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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
November 02, 2004
News 11/01/04 - Adams: Our Duty To Stand Against Racism
News about Ireland & the Irish
SF 11/01/04 Gerry Adams - It Is Our Duty To Stand Against Racism
BT 11/01/04 Kidnappers Set Four Day Deadline
SF 11/01/04 DUP Unable To Accept Basic Equality And Power Sharing
UT 11/01/04 DUP Campbell Warning On Negotiations
BT 11/01/04 Provos Asked Derry's Bishop Eames To Help Catholics
BT 11/01/04 Family Of Murdered Brothers Meet O'Loan
BT 11/01/04 Orde: Sinn Fein Will Join Policing Structures
BT 11/01/04 US Army Official Slams Bush Over Halliburton Contracts
BT 11/01/04 Former Ulster Peace Talks Chairman Rallies Democrats
NY 11/01/04 New Yorker Book Rev: JFK Inaugural Speech
Gerry Adams - It Is Our Duty To Stand Against Racism
Published: 31 October, 2004
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP joined the weekend anti-racism
rally at Belfast City Hall organised by the Anti Racism Network and
Chinese Welfare Association. Speaking from the event Mr Adams said
that all of those in political leadership had 'a duty to stand up
against the racists and the bigots who were bring terror to the
ethnic minority communities in the city'.
Mr Adams said: "On countless occasions in the past I have joined
rallies in this city to demand Human Rights and Civil Rights.
Today's event is no different. The ethnic minority community in
this city are part of our fabric and they must be defended and
protected. Their rights as citizens must be upheld and they must be
allowed to live their lives in peace without the threat of racist
attack or abuse.
"All of us in political leadership in this city have a duty and an
obligation to stand up against the racists and the bigots who have
been engaged in an organised campaign of intimidation against
ethnic minority communities in this city.
"Racist attacks are unfortunately an almost daily reality and I
would call on those involved to desist immediately. I would also
appeal to the wider community to defend the rights, the safety and
the dignity of those members of our community who are vulnerable to
such appalling attacks.
"Racism extends far beyond such violent attacks. Members of ethnic
minority communities experience a whole series of inequalities in
our society, ranging from verbal and physical abuse to
discrimination in employment, education, health provision, and
public life more generally.
"Condemning racist attacks is not enough. We need to actively work
for the removal of racism from our society. This requires action as
much as words. It requires adequate resourcing and support for
ethnic minority communities and their support groups. And it
requires meaningful partnerships between all sections of society.
"Today's rally must not be the end, it must be the start of us
confronting and tackling racism and sectarianism from whatever
quarter. I commend the Anti-Racist Network and Chinese Welfare
Association and all who have worked with them and pledge the
continuing support of Sinn Féin representatives and activists to
tackle the issue of racism in the time ahead." ENDS
Kidnappers Set Four Day Deadline
Video nightmare for Annetta family
01 November 2004
Militants holding Co Armagh woman Annetta Flanigan and two other UN
workers in Afghanistan today set a deadline of four days for
negotiations on their demand that the United Nations withdraw from
According to a friend, Ms Flanigan's family is going through a
"nightmare" after a video of the distraught Co Armagh woman was
One day after the video was aired, the Taliban splinter group
claiming to hold them also said the trio had been split up to
thwart any rescue.
"That's our strategy," Ishaq Manzoor, a spokesman for the group,
said. "If the government and coalition forces find one of them, we
will kill the other two."
Afghan security officials say they have had no contact with the
kidnappers, who plucked the three in Kabul on Thursday. All were
helping manage Afghanistan's historic election.
But Manzoor insisted that a businessman was carrying messages
between the militants and the Afghan government and the United
Nations. He declined to elaborate.
On Sunday, the spokesman had suggested that the group, called
Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, would start killing the
hostages on Wednesday if its demands were not met.
Ms Flanigan's family have remained tight-lipped about the ordeal,
but friends and neighbours today said their suffering had been
intensified by the release of a video of the Richhill woman and her
co-hostages to Arabic televison.
In the tape, Ms Flanigan, Filipino diplomat Angelito Nayan and
Shqipe Habibi of Kosovo are sitting hunched together against the
bare wall of a room in an undisclosed location.
The three answered questions from someone speaking to them in
broken English from off camera.
Ms Flanigan is seen crying, but the hostages look healthy and
Their interviewer at several points seems to try to reassure them,
saying to Flanigan: "Don't cry. Why you cry?"
But he repeatedly - sometimes sharply - asks them what they are
doing in Afghanistan, and does not seem to understand their
Toward the end of the 15-minute video, the interviewer appears to
ask Ms Flanigan to cry for the camera, to which she replies: "I
have cried and cried and I can't cry anymore."
Family friend John McNally said the news would have come as a
"This has been headline news for us since she was captured and you
can only imagine how the family have been reacting," he said.
"I would know them well. They are stalwarts of the village, a very
private family and they must be going through an absolute nightmare
at the minute."
Queen's-educated Ms Flanigan (43) is married to a Spanish lawyer
and returned to her home village regularly. She worked as a lawyer
in Portadown for a period before adopting her new career which took
her to Rwanda and Bosnia as well as Afghanistan.
A Halloween party scheduled for the village was cancelled as the
anxious wait for news continued.
Special prayers were said at morning and evening services at St
Matthew's Church in Richhill yesterday.
DUP Unable To Accept Basic Equality And Power Sharing
Published: 31 October, 2004
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty today said that recent moves
by the DUP indicate that they appear to be moving backwards away
from a deal based on power sharing, equality and respect.
Mr Doherty said:
"Last week in Castlereagh Council the DUP Deputy leader Peter
Robinson sent a very clear message to all of us that the DUP have
not yet made the transition from a party seeking domination and
power to a party comfortable with equality and power sharing.
"This was followed up by a statement from Gregory Campbell
indicating that the DUP were still locked onto their ant-Agreement
agenda. The DUP claim to be democrats, yet they continue to ignore
the reality that the vast majority of people on this island support
the Good Friday Agreement.
"If a deal is to be done it will only be done on the basis of the
framework laid out in the Good Friday Agreement. There can be no
"Recent actions and comments from the DUP seem to indicate that
they are backing away from such a deal, uncomfortable with the core
fundamentals and principles which underpin the Agreement and the
process of change which flows from it." ENDS
Campbell Warning On Negotiations
Nationalist leaders in Northern Ireland need to realise that the
days of them getting their own way in negotiations are over, they
were told today.
Senior Democratic Unionist MP Gregory Campbell said recent attacks
on his party by Sinn Fein and the SDLP were triggered by a
nationalist realisation that his party was insisting on a level
playing field during talks.
The East Londonderry MP said: "At the moment there are problems
over how the IRA are going to ensure that everyone knows they have
decommissioned all their weapons and how we can arrive at an
arrangement in Northern Ireland where both communities support the
institutions which will be in place.
"Neither of these situations was reached under the old 1998 deal
and we saw where that led us to, so it is all the more imperative
that we get it right this time.
"One of the major stumbling blocks in an overall sense is that
nationalists and republicans have become so used to having their
own agendas met in previous talks processes.
"They are having some difficulty in adjusting to the new realities
where those of us negotiating for unionists this time around are
insisting on a level playing field. This has caused consternation
in the ranks of both the SDLP and Sinn Fein.
"Nationalists and republicans have enjoyed an elevated status for
years, their demands responded to and met, while unionists endured
second-class citizenship on many fronts. That day is over."
In September, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern felt they had come close to restoring power sharing in
Northern Ireland during talks at Leeds Castle in Kent.
Mr Blair said he believed a way had been found to resolve the
thorny issues of IRA decommissioning and ending paramilitary
But parties have not been able to bridge the gaps between them over
future power sharing arrangements.
The Rev Ian Paisley`s DUP and the cross-community Alliance Party
have been pressing for changes to the power sharing system, with
devolved ministers at Stormont becoming more accountable to their
cabinet colleagues and to the Assembly.
Mark Durkan`s SDLP and Sinn Fein have accused the DUP of trying to
radically rewrite the Good Friday Agreement to enable its party`s
ministers to wield a veto over the work of other ministers.
They have also claimed the DUP is trying to water down and limit
cross-border co-operation between a future Stormont administration
and the Irish Government.
Nationalists have raised concerns that British and Irish
Governments could dilute equality safeguards in the Agreement to
restore power sharing.
Mr Campbell insisted today the DUP was pressing for equal treatment
for unionist communities.
"We will not accept, for example, that unionist areas are
overlooked when European millions are allocated, that jobs are
awarded on anything other than merit rather than simply to
nationalists," he said.
"It cannot be the case on an ongoing basis that those who live near
the border with the Irish Republic - 80% of whom are nationalists -
get the advantages of cheaper fuel for domestic and commercial
vehicles while those who live further away from the border - mostly
unionists - have to pay more for theirs.
"The recent response I received from (Northern Ireland Office)
Security Minister Ian Pearson regarding the discriminatory 50/50
recruitment rule for the police crystalises the issue clearly for
"3,253 Protestants and others applied and were assessed as being
suitably qualified while 1,089 Roman Catholics did likewise.
"59.8% of the mainly Protestant group (1,944 people) were
unsuccessful despite being qualified while 8.5% (92 Roman
Catholics) suffered the same fate.
"Over 1,900 Protestants have now been told that they are good
enough to be police officers but they are the wrong religion.
"This is outrageous, discriminatory and cannot be justified or
"Sinn Fein has demanded change, we aim to see that they get it but
not what they expected.
"This may explain to some degree why the talks are stalled until
they begin to see the type of change that is really needed to make
Northern Ireland a better place for all."
Provos Asked Eames To Help Catholics
By Staff Reporter
01 November 2004
Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames secretly met a
Provisional IRA activist during his time as Bishop of Derry and
Raphoe to try to deal with the intimidation of Catholics by
The story is told for the first time in a new biography of Lord
Eames by Belfast Telegraph religion correspondent Alf McCreary,
entitled Nobody's Fool.
Lord Eames revealed that in 1976 he received a phone call from a
stranger asking for an interview, following visits he had made to
the Bogside area. The stranger agreed to a meeting in the Bishop's
House, even though the then bishop knew that it was "more likely
than not" a "feeler from the Provisional IRA".
The stranger asked the bishop to deal with loyalists who were
threatening to put Catholics out of their homes. Lord Eames said he
would try to help but could not guarantee anything.
The stranger confirmed he was "on the run" but had no fear of being
apprehended because of his visit.
Lord Eames asked himself: "In that two-hour conversation was I
seeing the tip of the iceberg of collusion with the authorities, in
that this fellow was sitting in the Bishop's House feeling safe,
although he was on the wanted list. I still don't know the answer,
but it has always struck me as very odd."
Family Of Murdered Brothers Meet O'Loan
By Chris Thornton
01 November 2004
The family of two brothers murdered by loyalists have had a
"constructive" meeting with Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan about
police handling of the case.
Eamon Cairns, whose sons Rory and Gerard were killed in their home
11 years ago, said the two-hour meeting "produced a lot of useful
"Our family search for truth and justice surrounding the horrific
murders of Gerard and Rory is not yet complete but we are hopeful
that the process entered into with the Ombudsman will result in a
positive outcome toward that aim in the near future," he said.
The family have been asking Mrs O'Loan to formally investigate the
case for more than a year.
Rory (18) and Gerard (22) were shot in the living room of the
family's home near Lurgan. Two UVF gunman walked past their sister,
who had just celebrated her 11th birthday, to carry out the attack.
The family have said they have two main concerns about the murders
that they want the Ombudsman to examine.
They believe one of the suspects in the killing was an informer and
the police had advance warning about the killing.
Orde: Sinn Fein Will Join Policing Structures
By David Gordon
01 November 2004
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde has told a republican magazine that
he believes Sinn Fein will sign up to policing structures here.
Mr Orde made the prediction while being interviewed by Anthony
McIntyre, an ex-IRA member and a convicted murderer.
Mr McIntyre is now a prominent critic of the Sinn Fein leadership
and co-edits The Blanket, an online radical republican magazine.
He interviewed Mr Orde with his wife and co-editor Carrie Twomey.
During the discussion, Mr McIntyre suggested to the police chief
that it was only a matter of time before Sinn Fein backed the PSNI.
Mr Orde replied: "I think it is a question of timing, but you
better ask them."
The Chief Constable further stated: "I think it may happen while I
am here. I am here for another three years.
"I think you are right, I think that could happen. In terms of
democratic control of policing, it should happen.
"They have a substantial 24% of the vote, something like that.
"It does seem logical that they would want to influence policing.
"But it is a matter for them when they come on. Timing - why
procrastinate? Ask them. I don't know. I have said from the day I
started they should be on it."
Mr McIntyre was convicted of murdering a loyalist in 1976 and
sentenced to 18 years in jail.
Interviewed for the latest edition of another magazine, The
Village, about the Orde interview, he stated: "Hugh Orde is
personable, witty and intelligent. He is a man of ability. He gave
me no reason to doubt his personal honesty."
US Army Official Slams Bush Over Halliburton Iraq Contracts
By David Randall
01 November 2004
One of the US Army's top procurement officers yesterday called the
Bush administration's grant of multibillion-dollar contracts to oil
services giant Halliburton "the worst case of contracting abuse she
has ever seen".
Bunny Greenhouse, the Corps of Engineers chief contracting
official, said: "It was misconduct, and part of that misconduct was
blatant." Her comments, made in an interview on NBC's Nightly News
programme, came as US government memos revealed that the Pentagon
extended a Halliburton contract for 11 months beyond its
expiration, despite warnings that the company was "out of control"
in its work providing troop support in the Balkans.
Ms Greenhouse has already demanded an investigation into the
contracts that last year were granted to Halliburton, the energy
services firm run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000.
According to her attorney, the FBI has since asked her for an
interview on the matter. The bureau has launched a criminal
investigation of the work. A spokesman for President Bush on Friday
said he expects a full investigation into allegations of wrongdoing
in how Iraq-related contracts were awarded to Halliburton.
Company spokeswoman Wendy Hall said earlier this week: "The old
allegations have once again been recycled, this time one week
before the election." Ms Greenhouse said she was not trying to
influence the election. But she also questioned the Pentagon's
waiver of rules requiring Halliburton to justify pricing for
services after a government auditor found the company may have
overcharged by $61m for fuel. "It all favoured Halliburton," she
Halliburton, which is already under investigation for overcharging
for work in Iraq, has been a target of Democratic criticism ahead
of Tuesday's election, with suggestions the Texas firm got special
treatment because of Mr Cheney. Ms Greenhouse vowed she was not
alleging any impropriety by the President or Vice President. "None
whatsoever," she said.
As far as the Balkans is concerned, Ms Greenhouse complained to Lt
Gen Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, that it
should not have halted plans to let companies compete for a
successor Balkans contract. Corps officials initially justified
stopping bidding by concluding that a "compelling emergency" would
exist if Hallibur- ton's work was interrupted.
But when she challenged the justification and sought an explanation
of the emergency, Corps officials changed their reasoning. The new
explanation was that Halliburton subsidiary KBR was the "one and
only" company that could do the job.
Former Ulster Peace Talks Chairman Rallies Democrats
By Ben Lowry in Manchester, New Hampshire
01 November 2004
The man who chaired the Good Friday peace talks has shared a
platform with the Democratic presidential contender John Kerry at a
key election rally in the US.
George Mitchell introduced Mr Kerry to wildly cheering supporters
during yesterday afternoon's outdoor event in Manchester, New
Mr Kerry thanked his former colleague in the US Senate, and cited
Mr Mitchell as the sort of person who could help repair diplomatic
fall-out from the Iraq war.
Speaking of the need to mend fences, Mr Kerry said: "Nobody knows
how to do that better than the senator for Maine George Mitchell
who helped bring peace to Ireland."
Senator Mitchell has been tipped as a possible US Secretary of
State - equivalent to Foreign Secretary - if Mr Kerry wins
Senator Kerry's visit to the small state of New Hampshire, within
48 hours of a visit to the same town by President George W Bush,
was an indication of the closeness of the poll.
Both candidates attracted several thousand supporters to their
noisy rallies, starting with President Bush at an indoor arena in
Manchester on Friday.
The man who wins the state will pick up only four votes out of 538
in the electoral college that decides the overall winner. But those
four votes could prove pivotal.
Al Gore lost here in 2000 to President Bush by a mere 7,200 votes.
Had Gore won, he would have become president without need of a
recount in Florida.
The other five New England states - Maine, Vermont, Connecticut,
Rhode Island and Mr Kerry's native Massachusetts - look certain to
be won handsomely by Mr Kerry.
The Republican Party was founded in New Hampshire - one reason why
support for it is higher in the state, which also has an anti-tax,
Furthermore, there was less Irish immigration to New Hampshire than
to other parts of New England.
"The other big immigrant group to New Hampshire, the French
Canadians, assimilated and didn't build up a pro- Democrat political
base," commented Andrew Smith, a polling expert at the University
of New Hampshire.
Mr Kerry's chance of taking the state may be bolstered from name
recognition as a senator for neighbouring Massachusetts.
But the president can also claim some local roots - despite growing
up in Texas, his family are upper class Wasps from New England.
The Bushes have an elegant holiday mansion at Kennebunkport, Maine,
a few miles from the New Hampshire border.
Ask Not, Tell Not
by LOUIS MENAND
Anatomy Of An Inaugural.
Issue of 2004-11-08
Catholics in the Washington, D.C., area were relieved of the
proscription against eating meat on Friday, January 20, 1961, by
special order of His Holiness Pope John XXIII, in recognition of
the inauguration, that day, of the first Roman Catholic President
of the United States. John F. Kennedy took advantage of the papal
dispensation by having bacon for breakfast. He was a man accustomed
to the discreet aid and succor of the intelligent, the beautiful,
and the well-placed.
The Pope's dietary intercession must be one of the very few stories
with a connection to the inauguration that did not make it into
"Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That
Changed America" (Holt; $25), Thurston Clarke's earnestly
exuberant, nearly minute-by-minute re-creation of the writing and
delivery of Kennedy's famous inaugural address. (The story appears
in Richard Reeves's illuminating "President Kennedy: Profile of
Power.") "Ask Not" is a short book, but there are many berries on
the bush. There was plenty of press around in 1961, and lots of
cameras, but it was still only the dawn of the era of the
unblinking media eye, our own panoptic regime, in which every
twitch of the celebrated is monitored and made instantly available
for mass titillation. Not all of the celebrated had made the
adjustment in 1961, and there was some amusing leakage around the
borders of the official script. Frank Sinatra (a well- placed friend
if you happened to be interested in making the acquaintance of
compliant young actresses) responds to a reporter's query at the
entrance to a pre-inaugural party by snapping, "Where are you from?
Bulgaria?" In the car on the way to the inauguration, Mamie
Eisenhower makes conversation with Jackie Kennedy, who is the wife
of a man about to become the first Irish-American President, and
who is seven-eighths Irish herself, by remarking, "Doesn't Ike look
like Paddy the Irishman in that hat?"
At the inaugural ceremony, Cardinal Cushing, of Boston, delivering
the invocation, notices smoke issuing from the lectern. Believing
it to indicate the presence of an assassin's bomb, the Cardinal
slows down what is already being regarded as an interminable
address, in the hope that, when the bomb goes off, his body will
shield Kennedy from the blast. (The smoking stopped when an
electrician yanked, more or less at random, one of the wires
running under the lectern.) Congressman Howard Smith, Democrat of
Virginia, walks out before Marian Anderson sings the national
anthem. (Smith later led the opposition in the House to the 1964
Civil Rights Act. The opposition in the Senate was led by that
cynosure of senatorial rectitude Robert Byrd, of West Virginia.) As
Kennedy repeats the oath of office, his left hand nervously slips
off the Bible, leading some Protestant divines to argue, afterward,
that he had never really been sworn in. Robert Frost, before
reciting his poem "The Gift Outright," as a prelude to Kennedy's
speech, refers to "the President-elect, Mr. John Finley,"
apparently confusing Kennedy with the master of Eliot House, at
Harvard. As Kennedy gives his speech, Lyndon Johnson, sitting
behind him and in the view of a television audience of sixty
million, notices a piece of paper on the floor, picks it up,
retrieves his reading glasses, puts them on, examines one side of
the paper, turns it over and examines the other side, and places
the paper in a pocket of his suit. The chair in Row B in the stands
reserved for Kennedy's brother-in-law Peter Lawford is empty,
because Lawford has a hangover and is back at the hotel, watching
the ceremony on TV with Sinatra.
There was also, as Clarke, like other historians, enjoys pointing
out, an almost comic web of dislike and suspicion uniting the
dignitaries assembled on the platform to hear Kennedy's speech.
Eisenhower referred to Kennedy as "Little Boy Blue." Truman
despised Kennedy, because he despised Kennedy's father, Joe, whom
he had once threatened to throw out a hotel window. Eleanor
Roosevelt, another enemy of Joe's, had campaigned to prevent
Kennedy from getting the nomination and declined to sit on the
platform with the other grandees. Jackie called the Johnsons
"Colonel Cornpone and his Little Porkchop." Johnson called Bobby
Kennedy "that little shitass"; Bobby described Johnson as "an
animal in many ways." Adlai Stevenson resented the Kennedys for
naming him Ambassador to the United Nations, and not Secretary of
State, the job to which he believed he was entitled, and the
Kennedys resented Stevenson for pouting about it, which he was,
quite blatantly, doing. And practically no one liked Richard Nixon,
not even, when all was said and done, Nixon—a man who, during the
campaign, had insisted that "America cannot stand pat," apparently
forgetting the name of his own wife.
The core of "Ask Not" is an anatomy and an appreciation of
Kennedy's speech, which Clarke calls the centerpiece of "a moment
when Americans would step through a membrane in time, entering a
brief, still seductive era, of national happiness." It is therefore
a work a little "in the tradition of" (as publishers like to say)
Garry Wills's popular book on the Gettysburg Address, "Lincoln at
Gettysburg," to which it dutifully alludes. Clarke, however, has a
problem unfamiliar to students of Lincoln, which is the conviction,
shared by many, that Kennedy's rhetorical sails were filled by the
wind of other men. Kennedy's dependence on speechwriters has become
thought of as just part of his general reliance on the talented
people who tended to be drawn to him, as another feature of his
sense of prerogative. That good sport Nixon, asked what he thought
of Kennedy's speech, said, "It's easy for Kennedy to get up and
read Sorenson's speeches. I don't think it's responsible unless he
believes it himself."
Theodore Sorenson had been working on Kennedy's speeches since
1953, but Clarke thinks that it is accurate to call Kennedy himself
the author of his inaugural address—and certainly of the lines that
everyone remembers, including "Ask not what your country can do for
you; ask what you can do for your country." His evidence is the
drafts made by the speechwriter, the shorthand records of Kennedy's
own dictation, and Kennedy's pre-election speeches. He thinks these
demonstrate that what Kennedy said in the inaugural address was his
own thoughts in his own words. Clarke is not quite as persuasive as
he wants to be, but he is as persuasive as he needs to be.
Kennedy took speechmaking very seriously. He was infatuated with
Churchill; at home, he used to orate along with Churchill on the "I
Can Hear It Now" LPs, narrated by Edward R. Murrow. Kennedy was not
a naturally gifted orator. He felt uncomfortable in crowds; he had
that semi-comic Harvard accent; and he was an impatient man who
read quickly and disliked public posturing. He once promised
himself that he would never, no matter what, raise his arms above
his head and flash a V-for-victory sign. He left that sort of thing
to Nixon. But he was a keen student of political rhetoric, as he
was a keen student of all the ingredients of political
accomplishment. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, another of his heroes,
he was a pragmatist who wanted to be a great man. It is not the
worst combination of attributes in a politician. Kennedy gave the
job of speechwriter to Sorenson for the good reason that he thought
Sorenson knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it.
Sorenson liked to maintain, later on, that, in the course of his
relationship with Kennedy, "their style and standard had become
increasingly one." This may seem self-serving, but people who knew
them shared the view—that Sorenson, in his speechwriting mode,
"was" Jack Kennedy.
Clarke's view is that when Sorenson produced a draft of the
inaugural address he was expanding on points dictated to him by
Kennedy and formulating sentences that recast things that Kennedy
had said before. (Often, of course, those things must have been in
speeches written by Sorenson.) Kennedy, Clarke says, was an active
agent. He did not just read a script; he provided the raw material
and supervised the crafting. This is all probably true, but it is
not what most of us mean by "authorship." Kennedy was furious when
it was rumored that he had not written "Profiles in Courage,"
which, published in 1956, won a Pulitzer Prize. When the columnist
Drew Pearson claimed that the book had been ghostwritten by
Sorenson, Kennedy hired Clark Clifford, then a Washington lawyer,
to help compel a retraction. (Pearson issued the retraction; it was
ghostwritten for him by Sorenson.) One of Kennedy's recent
biographers, Robert Dallek, concludes, from the tapes of Kennedy's
dictation, that Kennedy was more involved in the composition of
"Profiles in Courage" than skeptics have imagined, but that the
book "was more the work of a 'committee' than any one person." It
was neither the first time nor the last that a politician produced
a book in this manner. It has been said that it took a village to
make "It Takes a Village." What readers want to feel, in books like
those, is not that every word was sweated over in isolation by the
famous person whose name is on the title page but that what is
expressed is what the famous person really believes. The basketball
star Charles Barkley's complaint that he was misquoted in his own
autobiography signals a certain betrayal of faith.
And, in the case of the inaugural address, so what? Kennedy
solicited ideas for the speech from many people. Some were advisers
whose views he cared about; some were opinion-makers whom he wished
to feel invested in the result. Walter Lippmann, for example, was
shown a draft by Sorenson. Lippmann proposed a small change, which
was duly made, and then proceeded, after the inauguration, to
publish a column in which he described Kennedy's address as a
"remarkably successful piece of self-expression" that "exemplified
the qualities which the world has come to expect of the President."
Lippmann did not, as Clarke notes, disclose his own modest
contribution. Kennedy would have been a fool not to have asked for
input, or, having received suggestions, to have ignored them
completely. He naturally delegated the main business of composition
to Sorenson, whose drafts he used as the basis for his own
dictation and rewrites. Kennedy had an ear; he had wit; he liked to
turn a phrase. The speech was better for his emendations and his
careful and repeated polishing. He made thirty-two changes—mostly,
it seems, for the better—extemporaneously, while he was delivering
the address. There are Presidents who are mouthpieces, who utter
what they have been programmed to utter. There is little danger of
their going "off-message," because, apart from the message, they
have nothing much to say. Kennedy was not one of those Presidents.
He would not have received full credit for his inaugural address in
English class, but Presidential inaugurations, fortunately, are not
Clarke is intrepid in tracking down the sources for many of the
phrases in Kennedy's speech. Unsurprisingly, there are a number of
echoes of Churchill. It is a little disheartening to learn that the
headmaster of Kennedy's prep school used to say that it's "not what
Choate does for you, but what you can do for Choate." On the other
hand, Clarke reminds us, the phrase "We have nothing to fear but
fear itself," in Roosevelt's first inaugural address, probably came
from a department-store ad in a newspaper. And who remembers the
department store today? It's not where you got it; it's what you do
Kennedy's inaugural address is remembered as a call to public
service. That's how Clarke remembers it. Actually, the speech is
almost exclusively about the Cold War, addressed as much to
Khrushchev as to the American public. The "Ask not" line follows
right after an exhortation modelled on Franklin Roosevelt's
"rendezvous with destiny": "In the long history of the world, only
a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom
in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this
responsibility—I welcome it." The note throughout is one of alarm:
"The trumpet summons us again"; "the burden of a long twilight
struggle"; "that uncertain balance of terror." The call to
alleviate poverty and disease is a call to alleviate poverty and
disease in other countries, implicitly on the Cold War theory,
dating from the Marshall Plan, that poverty and disease is a
breeding ground for Communism. It is not a speech about service; it
is a speech about the containment of Soviet Communism. It could
have been delivered, almost without a word changed, in 1948.
Kennedy's is the fourth-shortest inaugural address in American
history (Kennedy wisely insisted on brevity): fifty-two sentences,
fewer than fourteen hundred words. Ten of those words are words for
freedom ("free," "freedom," "liberty"). Eleven are variants of
"new" ("anew," "renew," "renewal"). "Generation" appears four
times, "revolution" or "revolutionary" three times. The "world,"
"globe," "earth," "planet" is mentioned fourteen times. There are
exactly two words about domestic issues. They appear in a sentence
pledging not to "permit the slow undoing of those human rights to
which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are
committed today at home and around the world." The last six words
in that sentence were a late insertion, made in response to a plea
by two Kennedy advisers, Harris Wofford and Louis Martin, to say
something to acknowledge the support that Kennedy had received from
African-Americans. "At home" constitutes the speech's entire
consideration of civil rights.
It is a strong and streamlined speech, and its style suited
perfectly the persona of the man who delivered it. It is hortatory,
but it was a hortatory occasion. There is only one clunky moment
("And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of
suspicion"), and when you read some of the undeliverable epigrams
that Kennedy's advisers proposed—John Kenneth Galbraith:
"Penuriousness is not the path to greatness"—you realize that one
mismatched metaphor is not so bad. But it is a sad speech to read
today. This is only partly because, as Clarke rightly says, that
was a time of civic faith and optimism, and a time when it gave
Americans pleasure to think of the President as someone special, a
different breed from the rest of us, and not a man who has to
constantly pretend to be one of the guys. The speech is also sad
because it articulates, in the noblest terms, the Cold War
aspiration of winning the hearts and minds of the decolonizing
world—the aspiration that came to grief in Vietnam.
The inaugural address is canonical, but it is not Kennedy's most
remarkable speech. That was the speech he gave at the Rudolph Wilde
Platz, in West Berlin, on June 23, 1963. A million people turned
out; the ones who fainted were held upright by the crush. The
speech is under seven hundred words, and Kennedy improvised much of
it, though he had the German spelled out phonetically for him. His
advisers, in fact, were appalled by its bellicosity. But Kennedy
understood Berlin, and he understood its significance in the
history of the century. He had been there in August, 1939, leaving
just days before the invasion of Poland. He revisited the city in
July, 1945, three months after the death of Hitler, and he was
stunned by what he saw. Berlin had been destroyed. Kennedy could be
a cold and vain man, and he led a life of privilege. But he knew
something about the world; he also cared about it. His speech in
1963 ends with that grand gesture of solidarity: "All free men,
wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a
free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'" The
gesture is in the spirit of Roosevelt and Marshall, and it was the
last time an American President could make it without immediately
raising doubts about its authenticity. Five months later, Kennedy