More Fog of History

My consumption of JFK 50th anniversary teevee continued unabated last week. It was such a televisual event that watching images, both familiar and unfamiliar, has occupied more of my time than reading stuff on the internets. I’ve skipped the more lurid programming that can be found around the dial and online. I’m inclined to reject the Warren Report but find the mega-coup/CIA/LBJ threads to be ludicrous albeit frequently unintentionally amusing. I’m not big on the Cubo-Soviet strand of assassination buffery either. I lean in the direction of Mob hit theory since it’s one of the few plausible explanations as to why nobody has squealed.

Now that I’ve declared myself a lone gunman agnostic, here are some random comments on some of last week’s programming with the odd link since I mustered the energy to consult with Mr. Google:

PBS’ American Experience, JFK:Speaking of rehashing material and treading on familiar-to me at least-ground this two-parter was competently done in the Ken Burns style. But it featured way too many historians doing the whole big picture dance thing for my taste. As much as I enjoy seeing Robert Caro, I prefer earlier Kennedy documentaries that featured the people who were actually there and knew the man. Give me Ted Sorensen over scholar-squirrel Robert Dallek any day. (I don’t know about you but I’m glad that my last name doesn’t evoke images of the Whovian villains, the Daleks.) If they were going to feature histo-journalists, I wish they’d have turned to Salon founder David Talbot whose book Brothers broke some new ground in Kenendy lore.

This documentary is a decent introduction for the uninitiated since it has a lot of good film clips of the life and times of JFK, but if you know the story, it’s strictly for obsessives such as moi.

5 thoughts on “More Fog of History

  1. Am enjoying the wayback machine stuff…it’s almost like watching draft material for Mad Men.
    My own take on the assassination’s gone from thinking it was a conspiracy to seeing very easily how Oswald — who tried to kill Edwin Walker earlier that year — did it. I once went to Dealy Plaza, and my first reaction was…geez, this is much smaller than it looks in photos or dioramas. My second reaction was that the whole “three shots in x number of seconds, etc.” questions were…silly. The real question should be “why did it take three shots?”
    Alexander Cockburn once noted that just before Oswald moved back to Dallas, the Times Picayune ran a lengthy interview with Fidel Castro. In it, he accused the Kennedy administration of plotting his assassination…Cockburn suggested it was entirely possible Oswald would have seen/read this.
    As for Ruby, I lean sort of towards Lenny Bruce’s theory, though less the whole “Jewish guy saved us all” and more that Ruby, who probably carried most if not all the time, was going to teach that smirking young commie fuck a lesson he’d never forget. And if he hadn’t been represented by Belli (Bruce really got that part down in his routine — you’ve probably heard it), anyway, with the right lawyer, Ruby might have been able to pull off some sort of involuntary manslaughter with time off for good behavior.
    In other words, yeah, a series of genuinely awful coincidences — but history is full of that stuff, e.g., if I remember right, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was almost a comedy of errors, except for it resulting in his and his wife’s death…oh, and the horrific carnage of World War I.
    About the only thing that should be really looked at was/is the lax attitude of the various security and enforcement agencies re: several matters (the FBI had been watching Oswald, but for some reason slacked off just prior to a presidential visit?)…but I tend to think that’s less nefarious and more incompetent, in the same way that idiot Bush and creepy Dick Cheney weren’t complicit in 9/11, but were too dumb to notice what turned out to be pretty obvious warning signs…
    A while back one of the anniversary shows interviewed Robert Oswald. He used the word “happenstance.” I think that’s about right.
    And, in the meantime, the wayback machine is really fun. I think the 60s really began with the Kennedy assassination…and how different would things have been without the assassination?
    Very, if you ask me…

  2. I’ve been slogging my way through Ultimate Sacrifice for about a year now. It’s my in-the-car book for when I have to wait for anything.
    Never did believe Oswald was all by his lonesome. I think there’s more to the story than we’ll ever know but less than we think there might be.

  3. In the book, “The Day Kennedy Was Shot,” there is a photo of GHW Bush in downtown Dallas that day. Until I saw that … I bought the whole lone-gunman thing. Now I wonder:
    was it a lone gunman with (perhaps unbeknownst to him) help behind-the-scenes?
    Oswald had failed so often and so spectacularly, right up through the attempt on Walker.
    If he was cashing in on happenstance, it might’ve been the only thing in his life he timed right.

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