Douglas Brinkley on John Kerry

Roundup: Historians' Take

From an interview on CNN on January 26, 2004 with Douglas Brinkley, author of the new book, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War:

WOLF BLITZER: Was there a John F. Kennedy moment that we all know about with Bill Clinton when he was in high school and went to Boys Nation, was in the Rose Garden, and Bill Clinton as a high school kid supposedly thought that maybe one day he'd like to be president of the United States? Was there a John Kerry moment when he said to himself, you know what? I'd like to be president of the United States?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Well, of course, when asked that, he definitely wanted, I think, to be in politics and maybe be a U.S. senator. I'm not sure he had the White House fully on his vision yet.

A woman who I got the diaries from at Yale talks about they had a birthday party for John, and even said then, some day you're going to be president, and this guy will be secretary of agriculture, and this will be secretary of education. They were planning the cabinet already for John, because they saw such talent. He was 6', 4". Some people said he was Lincoln-esque (ph) looking. And he learned the oration skills of John F. Kennedy. So already some of the peers around him thought of him as a Kennedy comparison.

BLITZER: And it's a coincidence, but his initials are...


BLITZER: John Forbes Kerry.

BRINKLEY: He now goes with J.K. I've seen the scheduling. They got rid of the "F" for this campaign. But for a long time I think he found it just a coincidence and found it fun. Some of his political opponents have tried to mock him.

BLITZER: What's his connection to the Forbes family?

BRINKLEY: The Forbes family is not the Forbes of "Forbes" Magazine, but it's the Forbes of Massachusetts, which were part of the Founding Fathers Group there. They controlled and owned a lot of land around Cape Cod.

What the media gets wrong about John Kerry, he's not really wealthy. His father was an immigrant family. They just picked the name Kerry. He's half Jewish, John Kerry.

And they picked the name, changed their name. And his mother was old wealth, but it kind of fizzled out. So for John Kerry to go to prep school, for example, they had to rely on an aunt to get money to pay for him to go. And when he first met John Kennedy, he was actually working in a truck, unloading trucks to make a little summer cash when somebody called him and said, come to Newport and you get to go on a boat and meet the President of the United States.

BLITZER: What was the name before it was Kerry? What did they change it from?

BRINKLEY: Well, they changed it -- it had a different -- it had a long, you know, Hungarian -- Austrian-Hungarian name, which they truncated simply to Kerry.


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Charles McCant - 4/16/2004

Why is that the conservatives think the U.S. Presidency belongs to George W. Bush?

The voters, come November 2, 2004, will decide who shall have the U.S. Presidency for the next four years. Americans will live with the decision of the voters. Afterall, we, Americans, live with the botched 2004 Election.