[Marxism] Bill Clinton and John Kerry's inspiration

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 23 17:08:12 MST 2004

Seymour Hersh: "Dark Side of Camelot":

Kennedy's former lover talked at length in our interviews about what she 
termed his "tremendous acceptance of inequality." Kennedy did articulate 
the view that "things should be better, yes." He also "could do acts of 
personal kindness, yes." But, she said, deeply ingrained in him was "the 
acceptance of inequality at every level - that women were not equal with 
men, that African Americans were not equal with white people, that Jews 
were not equal to gentiles. That was absolutely acceptable, and that 
doesn't mean he was a horrible racist, anti-Semitic, classist, sexist 
person. He was a person of his time. And that involved a lot of limitations."

When discussing the poor, the blacks, the Jews, "he used to say, 'Poor 
bastards.' That was it. There were a lot of poor bastards in this world. 
There were people who either didn't get jobs they wanted or they didn't get 
programs they wanted. That phrase covered so many times when he would have 
turned someone down for a job, or would have turned down some legislation 
that was being pressed on him. You know, 'Poor bastard, they're going to 
feel terrible.'" Kennedy seemed to believe that "people who are different 
have different responses. The pain of poor people is different from 'our' 

Kennedy was aware of the disconnect. While interviewing candidate Kennedy 
for a Time magazine cover story in the late 19505, Hugh Sidey suddenly 
asked if he had any memory of the Depression. Sidey had grown up in rural 
Iowa and vividly recalled the harshness of those days. "Kennedy had his 
feet on the desk, and he looked across at me and he said," Sidey said in a 
1997 interview for this book, " 'I have no memory of the Depression. We 
lived better than ever. We had bigger houses, more servants. I learned 
about the Depression at Harvard - from reading.'" Jack Kennedy, Sidey told 
me, with some consternation, "just hadn't encountered breadlines or bums 
that used to come to our doors and ask for handouts. He was the 
ambassador's son, and that was a very elegant existence. He was never in 
contact with the reality of the Depression."

Kennedy's former lover believed that it would have been difficult for 
Kennedy, given his comfortable family circumstances and the belief in his 
own destiny, to understand the aspirations of the people in Cuba and South 
Vietnam, the nations that became the object of presidential obsession, 
anger, and frustration. Kennedy, the woman said, "did a wonderful thing in 
trying to bring people into a sense of participation. But I feel most of it 
was on the basis of being special, and surrounding himself with the best 
and the brightest - with people whose accomplishments were their badge of 
worth." Thus, when "things got really troublesome," she said, the president 
and his immediate aides "reinforced each other's isolation. Those people, 
in their specialness, got separated from reality. It was as if Bundy, 
McNamara - all of these extraordinary men - in rising and shining, had cut 
off their ability to feel their own pain. I never did experience John 
Kennedy in a moment of reflection or pain or sadness," she told me.

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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