plank

Jfk As God

By and

The historian Robert Dallek has done some fine work on Nixon and Kissinger. He's also unearthed a lot of new information on JFK's serious health problems. But his new Time magazine cover story, Warrior For Peace, is the worst kind of Camelot hagiography. Especially irksome is Dallek's willingness to believe that JFK would have ended all of mankind's problems. For example:

--In the end, McNamara says today, Kennedy would have withdrawn, realizing "that it was South Vietnam's war and the people there had to win it."

--"He would have recognized Cuba," Milt Ebbins, a Hollywood crony of J.F.K.'s, says today.

--When Khrushchev got the news from Dallas in November 1963, he broke down and sobbed in the Kremlin, unable to perform his duties for days. Despite his youth, Kennedy was a "real statesman," Khrushchev later wrote in his memoir, after he was pushed from power less than a year following J.F.K.'s death. If Kennedy had lived, he wrote, the two men could have brought peace to the world.

--If J.F.K. had lived, [Sorenson] adds, "there is no doubt in my mind [that] we would have laid the groundwork for detente. The cold war would have ended much sooner than it did."

--Years later, when Bobby Kennedy's widow Ethel made a trip to Havana, she assured Castro that "Jack and Bobby had nothing to do with the plots to kill you." The tall, graying leader--who had survived so long in part because of his network of informers in the U.S.--looked down at her and said, "I know."

Aha! Castro really liked the Kennedy brothers. Who knew? Still, what about curing every disease known to man? Would Kennedy have done that? Dallek can do much better...

Update: A coworker points out that Kennedy would have paid off her student loans.

--Isaac Chotiner

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