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Caroline Kennedy May Have Been On to Something When She Turned Down Charlie Rose

The Dallas Morning News kicked it off Sunday, with a very spiffy “JFK50” logo and two front-page stories announcing an 11-month-long series of articles and photos and graphics and e-books and community panels focusing on the 50th anniversary of the assassination here of President John F. Kennedy. SMU and the Bush library and the Sixth Floor Museum are readying a yearlong series of public programs on the topic, too.

The Nasher Sculpture Center commissioned a musical piece marking the occasion, about one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s blood-soaked roses. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has appointed a massive committee of Major Names to plan a commemoration. And Friday night, talk-show host Charlie Rose will interview a couple of JFK’s relatives at the Winspear about the Kennedy family and its influence on politics, culture and history.

I don’t think anyone would argue against the appropriateness of holding a tasteful ceremony or event in Dallas to mark the assassination on Nov. 22, 2013. But the explosion of “introspection” that’s about to be unleashed over the next year just seems like … pardon the expression …  well, like overkill. Like an orgy of anguished navel-gazing that few are clamoring to undergo–except for some civic pooh-bahs who’ve decided from on high that it will be good and therapeutic for us. And who’ve assured everyone that there will be “zero commercialization” involved. (Right.)

First off, the logical person to appear with Rose this week would have been Caroline Kennedy, JFK’s daughter, the lone surviving member of the immediate presidential family. But according to Chris Heinbaugh, vice president of external affairs with the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Ms. Kennedy declined an invitation to participate.

As a result we’re going to hear instead from a niece and nephew of the late president. (Hell, if you wanted a JFK nephew to opine on the topic, Anthony Kennedy Shriver already came through town in 2011 and absolved Dallas of blame for the assassination on FrontBurner. Discussion by extended family members over.)

So, what’s the point of an 11-month-long extravaganza? If you wanted to honor JFK the man, why not do it in a year marking the anniversary of his birth or his assumption of the presidency, instead of the milestone year in which he was murdered by a Commie-wannabe nut? (Okay, conspiracy theorists: murdered by a fall guy for the CIA/military-industrial complex/Mafia/Cuban exile juggernaut that has run America with an iron fist ever since.)

Is the real purpose of the orgy to make Dallas look good, or feel better about itself? Did someone suggest it wasn’t feeling all right about itself, half a century later?

Dallas increasingly is a city of newcomers, and the number of people still living who were in Dallas on that fateful day in 1963 is dwindling all the time. Many of them that I know say the last thing they want to do is dredge up the bloody horror all over again and wallow in more outsider-imposed guilt and shame and penance.

They want to move on, in other words. Isn’t that a more sensible reaction than a year of  “JFK50”?


  • Daniel

    I”m personally looking forward to the AT&T Moment of Silence, after which there will be a ceremony in which Mike Rawlings lights the Little Caesar’s Eternal Flame of Remembrance. And you’d damn well better act somber if you don’t want to spend the night in jail.

  • Dubious Brother

    Is this a semicentennial celebration? WTF

  • TLS

    I think it is nuts but it gives people something to do and a paycheck for the year so have at it. But I won’t be reading, watching, or listening.

  • Brett Moore

    I can barely stand the thought of introspection.

  • Bradford

    JFK50 is hardly an “orgy to make Dallas look good.” It’s about controlling the message to ensure that the conspiracy theories are not highlighted.

  • sawthis

    Mrs. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is not in a position to comment about President John F. Kennedy. President John F. Kennedy, like Rosemary Kennedy, was from a well-to-do family through lawful means and was the end of his family line, was a repeat kidnappee of disgraced former Ambassador to England Joe Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. When a US Senator, President John F. Kennedy, already happily married to a daughter of a diplpmat, was demanded of to attend the wedding of part-time newspaper photographer Miss Jacqueline Bouvier, cut the cake with her and dance with her for photo ops to which misleading captions were attached. A judge in Colorado, now in his golden years, admits assisting Mrs. Jacqueline Bouvier in obtaining a quickie divorce from the man she married who temporarily changed his name to John F. Kennedy.

  • John Judge

    Glenn Hunter makes several good points in this commentary about Dallas’s plans to freeze history at 12:29 pm on November 22, 1963, when Texas Governor John Connally’s wife turns to President Kennedy behind her in the motorcade limousine in Dealey Plaza and says, “Well, Jack, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you.” Public relations expert Mayor Mike Rawlings wants to caputure the national and international press that day to show that Dallas still loves JFK, at the same time excluding the thousands of people (5,000 on the 40th anniversary) who will be there to honor his life and legacy, mourn his death and call for truth and justice in this still unsolved homicide of a popular President. You can call us “conspiracy theorists” but forensic, ballistics, medical and photographic evidence don’t lie, and 85% of Americans in a recent History Channel poll agree there was a conspiracy involved in the assassinataions. The skeptics and critics of the official version of the Warren Commission, later reversed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations that found “probable conspiracy” in the murder, have held an annual Moment of Silence on the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza at 12:30 pm since 1964 to speak truth to power and to keep the history alive. For the last three years the Coalition on Political Assassinations, a national organization of medical and forensic experts, academicians, authors and researchers, has been applying for a permit to hold our event on the 50th anniversary, as we have for many years now. However the Sixth Floor Museum, more than a year in advance was granted an exclusive permit for the whole of Dealey Plaza for a week to be “proactive” o9n the part of the Mayor’s office, the director said, and to prevent “conspiracy theory”. Our events have never been exclusive of others, and this is content-based denial of free speech barred by the First Amendment. The more appropriate place to honor JFK’s life and legacy would be at the nearby Kennedy Memorial sculpture. Dealey Plaza is a designated historical site and a public park and as such belongs to the American people, especially on the 50th anniversary of his death. The City of Dallas can save a reported half a million dollars in security to hold a ticketed event by moving their celebration and letting the American people in. If Dallas really wants to restore its reputation in the world it should acknowledge it’s past errors in handling the evidence, the suspect and the investigation into the Kennedy assassination, and call instead for release of all remaining classified records in the case, and for a new investigation by a Dallas Grand Jury and for justice in this case. History cries out for resolution, not forgetting. The moment of silence contemplated by the Mayor will otherwise be a perpetuity of silence about the long-denied truth of this political murder. A demand for real justice would be the way to honor the life and legacy of John F. Kennedy, who was killed because of his actions and policies. In any case, we still intend to hold our Momen t of Silence this year on the Grassy Knoll. John Judge, Coalition on Political Assassinations, Washington, DC