Monday, September 27, 2010
As a cute blonde toddler whose impromptu appearances at White House events delighted news photographers, Caroline Kennedy was her father's best political asset.
Today, as a willowy Park Avenue matron, she still is.
Former president John F. Kennedy's oldest and only surviving child has kept a lower public profile since her attempt to win one of New York's U.S. Senate seats last year degenerated into a political failure.
Now, she's stepping back into the spotlight to celebrate a political success: her father's.
Over the next three years, as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library marks the 50th anniversary of a presidency that riveted the nation with its glamorous beginning and its tragic end, "She is going to be the one to take the principal role in the celebrations of her father's life," says John Culver, a longtime family friend.
Kennedy, 52, is working on three books to be published in conjunction with the festivities. She and her husband, New York artist and designer Edwin Schlossberg, also are helping the JFK Library and the Institute of Politics plan the commemoration of her father's presidency, from his election in November 1960 to his assassination three years later.
"She and Ed are in many ways the chief architects of how the 50th anniversary will roll out," said former Massachusetts senator Paul Kirk, a family confidant who served with Kennedy on the library foundation's board.
One of Kennedy's forthcoming books, due in fall 2011, has blockbuster potential: It is based on tapes of never-before published interviews her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, gave to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. about her years as first lady.
Also next year, Kennedy and the JFK Library will issue a book for young adults commemorating her father's famous inaugural address, which urged a generation to "ask what you can do for your country." That will be followed in 2012 by an album of her father's family photos.
For most of her adult life, Kennedy has been the chief protector and promoter of her parents' legacy. For 23 years, she has served as president of the foundation that helps fund and direct her father's presidential library. After the death of her brother, John F. Kennedy Jr., in a 1999 plane crash, she took over his duties as a member of the advisory board to the Institute of Politics, established at Harvard University in 1966 by her mother and her father's brothers as a living memorial to the slain president. After her mother's death in 1994, Kennedy replaced her as honorary chairwoman of the American Ballet Theatre.
She already has edited several literary homages to her parents, including an anthology of her mother's favorite poems and a sequel to Profiles in Courage, her father's Pulitzer Prize-winning book about politicians who put principle above popular opinion.
Kennedy, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has largely shied away from political controversy and personal publicity for most of her life. An exception came in 2008 when she endorsed Barack Obama for president and persuaded her uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, to second her.
It came at a crucial moment, when Obama was reeling from defeat in the New Hampshire primary at the hands of Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. In a column for The New York Times, Kennedy said she was supporting Obama over Clinton, her home-state senator, because she felt he would be "a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them."
The effect was electrifying: "Camelot Crowns Obama," read one TV headline. The onetime first daughter began flowering as a politico. Kennedy became a regular surrogate on the campaign trail. Obama, who declared her "a very dear friend," named her to the inner circle that vetted his vice presidential choices.
After Obama's election, it briefly appeared as if she might be the next Kennedy in the Senate.
In December 2008, Kennedy let it be known that she was interested in the New York Senate seat that Clinton was leaving to become secretary of State. There was family history: Her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, served as New York's senator.
As she traveled upstate to meet with local politicians and to Harlem to break cornbread with Al Sharpton, Kennedy was trailed by a pack of reporters who parsed her every utterance, keeping count of her frequent "ums" and "you knows."
A Marist College poll showed Kennedy and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, her cousin Kerry's ex-husband, as the favorites to be appointed to the Senate seat. But her inability to articulate her reasons for seeking the coveted appointment drew mockery. "The lady hasn't yet said but one word in public about the race, about the issues or about virtually anything," the New York Daily News editorialized
Before Gov. David Paterson could announce his choice, Kennedy abruptly withdrew her name from consideration, creating confusion and recriminations that added to a list of embarrassments that ultimately drove Paterson's approval ratings so low he decided not to run for re-election.
Since then, Kennedy has kept her political efforts focused on others. Last year she held a fundraiser to help Cyrus Vance— whose father served as her father's secretary of the Army — win the Manhattan district attorney's election.
Earlier this year, she was at the White House when President Obama signed his landmark health care bill and paid tribute to the decades-long struggle by her beloved "Uncle Teddy" to see the legislation enacted.
She is also focused on the printed page. In addition to the books she's producing for the 50th anniversary of her father's presidency, Kennedy also is compiling an anthology of poetry aimed at women, due in spring; a collection of children's poems the following year, and for 2013, a travelogue about the historically themed trips she and her cousins took every summer with their uncle.
Now that Kennedy's daughters Rose and Tatiana are in their 20s and son John in his teens, some friends hope Kennedy will give politics another chance. "If she's at all inclined, I would hope she would," said Culver, a former Iowa senator.
Kennedy's sense of duty to her family and its political legacy was apparent in a fond eulogy she delivered last year at the wake for Edward Kennedy.
"Now Teddy has become a part of history," she said. "And we have become the ones who have to do all the things that he would have done, for us and for each other and for our country."
Sunday, September 26, 2010
The white House Secret Service Detail responsible for President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon watched with interest as the first televised presidential debates between Richard M. Nixon and Massachusetts Senator presidential candidate John Fitzgerald Kennedy began. The assumption was that Vice-President Nixon would carry Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 60 % approval rating into the office of president of the United States. The relatively new media of television turned the race from an expected runaway for Richard Nixon to the closest presidential election ever held.
The substance of the debate was not dramatic as far as swinging the vote. It was the image appearing on the screen that started turning the tide. The youth of America had gradually begun a rebellion against the post-war policies and decided it was time for a change. Enthusiastically they turned the tide as they observed a youthful, good-looking candidate on the screen that appealed to their sense of change.
Suddenly the race took on a new momentum. President Eisenhower agreed to aggressively hit the campaign trail and support his vice-President. The Eisenhower agents, who would ultimately become “The Kennedy Detail,” were dispatched to conduct advances for trips to areas considered to be weakening in their support of Vice-President Nixon. President Eisenhower was not an avid campaigner, but the response to the televised debates by the American public necessitated the president’s last minute support.
Agents on the White House Detail were astute about not expressing their political preferences since their job was to protect the office of the President of the United States, but the youthful, tanned and energetic young senator suddenly caught their attention. In the weeks to follow the agents sensed that this was going to be a very tight race.
In the back of our minds we wondered what impact this would have on our responsibilities. We had a security conscious president who had no narcissist tendencies and was a military hero who did not have to mingle with the public to maintain his appeal.
That was about to change.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Contact: Mary McCue, Publicist
212-698-4792 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time, the true story of the events leading up to and following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, from the perspective of the Secret Service agents who were there.
The Kennedy Detail
JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence
By Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin
Foreword by Clint Hill
Where were you at 12:30pm on November 22, 1963? A single question that unifies all Americans who were alive at the time, its significance is greater still for the thirty-four Secret Service agents who were on President Kennedy’s detail when he was assassinated.
In THE KENNEDY DETAIL: JFK’S Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence (Gallery Books; November 2, 2010; $28.00), Jerry Blaine – one of those thirty-four men – sets history straight on what really happened that afternoon, as well as in the months leading up to and following the assassination. Written along with award-winning journalist Lisa McCubbin, this account includes contributions from most of the Secret Service agents who were on the Kennedy Detail, and draws upon their daily reports, expense accounts, personal notes, and verbal first-hand accounts. A close-knit brotherhood of agents who collectively suppressed the trauma of that day, the writing of this book has helped heal the wounds of failure and guilt that they have lived with for nearly fifty years.
Clint Hill, the agent who jumped on the back of the car in the midst of the shooting and pushed Jackie down into the back seat, has not contributed to any books on the assassination, until now. As Hill writes in the Foreword, “I don’t talk to anybody about that day…It is only because of my complete faith and trust that Jerry Blaine would tell our story with dignity and unwavering honesty that I agreed to be involved.”
While THE KENNEDY DETAIL adds another volume to one of the most prolifically discussed aspects of our country’s history – between the conspiracy theories and countless revisionist histories – it is the only authoritative account of the events of that day from the men, like Clint Hill, who were there to guard the president’s life. With access to information from this privy vantage point, Blaine and McCubbin are able to disclose a variety of behind-the-scenes stories related to the assassination. Specific points of discussion include:
· The never-before-published story of how Blaine came within a split second of shooting President Lyndon B. Johnson just hours after JFK’s assassination
· What happened the day prior to the assassination when a Fort Worth hotel refused to register an African-American Secret Service Agent
· Details of a never-before-revealed meeting the morning of JFK’s funeral, in which Secret Service Chief James Rowley ordered the agents to keep quiet about an important fact relating to the assassination
· Circumstances that led Jacqueline Kennedy to accompany her husband on the political trip to Texas
· Details surrounded JFK’s November 18, 1963 trip to Tampa and how the events there contributed to the activities in Dallas four days later
· The plethora of conspiracy theories that have been posited over the years, including the authors’ conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone
· How the assassination forever changed the role of the Secret Service, and how the modern day agency has adapted to new threats and is responsible for more people than ever before
· JFK’s meetings with Marilyn Monroe
As Blaine writes, “Every man on the Kennedy Detail would re-live those six seconds in Dallas a million times over. For the rest of their lives, they would be defined by the assassination of JFK, questioned and blamed for failing to achieve the impossible.” This is their story, and it is essential reading for anyone seeking to more fully understand what happened on November 22, 1963.
Both Jerry Blaine and Clint Hill are available for interviews about THE KENNEDY DETAIL, and they will be in New York City in November. The Discovery Channel’s show based on the book airs on November 22nd at 9 PM e/p.
# # #
About the Authors
Gerald Blaine had the privilege of serving three U.S. presidents as a Special Agent of the Secret Service on the White House detail. After his resignation following John. F. Kennedy’s assassination, he embarked on a career path as an expert in high-level corporate security. He retired in 2003 and now lives in Colorado with his wife of more than fifty years.
Lisa McCubbin is an award-winning journalist who has worked for three major television news networks. In the aftermath of the attacks on 9/11, McCubbin provided compelling reports as a foreign correspondent in Saudi Arabia. She splits her time between the Middle East and Colorado.
# # #
THE KENNEDY DETAIL • Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin
Pub date: November 2, 2010 • ISBN: 9781439192962
Price: $28.00 • Hardcover • Gallery Books
Gallery Books is an imprint dedicated to publishing a wide variety of must-read books on a wide array of topics. The imprint was designed to showcase established voices and to introduce emerging new ones—in both fiction and nonfiction, and across a variety of genres. Some of Gallery Books’ bestselling titles include Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, Still Alice by Lisa Genova, sTori Telling by Tori Spelling, and Oh My Dog by Beth Stern. Upcoming titles include I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee, Gunn’s Golden Rules by Tim Gunn, I Remember You by Harriet Evans, and Lisa Genova’s new novel, Left Neglected.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
By Bob Silbernagel
Sunday, May 23, 2010
For more than 40 years, Jerry Blaine and his colleagues adhered to a strict code of silence. They didn’t talk about the most devastating event in their lives — one of the most terrible in this nation’s history. They didn’t discuss the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It was particularly hard on Blaine and his friends because they were all Secret Service agents in November 1963, members of the team assigned to protect the president — the Kennedy Detail.
Blaine has written a book by that name, with the help of a longtime family friend, newswoman and author named Lisa McCubbin. “The Kennedy Detail” is to be published and released in November. A Discovery Channel show with the same name, featuring eight of the agents who were in Dallas that day, is also scheduled to air in November.
Blaine said he felt “compelled” to write the book. After he watched Oliver Stone’s infamous conspiracy biofiction, “JFK,” he told himself, “That’s the last thing I’ll look at related to the assassination.” But, once he retired from security with large companies and he began seeing all the misinformation and outright deceit about the assassination on the Internet, as well as in books and films, he decided, “Essentially, it was a book that had to be written.”
Beginning about five years ago, Blaine began contacting all he could of the 38 agents who were in the Kennedy Detail on Nov. 22, 1963 — he listed 16 who still survived as of last week. He also contacted others who served on the presidential detail during the Kennedy years, but had left the service or been assigned to other duties prior to that fateful date — more than 60 people in all.
With the exception of one former agent, who told Blaine he just couldn’t bear to discuss the assassination, “all of them talked,” he said. “It didn’t matter if they were on site or not. It affected all of our lives.” And they wanted to set the record straight, to make sure history had their perspective.
Blaine was in Dallas early on the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, but flew to Austin prior to the Kennedy motorcade to prepare for the next stop on the president’s Texas tour. He had served a midnight-to-early-morning shift, and was sleeping when news of the shooting broke. He was ordered to Washington, and arrived just about the time that his new boss, President Lyndon Johnson, returned to the capital.
There was no time for grief, and little inclination on the part of the agents to talk about what had happened. If they weren’t directly involved in the investigation, they simply moved on to taking care of the new president and his family.
But, in less than a year, Blaine and several others had left the service.
“I saw the futility and vulnerability in protection,” he said. “I realized, we could only do so much.”
Blaine would go on to a lengthy career doing security and computer work with IBM, as well as other private companies. He spent a lot of time overseas, and worked with the government to help get oil-field workers out of Kuwait prior to the first Gulf War.
Blaine lived in Grand Junction for a time as a child. He moved back here six years ago. A visit to Blaine’s office in his home on the Redlands reveals many mementos of career, in the Secret Service and with private firms. There are signed photos from Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, the first president and spouse for whom Blaine served. There are plaques recognizing him for service in the private arena and a Secret Service seal on one wall. There is a sense of history contained within.
But sometimes, that history seems more immediate. While I was visiting last week, Blaine received a phone call.
When he hung up, he said, “That was our Miss Moneypenny,” a reference to the famous James Bond secretary. The Secret Service administrative assistant had been in Washington when the assassination occurred. She and Blaine discussed a part of the post-assassination investigation, about which they each had first-hand knowledge.
My knowledge of the Kennedy assassination began, as it did for so many Americans, with TV news coverage that horrible day. We turned on the television in my elementary school, fifth graders barely able to comprehend what had occurred. My mother, who despised Kennedy as president, wept most of that long weekend as we watched the funeral and related events.
There are iconic images — young John Kennedy saluting his father’s casket — that are part of our shared culture and national memory.
I have read countless books, magazine and newspaper articles about the assassination, watched movies and television shows. But to listen to part of a telephone conversation between two people who had intimate knowledge of that tragic event seemed strange, even a bit disconcerting. Suddenly, it didn’t feel like ancient history.
Blaine is right. “The Kennedy Detail,” with its perspective from the Secret Service agents who have finally dropped the code of silence, is a book that needed to be written. I can’t wait to read it.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
November 21, 2010
In June 2010, seven Secret Service agents who were on the Kennedy Secret Service Detail reunited in Dallas for the emotional filming of a Discovery Channel special documentary based on the book, The Kennedy Detail. It was an unforgettable experience that brought back fond memories of the brotherhood of our close-knit group, but that, of course, also forced us to relive the most tragic day of our lives.
If the budget had allowed, I would have invited every agent who had served on the Kennedy Detail to attend, however, I had to select those, still living, who had a prominent role on the day of the assassination. The agents in the production were Clint Hill, Paul Landis, Win Lawson, Ron Pontius, Tom Wells, Toby Chandler, and myself in Dallas, with Dave Grant participating from Washington, DC.
After the assassination, the tragedy was never discussed among the agents except for inquiries or technical discussions. Emotionally the matter was privately sealed in our minds and hearts. The “Code of Silence” that we had vowed to live by became even more important in the aftermath, as countless theories about the assassination festered.
For nearly half a century, this code of silence has ruled our lives. The time had come to break our silence and reveal what we knew about the events surrounding President Kennedy’s brutal assassination. The documentary and the book bring to life the unimaginable horror of being on the front lines of one of the most tragic days in our nation’s history. The incarcerated emotions of each of the agents broke loose and the reunion accomplished the goal of drawing away the curtains of silence. Finally, the healing had begun.
Gerald Blaine and Kenneth Atchity
Gerald S. Blaine and Lisa McCubbin
Renegade83's Jay Renfroe, David Garfinkle and with Paul Landis
Director Vince DiPersio
Clint Hill, AEI's Chi-Li Wong and Paul Landis
Toby Chandler, Clint Hill, Vince DiPersio, Lisa McCubbin
Paul Landis, Jerry Blaine, Assoc. Prod. Liza Maddrey (Love Field)
Toby Chandler and Gerald Blaine
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service (AFAUSSS) Annual Meeting- New York City- August 26-28.
At the annual conference of the 2500 member former Secret Service Agents Association last week in New York City, Lisa McCubbin and I presented an overview of the book at the business meeting to ensure the agents that the publication was “Worthy of Trust and Confidence.” With six of the surviving members of the Kennedy Secret Service Detail in attendance, it was also an ideal opportunity to acknowledge their participation in the book and thank them for helping to ensure the accuracy of its contents. It was a proud moment when the members of the association gave us a standing ovation and tribute of recognition to the Kennedy Detail agents who were there.
Following the presentation Lisa and I presented a check to the organization for $5,000.00 to AFAUSSS President Ike Hendershot on behalf of the Kennedy Detail.
At the conference opening reception Clint Hill, Lisa McCubbin and I met with Secret Service Director Sullivan and discussed the book from the perspective of today’s operations. Clint Hill, who lives in the Washington DC area, had previously briefed the Director on the accuracy and purpose of writing the book.
I am the sole surviving charter member and a past president of the organization. The association was conceived by Floyd Boring and Jerry Behn with the assistance of fifteen charter members. Jerry Behn was the Special Agent in Charge of the Kennedy Detail and Floyd Boring was an Assistant Agent in Charge. The organization's mission is to maintain social and professional relationships, to liaison with the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies and to support and assist members of the Secret Service Family in times of stress or need, including scholarships.
The closing banquet featured speaker was former president Bill Clinton, who expressed his gratitude for the Secret Service and the professional manner with which they performed their mission.