But Trump was vilified and persecuted for unproven allegations of collusion.
I’m far from being a Trump groupie or apologist but do love to read history, especially when it reveals that a beloved figure from the past had been guilty of the same accusations leveled today against a presently maligned figure, whatever the party affiliation of the accusers and accused.
And I never tire of being reminded of how the American commentariat and intelligentsia have been so easily snookered throughout history by suave, debonair, charismatic, articulate leaders.
Trump was accused of colluding with the Russians in winning the presidency. It would appear that John F. Kennedy actually colluded with the Russians in winning the presidency.
Below is a passage from the wonderful work of history, “Nuclear Folly,” by Serhii Plokky, a book that details the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
[Soviet Premier] Khrushchev wanted to help Kennedy win the election [because he thought Kennedy was weak and inexperienced] and ordered his KGB aides to do all they could to achieve that goal. The KGB complied, setting up a number of meetings that in today’s parlance would qualify as nothing less than “collusion” between Kennedy’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin. Soon after Kennedy had won his party’s presidential nomination, Yurii Barsukov, a KGB officer posing as a reporter for the Soviet newspaper Izvestiia, knocked on the office door of no less a figure than Robert Kennedy, who was running his brother’s electoral campaign. He asked Robert what Moscow could do to help his brother.
A month after Kennedy’s election, the KGB agent met again with Robert Kennedy. Later, believing that Kennedy owed him his victory, Khrushchev said to a group of Soviet political leaders and scientists, “It can be said that we elected him.”
Then came a number of JFK follies, especially the Bay of Pigs invasion, as well his brother Robert acting like a spoiled Ivy League frat boy as attorney general, a position he held in an egregious conflict of interest, given that the president was his brother.
The Cuban missile crisis came after the Bay of Pigs—a crisis in which the Kennedys have been portrayed as saving the world from nuclear war.
Many historians have written that Khrushchev had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba because the U.S. had done the same in the Soviet backyard of Turkey. But as “Nuclear Folly” clarifies, the primary reason for Khrushchev’s decision was because of his certainty that JFK would invade Cuba with an overwhelming military force, thus making up for his earlier botched attempt. Without placing missiles on Cuba within easy range of the U.S., Khrushchev knew he couldn’t stop an invasion of the island, due to the U.S. having a huge advantage in long-range ballistic missiles.
In other words, if JFK had not okayed the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban missile crisis might not have happened.
Another book reveals other examples of beloved presidents engaging in misdeeds that Trump has been accused of. The book is “The Sack of Detroit,” by Kenneth Whyte, about how opportunistic politicians, so-called consumer activists, left-leaning intellectuals, and a lazy, gullible media almost brought General Motors to its knees. The book shows how a well-researched account of history can be about one subject but reveal historical gems along the way on other subjects.
Among the gems is how Franklin Delano Roosevelt used government power to go after Republicans, similar to how today’s Democrats have gone after Trump and his associates. For instance:
He [FDR] roused the Treasury and the Justice Department to investigate a list of “economic royalists” for tax evasion, including Andrew Mellon, the former Republican treasury secretary and, in FDR’s estimation, the “master mind among the malefactors of great wealth.” With FDR’s knowledge and active support, the government pursued Mellon relentlessly and well beyond the limits of the law and, despite an absence of incriminating evidence, charged him with tax evasion. The former secretary was chased to his grave, only to be exonerated by the Board of Tax Appeals three months after his death in 1937.
Other gems in “The Sack of Detroit” are about JFK and RFK. For example, when steel industry executives angered President Kennedy by raising prices against his wishes, Attorney General Robert Kennedy:
ordered the FBI and CIA to initiate dozens of wiretaps and spying operations on steel executives. He summoned a grand jury on price-fixing and sent FBI agents to the offices and homes of steel executives to gather records. “We’re going for broke,” he said. “Their expense accounts and where they’d been and what they were doing. . . . I told the FBI to interview them all—march into their offices . . . subpoena for their personal records . . . subpoena for their company records.”
In supporting these vengeful acts, the president mused, “Do you want the government to go back to hotel bills that time you were in Schenectady to find who was with you? Too many hotel bills and nightclub expenses would be hard to get by the weekly wives’ bridge group out at the country club.”
The philandering president would know about philandering.
He didn’t know as much about business or economics, however, other than to say the right cliches publicly for political gain.
JFK surrounded himself with Ivy League eggheads. Only 6 percent of his appointments came from the business community, versus 42 percent under Eisenhower. Harvard-educated Robert McNamara was one of the 6 percent.The defense secretary and former Ford CEO would later exhibit profound hubris and myopia about Vietnam.
One of the president’s closest advisors next to his brother Bobby was his special assistant Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the bow-tied historian from Harvard and close friend of the anti-business economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was the author of the best-selling book, “The Affluent Society.” Schlesinger would go on to write a sanitized history of the Kennedy administration, leaving out such abuses of power as the vendetta against steel executives.
The president’s brain trust, as well as the president himself, looked down on business people and the grubby business of business—just as Barack Obama would do, and just as many of Joe Biden’s advisors do today while gladly taking campaign contributions from Wall Street and Big Tech.
JFK was contemptuous of those who spent their lives “chasing the dollar” and had minds “clogged by illusion and platitudes.” This is from the epitome of a trust-fund baby whose father had made him the beneficiary of a $10 million trust fund, which in today’s dollars would be worth over $90 million.
Schlesinger made deprecatory comments about business similar to those made by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren today. He referred to the business people in the Eisenhower administration as “God-anointed apostles of free enterprise” and accused them of speaking in platitudes and practicing a “complaisant politics of boredom.”
Given such history, one wonders what would have happened had Trump restrained his worst impulses, had been more measured and thoughtful in his speaking and tweeting, had listened more to the grownups in his administration, had played to the egos of the press, and had not hurled juvenile insults against American and world leaders.
My guess is that Trump would’ve been vilified and persecuted anyway, if for no other reason than he was a grubby businessman and not a perceived sophisticate from academia or government.