The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland on November 18, 1979 · 119
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The Baltimore Sun from Baltimore, Maryland · 119

Baltimore, Maryland
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 18, 1979
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The bullets also destroyed our confidence THE SUN, Sunday, November 18, 1979 K3 By STEVE PARKS For the past 16 years, the American body politic has been indifferent or indisposed toward the presidency a rift that in love would be cause for despair, but in the affairs of state is perhaps cause only for reflection. As nations go, America perhaps deserved its period of unrequited love. Presi- dals associated with his administrations. The electorate seemed more forgiving . then more faithful and more willing to accept the president's word whether people believed him or hot, for better or worse. The dimension in power which the men who preceded John Kennedy enjoyed and those who succeeded have not was the believe of the people that they, together with their president, could make a difference in the world. Today many people doubt they dents regularly expressed affection for can make a difference even in the lives of their "fellow Americans." but the feeline those closest to them. , ' o was unreciprocated during the last four administrations. Whether America could afford such a period of indifference is for time to tell. The history of the country in this period of unrequited esteem has been dominated in some ways, obsessed with . the events that flowed from a fusillade of bullets and the Irish-American blood that splattered a woman's pink clothes. Next year America will consider chaining the brother of that slain president to the awesome burdens of the White House. Had we as a nation conspired to design a cruel and unique punishment for his Chap-paquiddick transgression, we could hardly do better than to submit to Senator Edward M. Kennedy's overtures toward the egg-shaped room reserved for presidents. To assess the substance of Senator Kennedy's candidacy it is necessary to assess the emotional clout the name "Kennedy" wields in the American consciousness. This is not to say that the senator from Massachusetts would not be a candidate if his name were Jones or Schlabotny, merely that his name, his voice, his visage evoke a time the last time-when the presidency was revered. Nor is it to say that John F. Kennedy was the cause of that reverence for the office, or its subsequent plummet from esteem. The difference between then and now is the perceived performance of the men who preceded Kennedy in the White House (FDR, Truman, Ike) and the actual performance of the men who succeeded him (LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter). President Kennedy's assassination was a 30-second watershed in the history of the presidency, causing a' great runoff of confidence. Since that fatal lunch hour, November 22, 1963, Americans have shown little patience with their chief executives and have reacted in the same way that many Americans who have little patience with their spouses have they get rid of them. Two presidents were forced from office; a third, appointed president, failed to get elected, and Carter is in danger of not being renominated by his party. To understand this disaffection it is not enough to point to the inadequacies of the last four presidents anymore than it is to point to the inadequacies of one's last four spouses. The failures of the most recent presidents come to mind easily enough; those of JFK's predecessors less so. Yet each of those earlier leaders had lapses in judgment; each was caught in minor scan-Mr. Parks is Features Editor of The Sun and has done extensive research on the Kennedy assassination. John Kennedy lived in a era when the president could still go over the heads of Congress; he could go over the heads of Big Steel. (One wonders who would have won a showdown, had it come to that, between Big Oil and the White House). Kennedy attempted to go over the heads of the military and intelligence communities, and some argue with no small body . of evidence to back them up that therein lies the motive for his assassination. Today President Carter can't even get Americans to save a gallon of gasoline a week; The presidency not necessarily the president can no longer mobilize support. Perhaps it is too simplistic to assume this loss of confidence goes back to the fatal lunch hour in Dallas, and to the unsatisfactory resolution of that murder. And perhaps not. . Is it far-fetched to imagine that people no longer have confidence in the presidency because they no longer have confix dence that the president makes a difference? The president used to be perceived as the ultimate instrument of power in this country, and the people who elected him perceived themselves as the ultimate source of that power. The marriage of the two made a difference, in the nation and in the world. After President Kennedy was murdered, it became clear that there were and still are forces in this country who conspired, if not to kill the president, to kill the truth about the circumstances of his death. These are forces perceived to be beyond the people's control. Thus, the feeling of helplessness. Doubts about the validity-or useful-ness-of any continuing inquiry into JFK's murder spring from that same well of helplessness. When Americans say they are tired of hearing about the assassination, they don't say, "Lee Harvey Oswald did it." They say, "We'll never find out anyway." Yet to demand any less than full disclosure in an event as cataclysmic to constitutional government as the murder of the president of the United States is to abdicate one's national birthright While it cannot be responsibly demonstrated today that President Kennedy was murdered in a coup, evidence suggests at least that possibility. (Yet, the scenario has never officially been entertained seriously.) Further, the disgraceful performance of governmental and quasi-governmental entities pretending to investigate this homicide elevateshat hypothesis to a bona fide plausibility. The most recent investigation by a select committee of the House was, like the ones that preceded it, a fraud. Precious SIW p President and Mrs. Kennedy just before he was shot in Dallas almost 16 years ago. little attempt was made at investigation; effort was directed at creating the appearance of investigation. Why, for instance, did the chief counsel for the committee, Robert Blakey, fail to disclose the surreptitious tampering with autopsy photos by an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency? Mr. Blakey himself was formerly associated with the CIA. And we are expected to regard this as coincidence. Why were the doctors at Parkland Hospital who tried to save the president's life and who declared him dead never consulted about the autopsy (conducted by military authorities), and why have the autopsy photos never been shown to these doctors? Earlier this year, during an investigation by The Sun, one doctor who had been given access to copies of the photos said the president's head wounds in the pictures were not consistent with what he recalled seeing that day 16 years ago. Another doctor who viewed an artist's reproduction of another photo published in the House committee's report voiced similar doubts. Why did the House committee conclude that all of the bullets which struck the President were fired from behind when there is conclusive evidence that it could By NANCY LKEGOHLA It's Thanksgiving again, that festive turkey time when both fowl and family are known to get stuffed. But there's more to turkey than meets the eye, or the taste buds. There are boned turkey, which is really Belgian hare, and Cape Cod turkey, which is really fish. There is Wild Turkey bourbon, after drinking too much of which a person may vow to go cold turkey. F. Scott Fitzgerald introduced the turkey cocktail ("To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of angostura bitters. Shake."), and Benjamin Franklin had high hopes that the turkey, rather than the eagle, would be named the national bird. (His preference may have had something to do with the patriotic nature of wild turkeys-when they are provoked the caruncles around their throats swell and become shades of red, white and blue.) There are turkeys on the stage, as in Broadway flops, and human turkeys, as in "You turkey!" There are turkey vultures, which are blackish-brown, wrinkly-headed buzzards, and turkey gnats, which are small black flies that bug turkeys and other poultry. There is also turkeyfoot, which is a kind of grass. You can make someone walk turkey by grabbing him by the collar and by the seat of his pants and forcing him to walk on his toes. After which you can make him talk turkey which means getting down to brass tacks. This expression can reputedly be traced back to the early American days when Indians wanted to swap goods but colonists wanted only to talk about turkey, a meat they hadn't met before. Some people can bowl turkeys-three succeeding strikes. And, of course, people go to turkey shoots, at which they most often do not shoot at turkeys. To really talk turkey, though, requires a fluency in turkey trivia, such little known but fascinating facts as the following: There are various stories about how the turkey got his name. One version is that an Indian tribe called the bird a "firke" and that word eventually translated into turkey. " Another story says that when the.peacock, a relative of the turkey, was imported to Europe from India it was called by its Asian name, "togei." when the settlers landed they thought the bird they saw was the togei. Oyer time the togei became tukki and tukki became turkey. Yet another beginning could have been that the word Ms. Gohla is an Illinois free-lance writer. A word or two on the gobblers tip" M rl W' Drawing by J. Mavnerd Harrii turkey comes from the bird's vocabulary which includes such words as "tuck," "tuck-uh" and "kee-kec." In fact, "gobble, gobble" may not be a popular phrase in poultry circles. o The first turkey day was held in Plymouth, Mass., in 1621. Actually, it was a three-day feast and, some say, turkey may not have been on the menu. That first feast was proclaimed by Governor William Bradford in thanksgiving for the settlers' abundant fall harvest. The Pilgrims deserve some praise, but it was really the 36-year effort of journalist Sarah Josepha Hale which prompted President Abraham Lincoln to declare the national celebration for the last Thursday in November, 1863. Each year thereafter each President proclaimed the feast until Congress put it on the continuous calendar in 1941. There were four or five varieties of turkeys in America around the time of the first Thanksgiving. Historians differ regarding the number of these turkey types, but they agree about their abundance. For everyday purposes it is easiest to classify turkeys into two categories, stupid and smart. Wild turkeys are said to be the smart ones, at least according to outwitted hunters. These tricky turkeys have supposedly developed a sixth survival sense. They've learned to flatten themselves against the ground and to hide behind trees to confuse their potential killers. Their hearing is keen and their vision acute. The turkeys are so foxy that during one Wisconsin season 1,100 hunters picked off only 18 of them. Turkeys bred on farms, however, are apparently not as knowledgeable. They are so nervous and jittery that they sometimes have to be tranquilized. o The heftiest live turkey tipped the scales at 75 pounds, according to the 1979 Guiness Book of World Records. That was in 1973. The highest price ever paid for a turkey was nearly $2,000 bid by a chain of butcher shops at a 1977 auction for 71-pound, 12-ounce "Mr. Chuckie IV." Truffled turkey, turkey Florentine and turkey stroganoff. These are just a few of the culinary crafts endowed upon turkeys and turkey gobblers. Other highlights include turkey with grapefruit and cherries, turkey slumgullion and turkey mousse. F. Scott Fitzgerald published a recipe for turkey mousse that directed hostesses to: "Secure a large prone turkey, being careful to remove the bones, flesh, fins, gravy, etc. Blow up with a bicycle pump. Mount In becoming style and hang in the front hall." not have happened that way? In concluding all the bullets came from the same gunman stationed at the window from which Lee Harvey Oswald is alleged to have fired, the committee and its predecessors rely on a theory that is inconsistent with the laws of physics. One bullet is said to have caused the wounds in President Kennedy's back and throat, as well as the wounds in the chest, wrist and thigh of John B. Connally, then-governor and now-presidential candidate. This bullet was later recovered under a stretcher in the emergency room at Parkland and was said to have worked its way out of the shallow wound in Mr. Connally's thigh. Yet the doctor who treated Mr. Connally says without hesitation that a bullet fragment remains to this day in Mr. Connally's thigh, and that fragments taken from his wrist alone outweigh that which is missing from the nearly pristine bullet that was found. 1 If serious investigators, rather than or-chestrators of coverups, chose, and if Mr. Connally were willing, this fragment could still be recovered and compared to the so-called "magic bullet." Which leads us to the most troubling question of all. Why would so many otherwise reputable people participate in an apparently willful obstruction of justice? Perhaps it is not altogether willful. Perhaps the truth is so large that they, like many Americans, simply can't accept its enormity. The crime seems so incredible that we concoct even more incredible solutions to explain it away. The Warren Commission, in that paternalistic era when authorities were still granted a "father knows best" wisdom, was under pressure to come to a quick conclusion and ease the mind of the child electorate. So that we could get on with our lives (translate that to next election) we were told that daddy has gone to sleep in heaven. It would have taken only a few men to start the coverup rolling with the help of others who misguidedly had the country's best interests in mind. They didn't all have to be conspirators. Since that time, the government has had an interest in maintaining the fiction, and to preserve the reputations of people who intended no crime. No one knows who killed John Kennedy except the ones who killed him. Sixteen years later, we have learned this much, at least: It was the ones who lulled him, not the one. And the government's complicity in keeping the truth to itself in order to avoid loss of confidence in government is itself the cause of that loss of confidence. To elect another Kennedy may or may not be the way to redress the people's grievance against the government. And it remains a factor in America's courtship with yet another Kennedy. j A ft t

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