Daily Archives: April 7, 2011

The Kennedys Part IV “Drugs, lies and audiotapes”

John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita Khrushchev...

Image via Wikipedia

First published at blogcritics.org.

Tonight’s episode of The Kennedys works for me. Greg Kinnear becomes Mr. President, really.

Part IV pares away the layers that may have led to Joseph Kennedy Sr.’s debilitating stroke only a few months into Jack’s presidency. From earlier episodes we learn that Joe internalized the trials that his sons faced before, during and after the 1960 election. It begins with Joe visiting Sam Giancana in Chicago to ask for his support over Richard Nixon in the election. Sam is unconvinced. But Francis (Frank) Sinatra makes a little deal with Sam promising him that Jack and Bobby will go after “little fish” and leave him and his men alone. Hoover has “evidence” of these meetings on audiotape.

My library is bursting with books on the Kennedy family filled with those who immersed themselves in the mystique. And one thing stands out–how Sinatra was thrown under the bus by the family if ever anyone was.  He meant well but ignored boundaries and Joe came down like a ton of bricks on him with some well-placed insults then showed him the door.

Speaking of doors, drugs are administered behind closed doors by one Dr. Jacobson AKA Dr. Feelgood to an ailing Jack. Jacobson was referred by a friend. And first used by Jack to relieve his interminable back pain, then by Jackie.  He could not rest, walk, sit or stand for very long.  A bad back feeds his bad temper.

Prescription drugs were already part of Jack’s arsenal to alleviate the Addison’s disease. Doctors believe that ensuing orthopaedic problems, mostly the bad back, were the result of daily shots of cortisone taken for decades for Addison’s. Despite Jack’s pain he would still play tennis, football and golf often with one knee and his back wrapped tightly (knees often suffer referred pain from a bad back).

The Russians are coming and threatening to wall off west Berlin during this time and Bobby had to pitch-hit because Jack did not trust intelligence on the moves of Nikita Khrushchev. So, after some thought Jack decides to stay out of the “domestic dispute” between those two countries.  

Part V will revisit what happened at Ole Miss, in Oxford, Mississippi when a black man attempts to integrate the university and the brothers must negotiate with the dogs of the South.