November 22, 2010

"Have the Ivy League charlatans drop back to the follow-up car. We've got an election coming up. The whole point is for me to be accessible to the people."

Former Secret Service agent Jerry Blaine remembers what JFK said to him just days before the assassination:
Photos of the motorcade show, regardless of what the president said, Hill was riding on the back of the car during an earlier part of the route.

By the time the motorcade reached the stretch of roadway where the assassination occurred, however, agents could no longer ride on the fenders, Blaine says.

"We were going into a freeway, and that's where you take the speeds up to 60 and 70 miles an hour. So we would not have had any agents there anyway," he said.
That was 47 years ago, today.

44 comments:

TheGiantPeach said...

I don't understand the reference to "Ivy League charlatans." That's how he refers to his Secret Service agents? It seems like there must be some kind of joke in there somewhere, but I don't get it.

Alex said...

Very eerie to say the least. Oh I think I know who the man on the grassy knoll was.

AJ Lynch said...

I doubt I will ever forget that day. I was 11 years old and we were returning to the school building fro the church when we heard the news from a lady who lived across the street.

When I got to my classroom, the teacher, Miss Martino, had tears on her cheeks and everyone was very quiet. The world had just changed for us -our first president, one we took a special pride in, a Catholic like us, had been assassinated.

TheGiantPeach said...

OK, did a little googling, typing in "Ivy league charlatans." The first hit is Althouse.

Anyway, it turns that this reference goes back a ways, to William Manchester's controversial book, "Death of a President." There is a dispute as to whether Kennedy ever made such a request. I still haven't found a satisfactory explanation of the phrase "Ivy League charlatans" except that it was an example of the President's "Irish sense of humor."

SMGalbraith said...

Photos of the motorcade show, regardless of what the president said, Hill was riding on the back of the car during an earlier part of the route

Yes, but that's because the President ordered the limo to stop a couple of times to allow some in the crowd to approach the car. It was then that the agents jumped on the car. Then as the limo picked up again, Hill got off and rode in the backup car.

Anyway, the evidence is pretty irrefutable that Kennedy had a fatalistic attitude and he accepted the fact that anyone could kill him if they really wanted to. So, he ordered the secret service to stay away as much as possible.

Oswald killed JFK. By himself.

Others in the CIA or government may have wanted Kennedy killed but Oswald got there first.

TheGiantPeach said...

It seems like there is one day for each generation where the universe is rent apart. December 7, November 22, September 11.

I was in fourth grade. There was a TV in our classroom that we used for math instruction (this was the era of "new math", and the teachers were incapable of teaching it, so we had televised math lessons). From lunch until dismissal we watched the sad news.

When it was time to be dismissed, there was an odd moment when the teacher told us that what we had been watching was called "current events," and proceeded to define the term for us. I have often wondered what was going on in her head at that time. Did she feel guilty that she wasn't doing her job by letting us watch TV for hours, and felt that she had to teach us something? Was this her way of breaking the mood of shock and grief so that we could get ourselves in back into the world where mundane things happen like gathering books and putting on jackets and getting on buses?

At the time it just struck me as really insensitive, as though she didn't care that the President was dead, and that it was more important to her that we learn some new vocabulary.

ricpic said...

Impossible to overestimate how traumatic JFK's assassination was for America. To this day I'm convinced the horrors of the 60's, culminating in 1968, would not have happened without this triggering event.

c3 said...

When in the future will Kennedy's assassination become like William McKinley's?

Beldar said...

I was in the first grade, in a small private school run by "a widow lady" which took those, like me, who'd not quite yet turned six years old when the school-year started. I was very focused on the facts that my birthday was three days away and Thanksgiving coming, and therefore I was a bit miffed that this event so thoroughly grabbed everyone's attention. They even preempted the Saturday morning cartoons that weekend, and on all three channels!

shoutingthomas said...

The assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist double agent.

Just saying this, because it's popular among leftists to attribute the killing to some sort of right wing frenzy in Texas.

To repeat, the killer was a leftist, a communist.

ndspinelli said...

I didn't realize until looking @ the photo that the Secret Service started the bumper surfing craze of the 60's.

Wasn't Clint Eastwood on that Secret Service detail?

traditionalguy said...

What if JFK had had secret snipers and bomber planters after him every day? Then he would qualify for being one of the poor guys serving in the Afghan Theater today. Heck, 48 years is ancient stuff. What we must fear is a Muslim hit on Obama.

ironrailsironweights said...

The fact that he was born in 1917 means that the JFK-is-alive-as-a-vegetable stories are getting increasingly implausible.

Peter

Alex said...

Impossible to overestimate how traumatic JFK's assassination was for America. To this day I'm convinced the horrors of the 60's, culminating in 1968, would not have happened without this triggering event.

Yes I learned how traumatic it was by watching Mad Men.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Had the glass bubble been on the car, history may have been much, much different, especially Viet Nam.

T^he Ivy league reference may have been a joking reference to some of his key staff who worried about his safety, but not certain.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Had the glass bubble been on the car, history may have been much, much different, especially Viet Nam.

Thank you Oliver Stone and Dave Emry, Mr. Go Anywhere, Pay Any Price, overthrow Diem was going to NOT escalate in Vietnam, especially after being perceived as weak on opposing the Soviets? I don’t think so…YMMV.

SMGalbraith said...

Had the glass bubble been on the car, history may have been much, much different, especially Viet Nam.

The bullets would have gone right through the bubble since it was plexiglass. Perhaps Oswald wouldn't have had such a clear shot though. Another "What if" of history.

Anyway, JFK was, in my view, simply not going to abandon the Vietnamese people to be slaughtered by the communists. Not after Vienna and the Missile Crisis.

He may have been a liberal (by the standards of that time) but he was an anti-communist hawk.

Trooper York said...

If his brother had never deported Carlos Marcello to the Guatemalan jungle with just the clothes on his back.

Oswald's uncle (his mothers brother) was a collector for the New Orleans family that Carlos headed and he and Santo Traficanti arranged for the hit with Oswald as the pasty. Then Jack Ruby who ran a strip club did Oswald to shut him up. Ruby didn't care because they told him he had a fatal cancer and he wanted to have his mother set up for when he was gone.

If the Kennedy brothers had just gone along with the deals that their father the Ambassador had set up none of this would have happened. But old Joe had a stroke and couldn't intervene to control Bobby.

Cedarford said...

SMGailbraith -"Oswald killed JFK. By himself."

Maybe in the same sense that "Maj. Nidal Hasan" killed all the people at Ft. Hood, all by himself can be factually correct, without telling the whole story.

Jack Ruby ensured that Oswald would never be able to shine a spotlight on his communist and Fair Play for Cuba network that if not direct support - gave him the idealogy he acted from.

And Jack Ruby himself was an enigma - a small time Jewish crook - with no ties to the Jewish communists and radicals of the day ever found to be part of his background. Though he gave the communists considerable relief by ending the ability of Oswald to explain why he was a "Patsy"...Ruby appears to just have acted from ego..wanting a big name for himself and thinking the public would endorse his vigilantism.

Michael said...

Trooper: As Clay Shaw famously said, "You got the right tata but the wrong tootoo." Those New Orleans guys were a riot.

jr565 said...

ShoutingThomas wrote:
Just saying this, because it's popular among leftists to attribute the killing to some sort of right wing frenzy in Texas.

To repeat, the killer was a leftist, a communist.


THat's not what Oliver Stone said!I think you got your facts wrong. Clearly it was the three indigant homeless men on the grassy knoll who were then whisked away on trains. And LBJ had something to do with it. Was trying to follow the whole train of events but it was a riddle wrapped inside an enigma so was very confusing. All I know is it was proved that Kennedy's head could not have gone back and to the left the way it did.

jr565 said...

Cedarford,
Nah it was Oswald all by his lonesome. Wasn't that hard a shot amd required no magic bullets.

jr565 said...

ndspinelli wrote:
Wasn't Clint Eastwood on that Secret Service detail?

Yeah, he was the agent that was there when kennedy got killed.But he did make up for it later when he killed John Malkovic before he could stand over the body of another dead president. And then he went on to work with an orangutan and direct movies. Or maybe he worked with the orangutan and then worked on the presidents security detail. Not sure.

Cedarford said...

jr565 said...
Cedarford,
Nah it was Oswald all by his lonesome. Wasn't that hard a shot amd required no magic bullets.

===========
I'm agreeing with you, jr. Just pointing out that Oswald did not operate in an idealogical vaccum anymore than "lone gunman" Major Nidal Hasan did.

ndspinelli said...

Calling Dr. Freud.

Trooper...you misspelled "patsy" using "pasty" instead. The next sentence you mention Ruby's strip club. You need a lap dance, bro!

Bob_R said...

I have not read it in years (maybe tonight?) but The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry is an excellent spy thriller and the best Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory yarn I've ever read.

TheGiantPeach said...

c3 said...

When in the future will Kennedy's assassination become like William McKinley's?


Well, when it happens, I won't know about it because it certainly won't happen in the lifetime of anyone who was around in 1963.

I also don't know that the two assassinations are really comparable. McKinley was the third president to be assassinated in 40 years. It wouldn't have seemed to the people of the time as something unthinkable. Every adult had lived through the same thing before.

Kennedy was the only president assassinated in the last 110 years.

Also, Kennedy was the most powerful person in (at least) the free world when he died. McKinley couldn't come close to that distinction.

There aren't many people who consider McKinley among the greatest Presidents of all time. That's not true of Kennedy.

Was McKinley worth remembering anyway?

Where is McKinley,
Mark Hanna's McKinley,
his slave, his echo, his suit of clothes,
Gone to join the shadows with the pomps of that year,
and the flame of that summer's prairie rose

--Vachel Lindsay (more or less)

Doug Wright said...

I was at the UoMN Bursar's office paying winter quarter tuition when a clerk said: "Oh that's funny, the president being shoot, Ha, Ha!" I growled at her and went on my way. In Folwell Hall, people were gathered around a TV or radio and when asked what was happening, they said that JFK was dead; so that clerk simply acted the fool and she probably regreted doing so later on. After that my view of JFK changed and forgot about what a poor job he had done as president; no longer important after that time.

Of course, even during the Berlin Wall crisis, I felt he was playing in Russia's hands and acted like a spoiled child; his acts seemed poorly thought out. The Cuban Missile crisis seemed better handled the next year but still, I was getting ready to consider voting present in the 1964 elections. All that disappeared so quickly and we then had LBJ and his scar tissue to ponder.

Cheers.

Methadras said...

At this point the JFK assassination and it's accessory conspiracy theory stories end up playing out like a game of clue. Lee Harvey Oswald in the book depository with a rifle. You win.

Methadras said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the implications that JFK's assassination has had on this country were not only profound, but we are still dealing with the ramifications and consequences of that assassination to this day. That single moment in history has created such a ripple of effects on all of us that I don't know where they will end.

Kansas City said...

I'm afraid we are getting close to McKinley status, since only people 55 or older really have any recollection and, as evidenced by this thread, there is litte hesitancy in joking about it.

I don't know about the effect long term of Kennedy's assasination. What are you talking about?

It is is Vietnam, there really is no way to know. And, even if you accept the theory that he would have pulled out of Vietnam sooner, the final result in terms of a N. Vietnam victory would have been the same (albeit with far fewer American deaths)

It possibly would have changed the line of presidents. Kennedy probably would have been re-elected in 64, then an epic Johnson/Nixon battle in 68.

By the way, Kennedy had many flaws but I consider him a great president because he managed to avoid the real threat of nuclear war, resisting very bad advice from senior military officials. I believe presidents should be judged primarily by how they handled great issues. Some never get a great issue thrust upon them, so they are historically insignificant (like Clinton). Others successfully meet the challenge - Washington, Polk, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Reagan (probably), Bush I (Gulf War I) and possibly Bush II (if Iraq produces long term benefits).

Bob_R said...

"There aren't many people who consider McKinley among the greatest Presidents of all time. That's not true of Kennedy."

If you look at Presidential Rankings (check Wikipedia for instance) you will find that McKinley is very close to Kennedy. Considering the biases of the people doing the ranking that's a big vote for McKinley. But I agree that the media machine / cult of personality worked for Camelot as never before.

Kansas City said...

I might also put Johnson in because of civil rights, although he made a mess of everything else.

Wilson for WWI? Maybe, althought it did not accomplish anything.

I'm a fan of Grant, who is unjustiably criticized as a president, but the combination of his generalship in the Civil War and his calming presidency were instrumental in helping to save the union.

Kansas City said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kansas City said...

As to whether Oswald was the lone gunman and acted alone, there are two competing reasonable ways to analyze the question that are never going to come to the same conclusion: (1) the "official" story is an extraordinary longshot, e.g., one bullet doing all the damage (possible but highly unlikely), Oswald's background, Oswald's presence in the right place, Kennedy's body movements when shot, Ruby killing Oswald, etc.; versus (2) there is not sufficient proof of any alternative story.

Point 1 allows many people to reasonably disbelieve the official story, while point 2 allows many people to reasonably accept the official story.

I am moving from camp 1 to camp 2, simply because no one has come forward with good enough evidence to prove another theory. It may just well be one of those incredibly unlikely, but true, moments in history, never fully resolved because of the murder mystery element of it.

Bob_R said...

For those who pose the counterfactual that Kennedy would have pulled out sooner in Viet Nam, I'll pose another one: He might have won it. McNamara and Westmoreland might have been fired early on. The media might have been cheerleaders for Kennedy. Things could have been different.

Kansas City said...

I thought about suggesting he would have won in Vietnam, but I think his baby steps prior to the assasination show that he probably would not have done what was necessary to win. Certainly his fans and folks he knew him best argue that he would have pulled out, but of course, they are influenced by subsequent events and the liberal mindset that it was a huge mistake.

TheGiantPeach said...

My thinking about how November 22 changed America has been completely reversed in the last 8 years or so. I recall meeting a young man who was researching a book that was ostensibly to be written by Senator Toricelli on 10 Days that Changed America. I don't know if the book ever appeared, but it got me involved in a discussion of what the 10 days should be.

At the time, I argued that November 22 didn't belong on the last. As sad and dramatic an event as it was, the Kennedy assassination didn't change America, I thought at the time, because Johnson for the most part had the same policies as Kennedy.

Since then, I've come to believe just the opposite. I think that the experience of going to the brink in the Cuban Missile Crisis had turned Kennedy from a Cold Warrior to a President who would have pursued some sort of detente with Khrushchev. They were engaged in a private correspondence exploring just that at the time of Kennedy's death.

Shortly before his assassination, Kennedy had written a directive to begin withdrawing troops from Vietnam. It now seems very unlikely to me that Kennedy would have escalated the war the way Johnson did. And without Vietnam, everything would have been different. I now can't think of a day that more profoundly changed America than November 22

TheGiantPeach said...

Kansas City -- Kennedy probably would have been re-elected in 64, then an epic Johnson/Nixon battle in 68.

I think not. I think if Johnson didn't become President in November 1963, his political career would soon have ended. There were two pretty big scandals about to break, one involving Bobby Baker and another involving Billy Sol Estes, and I don't see how Johnson could have survived politically. Kennedy would certainly have dropped him from the ticket in 64.

As it happened, I think the scandals were downplayed because the country didn't have the stomach for an impeachment the year after an assassination.

TheGiantPeach said...

Obviously Kennedy and the assassination have been on my mind a lot today. I think one of the reasons why the assassination will always fascinate people is that there will always be a mystery as to what really happened on Dealey Plaza. As far as I know, there's no controversy about the McKinley assassination.

I think there was a conspiracy. Johnson spoke on November 23 with J. Edgar Hoover. There are notes of the conversation, which was also taped, although the tape has been erased. (You can listen to tapes of Johnson's other conversations that day, which have not been erased.)

Oswald went to the Soviet and Cuban embassies in Mexico City some weeks before the assassination, apparently trying to redefect. The United States had bugs on the embassies, and recorded Oswald's conversations (tapes which were destroyed). Hoover told Johnson on November 23 that the voice on the tape was not Oswald's. That's pretty remarkable. Someone was impersonating Oswald weeks before the assassination, when nobody knew who Oswald was. I can't think of any reason for that. To my mind, it points to a conspiracy, and I think Hoover and Johnson knew, on the day after the assassination, that Oswald wasn't acting alone.

Kansas City said...

You see, Giant Peach makes very intelligent observations about a possible conspiracy, focusing on the bizarre fact that Oswald allegedly traveled to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City and some odd losses of taped conversations. In particular, the trip to Mexico City was bizarre and unlikely, but possible as part of the long shot version of events. This was a guy who had previously defected to Russia.

On the other hand, Peach's smart observations about this evidence fall far short of proving an alrnative account of what actually happened.

So to me, it is like I said. The official story is highly unlikely but possible, and there is no proof of an alternative story. In legal terms, if ther burden of proof is on the official story, it probably loses, but if the burden of proof is on the conspiracy theorists, they probably also lose.

TheGiantPeach said...

I concede Kansas City's point here. I have read several of the conspiracy books, and the best ones do, I think, an excellent job of challenging the Warren Commission view. It's a lot harder to make a convincing case in favor of one of the possible conspiracies.

Doug Wright said...

One factor in the conspiracy theories is that the Warren Commission screwed the pooch in so many ways, not doing their homework and ignoring so many apparent factors in the assassination of JFK. This poor effort by the commission allowed nut cases like Mark Lane(Not certain if he's the one) and that prosecutor from NOLA sell their conspiracy ideas.

But, then the government was investigating itself and LBJ and others before him allowed Hoover to run the FBI as his independent agency.

So much was covered up that didn't have to be and so many mistakes like not protecting Oswald from the angry mob. Some of the missing evidence is gone forever all because of a true rush to judgement.

Cheers.

Doug Wright said...

That angry mob! TV was covering everything it could about the mourning process, including having cameras pan over the long line of citizens waiting to view JFK's casket. When it was announced that Oswald had been killed, a primordial roar went up from the mourners in line; My impression was that they all approved of Ruby's killing Oswald.

Our world changed November 22nd and probably not for the better. But then we lost so much more in Memphis then in LA 5-years later.

So, no more of this political killing, it doesn't solve anything and only brings more harm to everyone.