In the wee hours of the presidential primary season, my husband and I were listening to a speech by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill). The buzzword was change. Its kissing cousin was hope. I said, “My God. They’re resurrecting the sixties.” Until I read The Dark Side of Camelot, I had no idea how right I was. Seymour M. Hersh’s groundbreaking tale of the Kennedy administration, published in 1997, offers a playbook for the Chicago/Northeastern wing of the Democratic Party’s strategy to push Obama to the top elected office in our country. Hersh explores the Kennedy connections to the Chicago political machine and the complete manipulation of US media. This was the election the Democratic Party allegedly stole, and scholars still debate that just as they debate the validity of the 2000 presidential election. Hersh makes a solid case for the Dems usurping the office in 1961 for JFK.
Even now, history books and media tout JFK’s success in Cuba. Well, it wasn’t the rosy success we were sold on by media. Just ask the kazillions of middle class Cubans who fled to Miami in the wake of Castro’s coup. Even now as Obama plays up his negativity to the Iraq War, the whole story isn’t being told. Had he been in a decisive position on that war, he’d have been a lonely Dem by speaking against it. Check out some recent history. President Bill Clinton, in 1998, approved strikes on military and security targets in Iraq. Along with British forces, the US sought to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical, and biological programs, and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
There are also the words of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), entered into the Congressional Record October 9, 1998: “Mr. President, I rise to urge the passage of HR. 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act…” Just do a search using the term ‘Operation Desert Fox.’
Coincidentally, Obama wasn’t in the US Senate when the US marched off to a real war in Iraq. He was giving speeches in Illinois where he says he did speak against the war. Debate all you want to but do so in context.
Hersh’s book should be required reading in every US history class. His research is above reproach; many of his sources talked to him directly.
An article in The Telegraph, a British newspaper, proved my response to Obama’s JFK legacy correct. The article says Ted Sorenson, a big fan of Obama, played a very important role in those moving words the presumptive Dem nominee speaks. Adam Frankel, Obama’s deputy chief speech writer, has a direct connect to Sorenson, who told the paper, "Adam worked with me for six years and got to know all about the speeches I wrote for Kennedy," he said. "So when people hear touches of Kennedy and Sorensen in Obama, they are hearing the contribution of Adam."
It took Sorenson almost 3 decades to tell the truth about one of the most significant events in JFK’s presidential history. Hersh notes: “Ted Sorenson waited until 1989, and some public complaints by [Anatoly] Dobrynin about the distortion of history, before revealing at an international conference on the missile crisis that he had deleted from Thirteen Days the essential fact that Jack and Robert Kennedy had decided to approach Khrushchev secretly…and explicitly agreed to withdraw the missiles in Turkey.” (371) And you thought the Bush administration liked executive power.
The missile crisis was pitched and sold to the US as a major diplomatic success for Kennedy. We believed the US had stared down Soviet Russia. In reality, it was a common tradeoff. Hersh noted, “As the editor of Robert Kennedy’s book [Thirteen Days], Sorenson explained in 1989, he chose to delete the reference to the back-channel bargaining with Khrushchev, through Ambassador Dobrynin, “because at the time it was still a secret even to the American side.”
Decisions made by the Kennedy administration resulted in more than 58,000 deaths of American soldiers in Vietnam. Troops who returned home were not treated well. My uncle, who did two tours in 'Nam, told me a girl spit on him as he walked through the airport here in the US after his second tour. I still have his letters.
Camelot has been woven into a mythic American story complete with a youthful president whose charisma and charm blinded many to the reality of his actions and capabilities, among them, radical treatments for his serious physical illnesses, kept very quiet by Kennedy's handlers. Hersh’s book should be read and re-read. Much anti-Americanism was spawned in the sixties despite the fact many believe it is a recent development.
The allure of TV pundits and mass media, whose historic ties to the Democratic Party are a basic fact, should not blind us to hard data on what each candidate's "vision" will cost us, what actual policies will be proposed and exactly what legislation and policy each candidate has endorsed. At no other time has experience been so critical to our country's well-being. Read Hersh’s book and you may come away viewing Camelot as “Camerot.” I did, and not the least reason of which was the most heinous assertion of gender bias in recent history, with women viewed largely as sexual objects put on earth for a single purpose.