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August 25, 1963. About to board the Marine One helicopter, President Kennedy kisses his father, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., on the porch of his dad’s house in Hyannis Port as his cousin Ann Gargan watches. Photo by: Cecil Stoughton

New JFK tape reveals his father thought he was hopeless at politics

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August 25, 1963. About to board the Marine One helicopter, President Kennedy kisses his father, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., on the porch of his dad’s house in Hyannis Port as his cousin Ann Gargan watches. Photo by: Cecil Stoughton

A new tape of John F.Kennedy reveals that his father Joe thought he was hopeless at politics and that he had severe doubts himself about his political skills.

He also fretted about his scrawny appearance and admitted he tried to hide his medical condition from reporters. The tape, found by a Brown University researcher, was made by two Newsweek editors, including the legendary Ben Bradlee, who were dinner guests of the Kennedys, Jack and Jackie, in January 1960, just as Kennedy was about to embark on his presidential race. The Boston Globe reported on it today.

“I think I personally am the antithesis of a politician as I saw my grandfather (John Fitzgerald) who was the politician,” Kennedy said. “What he loved to do was what politicians are expected to do. Now I just think that today. . . . I’d rather read a book on a plane than talk to the fellow next to me, and my grandfather wanted to talk to everybody else. I’d rather go out to dinner.”

“I had not regarded myself as a political type. My father didn’t, he thought I was hopeless.”

Kennedy stated  he never dreamed of becoming president when he first ran for Congress in 1946.

“Never. Never. Never,” the futurepresident insisted. “I thought maybe I’d be governor of Massachusetts one day.”

He tells the Newsweek reporters that he chose politics because law seemed very boring.

“If [I] went to law school, and I’d gotten out, which I was going to do [unclear] and then I go and become a member of a big firm, and I’m dealing with some dead, deceased man’s estate, or I’m perhaps fighting in a divorce case . . . or some fellow got in an accident . . . or let’s say more serious work, when you’re participating in a case against the DuPont company in a general antitrust case, which takes two or three years, can you tell me that that compares in interest with being a member of Congress in trying to write a labor bill, or trying to make a speech on foreign policy?’’ Kennedy said. “I just think that there’s no comparison.”

He also fretted about losing the election, “I wouldn’t like to try to pick up my life at 45, -6, or -7, and start after 20 years of being in politics, and try to pick up my life then.”

“Maybe need a different degree. I mean, it’s like having your leg up to your ankle or to your knee amputated, it’s still disturbing.”

He ruled out becoming a writer if he failed in politics..

“No, I couldn’t, because I’ve lost the chance. I mean, I’m sure it takes 20 years to learn to be a decent writer,” he responded. “You have to do it every day.”

Speaking of his health, which was not good as he suffered from Addison's Disease, Kennedy stated: “There’s a picture that the Boston Globe ran Sunday, which had the veterans rally [in 1948] . . . Franklin Roosevelt [Jr.] and I, and I looked like a cadaver.”

When asked what illness he had he stated, “Addison’s disease, they said I have.”

He said he had lied to a reporter that day about having it: “I said no, God, a guy with Addison’s disease looks sort of brown and everything.”

As for winning the White House, Kennedy said: “You have to be able to communicate a sense of conviction and intelligence and rather, some integrity,” he said.

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