Category Archives: Book Reviews

What Could Have Been..

The word “Hope” is used a lot when talking about many of the great politicians who lives were cut too short. The 1960’s especially was a critical turning point in our country’s history, when the decade began with the word “Hope”. When President John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States, he brought the word to the forefront of American politics. The young president spoke strong words in his inauguration speech, and left the country believing that our future was in good hands. As we know, his presidency was cut short and with his death, the word “Hope” was soon lost on that day in Dallas. Our hope for the future was no longer in his hands; instead it was left with a President who had a different agenda and a different mindset then that of his predecessor. No one could believe that Lyndon Johnson would continue the work that JFK had sought for the country, not even JFK’s brother Robert could believe it. When John Kennedy died on November 22nd, 1963 it would feel like the hope of the nation had left with him.

It would be 5 years before the word “Hope” would once again come in front of the American people. A decision so many had hoped he would make, Senator Robert F. Kennedy decided to run for President of the United States 50 years ago this month. A turning point was on the horizon in American politics as Lyndon Johnson had turned into a hated figure, and hope was all but lost with him sitting in the Oval Office. Unable to sit back, and seeing an opportunity to bring back the word “Hope”, RFK made a decision to run. What transpired was a campaign that lasted for 3 months and instantly brought back that same breath of fresh air that JFK had brought 8 years before. The American people needed a leader like RFK to inspire them, to lead them, and to bring everyone together. The year 1968 in history books, is one that is filled with hatred and violence, but some of that could have changed had RFK been able to fulfill his destiny. Instead, destiny took a turn on the night of June 4th, 1968 as RFK was shot and killed having just won the Democratic primary in California. The speech RFK gave before his death was filled with the same hope and inspiring message of unity that he had been speaking about for the past 3 months on the campaign trail. Now that voice was silent, and another Kennedy’s life was cut too short to fully bring “Hope” to a reality.

Now as we look back on what could have been 50 years later, we are still tormented by the word “Hope”. To some, hope was lost on November 22, 1963, but to many, hope died on the day RFK took his last breath. We have seen over the years those who have tried to replicate the Kennedy flare, and bringing back “Hope”, but it is never the same and they are never able to come through. The country lost its faith in politicians in the 1960’s mostly in part to leaders like Johnson and Nixon, but that could have changed had Bobby won the election in 1968. We can never go back and time, but we can always think of what could have been scenario. By looking at the work someone had been putting in and seeing the belief that person had inn the country, makes you believe them to their word. Even though 50 years have passed, and he was never elected President of the United States, Robert Kennedy is just as beloved figure now as he was then. It is surrounded around the word “Hope”, a true belief that this man had the best interest in the country in mind and could have changed the course of history had he lived. I will end this post with the words of Ted Kennedy as he eulogized his brother Robert, “My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it”.

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Assistant President RFK

The assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 set forth in motion a chain of events in the history of the United States that would reshape it in the years that followed. For those who lived during this time, the events in Dallas changed the lives of many Americans, some too young to understand, and some old enough to realize the damage it had done to our country. The motives behind the assassination have been speculated by many, and the outcome of the research takes the culprits in the assassination to the forefront. One of the theories that has been mentioned was the involvement of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. Having once been the powerful majority leader of the Senate, the now Vice-President would find his role diminished by the Kennedy administration. In this book review you are going to learn about a book that I had found at a local flea market a few years back. The book, “Robert F. Kennedy: Assistant President”, shows you the possible motivation that Johnson could have had in wanting to ascend to the presidency.

The book written by Gary Gordon in 1962, highlights the many life accomplishments of RFK as he made his way to the position of Attorney General. Within the first few pages the author describes the book as, “The dramatic life story of the second most powerful man in Washington”. Interesting to note about this book since it was written in 1962, was the fact that many polls taken by Newsweek, and U.S News, and other news outlets, put RFK ahead of Lyndon Johnson in terms of their power and influence over the country. The main theme of the book is to bring RFK into the national spotlight and in hopes of showing the American people that he was more than just the President of the United States brother. In many parts of the book, the author paints RFK as the man who not only got JFK elected through his hard work as campaign manager, but that he was not willing to take on a cabinet spot within the administration.

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The many chapters in the book show the reader that RFK may not have been qualified to become Attorney General, but he was able to use his position within the White House to change the role that Attorney Generals had. If those outside of the White House were seeing the way RFK was having influence over the decisions that his brother was making, then you know LBJ saw it as well. As the book starts off showing the Presidential campaign of 1960, it backtracks to highlight the life of RFK. Having no lawyer experience, he did not want the position of Attorney General at first. Trying to not show favoritism to his own family, JFK knew he wanted RFK by his side in those critical decision making times, and that he needed to be a cabinet member to achieve that. According to the author, JFK was quoted as saying, “I’ll take Bobby’s word over almost anybody’s”. The idea of having a family member within the cabinet had not been done before, and RFK was afraid of the political backlash that it would have in a future re-election campaign.

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Something of interest in the book was the trip around the world that RFK took in the early stages of 1962. The trip would be unprecedented by a United States Attorney General, and it had the feel of something more. The trip usually meant for Vice-Presidents, and one that LBJ took himself, was meant for RFK to get a feel of foreign affairs. The trip enabled RFK to see the issues at hand, and he would be able to have a better decision making process on these situations once back in Washington with his brother. It is hard to imagine the LBJ did not take great offense to this, and felt the lack of support from both Kennedy brothers. At the end of the book, the author makes a statement that is eerie to read as it has a statement that looks into the future. The author states, “In 1968, with JFK prevented by the Constitution from running again, the speculation is that Bobby could go before the voters with eight years of experience as an Assistant President”. Was this the motivation that was needed for LBJ, to end the Kennedy presidency? Did he himself want the presidency after JFK, and having read the many magazines and books proclaiming RFK as the second man in Washington, finally get to him? It is just one of the many theories that have been claimed over the years, and books such as these spark the mind into thinking. This book was an interesting find, and I recommend to always be on the lookout for books such as these, as they could hold the motives that others had in assassinating the President of the United States.

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