My interests in American history and culture have never led me to serious attention to the Kennedy family or the Kennedy White House, so I didn’t expect to be drawn in especially deeply by last week’s new Know Your Enemy recording, a conversation Sam and Matt have with (ahem, comics scholar and ever-lovin’ Canadian) Jeet Heer about Garry Wills’ writing on the subject — appended below.
There’s a lot going on in this episode, but what took me particularly was the discussion’s occasional turn to something you might think I’d have given at least a little thought to before now: the clues the elements of cultural affinity between JFK and a guy like Bill Buckley or the pre-war politics of Kennedy dad Joe Sr., FDR’s late-1930s ambassador to the UK and friend of Nancy Astor, offer toward a coherent story of the United States’ ambivalence (or essential non-opposition, rather) toward fascism. That troubled national posture, with widespread popular tendency to less than straight telling of our recent history that follows, is one subject much on my mind for several years. You might indeed think it would have occurred to me to look into the Kennedy position, but it never has.
Not germane in the course of what Matt, Sam and Jeet have to talk about but point of curiosity my mind quickly ran to while listening was whether there might be a ’60s-period connection between Philip Johnson and the Kennedys.
It’s some years since I’ve read anything about Johnson. Chances are that I knew at some point that the JFK cenotaph in Dallas, 1969, was his work, or of his close association with Jacqueline Onassis in ’70s New York and to end of her life. If so, though, I’d managed to forget it. Some territory for exploration presents itself here, then, if I can make time eventually.