For years supermarket tabloids have shamelessly made merchandise out of John F. Kennedy by promulgating almost every imaginable shred of gossip or speculation about his life and its untimely end. During the recent revival of Kennedy nostalgia occasioned by the 20th anniversary of his assassination, however, antiestablishment journals claiming intellectual respectability have introduced a new twist to the Kennedyfor-profit mythologizing by trying to reshape JFK into a visionary friend of all “progressive forces.” Typical of this attempt to resurrect this dead American patriot as an anti-American fabrication was an article in Mother Jones written by one Adam Hochschild, an MJ editor. Kennedy, Mr. Hochschild ruefully conceded, had said some terribly reactionary things during his life, including this statement made in 1960, just three years before his death:
The enemy is the Communist system itself—implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination. For this is not a struggle for the supremacy of anus alone—it is also a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies: Freedom under God versus ruthless, godless tyranny.
How did MJ’s erudite journalism interpret this kind of pronouncement? Simple: “John F. Kennedy was a man whose intelligence ranged far ahead of his beliefs.” Exactly when JFK underwent the surgical lobotomy that separated his convictions from his cerebrations MJ’s learned editor did not disclose. Perhaps they plan to reveal the sordid details—time, place, attending physician—of that secret operation in some future special edition, published jointly with the National Enquirer.
A wrap-up of the actresses appearing in the 1983 Academy Award-nominated movies written by an operative for the Newsday News Service and appearing in the Detroit News includes the following:
Meryl Streep, in Silkwood, is a genuinely independent woman, a free spirit. She is not whitewashed as a martyr. She smokes pot, pops Quaaludes, drinks too much, is impulsively wanton, has lost custody of her three children to her husband.
She may not be whitewashed in the movie, but the following sentences in the quoted passage go beyond chlorine bleach:
She is nonetheless admirable because she is true to her own convictions. She is decent, self-reliant, with a passion for justice as well as for attractive men.
Impressive ratiocination. It leads us to the conclusion that Caligula was frustrated but really a lot of fun.