Ask not who wrote the original draft

Ted Sorenson’s new book, ‘Counselor’ finally confirms what many suspected. He wrote most ‘…first draftsTed_sorensen_kennedy
of chapters’ in ‘Profiles in Courage’ and, along with Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy, authored JFK’s memorable inaugural address.

Sorenson says the significant sum proffered by JFK for contributions to ‘Profile,’ ‘…diminished any interest I might otherwise have had in recognition of my role.’ Hmmm. That must have been some payday.

I’m a huge Camelot fan and continue to read anything and everything I can about JFK, RFK and all things Kennedy. But, this admission is a real image and reputation bummer. It not only confirms that Kennedy wasn’t the intellectual heavyweight many thought he was, but also shines the spotlight on a less-than-honest author.

Beyond his well documented recklessness, womanizing, drug ingesting and other curious lifestyle choices, it seems JFK was also quite content to take credit for someone else’s work.

Despite this latest bombshell, JFK will undoubtedly remain one of our all-time favorite presidents. After all, he’s forever frozen in time as a dashing, daring and direct chief executive who left us much too soon. But, if he hadn’t been assassinated, one wonders what sort of image and reputation he’d enjoy today. I have to believe that, instead of being at or near the top of most ‘favorability polls,’ Jack would find himself listed alongside Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding and the current incumbent at the bottom of the barrel.

3 thoughts on “Ask not who wrote the original draft

  1. Interesting debate. I think you’re right to a degree — it certainly would have went downhill somewhat, and the same could also be said for other famous leaders who were also lost early. However, history also shows that when someone is alive to defend and manage their reputation (and the press, especially in that era), a lot of dirty laundry goes unaired, especially in the pre-Watergate era. No way the domesticated press corps of the 1960s were going to bring presidental drug abuse and adultery to light for a sitting president or shortly thereafter.
    And truth be told LBJ wasn’t progressive on civil rights either, but to keep his party together, he took it on. I think Kennedy would have done the same as well, although the Southern Democrats might have fought more effectively against JFK than they did against LBJ, who was essentially one of their own and a master of Senate procedures and arm twisting. Good stuff.

  2. Thanks Brian. It’s always interesting to speculate on what might have happened. I believe that, had JFK lived, his reputation would have taken a major nosedive. Conventional wisdom holds that LBJ was merely implementing JFK’s views on Vietnam. And, unlike LBJ, JFK wasn’t very progressive on civil rights issues. Add in plagiarism, adultery, drug abuse and a few other things, and you’ve got a bottom of the barrel president. That said, I’ll always adore the guy for the image he projected at the time.

  3. Not sure if his reputation would have gotten that low. If he hadn’t died, I bet a lot of the stuff we know now would never have come to light.