Roger Stone STONEZONE WEB EXCLUSIVE Evan Thomas' biography of Senator Robert F. Kennedy stands as the gold standard of the RFK biographies (Robert Kennedy: His Life) as Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was too much of an ass-licking toady for the Kennedys to be an objective chronicler of Bobby Kennedy's life and times. In his recent Newsweek essay, Thomas opines what an RFK Presidency would have been like. While he admits that one must not "get to dreamy about the mythology of RFK," he then makes exactly that mistake. Thomas says "Kennedy was a less polarizing figure than Nixon" which ignores the fact that Kennedy's decision to seek the Democratic nomination in 1968 only after Eugene McCarthy drew first-blood against LBJ in the New Hampshire primary caused outraged Liberals to consider Kennedy an opportunist who was splitting the anti-war vote, putting his personal ambition ahead of the need to end the Viet Nam war. In fact, in early 1968 Kennedy announced he would not oppose LBJ "under any foreseeable circumstances," further fueling the charge of opportunism when he "reassessed" his decision and jumped into the race a few days later. Kennedy was also a galvanizing factor among Republicans who felt JFK had stolen the 1960 election from Richard Nixon. These Republicans hated Kennedy for his ruthlessness and the underhanded tactics (dirty tricks) employed by Bobby as manager of JFK's 60's campaign. The prospect of an RFK Presidency made it easy for Nixon to tap into the wallets of the Texas oil baron's, Wall Street and arch conservative millionaires to fill the campaign coffers for his comeback bid. Nixon would have been a formidable foe for RFK. In fact the "New Nixon" - using the Madison Avenue techniques of sound bites, polling, focus groups, tightly stage-managed appearances, screened questions and message discipline - was using the medium of TV to introduce a more relaxed, self-deprecating candidate who had great experience in foreign policy at a time America had been plunged into Viet Nam by President John F. Kennedy. Nixon became the Statesman whose eight years out of government had given him time and the perspective to "reflect on the great challenges America faced." Nixon was presented as the "man better prepared for the Presidency than any challenger in history." Nixon went so far as to appear on TV's "Laugh-In" with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, looking dead-pan to a camera and saying, "Sock it to me?" This softened his image and lowered his negatives - making him less polarizing than RFK by the time of the California primary. Nixon watched Kennedy announce his candidacy on a Portland, Oregon hotel room television set before winning 66% in the Oregon primary where Rockefeller and Reagan were both on the ballot but not campaigning. After RFK finished his remarks, Nixon switched off the set but stared at the darkened picture tube. "Terrible forces have been unleashed. Something bad is going to come of this. God knows where this is going to lead," said the former Vice President. Nor was Kennedy likely to have been nominated if he had lived. Thomas' assertion that "Kennedy was winning most of the primaries at the time of his death in June," is misleading as Kennedy had just lost the Oregon primary to McCarthy in late May. California, which Kennedy won, was the only primary in June - the end of the primary season. Kennedy won only four primaries never getting more than 51% of the vote. Nationally, he won only 30% of the vote far behind Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy. Few Democratic Delegates were chosen in primaries in 1968 and big city and large state bosses, in affiliation with Big Labor, controlled the Convention and would have delivered the Presidential nomination to Vice President Hubert Humphrey on the orders of President Lyndon Johnson. Thomas is wise to note that reports of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's decision to switch to Kennedy are "romantic and unconfirmed." In fact, Daley would never have abandoned a President of the United States of his own party. The actions of the Chicago police at the Democratic Convention in Chicago only weeks after Kennedy's assassination demonstrate Daley would not have joined the anti-war faction of his Party. The Boss went so far as to be caught on network television yelling "fuck you" to anti-war Senator Abraham Ribicoff on the Convention floor. Evan Thomas notes Robert Kennedy "was ahead of his political party and his time in his sensitivity to individual pride and initiative. He did not like cash handouts, preferring to create jobs to bestow the dignity of work on the unemployed. He understood the importance of local initiative." In other words, dear Evan, Kennedy was not a liberal when it came to economics but an early supply side conservative. He had been most aggressive in pushing his brother's tax cuts, which sparked significant economic growth as well. Kennedy was serious about his Catholicism and began his career as an ardent anti-Communist with service as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy. He had profound respect for law enforcement and gave a "Law and Order" speech in the Nebraska primary campaign that could have given by Senator Barry Goldwater. Kennedy opposed violence and civil disobedience; after all it was Bobby who as Attorney General ordered the bugging of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's motel room to record liaisons with white women. J. Edgar Hoover was known to have played the tapes over cocktails with President Kennedy and his Attorney General. The chances are good that Kennedy would have disappointed liberals as President. While Mr. Thomas is correct that Nixon was "bitter" about the Kennedys, he is incorrect about his reasons. Senator John F. Kennedy was given security briefings from the Administration about the Bay of Pigs operation on the draw boards of the Eisenhower Administration, as was Vice President Nixon during the 1960 campaign. It was understood the information was classified. Still, Kennedy sandbagged Nixon in a televised debate by attacking the Administration and Nixon for not being willing to be more aggressive with Castro including an invasion, knowing that Nixon could not agree. Nixon was also bitter about what he believed to be the wholesale theft of votes in Chicago and Texas that tipped the narrow balance to JFK. Vastly outspent and despite an infected knee, which landed him in the hospital for two weeks while JFK barnstormed the country, late polls showed Nixon gaining after better showings in the second and third debates. Nixon knew Lyndon Johnson had burned thousands of Texas absentee ballots before they could be recounted. "Even though they outspent me four-to-one, they still had to steal it," Nixon told me. Where Thomas is right is in understanding the enthusiasm and hope engendered by Robert Kennedy's 82-day campaign for the presidency. Kennedy rallied the fervor and affection of African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians. Kennedy's appeal to blue collar Catholics in some of the primaries he won was real cause for concern to Nixon, who the author correctly notes "was an expert at divide and conquer, and... was building a Silent Majority of White middle-class Americans fearful of rioting Blacks and hippie college radicals." Kennedy's potential appeal to working class Catholics may have cut into the constituency Nixon was constructing. The excitement and sense of hope Bobby Kennedy's campaign sparked in some segments of America are best illustrated in a new book of photographs and text by Bill Eppridge: "A Time It Was - Bobby Kennedy in the 60's." In photograph after photograph, one sees the crowds reaching out to touch Bobby, pulling at his shirt-sleeves. The outstretched hands of urban Blacks, California Chicanos, union workers, and young people become the metaphor for Kennedy's brief campaign, tragically ended by an assassin's bullet. Recommended reading: Carl Cannon at the Reader's Digest on the Assassination of RFK.