“He was just a sickly kid who loved heroes” – Jackie Kennedy, with Theodore White, 1964.
He had a “rigid and physically distant mother”, and a domineering and demanding father – “We want winners, we don’t want losers around here.” Jack Kennedy, Barabara Leaming, pg. 61, 2006.
Joseph P. Kennedy, in 1962, was worth of $500,000,000. The Kennedy’s were not just rich . . . they were super-rich.
It is so natural for the wealthy to be self-centered. They are more valuable. They do have more to lose.
John F. Kennedy was witty, engaging, charming, a war veteran, and hero. He was famous from the start, his entire life stage-managed by his father. And he was haunted by losses – his older brother, his favorite sister, war comrades, and his own health. He was very uncomfortable with emotional intimacy.
“I once asked him why he was doing it, why he was acting like his father, why he was avoiding real relationships, why he was taking a chance on a scandal at the same time he was trying to make his career take off. “I don’t know, really. I guess I just can’t help it”. He had this sad expression on his face. He looked like a little boy about to cry.” Dallek, An Unfinished Life, pg. 152.
“Kennedy had a sense of history, but he also had an administrative technique that made the gathering of history extremely difficult. He hated organized meetings of the Cabinet or the National Security Council, and therefore he chose to decide policy after private meetings, usually with a single person.” James Reston, November 22, 1963.
That single person was almost always his brother. In the Berlin crisis, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile crisis, and Vietnam, he was a tentative, secretive, reluctant leader.
“During his meetings with Kennedy he [Eisenhower] took pains to urge the President-elect to keep the structure [a fail-safe, layered group of informed advisors] in place. . . Kennedy nodded and smiled, but it wasn’t his way and he had no intention of doing it.” Bret Baier, Three days in January
And the stakes were getting very high. The window of ‘opportunity’ for a ‘successful’ nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union would close. . . in November of 1963.
“Mr President, you certainly can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you!” . . . And then the plaza rang with the first gunshot. . . The first bullet tore through Kennedy’s throat, and his arms went up as if to block himself from further injury. His wife turned to him, and just as she did, another bullet shattered his head. . . .She remembered the strange elegance of his demeanor. “His expression was so neat: he had his hand out, I could see a piece of his skull coming off; it was flesh-colored not white. He was holding out his hand – and I can see this perfectly clean piece detaching itself from this head. . .He had such a wonderful expression on his face. You know that wonderful expression he had when they’d ask him a question about one of the ten million gadgets they’d have in a rocket? Just before he’d answer, he’d look puzzled; . . .and then he slumped forward.” Jackie Kennedy, Four days in Dallas, Bugliosis, 2009.