One of America’s best-loved presidents, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born into a politically and socially prominent family in Brookline, Massachusetts, on this day in 1917. He was the first American president to be born in the 20th century.

Because John F. Kennedy’s life was snuffed out and the first term of his presidency terminated after just three years, we don’t know how the Kennedy Presidency would have played out. Jack Kennedy himself is in fact an enigma onto which everyone can project their own politics. Progressives like Oliver Stone believe he was a liberal who would have ended U.S. participation in the Vietnam war. Supply-siders like Larry Kudlow believe JFK was a tax cutter and our most pro-growth President. Author Ira Stoll argues persuasively that Kennedy was a pro-defense conservative and anti-Communist. Libertarians believe JFK would have tamed the Federal Reserve and maintained a strong dollar backed by gold. In fact, in the mosaic that we can piece together about the real John F. Kennedy, all of these are true.

There is no denying that John and Jacqueline Kennedy brought a sense of style and culture to the White House. Despite his extreme physical debilities caused by his heroic war service and his epic philandering, the Madison Avenue campaign that his one time bootlegger father Joseph P. Kennedy paid for projected a wholesome image of a vigorous, athletic, family man. Kennedy himself was charming, self-possessed, good natured and graceful. His banter in Presidential press conferences were love-fests, particularly after you listened to the charged atmosphere and tension of his eventual successor Richard Nixon’s Presidential press conferences.

The realities of John F Kennedy are far more harsh and lurid. It is important to recognize that JFK skillfully ran to Vice President Nixon’s right in the 1960 cliffhanger. Kennedy attacked the Eisenhower-Nixon administration for not doing enough to oust Fidel Castro from his island gulag ninety miles from our shore and called for a military defense boost to close what he claimed was a “missile gap” between the US and the USSR. This left Nixon flat footed because he knew about and could not divulge the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion, and Nixon knew that asking for a defense spending increase would be an implicit criticism of Eisenhower and would bring Ike’s rebuke.

Kennedy’s cold war, anti-Communism, and tough talk in the 1960 race reassured the Ivy Leaguers at the CIA, the Generals at the Pentagon and the defense contractors that the young candidate would green light their plans to invade Cuba and support their increasing interest in expanding the U.S. role in Vietnam. They were wrong.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy told an oral history in 1964 after his brother’s murder that JFK had no plans to withdraw from Vietnam and would have “won the war against Communist aggression.”

The evidence however is somewhat contradictory. While Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 which would appear to authorize the beginning of withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, Attorney General Robert Kennedy told an oral history in 1964 after his brother’s murder that JFK had no plans to withdraw from Vietnam and would have “won the war against Communist aggression.” It is true however that Kennedy’s NSAM 263 was reversed in a new National Security Action Memorandum 273 ramping up the war and, not coincidentally, signed by Lyndon Baines Johnson seventy two hours after JFK’s murder in Dallas.

Kennedy’s real intentions in Cuba are also contradictory. Even after the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco John and Robert Kennedy would attempt repeatedly to assassinate Castro. At the same time JFK used his one time Princeton roommate Ambassador William Atwood to pass the word to the island dictator that he wanted to talk. Not trusting the diplomatic channels that might leak to the CIA, JFK also had his wife pass the message to Castro through friendly French journalist Jean Daniel. Kennedy’s real intentions toward Cuba are unknown.

Kennedy’s real record on civil rights presents another stark contradiction. As a US Senator Kennedy voted for the poison pill Amendment to the 1958 Civil Rights Act put forward by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, which gutted the new act by allowing violators to be tried before state rather than federal juries. Liberal organizer Joseph Rauh said this was “worse than no civil right act at all”. In 1960, Kennedy courted African American voters, pledging support for expanded civil rights laws that would include voting rights and fair housing acts. Upon his election, however, Kennedy would drag his feet, fearful of offending the southern Democratic barons who ran the most powerful committees in the US Congress. LBJ, who had plans of his own, continued to advise the young President that “the time was not right” and that the President should submerge this agenda thus leaving it for Lyndon Baines Johnson (despite his history as a life long segregationist) as his greatest legacy.

There is a much darker side to the Kennedy Presidency. Due to his constant pain, general weakness and lethargy, JFK would come under the care of the notorious Dr. Max Jacobson, also known as “Dr. Feelgood.” Jacobson was treating many of the celebrities, artists and beautiful people of the 1960s with a proprietary blend of methamphetamines. JFK’s regular doctors, Dr. Janet Travell and Dr. Eugene J. Cohen both registered their concern about the drugs being administered to their patient, the President. JFK would arrange for Jacobson to also inject Jackie Kennedy. This explains JFK’s voracious sexual appetite despite his physical ailments and disabilities. Kennedy was serviced by a never-ending trail of secretaries, actresses, models, prostitutes and movie stars. Because of his back he required his sex partners to mount him. “He had a quick trigger,” the stunning East German call girl Ellen Rometsch said.

Like his successor Bill Clinton, JFK would have sexual relations with a White House intern. Nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley had sex with the President in the family quarters when Jackie was out of town and according to her memoir, Kennedy persuaded her to have oral sex with his body man Kenny O’Donnell while the President watched. Mimi drew the line at servicing Teddy.

Even today Americans are interested and baffled about who really assassinated John F. Kennedy.

In my New York Times bestselling book The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJI make the case that Kennedy was killed in a plot that included the CIA, the mob and big Texas oil but the drum major and point man was Lyndon Johnson. Each of those involved in the conspiracy to murder the President had their own motive. LBJ was facing political disgrace from being dropped from the 1964 ticket and Federal prosecution for corruption that would have landed him in the penitentiary. He knew Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department was boring in on his taking bribes through his henchman and Secretary of the Senate Bobby Baker as well as the Federal contracts he had delivered to Texas con- man Billie Sol Estes.

The CIA was furious about Kennedy’s failure to provide air support for the Cuban exiles storming the beach in the Bay of Pigs as well as Kennedy’s secret deal to remove US missiles from Turkey and Italy in return for a pledge from Khrushchev to remove Russian missiles from Cuba. The secret deal included no agreement for on-site inspections and many experts believe the Soviet missiles were never removed. This agreement to remove our missiles from Europe remained classified for forty years.

The mob’s motive is clear; they provided over one million dollars towards his election and stole votes for him first in West Virginia and later in Mayor Daley’s Chicago in return for a pledge to end the US Governments efforts to deport mob chieftains Santo Trafficante and Carlos Marcelo brokered by Ambassador Joe Kennedy. After the senior Kennedy’s stroke, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy would go after these mobsters with a vengeance sealing his brother’s fate.

Big Texas oil’s interest is simple; JFK was trying to repeal the Oil Depletion Allowance, which would have cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bankers were also concerned about Kennedy’s intention to tame the Federal Reserve and change US monetary policy. By crossing all of these entities simultaneously John and Robert Kennedy provided the critical mass for the murder of the President.

There is no doubt that the dashing John F. Kennedy inspired an entire generation of Americans and provided an important generational shift from the dowdy and stolid days of Dwight Eisenhower. He brought wit, elegance, style and a sense of balance to the Presidency. The symbol therefore of John Kennedy remains more important but less interesting than the harsh realities.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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