JFK and Obama--Profiles in Courage and Cowardice

I became an adult sometime in June, 1968. I was 18 and had just graduated from high school. Upon turning 18, the state demanded I register for the draft. The Vietnam War was more than five years old and LBJ demanded more troops for Southeast Asia. Like millions of other young, American men, I was cannon fodder for an enormous, immoral and wasteful foreign folly.

 Three prominent US leaders had been assassinated during those last five years of my childhood. Lone gunmen, we were told repeatedly by the media, had slain JFK, MLK and RFK. As I grew older, but not necessarily wiser, I realized that each of them must have known of their probable fate. Indeed, both John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King had hinted at their 'rendezvous with death' in the months before they died. We grow old waiting for good government. If madness is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result, then the definition of voting is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for better leaders. Hoping for change, we see our hopes dashed and our champions either betray us or assassinated. Those leaders who dare express a genuine determination to change the corrupt system once in office are probably warned by handlers, perhaps warned several times, that any idealistic breach, any ethical intention to overturn the entrenched money power system is a death sentence.

 Obama knew beforehand. How could he not? He was warned'or cautioned if you prefer'to conduct himself accordingly by his handlers, by the powerbrokers who wield true power behind the scenes. You could see it throughout his entire campaign. Thinly veiled threats to the Middle East, rattling sabers rather than building bridges. In other words, business as usual. Months, perhaps years, before his perplexing rise to power, mentors guided the young Barack Hussein Obama. Elderly politicians, mistakenly called 'statesmen,' corporate billionaires and CFR members groomed him on his conduct, his platform and the unwritten rules of governance, should he achieve high office. And Obama did not disappoint his backers, having done their bidding as soon as that highest office was achieved. Had he done otherwise, adhered to an ethical standard of behavior, his backers would have reminded the president elect how others had paid before him, in cold blood at the hand of a 'lone gunman,' for betraying them.

 Before I wrote The Guns of Dallas, on the 40th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I read numerous books seeking some insight into the crime. After all, that crime and the other two similar assassinations had affected my future life deeply. Certainly I wanted to know who did it, but more importantly I wanted to know WHY they did it. My fictional conspirator, the dying Jimmy Jeremiah, explained to his skeptical biographer, Daniel Pilgrim, that JFK faced such a wide array of corrupt and powerful adversaries that any true crime scene investigation would have revealed a dozen or more interconnected groups with a grudge. 'People'powerful people'wanted Jack killed. You see, JFK was a very good man, and yet a very wicked man too. Camelot was a whole lot of camouflage for the media and the average, uninformed man in the street. Perhaps Jack Kennedy epitomized America.

 He represented a true cross-section of our national character'lust, charm, cussedness, generosity, cruelty, and a kind of hardheaded idealism. And so he had to be killed.' In America, idealism itself is praiseworthy, right up until the time some public servant attempts to pursue it as policy. JFK, despite his flaws as a man, did several things in the national interest that got him killed. In other words, he pissed off the very same military-industrial powers that Eisenhower warned the country to beware. Not least of all, Kennedy attempted to weaken the Hydra-like power of the Federal Reserve, rightfully restore the US monetary system to the Treasury, smash the CIA, and shorten the war in Vietnam. Any one of which was enough to get him killed. By contrast, huge rewards are reserved for those who serve the 'New World Order' faithfully. Clinton and Bush are two recent prime examples. In January, Obama will decide who and what he serves. Huge rewards for those who do the bidding of the power brokers behind the throne. Bullets for those who don't.

 Progressives who favored the election of Obama, either as their champion for change or simply the lesser of two evils, expressed the most frustration. Upon hearing of his Cabinet selections, most thought his 'Team of Rivals' more akin to the management of the Oakland Raiders than the vision of the Founding Fathers. 'Not one of the 23 Senators and 133 House Representatives who voted against the war in Iraq are on his transitional team or even on a short-list for an important post in his Cabinet,' wrote Eric Walberg, in Obama's Odious Entourage. 'Larry Summers, who was Clinton 's treasury secretary, will head the National Economic Council. Considering that he is a chief architect of the current financial meltdown, we should be wondering why Obama isn't preparing an arrest warrant for him, instead of offering him the most powerful economic role in the world.' 'Obama's key White House position will go to Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois,' wrote Joshua Frank in A Look Under the Hood of an Obama Administration. 'Emanuel, who supports the War on Terror, (and is the son of a terrorist) and expanding our presence in Afghanistan, worked hard to ensure that a Democratic House majority would not alter the course of US military objectives in the Middle East . . . . 

Other foreign policy advisors may also include the likes of Madeline Albright, the great supporter of Iraq sanctions, which killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.' Third party candidate Ralph Nader wrote: 'The signs are amassing that Barack Obama put a political con job over on the American people. He is now daily buying into the entrenched military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned Americans about in his farewell address . . . . With Robert Rubin on his side during his first photo opportunity after the election, he signaled to Wall Street that his vote for the $750 billion bailout of those speculators and crooks was no fluke.' Time will tell whether the next president exhibits courage or cowardice. Personally, I doubt very much if Obama is another JFK or FDR, but simply another Bush man in black face.

 Clearly, in his hasty rush to Washington to bail out the bankers before the election, he did what he had to do. He did the bidding of his backers. After all, how else to continue the status quo, unless one poses, chameleon-like, to oppose it? Some would call that a profile in duplicity rather than courage. Two years after writing my book, a reader wanted to know if I felt somehow vindicated by E. Howard Hunt's deathbed confession. The confession by the dying CIA agent seemed plausible and eerily similar to the one made by my fictional Jimmy Jeremiah, two years before (I doubt Hunt had read my book). No, I said; where was the accountability for that crime? No one went to jail. Likewise, where is the accountability now, with the exit of one criminal regime, to be followed by another nearly as suspect?

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 133

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman enjoys exploring the occasional ghost town or spooky conspiracy and can be found wandering the back roads of America. Recently Doug finished writing, directing and producing an independent feature film, naturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA.