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Interview with Senator Eugene McCarthy

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Interview with Senator Eugene McCarthy
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McCarthy, Eugene ( Interviewee )
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Florida and Politics Oral History Collection ( local )

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This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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University of Florida <a href="http://www.history.ufl.edu/oral/">Samuel Proctor Oral History Program</a>
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This interview is part of the 'Florida Politics' collection of interviews held by the <a href="http://www.history.ufl.edu/oral/">Samuel Proctor Oral History Program</a> of the <a href="http://www.history.ufl.edu/">Department of History</a> at the University of Florida
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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

CONVERSATIONS

Interviewee: Eugene McCarthy
Interviewer: Michael V. Gannon










FP68sum

Eugene McCarthy

This is an interview with Eugene McCarthy, former U.S. senator and 1968 presidential
candidate. The interview was conducted in 1983 by Michael V. Gannon, retired
Distinguished Service Professor of History and former director of Early Contact Period
Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville. Eugene
McCarthy appeared on Dr. Gannon's television program, Conversations.

p. 1: Gannon opens the discussion by presenting background on McCarthy, which includes
serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1948 to 1958, in the U.S. Senate from 1958 to
1970, running for president against the incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson, in 1968, and also
in 1976 as an independent candidate. The interview then turns to the subject of the current
[1983] crop of candidates running in the Democratic primaries. McCarthy says that none of the
candidates seems to be outstanding and mentions Walter Mondale. He recalls the many
Democratic candidates who ran in 1960 before Kennedy was selected, all of whom claimed to
represent their party and all running on the same platform. Today, however, McCarthy feels that
every candidate cites his differences from all the others, which indicates to McCarthy that there is
no real party position--just skirting the issues. There is no definition of the "real basic position of
the Democratic Party," according to McCarthy.

pp. 1-3: Regarding the rhetoric and dynamic imagery of the current campaign, McCarthy feels
that generalizations prevail because there are no substantive issues mentioned. Being a student
of political language and a poet, McCarthy cannot remember any figures of speech that are
memorable in this campaign. He recalls Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson leaving verbal
images with the voters in their speeches. McCarthy feels that the right kind of language will
create some response. The conversation focuses on the use of chiasmass" in which statements
are rhetorically crossed, such as those effectively used by President Kennedy and his speech
writers. An example of this type of phrasing is: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but
what you can do for your country."

pp. 3-4: Because 1983 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the
conversation continues about Kennedy and his speeches. McCarthy thinks that Kennedy's
famous inaugural speech in January 1961 was too militant, warning the world to be "careful
because we are ready." McCarthy says it was warning, a "contingency plan for every possible
confrontation around the world." He feels that the speech was a response to Nixon's charge that
Kennedy was inexperienced and not prepared to make difficult military decisions. On the other
hand, McCarthy praises Kennedy's State of the Union address that year.

p. 4: McCarthy thinks that Kennedy ordering the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 was an
extension of Kennedy's militant inauguration speech. Each successive president, according to
McCarthy, has tried to outdo the previous one in militant behavior, such as Johnson escalating
the war in Vietnam, Nixon doing it on a larger scale--even Reagan sending in troops to Grenada
in 1983 to prove he could win a war.










pp. 4-5: McCarthy talks about President Reagan's gifted speech writers who used some clever,
Hollywood scriptwriting type of phrases in his speeches. Gannon then brings into focus the use
of poetry in political speeches by citing Kennedy who said, "If more politicians knew poetry and
more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to
live." McCarthy does not accept that concept, but feels it would not hurt to have politicians who
could write poetry, such as Lincoln.

pp. 5-6: McCarthy then turns to Kennedy's brief term in office and gives some general
criticisms, such as creating "an attitude of anticipation and of hope." But because he was in
office for only three years, according to McCarthy, it is difficult to say what might have been
accomplished with these kinds of historical questions. He states that Kennedy's Alliance for
Progress--the Latin American foreign policy program--was "dampened down by the Cuban"
situation. McCarthy praises Kennedy's contribution to Civil Rights enforcement and handling
the economy and cites one of his economists, Walter Heller, but the president's greatest failure
was in foreign policy.

p. 7: Continuing with Kennedy's foreign policy, McCarthy discusses the nuclear build-up and
Kennedy using the phrase "missile gap." The gap, however, was in America's favor, McCarthy
says, but the president ordered another 1,000 missiles. And that, McCarthy states, was the
beginning of the great leap forward into a nuclear arms race--in the Kennedy Administration.
The Bay of Pigs also put pressure on the Russians to build up their arsenal and the humiliation
also led to Khrushchev's ouster. McCarthy feels that the erection of the Berlin Wall was a
Kennedy defeat because early on he could have warned the Russians that the U.S. would send
tanks to Berlin. McCarthy does not believe the Russians would have fired on the tanks.

p. 8: McCarthy talks about the conspiratorial theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination,
saying that he does not think there is evidence of a conspiracy. McCarthy believes that placing
Earl Warren at the head of this commission was a "serious mistake": Warren's integrity as chief
justice would not be protected; the entire Supreme Court would be prejudiced; and the honor and
integrity of the Senate and House would be in jeopardy because President Johnson also appointed
two senators and two representatives to serve on the commission. McCarthy says the pressure
was on the seven-member commission to rush through the findings.

pp. 8-9: McCarthy claims that the Kennedy assassination had a deeper impact than earlier
assassinations and assassination attempts because the president was young and the deed did not
reflect "any kind of political motivation." He cites the assassination of Robert Kennedy, attempts
on Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan's lives--all of which do not seem to be politically related.
McCarthy concludes by recalling where he was upon hearing about the Kennedy assassination:
On Friday, November 22, 1963, McCarthy says he was at a restaurant around noon near the
Capitol when someone called him. He immediately walked back to the Senate floor.










G: Hello, I am Michael Gannon [retired Distinguished Service Professor of History, former
director of Early Contact Period Studies, CLAS] and welcome to Conversation. My
guest on this conversation is former United States Senator Eugene McCarthy. Welcome
to Conversation, Senator. I want to say a little bit about you for the benefit of those who
are unacquainted with your history. You are a native of Minnesota, attended St. Johns
University [Collegeville, Minnesota] and the University of Minnesota, served from 1948 to
1958 representing the fourth district of your home state in the United States House of
Representatives. Then from 1958 until 1970 you were a United States Senator from your
home state. Because of your opposition to the Vietnam War, in 1968 you challenged the
incumbent president [Lyndon Johnson] of your own party [Democratic] in the primaries
and later in 1976 you ran as an independent candidate for the office of President of the
United States. I am glad to have you here at the University [of Florida].

I would like to ask you [about your] impressions of the current group of candidates
running in the Democratic primaries. We are waiting to see which one or ones break out
of the pack; there are so many running. How do they strike you as a group and are there
any individuals who are particularly impressive?

M: There really is not anyone that seems to be outstanding, and I do not think anyone is going
to break out of the pack in terms of attracting any great national support. It may be that
someone will break out of the pack. Mondale [Walter Mondale, U.S. Senator from
Minnesota, 1967-1977; Vice President under Jimmy Carter, 1977-1981; Democratic
nominee for the presidency, 1984], who is out of the pack now, may break back into it as
time goes on. In 1960, the year Kennedy was nominated, as late as April of the election
year, there were at least six or seven candidates running. Overall I think most of them
were better than what we have now. There was Kennedy, [Lyndon] Johnson, Hubert
Humphrey [U.S. Senator from Minnesota, 1949-1965 and 1971-1978; Vice President
under Johnson, 1965-1969; Democratic presidential candidate, 1968], Senator [William
Stuart] Symington [of Missouri], Governor [Robert] Meyner of New Jersey, Senator
Wayne Morse [of Oregon], and [Governor Mennen G.] "Soapy" Williams [of Michigan].
There may have been one or two more. It was interesting. They were all running on sort
of the same platform. [They said], this is the party platform, and I am the person who can
best represent it. In contrast with that, [now] practically every candidate is trying to
establish that he is different [from the other candidates] in terms of what he says and what
he will do, which I think indicates that there is nott a real party position now of any
substance. They all play around sort of like the old Gresham's law of politics --bad,
minimal, or peripheral issues or unimportant distinctions tend to take over what should be
the substantive matter of the campaign. I have not yet found anyone of them who has
defined what should be the real basic position of the Democratic party and until that
happens I think they will just spin around as they are [doing now].

G: What [do you think] of the campaign rhetoric that you have heard so far -- the cadence
and content of the speeches?


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M: I think it reflects the generalization that I made that if you do not really have any
substantive issues, you then begin to make sort of accidental distinctions. The leading
candidates are pretty heavy into adjectives and not much [into] substance.

G: You are a student of political language?

M: Accidentally so, yes.

G: And of American poetry in its many forms. Is there any successful, dynamic imagery in
the political speech we are hearing now that compares with some of the great speech-
makers in American politics?

M: I do not think anyone could recall a figure of speech [or] a real image that has come out of
this campaign so far. The language has been pretty ordinary. Supposedly, poets abhor the
adjective. Well, you ought not to write it in poetry, but other linguists say the same thing.
I really studied Mondale more than others. You will find him sometimes using two or
three adjectives for one noun, and once you get to that you forget what the noun is and
you begin to think about the adjectives. I think it is probably dangerous to elect a
president on the basis of his adjectives. [laughter] There should be something a little
heavier than that, at least a verb once in a while or a good solid noun.

G: I heard you once cite a particular image -- that of a bird in a gilded cage, which is a figure
of speech used by...

M: It was Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey left some images. Stevenson [Adlai Stevenson, Jr.,
elected governor of Illinois, 1948; Democratic presidential candidate, 1952 and 1956;
chiefU.S. delegate to the UN, 1961-1965] left some images, but his were really not
metaphors. It was more the language itself-- the balanced sentence, the alliteration, and
allegories. He was really not into poetic images or metaphor, but it was good language.
There is nothing like that in this campaign. Humphrey was talking about Eisenhower at
one time, and he said [that Eisenhower] was a bird in a gilded cage. The Republicans
keep him in the living room singing sweet songs to everyone who passes by while back in
the kitchen the blackbirds are eating up the pumpkin pie. They were not necessarily
original images (they had been around a long time), but at least they were original
applications [of those images] and [they were] memorable. I think people remember
things like that. You can get away with pretty radical positions in American politics if you
present them in such a way that people do not really remember who said it or do not
identify it with you. [On the other hand], you can say pretty ordinary things with the right
kind of language and have some response, but there is not much of that in this campaign.

G: This fall we are observing the unhappy twentieth anniversary of the assassination of John
F. Kennedy. He was a master of the language, and he [used] a form of speech called a
chiasmas where statements are crossed. [For instance, he said], let us never negotiate out
of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate; ask not what your country can do for you, but

2









what you can do for your country. [Those sorts of statements] lend themselves to easy
memorization.

M: It does not hurt you either; you have protected yourself on both counts. I think that was
part of Kennedy's technique of politics and of language or of some of his speech writing.
His speeches were irregular. I think they reflected the fact that he did use speech writers
or took the style of [different] people, and then used different styles so his speeches were
irregular. But there were those elements of style, such as you described. He got into the
balanced sentence a little bit too. That was usually attributed to Sorensen [Theodore
Chaikin "Ted" Sorensen, lawyer and speech writer for Kennedy]. It was one of the
legacies of Stevenson which has not been very well honored by later practitioners.

G: Just recently I got out Sorensen's book on Kennedy and re-read the chapter in which Ted
Sorensen describes the making of the inaugural address which was a very short speech,
one of the shortest delivered in this century, but very powerful. After the inauguration,
Life Magazine, which had no special sympathy for Kennedy, published the entire text of
the speech calling it a great inaugural address.

M: I thought it was a very bad speech. I was there, heard it, and said, this does not sound
good to me. It was too aggressive, and I thought Kennedy seemed to be on the defensive
too much. He was [trying] to prove himself more than I thought that he had to, especially
the militancy.

G: "Let the word go forth from this time and place..."

M: That is right.

G: "We'll bear any burden, undertake any hardship..."

M: That is right. It was sort of a declaration of war on the world [which] in effect said, if you
behave yourselves, we will tolerate you, but you had better be careful because we are
ready. Supposedly McNamara [Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense under
Kennedy] developed a contingency plan for every possible confrontation around the
world. This [speech] was the declaration or the base for the contingency plan which they
proceeded to do. I do not know whether I could really prove it, and I do not know
whether you allow loose historical judgements on this program.

G: My program is known for loose judgements of every subject.

M: I have watched candidates, and I have served under five presidents while I was there [in
Washington D.C.], and this is also true of members of Congress. After they are elected,
they want to do something to prove that the charge made against them in their campaign
that most worried them was invalid. For Kennedy, I think it was the Nixon charge that he
was inexperienced, that he was not prepared to make hard decisions, that he was soft and
3










would not make [good] military decisions. And that readied him to establish a military
character as soon as he was elected, and that was in the inaugural address. I thought his
State of the Union message given that same year was a very good speech. It analyzed our
problems, and it presented, what I thought, was a decent procedural way to deal with
them. But I thought the inaugural address was not a good speech.

G: Does your loose historical judgement, as you call it, cover Kennedy's early involvement in
the Bay of Pigs invasion which might be interpreted under your rubric [as an attempt to
invalidate Nixon's charges against his character]?

M: It would show the same thing, and it was a logical extension of the inaugural address.

G: And by contrast, Nixon opening up relations with China?

M: I think that whatever his motivation was, Johnson wanted to prove that he could handle
the war better than Kennedy had, so you had the escalation of the war in Vietnam. When
he moved in, Nixon was going to show that he could do it even better. So he mined
Hanoi, bombed Haiphong harbor, and went into Cambodia. [For Nixon], that was the way
to do it. Each one was trying to prove something against what the other [had] said about
him in the campaign or against his predecessors. So it sort of just ran on until we were in
Cambodia. just kind of set up a little war for every president so he could win it
quickly like...

G: Grenada.

G: Yes, Grenada could do it every four years. We could send in the Marines and capture it
again and [again], and then each president could say, well, I've won a war. And he would
not have to prove it in any other area. We could say, now that we have taken care of that,
you [the president] can relax and be yourself.

G: Jack Kennedy had Ted Sorensen, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. [prominent historian who worked
in the Kennedy administration], and other gifted writers assist him in the preparation of his
drafts. At the present time, President Reagan also has some gifted writers [working for
him]. Do you know them? Could you say a word about them? I am thinking in particular
of the speech that President Reagan gave announcing the invasion of Grenada, and he did
use the word "invasion" when he first announced it; later he called it a "rescue mission."
In that first speech, he used a very dramatic phrase that sounded as though it came right
out of a Hollywood screenplay -- we got there in the nick of time.

M: You are quite right. Roosevelt had one or two speech writers, so did Eisenhower, and so
did Nixon who had Pat Buchanan [Reagan's director of communications; unsuccessfully
ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996] among others writing speeches for
him. I know the person who I am told writes most of Reagan's speeches, a man named
Dolan. I do not know what his background is -- I think he was in public relations or

4










something -- but he wrote campaign speeches too and supposedly is Ronald's preferred
speech writer.

G: I would like to quote a statement made by President Kennedy: If more politicians knew
poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better
place in which to live. Is that the kind of statement that you would make?

M: There are not many politicians who accept that. Most politicians now refer to me as a
poet, and they do not mean to compliment me. Some of my poet friends are urging me to
get back into politics. I think their motives are pure, but I do not know what kind of
judgement it implies as to write poetry. It is a good statement, but it is one of those sort
of balanced statements you get from Kennedy where you can have it either way, so it does
not really prove anything. But he did have Frost [Robert Frost, American poet, 1874-
1963] read a poem.

G: Not the one that Frost intended to read. The poem he had written for the occasion he
could not deliver because the sunlight blinded him. So he gave another one.

M: Either he could not read it or it blew away. So he went on, which showed the real bard in
Frost in that he could call on his memory to recite another poem. I do not think there is
any real contradiction. I think it would be helpful to have politicians who either are poets
or who know poetry. The only president we have had who did accept that he would like
to write poetry was Lincoln. He had three major poems, as I call them, published before
he became president. I think he wrote them in the 1840s. There was a rather curious
correspondence between him and a friend of his, a man named Johnson, about the poems.
[Lincoln] had showed them to his friend who said, I think they ought to be published.
[Lincoln] said, you can do it if you want to, but do not put my name on them because I
might be ridiculed. And they were published anonymously in papers in southern Illinois.
In one exchange, Lincoln said he wished he could write better poetry. He said he would
give up everything he ever had and even go into debt if he could write better poetry. So
there it was. I used to argue that I am a better poet than Lincoln was, and since he was
our best president you could take it one step further and say that there is no contradiction
in having an interest in He had some skill in writing poetry and in politics.

G: Senator, in this twentieth anniversary year, as we remember John F. Kennedy, the
tendency of many is to think of many of his fine qualities [and] of the extraordinary impact
he had not only upon our country, but upon the world, including the developing world that
now seems to have such bad feelings about us. What are some of the criticisms that might
be made of President Kennedy's brief tenure in office?

M: He created an attitude of anticipation and of hope, and whether or not that would have
been fulfilled if he had stayed on or not, no one can quite say. There are people who say it
would have been and others who say it would not have been. In the case of these
historical questions, it is hard enough to find out what happened without going on to say

5










what would have happened or what might have been. There were two or three things that
tended to feed the hope; one was his youth issue and one was his attitude. The Alliance
For Progress [Kennedy's Latin American foreign policy program], [for instance], had a
fairly good beginning, but it was dampened down by the Cuban thing and by the missile
crisis and by other things that went on. I think his principal contribution, which was a
lasting one or at least a continuing one, which they carried forward was in the area of civil
rights. The first [thing was] the enforcement -- the way in which they operated under
rather difficult circumstances in Mississippi, Alabama, [and other southern states].
Generally the minorities felt that they had an administration which was going to do things
for them. The court decisions were going to be enforced, and there would be a civil rights
bill passed, although it was not done in his administration. I am not sure he meant to pass
the bill in his first term. [There is] some evidence that he was going to wait until his
second term, but, [at any rate], it was on the way. I saw a quotation from Mansfield
[Michael Joseph Mansfield, American politician, 1903-present], who at that time was the
majority leader of the Senate, saying that they had [a civil rights bill] in mind and that it
would have been passed. He is quite right. So there was no break in the development of
the extension of civil rights. He handled the economy very well. The political economy of
the country in those years was probably run better than it has been at any time. It was
carried on until Nixon became president. But I think his greatest area of failure was
foreign policy.

G: Walter Heller [Walter Wolfgang Heller, American economist, chairman of the Council of
Economic Advisers to the President, 1961-1964 ] was an aide?

M: Yes, I think Walter was the principal [economic] adviser [to Kennedy]. He is sort of
embarrassed now because Reagan keeps saying we have got our supply-side economic
theory from Walter Heller, who wants to repudiate it. He said, well, mine was not a great
theory. I was just making a judgement in time, and you cannot say that It is like
George Kennan [American historian and diplomat famous for, among other things, his
strategy of Soviet containment after WW II] who is trying to repudiate containment
saying, this is not my idea. Oh, yes, George, it is yours. There is a little column written
by a man named who writes for the Des Moines paper. He did not cite these
examples, but he wrote that the danger to doing good is that you will start something that
is pretty good, and then it gets out of control. Dale Carnegie [American author and
lecturer, 1888-1955], who was trying to establish good relationships, said he had made the
handshake dishonest. He said to Billy Graham [William Franklin Graham, American
evangelist, 1918-present], you introduced us to electronic religion and it was pretty good.
But he said, now Billy cannot compete with those who have taken over from him like Oral
Roberts [American evangelist, 1918-present] and Falwell [Jerry Falwell, American
clergyman, founded Moral Majority, Inc., 1933-present] who carried it beyond Billy, and
Billy was out to do good and this is what you wind up with. The same is true of Heller
and Kennan in the field of economics and politics, [respectively]. I think the records on
Kennedy's foreign policy were not very good.


6










G: In [reference to] nuclear build-up, he began by charging in his campaign speeches that
there was a missile gap, but there was not [a missile gap] except in our favor.

M: As I read in Tony Lewis [American journalist], we had something like forty nuclear
devices at the time and the Russians only had six. So in numbers, at least, there was a gap
in our favor, and Kennedy almost immediately ordered another thousand nuclear bombs
just to keep the game going. I do not know what kind of advice he was getting. I do
know that Jerry Wiesner [Jerome Wiesner, special assistant to President Kennedy in
science and technology, 1961-1964; president of MIT, 1971-1980], who was at some
point his science adviser and later head of MIT, had said [to get] any kind of reasonable
balance we never should have gone beyond 200. We could have gotten the Russians to
hold to at 200 and us to hold to at 200. That should have been enough to provide a
deterrent. It was during the Kennedy administration that we went beyond what Wiesner,
who was a part of it, now says should have gone, so I assume that his advice was
overridden.

G: So you date the beginning of the nuclear arms race from the Kennedy administration?

M: We made the great leap forward [during the Kennedy administration]. Then the aftermath
of the Bay of Pigs, I think, put tremendous pressure on the Russians to build up their
nuclear arsenal and also to build up their navy because there was a naval confrontation.
The great humiliation of [Nikita] Khrushchev [premier of the Soviet Union, 1958-1964).
really led to his being deposed, I think.

G: His having to remove the missiles from Cuba....

M: Yes, we stopped his ship at sea and all of that. It was a pretty aggressive act to stop a
ship on the high seas.

G: Was it also during President Kennedy's administration that the Berlin Wall was first
erected?

M: Yes, it was.

G: That was another defeat.

M: It was a defeat. Of course, Truman had surrendered something on Berlin with the airlift. I
do not know what I would have done if they had asked me. In the case of the airlift, I
think I would have said we are going to send trucks and see what the Russians would have
done. I think that if Kennedy had said -- you cannot put the wall up [because] we are
going to run a couple of tanks through tomorrow morning; we will tell you what time it is
we are coming -- I do not think the Russians would have fired on it. It was more symbolic
in terms of what it meant than it was a reality, but it was a retreat on our part.


7










G: In retrospect do you give any credence to the various conspiratorial theories about the
nature of the assassination itself?

M: I do not know. Undoubtedly, there were people conspiring and talking about killing him,
but there probably have been people doing that with every president. I do not think that
there is any evidence that they discovered a conspiracy out of which [Lee Harvey] Oswald
[the person who allegedly assassinated Kennedy] came. It all relates to that whole Warren
Commission [the commission established by Johnson to investigate Kennedy's
assassination], Mike, which was very badly handled. I think Oswald was a free agent, but
that does not mean there were not conspiracies. [Lyndon] Johnson thought that this was a
terribly divisive and unsettling thing for the country, which it was, and that the best thing
you could do would be to have a commission to settle it quickly and get it out of the way.
Then he decided that to do that he would have to put on the commission only the most
reputable or supposedly most trusted officials in the country. So he got Earl Warren,
[chiefjustice of the Supreme Court, 1953-1969], to head it up which was a serious
mistake.

G: Why was it a serious mistake?

M: It was pretty evident that this was not going to be an easy investigation; but they were
going to hurry it, so they took the chief justice whose integrity as chiefjustice should be
protected. But you also are prejudice the whole court because you put the
court and the chiefjustice behind this commission report. He took Dick Russell [Richard
Brevard Russell, U.S. senator from Georgia] who was in a position of high honor as the
president of the Senate at that time, and Russell told me he did not want to take it from
Johnson who said he had to take it. So that put the honor and the integrity of Russell and
the Senate behind the commission. He also took the Speaker of the House and the leaders
in the House. So he took everyone he could find in governmental office that had a
reputation and institutionalized integrity and put it behind the report. The report was
bound to be inconclusive, and it was presented as though it were. All of these people had
signed on and Johnson thought, that takes care of it, but it did not take care of it. It
would have been better, I think, to have had a long-riding commission which could still be
going on.

G: Something happened twenty years ago with that assassination that continues to have its
affect directly or indirectly on our perception of the safety of public figures, and just
recently we had a bomb explode on the Capitol building itself, and there was widespread
talk of fencing off the Capitol from the American people. That is a very bad thing to have
had happen, is it not?

M: It is almost like the Vatican captivity -- elect a president, lock him up, and let him make
decisions from behind the walls and behind the fence. The Kennedy assassination had a
more serious and deeper impact than earlier ones or those that would come later because
he was young, and it did not reflect any kind of political motivation. In the case of the

8










Puerto Ricans attacking Truman, we said it was politics, but in the case of Kennedy it was
just

G: I should not forget that President Roosevelt was shot at in Miami in 1933.

M: That is right.

G: Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago was killed instead [he was riding in Roosevelt's open
touring car]. By the way, the assassin in that case was tried, sentenced, and executed
within thirty-eight days of his crime.

M: Since that time you have had the assassination of Robert Kennedy which, though there
might have been a minimal political motivation in that, was than it was
politically motivated. And both the attacks on Ford were unrelated to politics, and so was
the attack on Reagan. So you have these kind of non-political, deranged, strange people
out there who are now deciding to shoot the president. Whether or not that started with
the attack on Kennedy, [I do not know].

G: Senator, thank you very much for your time. It is the twentieth anniversary of that event
[John F. Kennedy's death], and I thank you for sharing it with us.

M: What is curious about it is that most everybody remembers just what they were doing
when they got the word [of Kennedy's death]. It is one of those psychological things.

G: We have fifteen seconds, where were you?

M: I had gone to a restaurant near the Capitol right about noon when they called and said the
president has been shot and called us over to the Senate floor. I talked to lots of young
people, people who were eight years old [about that]. A niece of mine said she was
helping her mother paint the kitchen [when she heard that Kennedy had been shot].

G: Yes, everyone remembers it. I want to thank you very much for coming to the University
of Florida. I want to thank Accent, the student group which has made possible your visit.
Thanks again for being with me on this program.











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