Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio.
During the second hour, Carmichael and Host Leahy discuss the assassination of Kennedy and his legacy while examining moral dilemmas past presidents’ faced in foreign policy.
Leahy: We welcome to our microphones a good friend and the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. Crom, good morning.
Carmichael: Michael. How are you, sir?
Leahy: I just wanted to bring this little historical point up today. Yesterday November 22nd, 2020 was the 57th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Leahy: And you know it was for a period of time that day was I think for at least 40 years it was a huge day that everybody remembered but it’s sort of now passed into distant history. I recall exactly where I was on November 22nd, 1963 when I heard that John F Kennedy had been shot. I was sitting in an elementary school building in Dannemora, New York.
The prison town that we talked about. It’s about 60 miles south of Montreal Quebec. My dad was a principal of this school and I was in third grade sitting in the front right row. We were doing a social studies class about the Piedmont section of North Carolina. My teacher was Mrs. Levine who was one of these teachers that you know wore the pointed glasses and was kind of strict. And over the PA system, my dad said the president has been shot.
And I remember Mrs. Levine saying oh I feel so sorry. I’m so sorry for his family and his wife. I certainly hope he’s going to be okay. 15 minutes later my dad came on the PA system and he said the president is dead. Walter Cronkite has announced it. And you’re dismissed and you may all go home. And I remember thinking, ‘So now who’s going to be President? Lyndon Johnson? Who’s he?’ That’s what I recall.
Carmichael: Okay. Well You know Kennedy is an interesting figure in history. It’s a little bit FDR. And we’ll compare the two just for a bit. And had it not been for the second world war would probably not have won a third term as president. And had it not been for the war would have gone down as a very ineffective president from the standpoint of the economy because he inherited a bad economy with a top marginal tax rate of 25 percent. And then throughout the 30s he and the Democrats in Congress continuously raised the top marginal tax rate factories all tax rates. But the top marginal tax rate ended up close to 90 percent. And we had another depression in 1937 and 1938 which caused…
Leahy: Roosevelt’s policies.
Carmichael: Caused by Roosevelts politics. It’s kind of like saying that we’ve got to get the car from one point to another point and we need to increase its speed. But while we do that, let’s suck all the gasoline out of the gas tank. This book that I’m just about finished with called A Man Called Intrepid really points out some very interesting things about FDR that I did not know.
So mentioning things about moral dilemmas that world leaders had to face during that time. And in today’s woke media deal, if FDR had he been a Donald Trump he would have been impeached many times over for doing some of the things that he did that were really truly in the name of fighting Hitler.
Leahy: And so an example might be the Japanese internment on the West Coast partnering with Stalin?
Carmichael: No. Now that might have been a true mistake, but I’m talking more about Lend Lease and the different things that Roosevelt knew about that he didn’t tell the American people. It ended up that there were some Americans who died as a result of the secrets that he kept.
But had he told the secrets and save those lives he would have revealed that the West had had the Germans codes. And the same things true with Hitler. Hitler had a small town that the Germans had targeted. He learned about that. And rather than vacate the town and save the people he didn’t announce anything and thousands of people were killed as opposed to if he had saved the thousands of people.
Leahy: Which small town was this?
Carmichael: I can’t remember the name, but it’s in England.
Leahy: Yeah in Great Britain.
Carmichael: Yeah, and so but it but it’s really interesting. In some of the moral dilemmas that you’re faced with. Now, let’s fast-forward to Kennedy. Kennedy’s foreign policy was perhaps the worst foreign policy record of anyone any president certainly in my lifetime. When he came into office the Bay of Pigs operation was planned, but he authorized its execution and then he bailed and left them.
Leahy: Left the guys on the beach.
Carmichael: To die. And so he ran from that. And then he allowed the Berlin Wall to be built. And history now shows that had he done anything to stop that the Russians wouldn’t have continued to build it. It was a test.
Leahy: And he failed the test.
Carmichael: Yes and Khrushchev saw the Bay of Pigs and said gosh we can get away…
Leahy: We can roll this guy.
Carmichael: Yeah, and then he got us started in Vietnam. He’s one that you know that after the assassination of the president in South Vietnam he got far enough into it to where Johnson felt obligated to continue.
Leahy: Kennedy apologists say that no, he was not implicated in the assassination but they’re a lot of visits that show his fingerprints were there.
Carmichael: Well, okay, it happened.
Leahy: He was assassinated.
Carmichael: And it happened while Kennedy was president and our involvement in Vietnam increased while Kennedy was president and Lyndon Johnson inherited that and just continued Kennedy’s policies. And then last but not least is the Cuban missile crisis which built up over time with his knowledge. And finally, his adviser said if you don’t stop this, you’re not going to win the next election. So it had much more do about politics than national security and in order to get Khrushchev to pull his missiles out of Cuba, he made a secret deal in regard to our missiles in Turkey.
Leahy: Well the thing about Kennedy’s when you look at it you want to talk about sort of journalistic propaganda. John F. Kennedy had perhaps the very best, you know Democrat journalists with bylines that were, you know, promoting what a wonderful guy he was and how great his policies were. And they would take basically failures and turned them into successes.
This whole business at the beginning of the war hero thing with PT-109. They made a movie out of it and made him into a hero, but there’s another way of looking at that and that he was kind of reckless and put his ship and crew at risk. That really was more the common perception until the PR people got into it.
Carmichael: Well and then we, you know, we know that he was an enormous philanderer. But the one thing he did do and Republicans point to it and Democrats hate it is he cut tax rates. The top marginal tax rate was 92 percent and he cut it to 70 which sounds still incredibly high but it was a significant marginal tax rate cut.
And the economy improved as a result of that. But moving at 70, it will improve but only he so much. But the other thing that was kind of fascinating about Kennedy was that you’re right about the press was very much behind Kennedy. And he was young and kind of vigorous. He also I think historically now even liberals admit that he stole the election.
Leahy: In 1960.
Carmichael: In 1960.
Leahy: With the help of Mayor Daley in Chicago and Lyndon Johnson. And Johnson on the border of Texas.
Carmichael: In Texas. And so and so it’s really quite interesting to kind of look at Kennedy in retrospect his father Joseph Kennedy was a pro-Hitler guy. And when I say pro-Hitler, I don’t mean he was a Nazi. What I mean that he believed Great Britain was not going to prevail and would in fact lose the war. And Joe Kennedy was more interested in protecting his own business interests. And so Roosevelt ended up having to cut Joe Kennedy out of a lot of the communication.
Leahy: Joe Kennedy was ambassador to the United Kingdom before World War II. Just before. It was a political reward for the money he spent helping FDR get elected in ’32. And it was an odd choice because he was you know, Irish and at that time the Irish hated the English. Hated the English.
Carmichael: Then you know we look at Bobby Kennedy might have been but we don’t know because he was also assassinated. He might have been the best of the bunch. But Teddy Kennedy was a lousy person. Just a terrible person on so many different levels.
Leahy: And just Chappaquiddick.
Carmichael: So it’s kind of an interesting mixed bag.
Leahy: Well, they got they had a great press operation. That’s for sure.
Carmichael: Oh, they sure did.
Listen to the second hour here:
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