President John F. Kennedy has become a mythical figure in American history. Politicians on both sides of the aisle invoke his words and memory (sometimes even accurately !). JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963 is widely seen as a sort of death of American innocence. If you are of my generation, you probably remember exactly where you were when you found out our President had been killed. It was the violent end of Camelot. It is also the touchstone for conspiracy theorists everywhere. In my opinion, every American conspiracy theory created since JFK...has something to do with JFK. If you couldn't believe the official government explanation in 1963, you can't believe it now either, and most Americans don't believe the Warren Commission report.
The problem with JFK assassination theories is, there is so much misinformation out there that it's hard to know what to believe. Oliver Stone's fictional movie comes to mind, along with a host of books on the subject. JFK assassination books are practically a cottage industry. You can find one to support whatever assassination theory you choose to believe. I don't want to waste time debating the various theories here, but I'll give you my opinion. I stress that this is only my opinion, because I don't have all the facts. Maybe we will find out more by 2017, when all remaining documents about JFK are supposed to be released. Or maybe we won't.
In my opinion, Lee Harvey Oswald definitely shot Kennedy. All the evidence indicates he did. Oswald shot him because Oswald was a Castro/Russia-supporting Communist. JFK wasn't even the first assassination Oswald attempted. He also attempted to shoot a right-wing former General named Edwin Walker, so we know Oswald was already prone to using violence for political ends.
I believe the magic bullet (the 1st shot) is explainable (Texas Governor John Connally was sitting to the inside of JFK in the front seat, not directly in front of him. This eliminates the need for the magic bullet to make a right-hand turn to hit Connally, and the downward trajectory of the magic bullet is consistent with being fired from the 6th floor). I also believe Oswald fired the 2nd shot, which missed, but it was the 3rd shot that killed JFK, and it's the 3rd shot that makes me believe there was likely a second shooter. From the forensics that were released, the third shot entered the lower rear of Kennedy's skull. The problem is, from the Zapruder film we see that the 3rd shot exited the top right part of Kennedy's skull. How does Oswald fire a shot from the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository that hits Kennedy in the lower part of the skull, with the shot traveling downward from right to left, that blows away the top right side of Kennedy's head ? That bullet should have exited Kennedy on the left side, not the right, and the trajectory is wrong if it was fired from the 6th floor. It seems to me that the 3rd shot came from street level.
If there were two shooters, that indicates a conspiracy...but of course, I could be wrong.
Let's move on to other JFK myths. The Washington Post came up with five myths which challenge the things folks think they know about JFK. Here's the list:
1. The JFK-Nixon TV debates propelled Kennedy to victory.
2. JFK was a liberal president.
3. Kennedy was determined to land Americans on the moon.
4. After the assassination, Lyndon Johnson adhered to JFK’s agenda
5. Fifty years later, we know everything we’ll ever know about Kennedy’s assassination.
None of the above statements are accurate, yet most American believe they are true. You can read the WaPo article for the details. Because this is a political blog, I'd like to focus a bit on #2.
JFK was not a liberal, not by today's definition of the word. The truth is, by today's standards, he was a conservative Democrat at best. He was hawkish on defense, and an ardent opponent of Communism. He was against abortion. He cut taxes, didn't believe in a huge welfare state, and didn't believe in liberal federal spending. He was fiscally conservative and didn't want to run huge federal deficits. He believed in balanced budgets. Now that I'm writing this all down, JFK sounds a lot like me on fiscal issues, and nobody ever accused me of being a liberal Democrat (not since about 1975, anyway). To borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me. By today's standards, you could even say JFK was a (gasp!) Republican. MSNBC, ThinkProgress, and the rest of the left-wing screechers would hate him. They'd call him a warmongerer who hated the poor and was waging a war against women. I'm sure they'd make a stink because JFK was a rich, privileged white guy, one of those one percenters they despise so much. Can you imagine today's lefties getting behind "Ask not what your country can do for you" ? They expect their country to do almost everything for them, and get indignant if it doesn't.
JFK is also associated with civil rights, but he was reluctant in that area as well. I can't say I agree with him there, but ultimately he did the right thing, so he gets credit.
Thus ends this chapter of Mythbusters.
...or maybe Jack Ruby was working for the CIA. That's the ticket.
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