Nov 22, 2013

The Wife and I

Watched Three Shots That Changed America yesterday.  (And I watched the Am Experience JFK documentary yesterday, as well.)

Three Shots was really excellent.  So much to wonder at.  From flippant superstitious things like if JFK had put on the cowboy hat and boots in Fort Worth that morning, maybe it would be different, ... To the broadcast of As The World Turns being interrupted, the actor and actress speaking about an offstage character, worried that the character would have to spend Thanksgiving alone ... To the insane way that so much happened so quickly ... That Oswald was so swiftly apprehended and was proclaimed to the world a suspect ... And Oswald being shuttled back and forth between rooms at the courthouse that was right across the street from the scene of the crime ... And, that during all this room switching that Oswald was able to talk to the press numerous times ... That Oswald said he was a patsy, and that he was denied a lawyer, and that he felt the law entitled him to be able to have a shower (?!) ... That one of the press guys called Oswald's Soviet wife, "petite and pretty" ... That LBJ was sworn in so quickly ... That the Dallas Police so badly bungled Oswald's transfer to County.  They practically told the entire world when and how exactly they were going to transfer Oswald, and that moments before Ruby's fatal shots, the press continually harped on what a dangerous operation this transfer would be ... The armored car being switched out for an ambulance for Oswald ... That Oswald's murder happened as the funeral for JFK was happening ... That the press very quickly learned about Oswald's Communist leanings and all the FAIR Play for Cuba stuff ... That all this insane crazy stuff seemed to be wrapped up in less than forty eight hours total.

Even the Wife was riveted.

And poor Dallas.  This event is one of the main reasons that Dallas is still messed up, and suffers from such an inferiority complex.  Dallas, as Molly Ivins observed, is always trying just a little too hard, is always looking over its shoulder at what other cities are doing, does not seem comfortable in its own skin.  It is telling that for the longest time after 11/22/63 that Dealey Plaza and the Book Depository building were the number one tourist attractions in Dallas.

Dallas is horribly racist and is already difficult enough to love, but even sometimes I think that perhaps it did not deserve its title of The City of Hate after those forty eight hours played out.


The big takeaway for me from the Am Experience JFK doc was what a particularly awful president Kennedy was.  Just in order to achieve success as a politician, bankrolled big time from Pops, JFK took contrary positions in order to establish himself as a Maverick-y type.  He could not be relied upon to vote the party line, and LBJ as Senate Majority leader hated him.  JFK's first book was a wimpy apologist affair for Pops and Chamberlain.  Once he was President, it was disaster after disaster.  He preferred covert military actions over getting the country and congress involved.  The Bay of Pigs was just his first attempt to oust Castro. He and his brother were constantly trying to cook up ways to off him.  JFK and RFK did find a way to have Ngô Đình Diệm assassinated, though, just a few weeks before the Dallas trip.  JFK also cynically sold the Freedom Riders out for political purpose, and only 'stood up' to Wallace a year later with some platitude about a Civil Rights Bill that JFK knew would never get out of committee.

JFK's shining moment is the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Which prob would never have occurred if JFK had not kept trying to kill Castro and annex Cuba, and if he had not put those nuclear missiles in Turkey, aimed straight at the Soviet Union.  The press kept the secret of the negotiation that once the missiles in Turkey were promised to be removed that Nikita Khrushchev stood down and war was averted.  It is v difficult for me to give JFK much credit for averting a crisis that was of much his own doing, and that Kreushchev did not want either.

Facts is facts, JFK was one of the worst presidents this country has ever had, as far as I am concerned.

Fifty years ago today.  And fifty years ago it was a Friday, too.


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