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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 17, 2013 4:30am-4:46am EST

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it is my book. i'm not going to give away all of this stuff, but the most consequential question is what happens with vietnam and civil rights. and what about the 22nd approach is? they can be a huge debate. the conservatives will tell you that he ran as a hawk and he often said that we are not going to leave vietnam than we would have the same advisers as lyndon johnson. ..
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the army couldn't get the troops there kennedy was on the phony, are the troops? they're on the way. so you have that. and in an effort to kind of bring reality some fantasy together, i construct a meeting in which most of the participants speak the words they actually spoke at one time. i just put it somewhere else. there's a man, an unsung hero of vietnam, civil serviceman named paul, head of the vietnam
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working group, and in a meeting with the other big shots had the temerity from the back to say, maybe we shouldn't be there? and a couple weeks later they got rid of him. now, kennedy was one guy what wanted as much information as possible. so i construction a meeting where kennedy brings there is guy to sit down and fight it out, and at the end of it, this is what kennedy says. here's the point, he says. said it to you, mike, mike mansfield, knowledgeable man about vietnam. i said it to kenny o'donnell and charlie bartlett, we don't have a prayer of staying in vietnam. those people hate us. they're going to throw our asss out of there at am any point but i can't give up the territory to the viet cong.
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every word of that comes from john kennedy's mouth. that's what he said. so, my belief is that he would have gotten out. but not frontally. he was conscious enough of the problems not to, for instance, good on television and say, my fellow americans, we can't win here. we just -- no matter how strong we are no matter how many people we put in vietnam, we can't win this because -- it's not central to american security. that domino theory i once espoused, the philippines will not be threatened if south vietnam fall, which was the belief of many policymakers. so he kind of stalls through '64. when the pt boats are attacked he does not ask for a gulf of tonkin resolution help doesn't want to be given a blank check
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because the hawks will demand i cash it. and in 1964 he has a second summit meeting with nikita khrushchev, which was on the table, and he cuts a deal with khrushchev, could not stir stuff up and we can get out of this thing. and basically i think in the back of his mind, he knew, that sooner or later vietnam would fall, but needed to fall later. in a way that america was not involved. because the political cost after we waged a bloody war. there is in this book a phone call between senator rich russell of georgia, a big hawk, defends the communism is horrible. in that phone call, over and
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over again, richard russell is saying, this is a terrible idea. we should not -- and the president saying, what can i do? well, maybe you can find a government that will ask us to leave. once again. all of richard russells words are the words he poke to lyndon johnson in a phone call. if you put john kennedy in that other end of that phone call, then what kennedy is hearing is what i think richard russell is trying to say, find some way out of this. johnson thought differently. hi didn't care about the world. he was a domestic politician. his framework was the cold war. he said two days after dallas i'm not the first american president to lose a war. that's not how kennedy thought. much more detached, beth for good -- both for good and bad, president. so i think vietnam doesn't happen. i'll come back because it's critical to talk about the late '60s.
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also, the civil rights effort is much less effective, because kennedy doesn't know the senate the way johnson does, because he is not a southerner, and because kennedy's death itself was a powerful lever, an emotional lever, do this for jack kennedy. the civil rights bill at the time ovoidal last was bolted up by the southern democrats and there's a quote in the book -- richard russell says, we should thank lee harvey oswald he was such a poor shot. we beat john kennedy on civil rights. could not have beat lyndon johnson. once again, flip of what richard russell said. we chief beaten kennedy on civil rights but we can't beat johnson. i do think eventually -- i'm not discounting social forces -- that the civil rights movement would have triumphed. simply as everett dirkson, an
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idea whose time has come, but would have happened less quickly and less successfully. on the domestic side, i believe there would have been no great society program, because that's not how john kennedy thought. that was johnson. who dreamt of being the second fdr and who had grandiose notions what use could do with legislation, and kennedy was more detached in that sense, too. we're going to have medicare and have demonstration programs, but i think it would have been acutely aware, for instance 0, the political dangers of a great society program with big city mayors at odds with community based organizations, fighting for money. kennedys were from boston. they understood the black-white conflict in terms of white working class and schools. johnson saw it as the north and the south. so i think you would -- kennedy just didn't talk that way. i can't imagine him calling for a war on poverty.
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because he had a great degree of skepticism about the power of government, whether it was military or domestic. he would have had programs, but smaller, more modest, and it would have been very important for kennedy to make sure that this wasn't seen as a racial program. shortly before he left for dallas, the one political meeting he had, he was talking about poverty, and the record of the census bureau, said this is all real. i wouldn't do that, mr. president. you got all the poor votes. you need suburban votes, salt lake hands with cops. kennedy said when did democrats back to republicans when they move to the suburbs? he was curious about that. which suggested he might have had more ability than the democrats in the late '60s to lessen -- although he cooperate have stopped the split between white working class and blacks,
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but he might have been better at it. just two more things. i'm going by the time i was told to speak, so -- actually i have a few more minutes but maybe you don't. i'm going to try to give you as much as i can without violating the rule that so many mothers taught their daughters earlier. they don't buy the milk if the cow -- don't buy the cow if the milk is free. think about the late 1960s and the culture. and on this one i interviewed a number of leaders of the new left. tom hayden and i wanted their take on this. if kennedy lives, and there's no vietnam war, then what happens to the movements of the 60 ares? my feeling is, you had a huge cohort of young people, change in sexual more raise, sex, rug,
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and rock 'n' roll many people find very attractive. of course in the proper dosage. so, you would have had rock music that turned and kids protesting rules on campus that treat them like children. would would not have had the weather underground, flag burning, that lurch into a kind of dark feeling about the country that really some of us very vividly remember. so, for instance, why do i say that? well, for one thing in real life, even in 1964, students for democratic society, which by the end of the '60s was split when the lunatics and the weather underground lunatics, was reformist. they endorsed lyndon johnson. part of the way wisconsin lb -- part of the way with lbj. want to see the con shen sunday
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objector. if you don't have a vietnam war, you have a lot more young people responding to one of the best parts of kennedy, which was civic engagement, a lot of people engaged in the domestic peace corps and vista. i asked tom hayden -- in the back i have tom hayden going to work for the office of economic community. i was asked where did you get that? i said, tom hayden he told me. woodstock you would have had. altamont, you would not have hat. youth rebound -- youth rebellion, but not he turn toward an apocolyptic view. so what about kennedy's personal life? which was outrageous. this was not some sort of
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charming rogue who was -- "time magazine" had this code in the old days. if he were somebody's mistress, you were his great and good friend. if you were gay you were a confirmed bachelor, and if you hit on every woman you saw you had, quote, an eye for a well-turned ankle. that was honest to god the "time magazine." dish kennedy is in a different clamps when you're having sex with the mistress of a mafia boss, dallying with a woman who is suspected east german intelligence agent, you're taking threats that go way beyond the threat to your marriage. there's one brilliant psychotherapist -- the question is, we all know that the press never covered this. right? the fact is, in the weeks before dallas, a couple of reporters were beginning to kind of get the story.
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and it was -- bobby kennedy was panicked. he kept having to go to hoover, who knew everything, and who kennedy despised as much as hoover desspiesed him and almost begged him to help him damp down the story. which hoover did, having gotten job security for a lifetime. in my book the people who want this exposed are political enemies of kennedy who are furious about his cold war revisionism. people in the intelligence community. and then the question is, what would have happened in her my advisor -- some of my friends were saying look what happened to clinton? and the advicer said that was 1995. 1965, no. he didn't put is this way but i did. can you imagine jack and jackie sitting down with walter cronkite and jack saying, i've caused pain in my marriage? i mean, that's what clinton
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said, and -- we get what you're saying. 1965, on television, married couples slept in twin bedes. so the question is, what would have happened if he was threatened with scandal in here's the darker side of the kennedy legacy. they would have used whatever means at their disposal to keep it quiet. the evidence for this is in 1962, the steel companies all raised their prices in a way that kennedy treated as probably -- properly as a bree trail, a broken promise you. said you want do it. you're making me look bad. the language kennedy use i will not repeat here, burt it was sulfuric. so what happened? the power of the presidency and the attorney general, was used to force a rollback in prices, and -- see if i can fine this.
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what robert kennedy said was we did everything we had to. we were going for broke. we got the tax return office the steel company executives, got their expense accounts, we wire-tapped their home. and they -- kennedy heard a report on huntley-brink lee, thought it was too kind. he told the fcc i want you to do something about that. here it is. robert kennedy's quote. we're going for broke, their expense accounts, where they'd been, i told the fbi to interview them, march into their offices-subpoena their company records. we can't lose this. later jack kennedy said about clark clifford's role, can't you see clifford outrunning the possible course office action the government can take? you know what you're doing when you screw around with the power of the president? i don't think u.s. steel or any other companies


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