Tragically we will never know what history would have made of JFK’s second term as president. Personally I suspect that like the current incumbent of the Oval Office the early promise would not have been fulfilled and of course we are now aware of the private life behind the public man.
That said, history I suspect would have been very different but for the ill-fated trip to Dallas but who can say for sure? Would the crack-down on organized crime have continued and would the American involvement in Vietnam have evolved into what it did? I think yes and no, respectively.
A brave decision:
Given that JFK won the 1960 election by a fairly narrow margin and that win was helped by the labour vote, it was a brave decision to take on organized crime. Why? Simply because in those days the union votes were controlled by organized crime which controlled the unions. Allegedly Joseph Kennedy (JFK’s father) called in some favours but who knows for sure? I don’t want to get involved in conspiracy theories but I think the answer to ‘who shot JFK’ is pretty obvious and if Lee Harvey Oswald did actually pull a trigger then he wouldn’t have been alone. Just too many people on the spot were sure they had seen something on the infamous Grassy Knoll, something which the equally infamous Warren commission studiously ignored. Why and was it a cover up? A cover up of sorts, certainly. ‘The mob’ permeated American politics at local levels and police forces throughout the country. To admit that organized crime had taken their revenge on JFK for, as they would have seen it turning on them after they’d helped get him elected would have resulted in major ructions throughout America. I think the decision was taken to hush up ‘the Mob’s’ involvement and then deal with them over a number of years. By and large this is what has happened but perhaps America would be a different place if a different decision had been reached.
People forget that it was actually JFK who expanded America’s involvement in Vietnam and the escalation that is commonly assumed to be the Johnson’s doing was actually initiated by JFK. That said it is my personal belief that once it became apparent that what would now be termed ‘a surge’ was not working JFK would have been brave enough to take on vested interests, the industrial and military unholy alliance and pull the plug. Don’t forget that he would have been president until 1968 if he won a second term and by then it had long been obvious that America was on a hiding to nothing in Vietnam. I can’t say for sure of course but this is my opinion.
Whatever his personal failings and in many ways incredible, now well-documented lack of judgement in his private life nobody should doubt his personal bravery and determination to make the world a better place. Yes the man was flawed but show me anybody who isn’t.
And now for my lack of judgement:
People might say that what follows is inappropriate and they may well be correct. Think of it as my opinion of the Warren Commission’s findings.
What follows is an extract from the upcoming Karno adventure and I make no apologies for it.
Bill gripped Karno’s arm.
“Oh my God.” He said.
“You OK Tinto?”
“Look, look.” With a shaking hand Bill was pointing across the service road.
Karno looked. There was a service road between the factory and the main road. Separating the two roads was a fence and on the other side of the fence was a pavement. Bill was pointing at a clump of scrubby-looking bushes.
“My God.” He repeated.
“Right, right. Time for a little afternoon slurperoony Bill I think, just to settle the old withdrawal symptoms or did you try a little Jabbar cake on the sly?”
“I’ve got it Chemical Sabey.”
“I think you have Tinto but keep it to yourself, I don’t really want it.”
“No, no you don’t understand.”
“Right enough, I don’t. Doc Carver did warn me you’d abruptly wander off into your own little world without any warning but I still find it disconcerting. Run it by me slowly, what is this religious experience you’re having?”
“Can you not see it Chemical Sabey. The Grassy Knoll.” His voice dropped to a hoarse whisper.
“The Grassy Knoll.” Karno repeated.
“Yes. Yes I see it all Chemical Sabey. The putrid poisoner positions himself in the Grassy Knoll and waits for the motorcade to arrive.”
“Ah. A motorcade of one vehicle, I see.”
“Yes. Armed with a one-puff action Henry Mancini Bolivian blow-pipe, the poisoner patiently waits his chance. The sacks of flour, usually twenty of them, are off-loaded but it’s done quickly.”
“Yes. Penhaligons security detail whisks the sacks inside quickly and the poisoner has only one chance. He has time for one shot.”
“Absolutely. It must be at least fifty metres from the Grassy Knoll to the door. That takes a tremendous amount of puff and without an oxygen cylinder, which would be noticeable even to a casual observer, even an expert breather could only get off one shot. Hah, off course it’s obvious now. Twenty sacks of flour and about a five percent contamination rate. Five percent of twenty is one. The solution was staring us in the face all the time.”
“So you’re saying that this is the work of a lone-piper?”
“I wonder if he plays requests, I always liked ‘Mull of Kintyre’.”
“No he doesn’t plays requests or yes he does but not ‘the Mull of Kintyre’?”
“My question exactly.”
“Damn! Fifty metres.”
“So you said and it looks about right.”
“But don’t you see? That means he must have a long pipe.”
“I’m sure that makes his lady friends very happy Bill.”
“I can’t speak from experience I’m afraid but I’m sure it would.”
“The Henry Mancini long-blow is six feet in length. It’s too obvious.”
“Perhaps the poisoner is in disguise.”
“Right. I mean if he was disguised as, oh I don’t know, Little John for example, then people would think the long-blow was a stave.”
“That’s true. A cool character Chemical Sabey.”
“Indeed. Hardly blends in though, does he? I mean some people, not you obviously but some people might think it a little strange seeing some cove wandering about the place wearing Lincoln Green tights and carrying a six foot length of pipe.”
“You have a point.”
“Ingenious though it was, your lone-piper theory doesn’t hold water. Shall we get on now?”
“Wait! I have it, by Jove I have it.”
“The pipe has been specially modified by an illegal after-market blow-pipe modifier. Don’t you see? The pipe is in sections which screw together. Screwed together, they look just like a crutch and the poisoner, disguised as a lost Tour of Britain cyclist, limps over to the Grassy Knoll. He takes the shoulder piece off which is in fact the saddle for his get-away bike, takes his shot and limps away.”
“Still a bit obvious. Wouldn’t he want to alter his appearance so even if somebody sees him limping into the bushes dressed in lurid Lycra they would apparently see another person walking away. That way no eye witness would describe the same person and two eye witnesses would be really confused, as indeed am I.”
“Yes. Got it! He takes the shot, reverses his jacket, the inside of which is a different colour. He throws down the blow pipe, keeping the saddle. He walks, not limps, briskly but inconspicuously away, gets on his bike and pedals off with nobody any the wiser.”
“Leaving the blow-pipe behind?”
“No. His accomplice picks it up, unscrews it, puts it in his lunch box and walks off in the other direction. Oh my God!”
“All seeing, all knowing and ever-present Bill.”
“That means there are two of them!”
“Don’t jump to conclusions, let’s think this through logically now. One the lone-piper and then we have his accomplice who picks up the discarded blowpipe. Yup, that’s two.”
“There are two of them! You know what that means don’t you?”
“I have my own theory concerning this but why don’t you tell me what you think?”
“If there are two of them then that means it’s not the work of a lone piper.”
“I’m with you so far Bill.”
“Then if there are two of them and all the evidence indicates that there must be, then it’s a conspiracy!”
“Right. I think we ought to go down the pub and explore this further. You don’t think for example that the now apparently not lone-piper walks away and then drives off on a sled pulled by genetically engineered camels?”
“If it had snowed that would certainly be an inconspicuous mode of transport.”
“Lost amongst all the other sleds pulled by camels you mean?”
“”So we’re looking for an expert breather who has access to genetically engineered camels?”
“I’m sure he’s still here.”
“Apart from the lack of a motive I have to say that this would be a complicated way of going about poisoning his own pasties.”
“But it does fit the facts. The flour is delivered at around six-thirty every morning and nobody ever sees Penhaligon at the factory at six-thirty in the morning.”
“Therefore he is in disguise on the Grassy Knoll with his accomplice.”
“As opposed to still in bed with his wife because he doesn’t have to be at the factory until about nine-ish because he owns the place?”
“It’s the perfect alibi! I put it to you, how many people have ever actually seen him in bed with his wife at six-thirty in the morning?”