Thirteen Days (2001)

[imdblt]thirteen days 2001[/imdblt]


It is common knowledge that Richard Nixon taped conversations he had in the Oval Office, but he was not the first president to do so. Much of the dialogue in this film comes from tapes that JFK recorded in that very same room (and others) during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, the movie is based on the book by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow titled The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Without going into a lengthy appraisal of the crisis, it is worth mentioning a couple of points about this picture that distinguishes it from other attempts to analyse the events of October 1962. First of all, it clarifies what most historians have believed for decades, that the emergency was not really about Cuba at all. It was about Berlin. The Soviets hoped to pressure the Americans into surrendering Berlin or be prepared to risk nuclear war.

If the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington at the time, Generals Curtis LeMay and Maxwell Taylor, had gotten their way, we might now be cosmic dust floating about the universe. They advocated military action throughout the crisis and brought considerable pressure to bear on Kennedy to attack Cuba, yet today their supporters claim they have been harshly portrayed as warmongers.

How anyone could argue that LeMay was anything but a ‘hawk’ in the worst possible sense of the word is mystifying. His advice to JFK was to obliterate the Russian missiles in Cuba (presumably along with Russian personnel), and immediately invade the island. If further proof is needed of his comprehension of the term ‘negotiation’, his comments during his 1968 Presidential campaign as running mate for Governor George Wallace of Alabama provide it. When asked for a solution to the Vietnam War, he infamously replied: ‘Bomb North Vietnam back into the Stone Age’.

Ignore the sequence in this movie where Presidential aide Kenny O’Donnell puts in a call to the U-2 pilot, asking him to lie to his superiors. It didn’t happen. In fact, Kenny was not much of a player in the big political game during this crisis or at any other time. He basically procured female company for JFK whenever he needed it. His son Kevin provided a few million bucks to finance this picture, however, (he could afford it, being a co-founder of the internet company Earthlink) so, that might explain why Kenny appears to be considerably more central to the events of October ’62 than he actually was.

It is disconcerting to learn that throughout 1961 (and much of 1962) the President of the United States was into amphetamines, steroids, cocaine and LSD in a big way. Max Jacobson, Hollywood’s ‘Dr Feelgood’, supplied the ‘speed’, and Peter Lawford shared coke and LSD with Kennedy at several locations including the White House. Artist Mary Pinchot Meyer also took LSD with Kennedy, as did naked women in tandem, sometimes in the Oval Office itself late at night. All his security people were aware of what went on, as were many reporters, yet nobody blew the whistle.

It would be reasonable to assess JFK as one of the most over-sexed men in history. The son of a notorious womaniser, he soon outdistanced his lecherous old man by seducing women at an astonishing rate. After he wed Jackie Bouvier his philandering seemed to escalate out of control. Wherever he went, his first question to his aides on arrival was invariably, ‘where are the broads?’ There was never a shortage of women eager to service him in one way or another.

It became standard procedure for Kennedy to service prostitutes in adjoining rooms before appearing in televised debates. It ‘relaxed’ him, he said. Hotel suites in Washington were set aside for his assignations. As often as not he would have more than one woman at a time. The Oval Office, Air Force One and even his marital bed were used. Jackie knew, of course.

As early as 1956 their marriage virtually self-destructed when he opted to stay in the Mediterranean with a blond bimbo, even after learning that Jackie had been delivered of a stillborn child. Aides convinced him after three days that his political career would be over unless he flew to her side. So he did. But she never forgave him. Any faint hope of reconciliation ended soon afterwards when she learned that their baby sitter, a girl of fifteen, was pregnant to him! It is generally acknowledged that the girl and her family were paid off by old Joe Kennedy.

In 1960, old Joe paid out a further half a million dollars to smooth over a divorce case involving Alicia Purdom and her husband Edmund, an ordinary actor best remembered for his portrayal of The Student Prince in the musical of the same name. He privately named JFK as co-respondent (Alicia was once pregnant to Kennedy as well), and the money brought about a ‘quickie’ divorce without headlines in Mexico.

Even Kennedy’s choice of Lyndon Johnson as his running mate in the 1960 elections came about because of Jack’s out of control libido. It was no secret the two men loathed each other, so it was no surprise when Kennedy initially picked three others to be his potential running mates and future Vice-President. Johnson had proof of Jack’s wartime affair with Ingrid Arvad fifteen years earlier. Even though she was long gone, Ingrid was alleged to have warmed Hitler’s bed as well, and any release of such information would invariably lose Kennedy the Jewish vote for starters. Johnson blackmailed the future president into naming him as his running mate. ‘I’m 43 years old’, Kennedy told his brother. ‘I’m not going to die in office. So the Vice-Presidency doesn’t mean a thing’. Prophetic words indeed.

In 2008, Kennedy’s main speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, wrote his autobiography. In it he revealed that he had personally written the first draft of most of the chapters in Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Profiles of Courage. As if that wasn’t damning enough, he also said he ‘helped choose the words of many of its sentences’. In fact, he penned most of the book! Sad to say, assassinated though he may have been, JFK had feet of clay.

1 Comment

  1. There was a terrific TV-movie back in the 70s called The Missiles of October which was all about Cuban crises.
    However,watching Thirteen Days,made years later,I can see that so much more info has been learned & revealed since the TV-movie.

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