Monday, September 12, 2011

Jacqueline Kennedy's Choice Words

During her recollection of past interviews with high profile guests, Oprah recalled a conversation she had with John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996 in which she shared with him her journalistic goal of landing an interview with his late mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Oprah told the young Kennedy that she was glad that she never got the interview and also glad that Mrs. Kennedy Onassis never gave an interview to anyone. Well it looks like Oprah was wrong. In 1964 the recently widowed Mrs. Kennedy gave a series of interviews to former Kennedy aide and historian, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. The interviews are being published as a book and audio recording. The usually soft spoken passive Mrs. Kennedy had a few choice words and candidly admits her true feelings about several people she encountered during her late husband's presidency.

Long, a symbol and icon of American history, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is remembered by many for her grace, glamour and style. She led the country through those four tumultuous days in November 1962. Her image was somewhat squeaky clean and many think of her as a heroine opposite her husband, who was known for his adulterous behavior. That image is about to come to an end, for Mrs. Kennedy may not have been the nice all-american woman we thought her to be. In a seven-part interview, Mrs. Kennedy name drops French President Charles DeGaulle, future Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, former White House Social Secretary Letitia Baldrige, President Lyndon B. Johnson, former Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce, sister-in-law of South Cietnam President Madame Nhu and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy quotes her late husband saying :

“Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?”

On French President Charles DeGaulle, Mrs. Kennedy:

Charles DeGaulle, the French president, is “that egomaniac.”

Mrs. Kennedy travelled to India in 1962. In her interview she appears intimidated by Indira's strength and had this to say:

Indira Gandhi, the future prime minister of India, "is a real prune — bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman.”

On Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mrs. Kennedy says:

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is “a phony” whom electronic eavesdropping has found arranging encounters with women.

The White House social secretary, Letitia Baldrige, Mrs. Kennedy tells Mr. Schlesinger, loved to pick up the phone and say things like “Send all the White House china on the plane to Costa Rica” or tell them they had to fly string beans in to a state dinner. She quotes Mr. Kennedy saying of Lyndon B. Johnson, his vice president, “Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?” And Mr. Kennedy on Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Charlatan is an unfair word,” but “he did an awful lot for effect.”

She suggests that “violently liberal women in politics” preferred Adlai Stevenson, the former Democratic presidential nominee, to Mr. Kennedy because they “were scared of sex.” Of Madame Nhu, the sister-in-law of the president of South Vietnam, and Clare Boothe Luce, a former member of Congress, she tells Mr. Schlesinger, in a stage whisper, “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lesbians.”

Any shortcomings on the part of her husband are not mentioned. She speaks of his loyalty, sensitivity, courage — traits consistent with the Camelot template she had been the first to invoke. She presents herself as adoring, eager for his approval and deeply moved by the man. There is no talk of his extramarital affairs or secret struggle with Addison’s disease, though she does speak in detail about his back pain and the 1954 back surgery that almost killed him.

I find it interesting that Mrs. Kennedy had so much negativity to spread about the various people whom she was privileged enough to meet and interact with. Most of these people were fighting against a system long in place to hold people back and doing their best to leave a positive mark on society. I particularly find it interesting that Mrs. Kennedy would refer to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a phony based on a hearsay myth, which to my knowledge has never been proven true. Even if it were true that Dr. King engaged in extra-marital affairs and was indeed caught on those FBI tapes, who is Jacqueline Kennedy to be judging his character based on this and who is she to talk? President Kennedy publicly humiliated her on numerous occasions with his extra-martial affairs, which have been proven and well documented. Out of respect for the President, I won't post the 1962 video of Marilyn Monroe serenading the President at Madison Square Garden at his 50th Birthday celebration in a very sultry manner.

It will be interesting to see if the release of this book and audio recording will have any backlash on Mrs. Kennedy Onassis image. My guess is, it won't.

Did Jacqueline Kennedy's comments about MLK have merits?

Will these interviews tarnish Mrs. Kennedy's image?

Are you surprised by these comments or that they have surfaced and are being published?
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