Jacqueline Kennedy Tapes Provide Glimpse Into Kennedy Presidency
Jacqueline Kennedy (Credit: Cecil W. Stoughton / Executive Office of the President of the United States)
The Kennedy legacy is so powerful that even more than a decade after Jacqueline Kennedy’s death, her opinions on her husband’s presidency and the important world leaders and news makers at the time still matter. Four months after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy recorded an interview with longtime Kennedy aide Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., on the condition that it would be released after her death. Those tapes were made available this month, and today, eight and a half hours of transcripts and audio were released in “”Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” with the approval of her daughter Caroline Kennedy.
On top of providing intimate details about key moments in the Kennedy presidency — she said of the Bay of Pigs incident: “He came back over to the White House to his bedroom and he started to cry, just with me. You know, just for one — just put his head in his hands and sort of wept. It was so sad, because all his first 100 days and all his dreams, and then this awful thing to happen. And he cared so much.” — she gave her uninhibited opinion on other world leaders and important figures today. She called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “a phony,” French President Charles DeGaulle “an egomaniac” and said that former Indonesian President Sukamo left “a bad taste in your mouth.”
However, most shocking to the Kennedy grandchildren was their grandmother’s view on women’s role in politics. Not only did she not believe women could handle a political career, she called her marriage”rather terribly Victorian or Asiatic” adding that she got most of her opinions from her husband. However, it is important to note that she was echoing the sentiment of women during the early to mid 1960s, and her views did change later in her life.
The one thing that won’t be shared is Jacqueline Kennedy’s views on John F. Kennedy’s multiple women. “I wouldn’t be her daughter if I would share all that,” Caroline said during an interview with Diane Sawyer.