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The Kennedys: A Culture Show Special

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The energy, the faith, the devotion... Hello and welcome to


this special edition of the Culture Show. Our subject is the Kennedys.


That remarkable dynasty whose influence and legacy can still be


felt today in America and elsewhere too. It's 50 years since John F


Kennedy was sworn in as 35th President of the United States. But


the family can still make the news, as the History Channel in America


discovered to its cost. Its $30 million mini series dramatising the


Kennedy story was axed following accusations of historical


distortion, political bias, and Jackie muster a figure, if it's


inevitable, she may as well make it convenient. So, please join us now


for an exploration of the myths and the realities of that fascinating


place that will be known forever as John F Kennedy was the shortest


serving elected President of the post-war years. Just 1,036 days in


all. When he was assassinated in Dallas on the 22nd November 1963,


he was already campaigning for a second term. Had it not been for


the lone gunman, he probably would have won. But in the so-called


1,000 Days of his presidency, JFK, his wife Jackie, and the Kennedy


administration set a style of politics that would prove to be


unforgettable. We'll be exploring that later with a panel of experts.


But before the drama of politics, the politics of a drama. An eight


hour, $30 million mini series made for the History Channel in America.


But not shown there following a campaign that accused the makers of


character assassination. Defenders of the series, which is now being


shown on BBC Two, claim that the Kennedy family itself exerted


pressure on the History Channel to drop the series. So here's the


story behind the making and the In the long history of the world,


only a few generations have been granted the role of defending


freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this


responsibility. I welcome it! APPLAUSE That was John F Kennedy in


1961. Here he is in at 2011, played by


Greg Kinnear. The energy we bring to this end ever will like our


country and all who serve it. But country relight the world. Here is


Jackie, played by Katie Holmes. Jackie, you are going to be the


first lady of United States. I can hardly think about it. It's all so


unreal. Come on. Shearer is Bobby Kennedy, played by Barry Pepper.


This is a new era, a new world order. I sincerely hope you can


adapt yourself to it. And here's the Kennedy patriarch, Joe Senior,


played by Tom Wilkinson. It's not what you are, it's what people


think you are and with the right amount of money, you can make them


think what ever you want. We are on our way, boys. This country is ours


for the taking. A Yes, they are here, including that lone gunman,


lurking in episode seven, to fulfil his predestined role. Lee, we are


going down to have a look at Kennedy. Save me a spot. And so, my


fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what


But the miniseries has sparked a bitter war of words between its


creators and those who regard it as an attack on the legacy of the


Kennedy family. And that is part of what I believe they were attempting


to do. I think there are people who just wanted a Valentine and I think


the Valentines have been done. Kennedys, originated with the team


behind the by whatever means necessary' TV thriller 24 executive


producer Joel Surnow and writer Steven Kronish. As a family, they


probably have the greatest collection of glamour, intellect,


charisma, drama, flaws and gifts. It was a canvas on which you


couldn't help, I think, but come up with a compelling personal story.


Touchdown! What compelled us as storytellers was the idea of a


father living out his ambition through his sons. I can't believe


you did it. We did it! You think I was going to pay for a landslide? I


love you boys. And then we had the dynamics changing from episode to


episode, as we won't vote the story. I think his memory is a failing.


You have got be as Attorney-General. Because that is what you are going


to be. I'm going to Boston. Jack need someone he can trust and


I needed to keep an eye on Jack. believe they elected me President.


Not you. That is very true, some. They did. We decided early on, the


foreground of the story was going to be the personal story. And the


background was going to be the political story. So the events like


the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Election all


supported the show. They almost became the plot. President


Eisenhower approve this training and the ultimate purpose, the


elimination of Fidel Castro. I just questioned whether or not to this


would work. Yes, it will, Mr President. Without a direct


involvement... The goal was to create the best drama we could make


Castro's intelligence services must have been tipped off. His men were


waiting on the beach. I don't understand. He had a clear view as


we approached. It was in the middle of the night. It was the conditions.


What? A full moon. There is a record of what was said in the


cabinet meetings and in the Oval Office. Jack Kennedy kept a tape


system. Nixon was not the first. And so what we used were those


records to construct a scene. said that the invasion force would


land without resistance. You told me that Castro and the people of


Cuba would rise up. You've been wrong about everything so far.


support is the only way to stop this from becoming an unmitigated


disaster. It already is. In scenes where there is no literal record of


what was said, we only used, what I would call, historic licence.


you're going to be president and things are going to be different.


That's probably true. Between us. We know enough about the attitudes


of the characters to be able to create something that probably


comes reasonably close to probably what was said. Our marriage works


because I decided several years ago to accept certain things about you.


And I have dealt with it. I have had my private humiliations. But I


won't have them in front of the American people. You take the facts


that you know. The facts that we knew, for instance, were that Jack


Kennedy had a tendency to be unfaithful. And that Jack and


Jackie stayed married. Hi, Toots. Those are two facts that we know.


Now, knowing those two things, what conversations would likely happen


to support those facts? We know that there were periods where


Jackie had to get away. We know that there were periods where she


suffered deep depression. We know that there were periods where she


drank. That stuff is irrefutable. And so that's what we used to


construct these scenes. But the road to Dealey Plaza has not been a


smooth one. Even before the miniseries had been cast, it was


engulfed in controversy. February 2010, a film maker named


Robert Greenwald, who is a well known liberal, reached out to


several historians. People who knew the history of the Kennedys. In


fact, some who were close to President Kennedy and worked in his


administration, because Greenwald, who used to work in the TV film


business, had been sent early copies of the Kennedys scripts and


was concerned about what he read. Its essential core, it's essential


heart, it's essential DNA, says over and over again, sex and power,


power and sex. Boy, there must be easier ways to get laid than to


become President of the United States. They were very early drafts


that this filmmaker Robert Greenwald had received. He objected


to it. He put together a YouTube video, and had people like Ted


Sorensen, who was the speech writer for JFK, as well as a collection of


other historians, basically just trashing the scripts. Every single


conversation between the President and the Oval Office, in which I,


according to the script, participated, never happened.


reached out to five historians including one or two who have been


very critical of President Kennedy on a policy basis. But every single


one of them responded quickly to say that they would participate and


would go on camera because this was in fact a political hack job.


you are an historian and you care about the truth, this is very hard


stuff to read. And if it's filmed the way it's written it will be


just heart-breaking. Greenwald certainly was not just presenting


the film as an act of journalism but also an act of advocacy. That


he regarded the film as a smear on the Kennedy administration. And was


asking people to come to the website, sign an online petition or


get involved otherwise to help, as he said, to stop the smears. We had


a very high engagement to the Kennedy smears very quickly, and


the numerical result was I think that 50,000 people in a week signed


a petition. That's a serious amount of people. And that helped to get


the History Channel's attention. haven't finished writing the


scripts when that happened. We had not even begun to Vetter the script


historically, for fine. Accuracy. We were just getting first drafts


down, so we could look at it and see if the blueprint was right.


channel actually spent several months having established


historians review the scripts and review the finished films. And


determine whether this was as historically correct as it could be


portrayed. There had been compensations of time lines and


telescoping of events which still concerned historians that even


though this is the kind of thing maybe you see in a film like the


King's Speech, the social network, if you look at the History Channel,


can you show this mini-series? January of this year, the History


Channel in America announced that it would not be showing the series


it had invested $30 million in. Now it is being shown on the BBC.


they had said the reason they were cancelling this is that this level


of historical fiction didn't live up to the brand of the network.


That was fiction. That press release was fictional and had


nothing to do with it. Historical inaccuracy had zero to do with the


cancellation. This statement was The motives behind the decision of


the History Channel remain unclear. It is thought the Kennedys precious


-- pressured the board of the Channel. Joel Surnow out is a proud,


right-wing Conservative. He advocates the positions that come


with being a right-wing Conservative. Nothing wrong with


that. If this had been called Joel Surnow out's view of President


Kennedy with would not have seen anything. The idea that a


Conservative cannot tell the story of the Kennedys is stupid. It is


like Oliver Stone, a pretty known liberal, told the story about


Richard Nixon. It is narrow-minded thinking. I have said this before


that if Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg produced this mini-series,


frame by frame, exactly as it is, it would be showing at the White


House and heralded by the Kennedys. It would be trumpeted as a


reverential, patriotic look at the Here to discuss some of the issues


are and McAvoy, Tony Badger, Air leading historian, Sarah Bradford,


historian and biographer among others Jackie Kennedy and John


Sergeant. Reverential and patriotic says Joel Surnow owl, the producer


of the programme but it is a character assassination says the


critic. Is it fair or foul? I spent an enjoyable time watching it. I


thought it could have been replaced by Dallas and Bobby Ewing could


have come on and we could have had Sue Ellen instead of Jackie Ewing.


The politics is pushed so much into the background that what you're


getting is a family supper of power, last, betrayal. -- saga. There is a


problem which is, where is the politics? What makes the Kennedys


the great political dynasty as opposed to a family who have a more


than usually interesting life? could have gone in much harder.


There was criticism that it was besmirching the reputation of the


Kennedys. It could have worked with the womanising, the hidden health


problems. They could have gone darker. The signs are they were


ready to go. They were determined to bring out the sex and horrible


things behind the scenes. They had second thoughts and were under


enormous pressure not to do that. I thought it was an inspired and an


inspiring. We do see JFK grapple with the Cuban missile crisis.


Politics is not completely absent quite is it? What is absent is what


a difficult period Mrs. You have an enormous nuclear arsenal. -- period


this is. Can't you show American power? This mild is only 90 miles


off the coast. They get to that but they do not build up any sense of


what the public mood is in this young President and the feeling of


the time and the fact he is endlessly put upon by his father


and brother. For people like me, it is so depressing. Joe Kennedy is


the puppet master and his boys do his bidding. You have written a


series of American lives, is that borne out by the series?


Kennedy is powerful and unpleasant. If I do not do it myself, it never


gets done. I do not think there is much evidence that, had it not been


for him, Kennedy might not have a regime won -- ran for office. His


father tries to influence him left, right and centre. Sarah Bradford,


you have written an acclaimed biography of Jackie Kennedy. What


do you think of the portrayal of her and the relationship between


her and her husband? Did you find it convincing? No, actually. I felt


very sorry for Katie Holmes. Jackie had no need for her, no background


to her. She portrayed a suffering and particularly by the


infidelities of her husband. What is the answer to the question about


why she put up with it? There were two reasons. She really did love


him. There was a great deal of money and power involved. She got a


kick out of there. She looks good there. Though she look the part?


Yes, she looks good. When I looked back to the original Jackie Kennedy,


I remembered how absolutely irritating she was. She was a


simpering, over bread woman. We know she did go off and are


ostensibly look for security in marrying Onassis. She was looking


for money and looking for power. She was asking her husband for an


expensive piece of jewellery. I'm sure she felt this very deeply.


There was no one better at acquisition and Jackie Kennedy.


That did come through. We always see her being made up. I think


there is an under estimation of Jackie. In a spell? She is


extremely intelligent. -- in this film? She was a cultured woman. She


had this extraordinary obsession about money. It is perfectly true,


she did. This programme is being attacked for being so harsh and


critical. In some ways the historical records might have been


more damaging than the programme. That is what makes it all so


strange. You think, up they ever going to have a real discussion?


Are they ever going to discuss the art of politics and presentation?


We all know the power they had of manipulation and the power they had


of real media skill. That is what made them such a terrific political


asset. They did not want to make another West Wing. That is perfect.


It reached the very small number of American viewers. That is why they


went this way. They did not seem to be exceptional people, did they?


do not think they came across as Dahl. The politics is blended so


far back that it is distorted. You are just asked to focus on the


person. If you take politics and of the drama, you do not get more


drama, you get less. Perhaps the makers were worried about that.


What do you think of the human/political balance? Bobby


Kennedy is shown as being a very strong figure. He has this very


snarling relationship with the vice-president, Lyndon Johnson. Are


they getting that right? certainly hated Johnson and the


feeling is mutual. Your tremendous grasp of the obvious is


contributing nothing. He was certainly his brother's enforcer.


That was his role in government. You should be out there looking for


John is exactly what he was doing. What you do not get from him very


often is the sense of passion for politics and for issues. Issues are


not what he is in this programme at all. Once you have decided it is a


family drama, it is a family drama. It is a presidential drama. They


are not in love with the Kennedys. Nobody thinks, how wonderful!


Bobby shown like that? He is so weak. You seem to have been more


taken with him than the rest of us. I thought he came off really badly.


Gordon Brand says, he is my hero. Ed Miliband says, he is my


favourite politician in history. The idea he could run for President


in the last episode, it is about that. Before that, you do not think


he could cut it. The answer to the political problem is, we will opt


out of this. We're not in love with the Kennedys, why should we be?


That is the history we are making at the moment. They are in love


with the story, the drama is so wonderful. That is where it works


best. You think, there is a story. A brother is the assassinated,


elections and it raised issues. The daughter it is lobotomised. --


racist issues. They have been raised the central part of it all,


which is, why were these characters moving mountains politically? Why


were they so exciting? Give us a feel for their power. I think


political motive is a big gap was dug we have talked about Jackie


Kennedy in the posters. There are other strong women in the stories.


There is Rose, the matriarch and the wife of Bobby, Ethel. How do


you think they are depicted? Ethel is much too pretty. Also she was


tough as well. She comes across as sweet and nice. Always ready to


produce another baby. Also I thought Rose was OK at times but


she was a much more powerful person than she is depicted in this.


behaviour is an embarrassment. also thought to be was not made


plain that she was a bad mother. She had no relationship with Jack.


The parents are the most interesting people in it. I enjoyed


those performances. I thought the weird brutality did come through.


You say she had no relationship but when she comes to it, she used to


smack them with a ruler. There's talk about some of the broader


issues this raises a bad dramas like this and the obligation to be


faithful to the historical record. There are many averse out there.


The King's Speech bad or the Oscars. -- many others. There is the story


about the creation of Facebook. Or so Margaret Thatcher coming up in


the Iron Lady. -- also. Tony Badger, you are a professional historian, a


scholar. We heard Stephen talking about hysterical licence whether


Renault transcripts or records. -- where there are no transcripts.


think you have to recognise that by choosing to make it a family drama,


where it focuses on private relationships, there is not going


to be a record. Quite a bit is barely plausible. Some they make up.


On things like the womanising, the medication, the relationship with


Hoover, that is all there. People have written about it for years.


The problem is putting it on the History Channel. Americans are more


literal than we are. If you say it is historical, the Kennedys are the


equivalent to royalty in the American Psyche and imagination,


you have -- you are going to have people saying, it is not how


history, what are you doing? number of people who are now ready


to play Osama Bin Laden and Colonel Gaddafi, there are going to be


these films being made. Dr idea, it does not matter, it is the


entertainment industry, it is naive. For lots of young people, they


cannot take the Kennedy thing in unless it is dramatised. The


obligation and the demand is extremely high. This was precisely


the theatre. Caroline Kennedy was worried about this drama. She


thought these people would not mean anything to the younger generation


unless it was acted out. If they concentrate on failings, they were


not that good after all, were they? For a Kennedy and anyone on that


site of American politics is awful. It is treason. A really serious


business. Part of the campaign built up against this is


contemporary liberals who think they Kennedy is such an iconic


figure that if you take him down, suddenly the standing of the


It's an over the top of motives for saying he took some painkillers and


was unfaithful. I think it's an over-reaction. It certainly exists


in America. I can see why the Kennedy's were upset by early draft.


It's not about the womanising, the drug taking. It's just given such


enormous weight, and, if you read about the biography of Kennedy,


most of the material is about womanising and drugs and it takes


up about 10 pages of a 900 page biography. The Kennedy is


understood that this is how history will be conveyed these days. The


History Channel, I don't think, has ever done anything like this before.


They were going into new territory and they don't think they


understood quite what they were letting themselves in for.


Now it's time to put the drama of the Kennedy's to one side and to


consider the realities of the Kennedy years. I was a


Correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. I was young, in my


middle twenties, an idealist. And here was Kennedy, saying. Ask not


what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your


country. I can remember the Correspondent a 4th Le Monde,


cynical Frenchman. He was scornful. He saw this as a frank Capper movie.


A tree the media loved Kennedy. They would follow him around in


this entourage. He had this aura. Music, football, sexual rumour,


You give us your rationale as to this shift in our defence? We


become part of the play. And you lose some of the distance. You lose


the old idea of the press speaking I believe that this nation should


commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of


landing a man on the moon and The Kennedy was very Catholic in


Hollywood, as well as of the arts. So he could have Robert Frost read


at the inauguration. He could have Pablo Casals play the cello at the


White House. But he also brought in Frank Sinatra. And Marilyn Monroe


and Angie Dickinson. And then also the criminal element with Judith


Exner and God knows who else. The administration had something of the


feel of a royal or criminal family, where they were dependent upon each


other. And it was the family that mattered. Then around that circle


would be the hangers-on and the close friends and the old college


pals and the whomever. And then the outer circle would be the beau


monde. The celebrity. I only saw Kennedy close once, which was at a


party that was being given. A birthday party for his younger


brother Teddy. I had the impression of a man who was vulnerable and


subject to all kinds of influences. Flatterers, camp followers, picking


at him. Toward the end of the evening, I had the impression of a


Mrs Kennedy, I want to thank you for letting his visit your official


home. Thanks, Mr President, for all the things you've done. The battles


that you've won. The way you deal with US Steel. And problems by the


ton. Thank you so much. 14 February 1962. Jackie Kennedy invites CBS


Television into the White House to show off the restoration work that


she has overseen. The hour-long programme is watched by 56 million


viewers. Mrs Kennedy, I want to thank you for letting us visit your


official home. This is obviously the room from which much of your


work on it is directed? Yes, it's attic and cellar all in one. Jackie


is the perfect princess and she played the part beautifully. I mean,


she had a little baby girl voice and she moved well. And she knew


the names of French impressionist painters as well as names of


American great presidents. I rather love this hall. It has all the


colours one thinks of when one thinks of the White House. Red and


white and blue and gold. She could tell the difference between good


silver and cheap silver. It is gold. I wanted a very simple design so


that the china and silver and glass would show up. It's a lesson in


manners that she's teaching the 22nd October 1962. Presidential


broadcast on the Cuban Missile Within the past week, unmistakable


evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile


sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of


these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike


capability against the Western Hemisphere. To halt this offensive


build-up, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment


under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind


bound for Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain


cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. It shall be the policy


of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba


against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the


Soviet Union on the United States. Requiring a full retaliatory


16th December 1962. Two months after the Cuban Missile Crisis,


President Kennedy records a TV interview in the Oval Office.


Announcer: After two years, a conversation with the President of


the United States. As you look back, has your


experience matched your expectations? I would say that the


problems are more difficult than I imagined them to be. The


responsibilities of the United States are greater than I imagined


them to be. And there are greater limitations on our abilities to


bring about a favourable result than I imagined there to be.


He is saying things are much harder than he had supposed. Much more


intractable than he supposed. But on the other hand, the decision


gets left to him. The easy decisions get made at a lower level.


My favourite line was that, "It's one thing to make a speech and


another thing to make a judgement." It's much easier to make the


speeches than it is to finally make the judgments. Because


unfortunately your advisers are frequently divided. If you take the


wrong course, and on occasion I have, the President bears the


burden of responsibility quite rightly. The advisers may move on


As Governor of the state of Alabama, I for bird this unwarranted action


by the central government. -- I for bid. He comes to the office in 1961


without much to say about black civil rights in United States. He


is then presented over the next the necessity to send troops to get a


student in to university in Mississippi. More federal troops to


back down the insurrection of the Governor of Alabama. The heart of


the question is, whether all Americans are to be afforded equal


rights and equal opportunities. he reacts to events. He moves


towards civil rights legislation. If an American, because his skin is


dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if


he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he


cannot vote for the public officials to represent him, then


who amongst us would be content to have the colour of his skin


changed? It doesn't get past but Kennedy does respond. He


understands that the racial In the 1990, your sons, daughters,


grandson's and grandchildren will be applying to the colleges in this


state in a number three times what we do today. Our airports will


serve it five times as many passengers. There is a sense he is


looking forward to his second term. He was growing in office. He was


gaining confidence. That sense he hadn't been defeated. He wasn't


checking out. He entered office as a boy, and, had he been allowed to


serve his two terms, he might have finished as a man. Euro old man


should dream dreams. You're young men it should see visions, the


Bible tells us, and where there is no vision, the people perish.


President Kennedy in Histon last night, alive and vibrant, looking


At night before we would go to sleep, Jack like to play some


records and the song he loved the most came at the very end of the


record. The lines he loved to hear where, don't let it be forgotten


that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known


as Camelot. There will be great presidents again but there will


never be another Camelot. transformed the notion of the


presidency. Presidency suddenly became the man on the White Horse


or the Redeemer. You see the same sort of thing with both Ronald


Reagan and Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama. It is the image they


have to present, the blank state on which the voters are free to


Those are the recollections. We have 1,000 days by which to judge


President Kennedy and his presidency. It's not enough, but


that's all we have got. How do we draw up a lead of what he achieved?


First of all, you have to acknowledge is the cold war


President and he confronted one of the most dangerous crisis in the


cold war, the one which brought us closest to nuclear annihilation.


And yet he also start the process with the Test mandate treaty.


Cuban missile crisis, and the handling of it, it's almost over


everything else, saving the world. Is that good enough, to say,


whatever else is true, it was a successful presidency simply


He was very lucky in the missile crisis. But McNamara remembers, we


were one of the best generation in American politics, we handled it as


best as we could in yet reap almost blew the World Cup. They were so


many things they did not know. -- World Cup. They did not know the


Russians had tactical nuclear weapons. They did not know there


were submarines going and a keeper who might have fired even after the


settlement of the crisis. -- going under Cuba. They raise eight


domestic agenda and issues which come up one after another. -- there


is a domestic agenda. His two books tell us there was a Democratic


Congress. -- history books. It was not all that its move because of


the kind of democrats there were running Congress. He had a narrow


victory. There were no coat tails effect for ordinary congressman. It


was particularly true of southern Democrats. They had control of


Congress in being a blocking force since 1978. Let's not forget they


really were racist. These other Dixie cats. His Democrat party had


all his power in the south but they did not agree with him. That is


where LBJ came in as the running mate. There's always a problem,


what should I do with nutters in the south? There was apartheid in


the south. Was it really as bad as that? It was so. How should we view


Kennedy? Was a leader to challenge the racist Setup or a follow-up?


he became a leader but he was a follower most of the time. He was


worried about being outflanked by the Republicans - liberal


Republicans from the north-east. They existed in those days. At the


end of the day, these white southerners are not going to be


reasonable. They are not going to be moderate. There is a decent


record. My guess is that people who were watching this President were


not making calculations based on these sorts of the achievements on


the ledger. There was something big about Kennedy. One reason I left


England at that time was adult it was incredibly boring and static. -


- was that it was incredibly boring. With Kennedy it was different.


it the glamour thing? British politics did not look anything like


that, did it? Absolutely not. I went to Paris and Jackie was a


stunning success. She suddenly became the star, the celebrity. I


think people over here began to think, why can't ours be more like


that? You were there in that period, a young student at the time. Yes, a


gap year students. It has all the excitement that was generated by


the Kennedys. It was palpable. I remember going to an Independence


Day party at the Washington memorials. Word was coming round


that the President was coming along. You cannot imagine the excitement.


David Cameron going to Hyde Park is not the same. Everyone was gripped


by the thought he might be amongst us, turned out he was not. That is


what made him so bizarre. Was this to do with the glamour or the big


foreign policy achievements? Cuban missile crisis had frightened


us. That was quite important. Remember his tremendous skill with


the media. When you have a young family in the White House for the


first time and you play it, you see these interviews with him, it looks


good, doesn't it? The key thing is and where he has got the television


trick completely right is that he is not talking down. He is asked


the question and he replies to the question as if, we would all see it


this way, wouldn't we? We were born after the death of Kennedy. Does


this still resonate for you? When you hear the speech, ask not what


your country can do? I hear the voice of almost every one of the


leader coming out of it. He is the playbook for how to communicate.


That eye-level communication, you cannot listen to a Tony Blair


speech. The Age of achievement and what he wanted to do. Getting hold


of the future, that theme was there from Kennedy. They have to look


after you but you must not look down on them. You see it in Barack


Obama as well. You see Gordon Brown desperately trying to do it.


ought to be simple but it is not. I have often asked a politician to


walk in front of a camera and you will be amazed how few of our MPs


can walk in a convincing way. What is striking that all these things


we take for granted, the way a President, to be powerful, must


have television power. He is not on his own in the media. Jackie is a


dead at television. The sort of talk of the White House. -- the


debt. How active was Jackie in the Kennedy household relationship?


think she certainly had this vision of the presidency from the social


celebrity point of view. The house of the sun came Cup making the


White House aide dingy old place but was run by Eisenhower into one


of the most glamourous places. it her idea to bring in poets and


musicians? Absolutely. It was no good doing this behind closed doors,


you have to project it, inviting the cameras in. Also particularly


Life magazine. She had a canny use of that. What is strange about it


is she could be a very private person. She did look down on


journalists, unlike Jack. It was a major part of her role. Camelot is


a really odd idea. It was not a really happy place. What it does


have his mystique and poetic mystique. It is more enshrined


after his death because it has gone. It has gone and can never be


regained and you wanted more. talk about the assassination. It is


central to the Kennedy mythology it. Let's imagine ourselves in 1963, he


is still alive. He seemed to be looking ahead to his second term.


How likely was that he would be re- elected? Where their high hopes


alert his election in 1960? He was certain he was going to get elected


in 60 full. He thought he was going to fight gold water. -- in 1964.


did become the Republican standard- bearer. It was going to be a


genuine battle of ideas. Kennedy was confident he would win and I


think he would have done. The unanswered question, did the


Kennedy administration lead to Vietnam or was there a way out that


Kennedy would have taken? The counterfactual, because of the


lessons he had learned from the Bay of Pigs, and his distrust of some


military advisers, might have taken, in the long run, once elected,


might have been prepared to take the United States at the Vietnam?


But it is his men who have advised Johnson to go into Vietnam. Bobby


Kennedy and Ted Kennedy are late in the day in deciding that the war


was something they would be against. Popular culture blames Lyndon


Johnson for Vietnam. Actually it begins in earnest under Kennedy. If


he wanted to stop that much into war, he could have stopped it.


you are sensing his unfinished business. An unfulfilled promise.


In terms of the great Kennedy myth, very powerful stuff. To have him


cut off as a young man, so he never grows old and never has the


discipline and of a second term, that gives it a great, powerful


drama. There are no images of him as an old man. It is not, here he


goes again. Nothing is done for a second time. Tell us about the


conduct of Jackie stayed after the assassination. It is famous that


she wears the blood stained dress so that people will know what they


have done. I think she meant right- wing Southerners at that time.


is tempting to be slightly cynical about her conduct, thinking she was


even doing her media management then in the days after the


assassination. Particularly the funeral. She choreographs the


extraordinary funeral. She said, it is all in the guidebook. She meant


the White House guidebook, which described the funeral of Abraham


Lincoln. There they had the Template and off they went. She


seemed to follow up every detail, even down to making Littlejohn


salutes his father. Which is the most poignant image of the funeral


- the three-year-old saluting his father. The death had just happened


and she is able to think about the image-making. She talks to jealous


of Life magazine. Straight after the funeral, they were cut the


language together, it is Camelot. She made sure that is the image


that the Kurds in that article. What has been the effect of the


Camelot? In one word, mythology. It claims the past as well as the


present he lived in. That is what gives him universality as a


political figure. What can you say that his beget in the imagination


than Camelot? -- bigger. That is the dream, that is the legacy. It


is stronger than anything he could have delivered had he lived. What


is the narrative? What is the story? How can we understand it?


For the Kennedys it is important to get an agreement with the end and


then preserve it. We know he was a womaniser and he was corrupt and he


was really in the pocket of the Mafia. You want to preserve this


idea that this is one of the great presidencies. It is the case that


if another cousin, a quite obscure nephew all great nephew, if they


were related to Kennedy, there would be huge interest. Journalists


are lazy. If they can repeat a story, they love it. Everybody


knows how to write a Kennedy story. Will it have a tragic end? Might


they be assassinated? It is so much part of what people know about


politics - American politics. if it does not live on, it is in


the minds of all politicians in the back of their minds. They all have


an inner Kennedy they think they can find. Some of them do it and


some of them do not. There is only one JFK. They cannot stop talking


about him. It is part of mythology that it is unobtainable. In the


2008 campaign, the comparison that was made was with JFK and not with


Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson, who had these big legislative records,


what is that? It is about a new generation. Clinton lived in the


shadow of FDR. That is the person you needed to emulate. It has been


terribly difficult. One of the reasons why Kennedy is such a sort


of yearning for Kennedy among Democrats is they have not actually


controlled the White House and controlled Congress and had a


substantial record since Lyndon Johnson. Johnson is tarnished


because of the war. The last one you can look back to his real


confidence like, this is the way democrats ought to do it, was John


Kennedy. Thank you all. That is all we have time for. Thank you and


goodbye. The world is very different now. Nothing has happened


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