Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On Valentine's Day fifty-three years ago, February 14, 1962, President John F. Kennedy was asked the following question by a White House reporter...
"Mr. President, this being Valentine's Day, sir, do you think it might be a good idea if you would call Senator Strom Thurmond* of South Carolina down to the White House for a heart-to-heart talk about the whole disagreement over the censorship of the military speeches and what he calls your defeatist foreign policy?"
President Kennedy's response was received with laughter by the press corps...
"Well, I think that that meeting should be probably prepared at a lower level..."
The lack of love between JFK and the racist, anti-communist South Carolina senator is all too clear despite the President's humorous response.
In September of that same year, Strom sent the following telegram to JFK...
"Both you and the Attorney General have indicated that troops would not be used against a sovereign state...(but) new reports (are saying) that you are preparing to use force to enroll James Meredith at the University of Mississippi against the right of the state....to control its own educational system. (This) is most shocking and disturbing..."
The Senator counseled the President to "not be stampeded into this unwise action."
After JFK's death, Senator Thurmond expressed the view that President Kennedy had been the victim of a communist plot. He said publicly..."I hope the whole story can come out?"
In a review of a biography of the senator by Joseph Crespino, Michael O'Donnell describes Strom Thurmond as "a malevolent Forrest Gump."
He points out that, according to Crespino, in 1962...
"the Kennedy administration incensed (Thurmond) by 'muzzling' military leaders who had forced their troops to read material from the John Birch Society..."
One of those military leaders was General Edwin Walker of Dallas, Texas who was allegedly shot at by Lee Harvey Oswald.
"A Malevolent Forrest Gump," by Michael O'Donnell, Washington Monthly, September/October 2012
"Integrating Ole Miss, a Civil Rights Milestone," www.microsites.jfklibrary.org/
"Thurmond on the Kennedy assassination," December 1963, www.mirc.sc./
Senator Strom Thurmond
*Strom Thurmond (1902-2003) was born in Edgefield, South Carolina. He graduated from Clemson University in 1923 and was admitted to the bar in 1930. ST served in the army during WWII and served as SC governor from 1947-1951.
In 1948, he was the presidential nominee of the States Rights or Dixiecrat party. ST completed his political career in the US Senate from 1956-2003.