Jackie Kennedy’s interviewsÂ—plus a book and CDs of the transcriptsÂ—by White House aide, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. come out tomorrow. Today would have been her and assassinated husband, John F. Kennedy’s 58th wedding anniversary. These CDs are dated back to a time shortly after the death of her husband while she was still in the extreme stages of grief.
The world, and Jacqueline Kennedy, would change beyond imagination after 1964. In these days, “African Americans” were “Negroes” in polite society. It was very much a man’s world and feminists were gazed at with a somewhat “unforgiving eye.” This was certainly true of the Jackie-image the public revered in those days: a charming, poised sophisticate and a devoted mother of two and wife.
A decade later, Mrs. Kennedy-Onassis would be interviewed by Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, socio-political activist and author of, After Black Power, Women’s Liberation. This liberal woman was a powerful leader and spokeswoman for the women’s liberation movement, abortion rights, and Ms. Magazine, which she interviewed Jackie for.
It’s the Jackie of 1964, however, who’s heard on these CDs. She accepted, “Jack so obviously demanded from a womanÂ—a relationship between a man and a woman where a man would be the leader and a woman be his wife and look up to him as a man.” She appreciated that her husband was “proud of her,” saw no cause to have a public opinion which didn’t track his, and laughed at “violently liberal women” who distrusted JFK and supported “the more effete Adlai Stevenson“!
She condescended, “With Adlai you could have another relationship whereÂ—you know, he’d sort of be sweet and you could talk. … I always thought women who were scared of sex loved Adlai.” Ouch!
This writer isn’t old enough to actually vote for Adlai E. Stevenson II, but remembers a couple things about this eloquent, liberal Democrat whom smoothie-faced JFK beat out in the 1960 Primaries. He died in 1965. He was an intellectual, before that became passÃ©.
Adlai lost to a very popular, Republican WWII War General twice. Smoothie-face won both Primary and 1960 election largely on TV appearancesÂ—a first. Triumphant Jack appointed him “Ambassador to the U.N.,” only slightly less a spanking than that JFK gave another old adversary, Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, to be ambassador to Viet Nam! Both were almost-punitive posts.
“Effete” Ambassador Adlai’s finest hour, perhaps, was in front of the U.N. Security Council in the midst of JFK’s Cuban missile crisisÂ—itself an understandable Soviet reaction to NATO European missile placements threatening their borders. Stevenson made the Soviet representative look bad over the question of “were missiles being sited in Cuba”Â—when he had the photos in his hand!
“I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over!” He shouted when the Soviet delayed and dissembled, behind the ruse of “needing an interpreter.”
For his trouble, a month before Jack was shot, Adlai was hit with a sign and spat on by anti-UN protestersÂ—also in Dallas, Texas, where Jackie narrowly missed being killed, too! Dallas has a tough crowd, but this “effete” Adlai fellow showed his moxy there, too.
“I don’t want to send them to jail. I want to send them to school.” Jackie’s not the only one who remembers AdlaiÂ—but differently.