Ed Driscoll

Quote of the Day

The Kennedys’ penchant for wiretapping has lately been documented by more official bodies. The Rockefeller Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, for example, reported that a newsman had been Wiretapped by the CIA in 1962 — with no authority in law — “apparently with the knowledge and consent of Attorney General Kennedy.” The Kennedy mythmakers said nothing about the revelation. And these were the same people who called for or helped fashion an article of impeachment when it was revealed that Nixon had approved the wiretapping of newsmen.

And talk about sleaziness! In conversations with Benjamin C. Bradlee, President Kennedy would sound out his journalist friend on the possibility of obtaining and publishing information damaging to JFK’s political adversaries — Bradlee who as executive editor of the Washington Post, which claims to have had  much to do with saving the Constitution from Richard Nixon’s depredations, apparently was not overly concerned· about such matters when they involved his presidential buddy.

For, as Bradlee discloses with little disapproval, wiretapping, prying into tax returns, election fraud, misuse of federal agencies — all of these, he admits in effect, were practiced and/or discussed in his presence by President Kennedy. Occasionally Kennedy had FBI Director Hoover over for lunch, and a little dirt for dessert. “Boy, the dirt he has on those Senators,” the President once said, shaking his head. And what apparently amused Kennedy more than anything else were Hoover’s revelations about which whores his former Senate colleagues were then patronizing. On one occasion the director showed JFK a photograph of a German girl who had been involved with Bobby Baker — “a really beautiful woman,” sighed the President.

There was another reason for the President’s buttering up of Hoover. As he undoubtedly suspected, the director had also been keeping a file on him going back to his days as a young World War II naval intelligence officer, at which time he had been carrying on with a comely foreigner suspected of having pro-Nazi sympathies. Which apparently was one of the reasons, if not the main one, why JFK on his election resisted strong liberal pressure to oust the director. Not even a President could know what was in a file kept under lock and key in. Hoover’s private office.

Thanks to Bradlee, too, we have now learned that Kennedy’s private conversation was most uninhibited. His scatological references made Nixon’s sound like a Boy Scout’s. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for history, “Benjy” — as the President liked to call his buddy — was there to record the just-between-us-boys observations of a Chief Executive who, thanks to his speechwriters (and they were among the best), has gone down in history as an elegant, witty phrasemaker.

Now, it turns out, there was a different Kennedy hidden from public view — one whose ”excesses of language,” as Bradlee concedes, were “generally protected” by the press. In other words, the readers of Newsweek, of which Bradlee was then Washington bureau chief, were never made privy to the kind of language JFK generally used in normal, private conversation. Years later though, Newsweek — like that other weekly publication — relished Nixon’s expletives, even those he sought to delete.

It Didn’t Start with Watergate, Victor Lasky, 1977.

Update:

More: Oh Those Democrat Operatives with Bylines, Part Deux.