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The Kexperts: Emperor Norton I and RogueBeaver
Our mission: To correct misconceptions regarding this American dynasty and write TLs on them.

They anticipate heavy traffic as the 50th anniversary of the 1960s begins in January 2010, starting with the 1960 presidential election QuoProQuid is RogueBeaver's apprentice in learning all matters RFK.

Kennedy FAQ

Joe Kennedy Sr.

1)Was an anti-Semite: True. His correspondence is filled with references to “sheenies”, “kikes” and other such racial slurs.

2)Was a bootlegger: False. He was an whiskey importer, but after Prohibition was repealed at which time such activity was legal. During Prohibition, he worked as a broker for Hayden Stone and then as a Wall Street speculator on his own. In the mid-1920's, he bought a chain of movie theatres and went into film production. As he could, and did, make money easily in Hollywood and on Wall Street, why enter such a risky venture as bootlegging? Not to mention with all of those activities, Kennedy would not have had the time.

3)Was a Nazi sympathizer: True, his declaration that “democracy is finished in Britain” caused FDR to fire him as Ambassador to the UK.

4) FDR's natural successor if he doesn't run in 1940: Nothing could be further from the truth, JPK was unelectable due to his views and Catholicism.

5) Was involved with the Mafia: False, there is little credible or documented evidence.

Joe Kennedy Jr.

TLs: Maverick's Kings of Camelot.

1) Would become POTUS: Likely yes in 1960.

2) Would be a JFK Clone: No, he makes RFK circa 1953 look liberal.

3) Was an anti-Semite. Most definitely yes.

4) Would have RFK as AG: Likely yes.

5) Dynastic succession: In order of birth.

Jack Kennedy

JFK-centred TLs: Emperor Norton's “Camelot Revisited”

1) If JFK survives Dallas, there is an automatic Addison-Wank. False: no medical evidence supports such a theory.

2) Addison's is fatal long-term: False, it was controlled by medications. There is no cure, and was likely triggered by excessive use of steroids to correct other illnesses in his youth.

3) JFK would be impeached in an ATL second term: False, extramarital sex is not an impeachable offense. So many 1960s prominenti had affairs, it would be utterly hypocritical.

4) JFK was on the brink of divorcing Jackie: False, though Jackie disliked it, there was no choice in the matter because of politics and religion.

5) JFK would escalate in Vietnam: A reasonable assertion, one supported by the historical evidence, as described here on After 1900: 'JFK's Vietnam: intentions, options, & results per the historical record'. Of course it can't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that JFK would have escalated that war, yet historian Lawrence Freedman has stated that the contrary thesis, that the president was committed to de-escalation and withdrawal, relies too much on 'anecdotal evidence'–and Freedman is perhaps the last military/FP historian of the Kennedy administration to be reviewed by multiple senior Camelot veterans (to positive effect).

6) JFK would dump LBJ in 1964: False. The two had a good working relationship, he needed Johnson to carry the South against Goldwater, and this theory was disowned by JFK himself in 1963, and Robert Kennedy in 1968.

7) JFK had an affair with Marilyn Monroe: Heavily disputed, and may never be known. Whatever the case may be, they had more than a passing acquaintance.

8) JFK stole the 1960 election: False, Richard Daley worked his “miracle” in Chicago, but 46,000 Texas votes is too great a margin to claim outright thievery. No more controversial than the OTL 2000 or 2004 elections. There was probable fraud but the Republicans were equally guilty of it. For example, the GOP controlled most counties outside Cook, and there were highly suspicious results from southern Illinois (the Democrats did not make an issue of this as they wished to claim victory as easily and quickly as able). When votes were recounted from state to state, the margin of difference was too minuscule to give Nixon victory and it turned out that in many counties Nixon's votes were over-counted (and indeed, Nixon lost Hawaii following these recounts).

9) JFK was a Latin dove. False: there were two sets of advisors with different views, and by 1963 he reverted to realist form.

10) Ordered the killing of Diem: False, there was a a Cabinet debate, and they decided not to prevent the coup.

11) JFK was not observant: False, he attended Mass every Sunday, but more conventional than Bobby and Eunice.

12) Feared retiring Hoover in 1965: False, Hoover would be past mandatory retirement age, and Hoover could easily be exposed as a homosexual.

13) Were Kennedy not assassinated, the Civil Rights act would not have passed: False, enough Senators (of both parties) had pledged their support before the assassination that the act was likely to pass regardless.

14) Kennedy replaced a democratic government with a military dictatorship in Vietnam: Mostly false, as stated above, the US did not execute the coup, they simply allowed it to go on. Also, Diem was a corrupt and brutal tyrant who kept himself in power through fear, intimidation and playing sides off of each other, not to mention terrorizing the Buddhist majority due to his Catholicism. He was also unwilling to allow free elections, and his lack of democratization was a frequent thorn in the side of US policy and why the coup was not stopped. Therefore, the only difference between he and the presidents that followed was stability and effectiveness. Not less democracy in the latter than the former.

15. Seymour Hersh/“The Dark Side of Camelot” is a good source for information on Kennedy and what really happened: False, the book is highly sensationalist and gossipy, ill supported, and is based on speculation and assumption, if not outright falsehoods from the “testimony” of unreliable “witnesses” (many of whom have a history of telling falsehoods, have problematic memories, or who had never told anyone in some forty decades of Kennedy investigation about the “factual information” Hersh managed to elicit). The book has been called out for these many problems, and historian and former Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has been called Hersh “the most gullible investigative reporter I've ever encountered.” The book is also the source for many of the populist falsehoods listed in the “Kennedyarchy”. It is therefore about as historically reliable and respectable as a book which states the Chinese discovered North America or that Hitler escaped to South America.

Bobby Kennedy

All of RogueBeaver's TLs.

1) Following Dallas, Robert Kennedy became a completely idealistic antiwar liberal: False. He retained his religiosity, his belief in the Cold War, but became a sympathetic figure to minorities. He still was loyal to those he trusted and antagonistic to those he disliked. He was a cultural conservative on all issues, including abortion and set up a public-private partnership in Bedford-Stuyvesant. According to Bill Clinton, the first “New Democrat”.

2) Robert Kennedy's 1968 election would usher in a utopian era: False: he would have to face similar problems as Nixon did, and would pursue universal health care, Vietnamisation and US-Chinese relations. Mitchell Friedman's essay is 99% ASB.

3) Hubert Humphrey was destined for the 1968 nomination: No, Mayor Daley privately supported Kennedy, Humphrey had soft numbers, and Kennedy had momentum. Daley was a pragmatist at heart.

4) RFK automatically wins the election: No more than a 50-50 chance, and only if he picks a Southern running mate and carries California. A matchup between Bobby Kennedy and Dick Nixon would be the dirtiest election before Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

5) Ordered killing of Marilyn Monroe to avoid detection of relationship: Utterly contemptible conspiracy theory. Many of the dates provided are when Kennedy was not within hundreds of miles of Monroe.

6) Had an affair with Marilyn Monroe: William Sullivan: “Although Hoover was desperately trying to catch Bobby Kennedy red-handed at anything, he never did. Kennedy was almost a Puritan. We used to watch him at parties, where he would order one glass of scotch and still be sipping from the same glass two hours later. The stories about Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were just stories. The original story was invented by a so-called journalist, a right-wing zealot who had a history of spinning wild yarns. It spread like wildfire, of course, and J. Edgar Hoover was right there, gleefully fanning the flames.”

7) Had an affair with Jackie Kennedy after his brother's death: “Beneath contempt”- Schlesinger. This absurd theory can be found in the recent book “Bobby and Jackie” which is worse than “Dark Side of Camelot” because the writer is a hack who has been universally condemned by Kennedy authorities like Doris Kearns Goodwin or Robert Dallek. Completely out of character for both of them.

8) Had Addison's: False, he was the healthiest of the brothers.

9) Would automatically win the 1968 election with Jack as POTUS: False, no legislative experience. If he wants the nomination, he can have it, but will likely decline re dynastic appearances. Would run and win in either 1972 or 1976, depending on whether Nixon is elected in 1968.

10) Was on the verge of becoming a priest re religiosity: False, altar boy does not mean priest or higher. Ethel did consider becoming a nun before their 1950 marriage.

11) Was Ruthless: True, but that is a trait of successful politicians. When facing opponents like Nixon or Lyndon Johnson, hardly a character flaw.

12) Could become Veep in 1964: As likely as Rush Limbaugh supporting President Obama.

13)1968 or Never: False, 1976 is an excellent bet. 1980 is the absolute latest before he starts to become a relic of another age, despite being only 58 in 1984.

14) Was anti-Semitic: In a word, no. His Israel stance can best be described as similar to George H.W. Bush. Support, but no blank cheques.

15) Enjoyed the infamous motorcades: no. Despite appearances, Kennedy hated being touched, but his style was far too intense for television broadcasts.

Ted Kennedy

1)Killed Mary Jo: Chappaquiddick is shrouded in mystery, though his actions prevented her successful rescue.

2) Was an alcoholic: For many years, yes.

3) Was an orthodox liberal: Unquestionably Yes.

4) Could beat Carter in 1980: Yes, but would lose in a landslide to Reagan in November.

5) Could beat Ronald Reagan in 1984: Most likely no. EMK would be able to win the Democratic nomination, and he would certainly unite a bit of the liberal base against Reagan. However, the incumbent president was extremely popular mostly for his personality, and unlike Walter Mondale who opposed him in '84 IOTL, EMK did have a liked personality for the most part, thus could challenge Reagan on that base. So, final word: It would have taken a lot of hard work and an extreme bit of luck, but if EMK had those two in the 1984 election, he could have won, though it is unlikely.

6) Could win in 1976: Possibly, but Chappaquiddick destroyed any real chance of success.

7) Could EMK have won an election if there was no Chapaquiddick: Certainly Yes.

8) EMK would not have been able to win the 1984 presidential election: With Chapaquiddick, probably yes. He might have been able to win the Democratic nomination, but Reagan was so popular that, unless something drastic happens, no Democrat could beat Reagan in '84.

9) EMK would not have been able to be elected past 1988: False. In 1992, EMK was only 60 years old, 64 in 1996, and 68 in 2000. 68 is pushing it a little for 2000, but it's possible, considering Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he was elected president in 1980, re-elected at age 73 in 1984, and was 77 years old when he left office in 1989.

10) EMK could have been elected in 2004 or 2008: 99% false. In 2004, EMK was 72, older than Ronald Reagan when he ran for president in 1980. It's hard to say about a George W. Bush v. Ted Kennedy 2004 match, but most likely, EMK would have lost due to his age. In 2008, two things would keep him from being elected: He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2008, and the fact that he was 76 years old.

11) EMK running for president in 1968 would result in defeat by Richard Nixon: Probably, due to age. EMK had just turned 35 in 1968. Ted had different constituencies than Bobby, and would be easily chewed up by Nixon. Nixon had already criticized 42 year old Bobby for “immaturity”, and Ted would just be a “boy”.

12) EMK could have been President, period: True and false. Had either of his brothers lived, it may have been a possibility, but following John and Robert's assassination, he was the patriarch of the family and had to weigh being everyone's father with running a political career as well. Combine that with the day-to-day responsibilities of the presidency, and the stress would have broken EMK. So with JFK and/or RFK, perhaps. But without either, the stress was a barrier which would probably prevent him from ever have achieved the presidency. Perhaps. If Robert lived and beat Nixon in the fall, then Ted would not become President, after a decade of Kennedys. If Jack lived, then it is open to debate, though family rules dictate that Bobby tries first due to age precedence.

13) Dropped the ball with the younger generation: To a degree: there is much blame to go around. Ted did not command the same moral authority as Bobby, who had been de facto paterfamilias since Joe's stroke in late 1961. The kids helped destroy their own lives, and Jackie kept her kids on course, while Bobby's family imploded, with Ethel not being entirely blameless. For roughly a decade, Robert Jr. was the presidentable-designate, but drugs and lengthy police records prevented him from reaching his potential Presidential potential.

Bad Books for Good Brains

* The Dark Side of Camelot, by Seymour Hersh: Perhaps the Bible of a modern backlash against Kennedy, and whereas previous books on the subject of the 35th President were perhaps too prone to mythologizing, the modern cynicism encapsulated in this work is a heinous overreaction to such hero worship. Whereas previous volumes were perhaps over-romanticized, they came out of at least some semblance of reality. The picture of John Kennedy as a drug-addicted, sex crazed rogue playboy who were let the world burn while he had a quickie is far worse because it comes more out of partisan hate or post-modern cynicism than any real fact (if any facts at all, as it is often made up), and distorts facts to support itself. The book itself is utter droll, assumption on the author's part of events and motives presented as hard fact, gullibility in the face of less than reliable “witnesses”, and a number of old urban legends fresh from the pages of the 1960 Nixon campaign. 1

*Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents, Cormac O'Brien: Not a bad book elsewhere, but the JFK section relies heavily on “The Dark Side of Camelot”, and cites the book. Interesting, since it also cites “An Unfinished Life”, which should have dispelled at least many parts of Hersh's work.

offtopic/kennedyarchy.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)