he does tell us a lot about John F.nKennedy, and none of it very flattering.nFor there is precious little evidence ofnKennedy’s competence, much less excellence;nit is hard to find any indicationnof principles, much less idealism, in thenKennedy administration. Not to mincenwords, John F. Kennedy comes off innBeschloss’ account as a nincompoopnwith the morals of a gangster. The excessivenattention paid to the President’snwomanizing—by far his most amiablenfault—has distracted people from farnmore serious vices. Beschloss details annalmost endless record of dishonesty andnfolly: Kennedy was a vengeful man ofnconsuming vanity, obsessed with publicitynand the manipulation of his ownnimage, better at avoiding responsibilitiesnthan executing them, incapable even ofnordinary consistency. And all of thesendelightful characteristics were coatednwith a thick layer of hypocrisy.nIt is characteristic of his grotesquenegomania that, on learning of thenmissiles in Cuba, he moaned thatnKhrushchev “can’t do this to me.”nKennedy has often been credited withn”grace under pressure”; in fact, his usualnreaction under pressure seems to havenbeen to whine that it was unfair andnsomebody else’s fault. He accepted thenPulitzer Prize for a book he did notnwrite, hid his poor health (which was sonbad that it alone should have disqualifiednhim from the presidency), and wiretappednhis own wife. If only through hisnfather, he had maintained a long-standingnrelationship with organized crime,nlong before his incredible sharing of anMafia don’s mistress. He recklessly let anquack feed him drugs, including amphetamines.nUnable to stand up consistently to thenSoviets, he maintained a personal resentmentnagainst Castro, who was importantnonly as Khrushchev’s cat’s-paw.nWhile publicly accepting responsibilitynfor the failure at the Bay of Pigs, he sedulouslynleaked false accounts to blameneveryone else for the disaster. After thenCuban missile crisis, he arranged tonblame Adlai Stevenson for suggestingnthe very concession on Turkey that henhimself had made; Stevenson had proposednthis concession only as part of annarrangement for a complete demilitarizationnof Cuba, which Kennedy failednto achieve. Tactically, it was a clever effortnto hide what really happened, whilenexploiting Stevenson’s reputation (onnthe whole justified) for being “soft” onnthe Soviets. Yet it was also part of ancrazy vendetta against Stevenson—onenmuch against Kennedy’s own interests,nsince Stevenson still wielded considerableninflerals and could have greatly embarrassednKennedy by resigning his postnwithin the administration.nDid Kennedy suffer from amphetamine-inducednparanoia? Or didnhe simply hate Stevenson because henknew his old rival was a better man?nOne way or the other, that great liberaln, leader, Adlai Stevenson, could not concealnhis glee when he learned of the assassination.nAnd had the American publicnknown what he did—known whatnkind of man their President really was—none suspects that his feelings mightnhave been widely shared.nAlan /. Levine is a historian living innNew York City.nFreaks for Our Timenby Chilton Williamson^ Jr.nThe Animal Rights Crusade: ThenGrowth of a Moral Protestnby James M. jasper and Dorothy NelkinnNew York: The Free Press; -n280 pp., $22.95nThe typical animal rights activist isna female agnostic or atheist, unmarriednwith no children and six “companionnanimals,” “educated,” and livingna resolutely urban life in the companynof other activists on behalf of all sortsnof causes, most of them left-wing. Thisnbizarre specimen of contemporary humanitynaspires to echo one day over thencarcass of a carnivorous, speciesist culturenthe words that Tosca pronouncednabove the prostrate body of Scarpia: “Enavanti a lui, tremava tutta Roma.”nAlthough the animal rights movementnas a whole cannot, after a decadenof strident militancy, claim great accomplishmentsnbeyond the curtailmentnof the use of animals in industrial testing,nand while its ultimate goal of forcingnthe majoritarian culture to acceptnanimal life as inherently equal with humannlife is unlikely to be achieved, itsnemergence as a focus of internationalnattention is a phenomenon that oughtnnot to be taken lightly. Animal rights,nlike feminism and popular environmen-nnntalism, represents the triumph of emo- ,ntionalism over wisdom, of sentimentalismnover reason, of fantasy over commonnsense. It is an attempt to reinventnthe wheel by people who have failed tongrasp the idea of circumference. It is anchaos of perversity, short-circuitednthought, and unexamined assumptions,nmany of which produce hilarious examplesnof unsuspected homocentrism.n(‘Tou’re not even human,” one outragednanimal rightist wrote to the president ofna company charged with cruelty to researchnanimals.) It is also a not untypicalnconstituent of that rainbow coalitionnof weird single-interest groups that havenmanaged so often and in so many instancesnto co-opt the attentions of thenso-called mainstream political parties,nthe result being that politicians andncommentators today spend their timendebating crackpot “philosophy” insteadnof those grave matters of state that innbetter times were the staple of politicalndiscourse: gunboats, diplomacy, andntrade.nThe animal rights movement, like sonmany other movements that afflict contemporarynsociety, is a Frankensteinnmonster created by people who arenthemselves half Frankensteins. ProfessorsnJasper and Nelkin discern its originsnin the first animal protection bill introducednin the British Pariiament in 1800,nand in the subsequent founding of thenSociety for the Prevention of Cruelty tonAnimals in 1824. Before the century’snend, the SPCA had its counterparts innthe United States where, as in CreatnBritain, the immediate cause of reformistnsentiment was the observablenmaltreatment of carriage animals. Thenreplacement of the horse by the automobilenin the early years of the 20thncentury caused concern for the welfarenof animals to subside in America untilnthe 1950’s, when a number of new associations,namong them the Humane Societynof the United States, were formednto protest cruelty to animals used innmedical research, as well as inhumanenmethods applied to the wholesalenbutchering of slaughterhouse animals.nIn the 1960’s, the radicalization of a significantnminority of the animal protectionistnmovement produced the Fundnfor Animals, founded by ClevelandnAmory in 1967. Even the FFA, however,nis essentially a preservationist organization,nconcerned for the protection of endangerednspecies such as the Gray Timberwolf.nWith the emergence of thenJULY 1992/35n