PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTES: What follows is a play I performed as a one-woman show in Los Angeles, California in 2005. A lot has changed since then, including me. I’m no longer a partisan cheerleader, but I am still a Democrat if more of a political realist who’s been through the ravages of presidential campaigns, at least as close as you can get and still remain outside any campaign. To say that the murder of John F. Kennedy impacted my life is an understatement, but not in the way he did adults like my brother, my political mentor, as you’ll read in the play that follows. I grew up in the cauldron of modern change in America. It was the age of Gloria, Steinem, of course, a woman who represented that antithesis of the women who orbited John F. Kennedy, a man whose last speech, one he would never deliver, revolved around the idea of peace on earth at the height of the Cold War. This play manifested through the first writing I ever did was as a kid political historian. Watching what played out on television, chronicling everything on 3×5 index cards, which my brother handed me last spring, 50 years ago today rocked our world. What makes people feel that way? How can anyone feel something so deep for a president, someone you don’t know? That’s the question I asked as a very little girl as I watched my older brother and sister cry, watching the convulsion on TV after John F. Kennedy’s murder. It was the television age’s dawn, with John F. Kennedy the first president who would walk into America’s living room, a place he’s never left. What follows is static as it’s read, so understand that this was a one-woman show that requires a certain delivery and flair, which can only be felt in person; but I wanted to share it with you today because this was a labor of love for those few involved. It combines theater and politics, writing and theory, and a love for telling stories. Thanks for taking the time and allowing me to share it.

A ONE WOMAN SHOW based on PRESIDENT KENNEDY'S IMPACT ON AMERICA, and what the president can mean to people. [Official White House Photo, public domain]

A ONE WOMAN SHOW based on PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S IMPACT ON AMERICA, and what the president can mean to people.
[Official White House Photo, public domain]

An Evening with Taylor Marsh, and J.F.K. ©

(Formerly “Weeping for J.F.K.”©)

Written, Directed and Produced by Taylor Marsh in 2005

Los Angeles, California

“To everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, and a time to fish and a time to cut bait.” – John F. Kennedy

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8,
–with an added turn of phrase by John Fitzgerald Kennedy–
(according to Ted Sorensen - Grace and Power, by Sally Bedell Smith

A time of George W. Bush as president, Hillary Clinton was still senator, and Barack Obama was a complete unknown”¦


I was born in red state Missouri and raised on John Wayne.

Nixon was Missouri’s man.

The Show Me state always voted for the guy with the biggest guns. Strong on defense was in our DNA.

After all, it was Harry Truman that dropped the bomb”¦ three times.

No Republican ever did anything close to that and no Democrat since Harry had his kind of chutzpah”¦ except John F. Kennedy.

During Kennedy, the Defense budget was around $47.5 BILLION, 9% of our GDP.

Today it’s only 4% and we haven’t touched what we need to do “over here.”

Can you imagine the money Kennedy would have poured into homeland security if he was president after 9/11?

After the Vienna summit with Khrushchev in “˜61, Kennedy was so alarmed he announced a program to create fallout shelters for 50 million Americans.

Never mind that it would never work, that Congress would never fund it and the American people would never buy it.

At least J.F.K. never told anyone to go buy duct tape.

He also knew that after a nuclear war, the “final failure,” as J.F.K. called it, there is no defense left.

Kennedy would never have launched operation Iraqi Spider Hole.

And he wouldn’t have talked about seeing into Khrushchev’s soul either.

J.F.K. dreamed up the Green Berets and Special Forces. He was the James Bond of politics.

He thought of it first. He was right then. Forty years later, he’s still right.

What J.F.K. didn’t believe in was preventative war. Neither did John Quincy Adams: “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy”¦. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Ike was all about nuke “˜em to hell.

Kennedy wanted something besides “holocaust and humiliation.”

So, after Carter, it was natural I became a Reagan Democrat.

I was working on Broadway and sitting in gas lines in New York City.

Students had taken Americans hostage in Iran.

And President Carter’s plan was to put on a frickin’ sweater.

Lots of Dems deserted Carter for Reagan.

And he did the job, too.

America was strong again.

We had a spine again.

But it was also me-me-me again.

It sure as hell wasn’t what I saw when I was 9.

John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

I’d gotten out of school early because of it.

The next week, the most riveting event of my life occurred. President Kennedy’s funeral was broadcast on TV.

TV was my whole universe. I grew up believing everything that happened on it was important, real and true.

That day, my big brother and sister were seated in front of the TV, as close as they could get to the screen.

I watched them from around the corner.

It wasn’t often we were all together, because my brother is around 18 years older than me, my sister almost 12.

Here were the two most important people in my life openly weeping as they watched J.F.K.’s funeral.

I was stunned.

What kind of president makes people feel like that?

It was a moment frozen in time for me that changed the course of my life.

Today I ask: Will we ever feel that way again?

Nixon never made people feel that way.

I voted for Reagan, and when he died, I remembered the pride he restored. It was all a show and I’d been suckered, but when he died I recalled him differently, because of how bad things were in 1979 and how he made the country feel. I also remembered Iran-Contra and the explosion of AIDS. It’s why I only voted for Reagan once.

Kennedy and Reagan have something in common.

An exact replica of John F. Kennedy's rocker, which I utilized in this play.

An exact replica of John F. Kennedy’s rocker, which I utilized in this play.

They fought the same war with the Soviets”¦ and did it through peace.

“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war”¦ Not peace of the grave or the security of the slave”¦ not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women ““ not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.” ““ J.F.K.

Look, I’m not a scholar on either man and that’s the point.

Your average American is dumb about the details.

They just know how a politician makes them feel.

J.F.K. made people feel like anything was possible, that change was possible. And he did it while being wholly human.

Right after he took office, after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy learned that “victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan,” then admitted, “I’m the responsible officer of the Government.”

Taking responsibility”¦ a novel idea these days.

His approval rating shot to 82%!

“”¦The worse I do, the more popular I get,” he said. Followed by, “How could I have been so stupid?” believing he’d been suckered by the C.I.A.

Then there was his sense of humor. Accused of calling the Prime Minister of Canada a son-of-a-bitch in a memo, Kennedy declared, “I couldn’t have called him an S.O.B. I didn’t know he was one ““ at that time.”

Months after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy announced a plan to go to the moon by the end of the “˜60s. J.F.K.’s New Frontier cost around $24 BILLION back then.

And the Bay of Pigs fiasco didn’t keep Kennedy from matching Khrushchev’s nuclear test startup with one of our own or talking tactical nukes to match the Soviet threat while negotiating the test ban treaty.

Ronnie was all about “peace through strength rather than mutually assured destruction.”

Today, it’s all about preemptive war and assuring everyone else’s destruction, if you don’t follow our timeline for your “freedom.”

Reagan also created the “zero-zero concept,” to get the Soviets and the U.S. down to no nukes.

The neoconservatives hated it.

Today, everyone from Iran to Egypt is into the new arms race.

Radioactivity is back, baby.

Can you imagine any Republican offering up “zero-zero” today?

A Democrat wouldn’t dare.

In Reagan’s day, the Soviets had intermediate range missiles pointed at half of Europe.

Saddam could never have hit the U.S. with a bomb.

And during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy had offensive nukes in Cuba that could hit D.C. or any southeastern city, at least 12 ships on their way to Cuba, with more to come, while Soviet subs patrolled off Cuba’s coast, and Kennedy got Khrushchev to blink!

Bush went to war in Iraq over “weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.”

Hey, but conservatives had to find something new to be against. After all, that’s what conservatism is all about: fighting AGAINST fill-in-the-blank.

That’s straight from William F. Buckley Jr.’s mouth, the Dean of Conservatism.

So, when the Soviet Union collapsed, they had to find a new enemy.

Reagan was a whole different breed from the Bushies. He never relinquished Roosevelt and even fought to save Social Security in “˜83.

Today, Bush is leading the post-Reaganites to end the New Deal.

But Ronnie’s inaction on AIDS was my Republican Rubicon.

The “˜80s is also when I had to hold my nose to vote Democrat.

I just couldn’t get my head around Mondale, even with Geraldine Ferraro, or Dukakis.

Daddy Bush gave us Clarence “Long Dong Silver,” the Justice who believes “prison abuse is not prohibited by the 8th Amendment.”

I voted for Clinton twice, no surprise.

And it was remembering Clinton’s re-election that sounded the alarm on election 2004.

Back in the “˜90s, the right-wing was as rabidly anti-Clinton as many people are anti-Bush today.

Poor Bubba, Clinton didn’t know what hit him until it was too late. And when Bill didn’t go down with impeachment, the conservatives broadened the target to liberalism itself.

So, I knew this could happen.

Ralph Reed was on the Charlie Rose show the day before the election. He used to head up the Christian Coalition and was the guy who morphed 3-limb amputee and war hero Max Cleland with Osama and Saddam. Reed started talking about their Election Day game plan, how Karl Rove wanted to get out the 4 million fundamentalists that stayed home on Daddy Bush’s re-election. Reed was part of that plan. And they did it.

You know, there’s a big difference between Christians and other people of faith, and fundamentalists.

Faith is a leap into the unknown. It’s what we choose to believe. It has nothing to do with what we know or can prove.

Fundamentalism is about absolute certitude and defies empirical evidence.

But even if we’d caught it there wasn’t much we could have done about it.

You can’t fight fundamentalism with fairness.

What Democrats need is a war of our own.

Let’s start with the “axis of evil.”

We could bomb North Korea”¦ but they already have the bomb and a large military, so that won’t work.

Then there’s Iran: they harbor terrorists, are involved in Iraq, are going nuclear; they hate Israel, were responsible for the Khobar Towers bombing, plus they’re the ones that actually aided al Qaeda before 9/11. But we’ve run out of military, so that’s out.

Then there’s the mother of all menaces: Saudi Arabia. Who produced our arch enemy and 15 of the 19 hijackers, but we’re doing nothing about them.

Unless you call Laura Bush accepting a 95 thousand dollar diamond and sapphire Christmas gift, post 9/11, getting tough on the Saudis.

But we’d never survive without their oil.

Oh, and GOD forbid we actually do something about Osama bin Laden! But we can’t. We don’t know where the hell he is!

We need a good war.

Don’t like Iraq?

Pick something else.

Don’t know?

You’re a pussy.

And a good American is not a pussy.

We need a good war all right, a good war of ideas to start us off.

J.F.K. was a war hero who had to actually have his dad lie to get him into the military, because of his health. Service was sacrosanct to him.

J.F.K. cut taxes too, but not like Reagan and Bush. Even Reagan had to backtrack and eventually raise taxes.

And Bush’s debt is the biggest threat we have to our national security. Foreign investors own this country. And now we’ve got Bush’s “birth tax,” with every baby saddled with $36,000 of federal debt right from the womb.

You want to make the tax cuts permanent?

I’d rather have a smarter, modern military, health care, and not leave our teachers and vets hung out to dry.

J.F.K. understood war and that “you’ve got to live every day like it’s your last day on earth and it damn well may be!” He’d lost his brother Joe and his sister Kiki. Then there were his own health problems that left him facing his own mortality every day.

The Kennedys also knew the way we act speaks to “the whole question of “¦ what kind of country we are.”

Puts Abu Ghraib in a different light, doesn’t it?

Democrats today don’t come close to making anyone feel like Kennedy did.

It really started going wrong for Democrats after 9/11.

Remember where you were that day?

“¦ “¦ [break] Some things haven’t changed since J.F.K.’s days.

Joe Kennedy was a legendary womanizer, as was his son. It was the way guys were back then. It was almost expected. Sometimes it was even inspired.

In 1932, after their last kid, Rose Kennedy declared there would be “no more sex” and moved into a separate bedroom.

Kennedy claimed he couldn’t go 3 days without sex, or he’d get a headache.

And Jackie knew all about Jack, even contemplated divorce, but chose to stay. During one White House tour with a Paris journalist, Jackie walked passed “Fiddle,” saying in flawless French, “This is the girl who supposedly is sleeping with my husband.”

Even so, Jack said there was only one woman he could have married ““ and he married her.

Why did Jackie put up with it? “I guess she loves me,” said Jack. Maybe, but Joe Kennedy’s 1 million dollar bribe didn’t hurt either!

J.F.K. even advised Teddy that “being married didn’t really mean that you had to be faithful to your wife.”

This wasn’t unique behavior back then.

Today, guys play around with porn instead.

“¦ [break] “¦Liberation has only made women crazier and the politics around it only makes matters worse.

I might not be a shrink, a Dr. Laura or a Dr. Phil, but I’ve been interviewing people for a very long time, doing research the “experts” have never done.

Learning that sometimes service sex is all that’s needed or wanted.

J.F.K. was the king of service sex, a playboy, so cuddling just wasn’t his thing. One woman said J.F.K. “gave off light instead of heat,” but was a “warm, lovable guy.”

And even Jackie and Jack had their sexual problems. She said, “he just goes too fast and then falls asleep.” But with his bad back, he could only do it with the woman on top and that takes an aggressive partner. They compromised and both took lovers.

Red states and blue states have a whole lot of strange in common and we’re usually responsible for our own demise.

I mean, seriously, what was Bill thinking? We all know what he was thinking with”¦ But it wasn’t the “˜60s, when the press didn’t discuss a president’s private behavior. Even J.F.K. finally got into real trouble only a meeting between Bobby and Hoover could stop.

Lord knows what would have happened in a second term. The times, they were a changing.

Today’s Democrats make matters worse by not fighting back hard. At least the blogs and Air America get it.

Remember right before 9/11, when Ashcroft had the FBI casing a New Orleans brothel, instead of tracking down Islamic terrorists about to attack us?

Well, according to the Canal Street Madam, with whom I had many conversations. Most of the men in the middle of this mess were leading Louisiana Republicans, including one high ranking judge.

Democrats let this one slide like it was no big frickin’ deal.

Republicans would have hung Democrats out to dry.

You need serious venom to be the victor these days. J.F.K. and his “New Frontiersmen,” led by Bobby, had it.

And if he ran today, he’d need it.

Jack was the first Catholic to run for president at a time when 24% of America said they wouldn’t vote for a Catholic.

All the while, jet setting Jack and Jackie were giving the wildest parties in Washington; cocktails and carousing were in.

When the twist was introduced at a late White House party one night it was a scandal. Pierre Salinger even had to lie about it to the press.

Today, it’s bedtime by 9 and don’t bother me with details, just tell me what I need to know.

But the twist was just the tip of J.F.K.’s lust for life.

He had his women, his doctors and all the drugs that kept him alive:
“¢ Anesthetic procaine, for his Addison’s disease
“¢ Cytomel, for thyroid deficiency
“¢ Lomitil
“¢ Metamucil, now there’s a commercial for you
“¢ Paregoric
“¢ Phenobarbitol
“¢ Trasentine, to control his colitic diarrhea
“¢ Testosterone, to increase his energy and boost his weight after bouts of colitis
“¢ Penicillin, for urinary tract flare-ups
“¢ Fluorinef, to increase his salt absorption due to Addison’s
“¢ Cortisone
“¢ Tuinal, for insomnia ““ a side effect of the cortisone
“¢ Antihistamines, for an array of allergies
“¢ Codeine
“¢ Steroids”¦ Oh, and Vitamin C and calcium.

J.F.K. also had lots of doctors who gave him his “vigah.” They also led to rumors that Nixon tried to steal his medical records.

He had an allergist; an endocrinologist for his Addison’s disease; a gastroenterologist for his colitis; a urologist, because he’d gotten a urinary tract infection from venereal disease; an orthopedist for his degenerative spine, but no one knew.

Today we’d know all about “Dr. Feelgood.”

GOP fundamentalists would go wild.

Or maybe he’d get a pass just like Rush.

Responsibility? Rush is a Republican. So he’s a victim.

When Bill O’Reilly got caught doing phone sex, he got a pass too. No spin zone? Please. His idol is RFK, but somehow I just can’t see Bobby doing phone sex.

Newt Gingrich handed his wife a yellow pad of divorce details to sign off on, when she was still in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, so he could marry his mistress! Now he’s running in ’08.

And during Clinton impeachment, Republicans couldn’t even find a replacement for Newt because all their candidates had infidelity issues.

That’s the Party of “family values.”

But as J.F.K. said, “the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie “¦ but the myth.”

It’s about political ego, baby.

J.F.K. had it.

They’ve got it.

We’ve got to get it back.

Democrats haven’t found their inner J.F.K. in over 40 years.

Bill Clinton got us there, but what he built couldn’t keep us there, because nobody else seems to understand the south.

J.F.K. never felt anyone’s pain, like Bill. But he sure knew he couldn’t win without southern Democrats, the same people who eventually left the Party over civil rights and eventually became Republicans.

Kennedy was the first president to talk about integration, following Truman’s lead, but action took a lot longer.

In 1962, polls showed that 63% of America was more worried about war, with only 6% concerned about civil rights or segregation.

But after Mississippi and Birmingham, Kennedy knew Civil Rights was an idea whose time had come.

After all, “How long can we say to a Negro in Jackson, “˜When war comes you will be an American citizen, but in the meantime, you’re a citizen of Mississippi ““ and we can’t help you’?” ““ Bobby Kennedy

Martin Luther King called Kennedy’s civil rights actions in “˜63 “the most sweeping and forthright ever presented by an American president.”

It’s similar to where we stand today with gays. But at least gays can hide among us and enjoy some equality. It doesn’t matter if you accept, agree or like gays and lesbians. It’s about Constitutional protection.

And let’s remember, Abraham Lincoln was gay. Where do you think they got Log Cabin Republicans?

Fundamentalists get it. So since they can’t change the Constitution they want to pack the courts with their kind of people.

It’s the GOP’s “southern strategy,” created by Nixon and Pat Buchanan, turned on gays.

In 1980, Reagan went to Neshoba, Miss., where the three civil rights workers had been murdered by the Klan in ’64, and in front of an all-white crowd of thousands used the code words, “states’ rights,” to win southern support.

Reagan also used his Justice Department to support Bob Jones University, even though they discriminated against blacks, something Kennedy stopped through law.

And it was Bob Jones University that rescued George W. Bush’s flailing campaign in 2000.

Bill Clinton felt the black community’s pain from the very beginning because he knew the south. That’s one reason Bill is forever in the penalty box.

While randy Republicans get the chance to become governor in a recall and maybe even president some day.

As for gay Republicans, they get to stay closeted while pushing anti-gay “family values” legislation, just ask David Dreier.

And Democrats let them get away with it by always playing defense.

There’s one subject everyone is defensive about: ABORTION.

Women wanted a choice.

Then we got it.

The most uncomfortable moment for me during the 2004 primaries, was when the Democratic candidates were paraded across the stage at a NARAL event, to show their solidarity with the pro-choice powerful.

Abortion is the law of the land and there’s nothing else to prove, nothing else to debate. We won. WOMEN won and the men who love us.

Look, I’m pro-choice all the way. I’ve crossed state lines to save myself, so I know what’s at stake.

And pro-choice groups do a lot more for women than me, but “I had an abortion” t-shirts?

I don’t regret what I did one bit.

But there are 1.5 MILLION abortions every year.

So, why didn’t one Democrat talk about prevention? Say: Yes, we’re pro-choice, but there are too many abortions and it’s got to stop. Hillary finally did.

It’s the modern era and feminism came with responsibility.

Fire all the fanatics on both sides. That’s what Kennedy would have done because he was not an ideologue. He hated them. The irony is he wouldn’t have gotten the Democratic nomination without one fierce ideologue, the former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

J.F.K. had his own right-wing to contend with in “63: 70 foundations, 113 corporations, and 250 “identifiable individuals,” not to mention 74% of their 150 congressional candidates, 15 minute radio programs on 300 stations heard 343 times a day, and 80,000 copies of “Human Events” magazine mailed out every week.

Today, we’ve got Dr. Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Richard Land at the top.

Religious conservatives are forever reviving Falwell’s Moral Immoral Majority Minority.

Dobson’s Focus on the Family is threatening Democrats who filibuster fundamentalist judges.

And Reverend Land, the big shot of Southern Baptists, wants to prosecute abortion doctors, and he said so on an all-male panel on “Meet the Press.”

Why is it that whenever religion, abortion, and family values are discussed you have to have a penis to get on one of these panels?

You have to go to PBS to find a pussy!

What would Freud have said about all this ovary obsession? Strike that, Freud was clueless.

But all the family values, God and purity talk, encased in a holier than thou image, sure does its duty.

As J.F.K. said, “people buy that God and country stuff.”

It makes people feel better about voting Republican.

But holy hypocrisy! Let’s get real.

Republicans don’t want to end abortion. They need abortion. It fuels their fanaticism.

It also cements the God gap for them.

But as liberal Evangelical Jim Wallis says, “How did Jesus become pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-America?

The right has stolen our faith!

Would Kennedy have marched in the NARAL parade?

Rose Kennedy, who was a Papal Countess, would have had a cow.

It’s ironic that Middle America and the South get the credit for family values when nothing could be less justified.

Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. Born-again Christians have the highest, and that’s according to a born-again Christian in Ventura, Ca.

And the very highest of the highest divorce rates are found in the Bible belt.

Someone’s not walking their talk.

And something is getting lost in our translation.

Part of it is about us. Democratic women are just different, look at Jackie Kennedy, aka “Lace.” She didn’t go to church.

She also chain-smoked, drank, wore pants and bikinis, rode horses in hunts, redesigned the White House using foreign designers, was a Francophile, got drug injections along with her husband, snuck out of official First Lady obligations whenever possible, went cruising on Onassis’ yacht, which drove Bobby nuts and had him threatening to “sink the fucking yacht.” But Jackie vacationed separately from Jack whenever she wanted.

And at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when J.F.K. was trying to avoid nuclear war, Jackie was chasing hounds over the top of Rattlesnake Mountain.

Can you just hear conservative cliterati lead cackler, Ann Coulter, on that one?

And about the church, it’s no wonder modern women choose other things over formal Sunday services. No institution has shown us more contempt than “The Church.”

Besides, America is about freedom of religion.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Jefferson loved Jesus, hated religious fanatics, and believed in reason and free inquiry above all else.

Ah, those were the days.

The God gap should have filled up pretty quickly over Iraq.

But not even Iraq could keep people from voting Republican.

And the jack ass sitting next to us in the pew was gay marriage.

In Nevada, people were more afraid of gays than nuclear waste.

All because the Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the Constitution, as they saw it.

And a San Francisco mayor decided to take the law into his own hands.

It pushed Bush over the top. Because nothing frightened Jerry Falwell’s America more than seeing all those gay couples holding hands in marriage bliss.

Monogamy is good. It’s just not good for gays.

But Jesus never said one word about gays. He spent most of his time talking about the poor, 2-3,000 verses worth.

But the poor don’t vote, so our President doesn’t care.

Over 13,000 soldiers have been wounded, maimed or killed in Iraq, and no one is separating the stats according to sexual orientation.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for Iraq. Take Dick Gephardt making a deal with W. in the dead of night.

With Democrats like that, who needs Republicans?

But Democrats had one thing on their minds: securing “viability” for elect-ability; otherwise known as saving your political ass.

But what else can you do if you’re ambitious?

Vote “no” to war and be forever branded a coward, or an appeaser?

Or vote “yes” and keep your options open?

Hillary figured it out: she’d vote with the boys.

Religion sucks us in every time.

Ike committed us in Vietnam, with America 40% of the money being spent by the time J.F.K. signed on. But the Buddhist monks sealed our fate. Over decades Vietnam became a choice between the “disastrous and the unpalatable,” a “can of snakes.”

Ike also handed off a policy of “tell us to go to nuclear war, and we’ll deal with the rest.” By November ’63, J.F.K. had decided to withdraw, but not “until 1965 after (he was) re-elected.” LBJ changed all that with operation “Rolling Thunder.”

After J.F.K.’s death, Jackie wrote to Khrushchev that the real danger was that “war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones.” She was right.

Democrats let 9/11 scare them into a corner.

The New Republic, the political Bible of Democrats and the “in-flight magazine of Air Force One,” even endorsed Joe Lieberman for president.

Joe Lieberman? Lieberman was Sean Hannity’s favorite Democratic candidate!

Then after the election, The New Republic said that Kerry could have won if he’d attacked France. Going to the right of Bush on France would have given us a victory?

On the far left we had The Nation’s Katrina Van den Heuvel talking about Kerry using the “l” word in a debate and she was talking about “lesbian.” The “l” word is supposed to be liberal!

And now they’re back for four more years of stuff that makes the Concerned Women for America jump for joy.

Promoting that 50% of teenage boys have tested positive for HIV. False.

That you can get AIDS from tears and sweat. False.

That teenage pregnancy can happen through genital contact alone and that condoms fail 31% of the time. It’s 3%, but what’s the truth when fear is involved?

Or that abortion leads to suicide and the whopper that a 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person.

Science is on sabbatical.

Some Republicans even think that embryonic stem cell research is too expensive.

Jesus would have loved that one.

That’s compassionate conservatism for you: compassion applied conservatively.

Trouble is Democrats don’t have a counter-argument.

And to be against the Iraq war, without offering an alternative plan for our enemy’s destruction is pathetic. It’s spineless. It’s anti-J.F.K.

We need our own war, a war of ideas that J.F.K. would wage.

Maybe we could fight for real Middle East peace.

Quit applying our compassion so conservatively towards Arabs and Muslims and start backing the opposition and the liberals.

Quit backing Israel no matter what they do.

And realize it’s our policies that are making matters worse, especially for our troops who have to enforce them.

Republicans talk a lot about “supporting the troops,” but their actions often say otherwise.

But like J.F.K. said of the GOP, “No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.”

Cutting hazard pay when no one was looking is not support. Neither is refusing to reimburse soldiers for armor needed in Iraq that wasn’t supplied.

A third tour into Iraq isn’t support. And neither is Bush’s revolving back-door draft, which has broken our military and left 17% of the Army’s 1st Armored Division with post-traumatic stress syndrome, triple the norm.

Raising vet fees, because of Bush’s tax cuts, isn’t support. It’s bad planning and bad management.

But Republicans have no respect for government because they don’t like it and want to end it. That’s why they’re so bad at running it.

Then there’s Abu Ghraib. With the man who helped set the situation in motion now our top cop. An interview I did with Nixon-era John Dean revealed that many believe Gonzales’ Abu Ghraib collaborator, Judge Bybee, is actually guilty of war crimes. Bush put him on the 9th Circuit!

God bless the generals: Shalikashvili, Wes Clark, Rear Admiral Hutson, and Barry McCaffrey, who opposed Gonzales.

And don’t try and tell me Abu Ghraib was about a bunch of bad soldiers at the bottom working on their own. As controlling as the Bushies are, they knew.

But still, the troops vote for Republicans in larger numbers.

It feels right to our troops.

Voting Democrat is done on the sly.

But Democrats have always been underestimated.

Soviet missiles in Cuba started off as a secret.

When L.B.J. confided it to a friend he warned, “If you tell I’ll shoot you between the eyes.”

Kennedy talked the New York Times out of running the story.

But the Washington Post ran it under the headline, “MARINE MOVES IN SOUTH LINKED TO CUBAN CRISIS.” My brother was one of those Marines.

Kennedy mobilized 180,000 troops and planned close to 2,000 aerial sorties; ready for a massive assault.

He had learned that “Aggressive conduct, if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war.”

There’s a tipping point.

J.F.K. reached that point during the Cuban Missile Crisis and for 13 days the world lived at the brink of nuclear war.

Our U.N. ambassador Adlai Stevenson warned that he’d wait “until hell freezes over” for the Soviets to admit they had offensive weapons in Cuba.

Not exactly what we got from Colin Powell.

The French didn’t need proof back then, our word was enough.

It isn’t anymore.

Kennedy instituted a blockade instead of bombing and secretly offered to remove missiles from Turkey, “at the appropriate time,” to defuse the crisis. Superior missiles on the nuclear-armed submarine Polaris in the Mediterranean would replace them.

Trying every option, J.F.K. also used back-channel negotiations between Bobby Kennedy and the Soviets.

J.F.K. made the weapons the issue. It wasn’t about Castro this time.

And he wasn’t afraid to confront his military chiefs. When Curtis LeMay quipped, “You’re in a pretty bad fix.” Kennedy flatly reminded the military man, “You’re in there with me.”

J.F.K. had negotiated many times, made our case, and then threatened war when it counted, because, “We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

His approval rating was 76%.

There’s not one single Democrat willing to walk J.F.K.’s talk. Until we can, we won’t win.

Something J.F.K. didn’t have to confront is “illegal aliens.” Kennedy created the Alliance for Progress.

Over 4,000 illegals sneak across the Mexican-American border every day. And Mexico depends on remittances. So, late last year the Mexican government put out a pamphlet teaching people how to safely sneak across the border and how to blend in once they got here.

Until recently, police couldn’t even arrest people in our country illegally. Corporations keep looking the other way.

This isn’t about discrimination. It’s about homeland security. Because intel reports prove that terrorists see a welcome mat across the Mexican-American border! Here’s a war worth waging and it starts over here.

Will the next crowd tackle it? Not “illegal aliens,” the “drug war”?

How about Eliot Spitzer? He’s the right kind of lawyer. A take no prisoners prosecutor who goes after high flying corporate crooks.

Barak Obama, a lawyer with a story that sings. He’s also the antidote to Condoleezza Rice, whose incompetence makes the case for women staying at home.

There’s John Edwards. Yes, another lawyer and the only one to talk about another war worth waging: a war against poverty.

Then there’s Robert F. Kennedy in a skirt: Hillary. She’s devoutly religious, fearless, ruthless, tough and smart. She’s proved herself in the Senate. But can she sell in the south?

With John Kerry hovering over them all, let’s just hope he curbs his meandering mouth.

We need a “rational liberal,” as J.F.K. would say. Not an emotional liberal like Howard Dean, bless his passionate DNC soul.

J.F.K. wasn’t even considered a liberal, though he used the mantle to win. He railed against F.D.R. for Yalta, blamed Truman for Korea. In fact, he had to work to get liberal support. Eleanor took a long time before coming to his side. She was an Adlai woman. Forcing John F. Kennedy to create the President’s Commission on the Status of women before she’d campaign for him.

J.F.K. called himself an “idealist without illusions,” a “realist.” Sounds good to me.

We also need someone who will stop the Administration from allowing big corporations to make policy.

I’d like 2 minutes with the people from Wyeth.

First came the birth control pill.

Now we have synthetic hormones and HRT.

Synthetic hormones may work for some, but only if you like taking pregnant mare’s piss.

As J.F.K. said about his treatments, “I don’t care if it’s horse piss. It works.” Well, with all due respect, pregnant mare’s piss didn’t work for me.

HRT was quite the rage for a while.

Then came the studies, the side-effects, and we were back to square one.

Some women get hot flashes at 37 and some never get them. But if they come, look out.

Then there’s the moment when you lose your orgasm. Remember Samantha in that one “Sex and the City” episode? It’s a nightmare. Just ask my husband.

The only thing worse is the mind meltdown that makes you stupid on a regular basis.

I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write.

I also couldn’t remember anything, so my radio interviews became a frickin’ nightmare.

Then one night I was channel surfing, because I also couldn’t sleep, and landed on Larry King, where Suzanne Somers was talking about menopause being “the sexy years.”

She had to be on drugs. She was: bioidentical hormones.

Bioidenticals exactly fit the body structure, making up for what we lose as we get older and they’re all natural. It takes time for them to work and even then, they’re not a magic bullet.

But bioidenticals are finally giving me my life and my orgasms back. They’re my Viagra®, baby.

Women go from periods to birth control pills, to pregnancy, or not, to unnecessary Cesareans, to middle age and menopause; from sex-starved to sex-crazed to sexually indifferent; from diagnosis to near disaster; from lumpectomies to mastectomies to hysterectomies; to pregnant mare’s piss”¦ or bioidenticals, if you’re lucky.

It’s the 21st century and we still don’t know enough about women’s health, and we’re a majority. It would help if single women voted: over 20 million don’t!

I’m also convinced hormone loss is a big reason why so many marriages break up at mid-life.

The woman stops enjoying sex and the man starts looking elsewhere.

Give me a younger woman, says the man.

Let him have her, says the woman.

It used to be that friendship was more important than sex and intimacy. Today, that’s crap. According to my research, I’m right.

Sure, kids can be a big drag on your sex life, too. But you can’t afford to slough it off on that anymore, because divorce is the norm. Just ask the Bible-belt.

Democrats know all about not living up to perfection.

We’re the Statue of Liberty of political parties.

Give us your tired, your poor, your uninsured, your unemployed, your huddled homeless masses, America.

Give us your gays, your lesbians, your transgendered.

Give us your party loving people, because as J.F.K. said, “Never trust a man who serves only soft drinks.”

Give us your single moms, your divorced, your peaceniks, America.

Give us your meditation-loving, spiritual-seeking souls, your unconventional liberal Christians, too.

Give us your crusading lawyers willing to fight corporations and Wall Street.

Give us your unionized and struggling.

We won’t privatize Social Security. We won’t bankrupt it. We created it and we’ll fight to fix it.

And we won’t invade your privacy at the end of your life to score political piety points.

We believe in test ban treaties, not escalation; expanding the military, not revolving back-door drafts; and actually supporting the troops through actions, not just talking about it.

We believe in putting American workers first or equal to corporate profits and outsourcing. Not sometime afterward.

We put protecting God’s planet up there with family values.

Because we know that without an ecosystem the hunting, the fishing, and nature we love will disappear.

And we love the outdoors and our guns just as much as Republicans.

I’ve been to the firing range many times, but have you ever fired an M-16 rifle? I never would have either, but my husband is a gun expert.

Shooting out in the desert one day, I had shells flying out the sides”¦ smoke and bullets flying out the front”¦ and sand flying everywhere else!

What a rush.

Then my husband reminded me that the only purpose of this weapon is to kill people. It’s useless unless you’re in a war.

Democrats were wrong about guns. A law-abiding American has every right to own whatever gun he or she chooses, with a background check and registration.

My husband agrees and this is a man who’s been shot, and almost died, on the job as a gas technician.

There’s an old saying. God created man. I’d add woman. Samuel Colt made them equal.

You’re not a Neanderthal if you like weapons, hunting, and fishing.

That is, unless you run around screaming “from my cold, dead hands,” even if it is a slogan from a sheriff’s book.

John Kerry loves to hunt; does it every year. But because he’s a Democrat, no one believed the photos of him hunting were the real deal and the press piled on.

Republicans had George W. Bush strutting around declaring “mission accomplished” in a flight suit, showing a well-hung commander in chief”¦ and it worked.

Somewhere we lost our way.

We need to find our way back, proud to be the Statue of Liberty of political parties.

Lose a job: unemployment benefits are there for you.

Have a dangerous job: you’re protected by laws and safety regulations.

Get too old for a job: Social Security will be there to keep us out of poverty because it’s insured. Not gambled away on private accounts that have nothing to do with solvency.

Get hurt at work: you’re protected by the benefits you’ve earned.

With regulations on utilities, business, and the media; not ownership only for the powerful like Enron and Fox and all the big boys who all backed Bush.

Jackie Kennedy said you had to have been a Republican to know how good it is to be a Democrat. My husband agrees.

Still, Democrats need to find a good war. How about a war for the minimum wage: raise it.

That’s morality. That’s family values. Because getting a family out of poverty is values with a capital V.

Moms and dads working fewer hours or one less job because health care is available AND affordable, that’s a family value.

Telling a kid he’s as normal as his neighbor when he’s gay. That’s not only family values. It’s Christian values.

What it’s not is fundamentalist values.

The golden rule is good enough for most of us.

For the fundamentalists running the Republican Party, it’s not.

To them, war is a family value. So, war is now our only reality.

For conservatives, it’s always been that way, a war against fill-in-the-blank. Just ask William F. Buckley, Jr.

Now there’s a REAL Republican.

Not a Bush Republican.

What’s the difference?

A Bush Republican is a budget-busting, federal deficit hiking, dollar devaluing, Wall Street pimping, big corporate suck up; who talks about values to make us feel good, talks about God to make people feel righteous, talks about the military but uses them like slaves, talks about war to make people feel strong and patriotic; while cutting taxes that make us the largest debtor nation in the world, with bankruptcy near, while our social and vet programs disappear, while leaving real wages and the minimum wage stagnant so the mighty multinationals can make another buck and buy another bureaucrat. A bunch that talks about being pro-life but doesn’t lift one finger to actually end abortion, or help the suffering sick through science, because we can’t interfere with sperm and an egg; while talking God, but forgetting humility, or that Jesus Christ never said one word about gays, and didn’t reward the rich, while not doing a damn thing for the poor.

A real Republican doesn’t give a rat’s ass what you’re doing in your bedroom.

A Bush Republican can’t wait to hear the tapes” on Fox. Unless it’s a colleague, who’s then called a victim and given a pass.

And it’s the Bushies who are the true elitists. They think they own God, country, the flag, the military, trucks, guns, and apple pie, while not holding any of their own people accountable for anything.

J.F.K. wouldn’t have dreamed a president would tell a nation to go shop after a catastrophe like 9/11. And one thing is certain, Jack would have held people responsible, not given them medals or promotions.

J.F.K. created the Peace Corp. to show the world our kindest, most generous face, not introductions through preemption.

J.F.K. fought for many things.

Republicans offer nothing but fear and things to fight against.

A war against sex”¦

A war against science”¦

A war against condoms”¦ even though abstinence fails more than it succeeds.

A war against Hollywood”¦ even though the U.S. economy thrives on it.

I can’t wait to see conservatives squirm if Ah-nold gets to run for national office. Ah, the hypocrisy of it all.

Then there’s the war against women because we can’t get the health care we need”¦ a war against single mothers”¦ a war against female soldiers, who have fewer rights than women on American soil”¦ a war against women in combat”¦

A war against nature”¦

War against”¦ against”¦ against.

But J.F.K. did have one thing in common with George W. Bush. They both had trouble with the press during wartime.

J.F.K. tried to muzzle David Halberstam by asking the New York Times to pull him from Vietnam.

Bush has kept the truth hostage to propaganda ever since the Iraq campaign began. Imbeds were a patriotic seduction.

We all need to learn the lesson from this: When a president, regardless of party, is engaged in war, he will often keep us from knowing what we need to learn. And when the press falls prey to a president, or when we let our love of Party conquer our true patriotism for this country, we surrender the republic.

J.F.K. said, “World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor, it requires that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.”

That’s a hell of a lot different from “blow the terrorists away in the name of the Lord,” to paraphrase Reverend Jerry Falwell.

And J.F.K. also felt the winds whipping in the Middle East.

In 1951, he said that “nationalistic passions” against the West would one day affect our country in a very real way.

As president, Kennedy knew that all men desired to be free, but as a student of history he also knew the perils of arrogance and cautioned that the “the core of our Middle Eastern policy is (or should be) not the export of arms or the show of armed might but the export of ideas.”

We’re a long way away from J.F.K.

There’s a reason Jackie fashioned Camelot around J.F.K., and it wasn’t because he was perfect. Ted Sorenson even said the analogy would have “provoked John Kennedy to a profane disclaimer.”

J.F.K. had it, and Jackie knew it. America knew it too.

It’s the way he made us feel. Feel about our country. Feel about ourselves. We believed we could do anything, change the world, even stop war.

J.F.K. did just that while arming America to her mightiest.

America was led by the beautiful people back then. Everything was possible.

And it was felt all the way down to a little suburb in Missouri, where the loss of J.F.K. and all he dared to dream made my family weep.

There was a divide in America back then, too, one that was a lot more violent than todays.

But J.F.K. found a way to walk across that divide and bring his adversaries along with him in the end. As one voter admitted, “I voted for Nixon, but Kennedy seems to be doing a good job.”

Because what John F. Kennedy talked about not only felt right, it was right.

We found it once with J.F.K.

We can find it again.


“High Hopes,” by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen
Originally sung by Frank Sinatra, with J.F.K.’s 1960 campaign lyrics
Re-produced by Steve Plunkett

“Speaking as an Irishman, (Shaw) summed up an approach to life:
Other people”¦ “˜see things and “¦ say: Why? “¦
But I dream things that never were ““ and I say: Why not?'”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy quoting George Bernard Shaw on the influence of the Irish. [An Unfinished Life, by Robert Dallek]


Playwright’s notes“¦ That picture above is one of the pieces of political art I painted that was part of the backdrop behind me on stage. The rocking chair above is an exact replica of the one John F. Kennedy had in the Oval Office, from which was made by the same company, under a different name today, which I utilized in this play. This project would not have been possible without the research, reporting, and scholarship of people whose recollections, access to archival documents, and writings gave real life to my personal experience, feelings, and political passions. So many quotes have been borrowed from the sources below. So much was learned from their work. My gratitude and debt are in every word of this piece. Any mistakes or missteps are purely my own.

An Unfinished Life, by Robert Dallek
Grace and Power, by Sally Bedell Smith
Kennedy’s Wars, by Lawrence Freedman
John F. Kennedy speeches and tape transcripts
LIFE in Camelot ““ The Kennedy Years, edited by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr.
Jefferson Writings, Library of America
“The Fog of War ““ Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara”
Nemesis, by Peter Evans
Secrets ““ A Memoir of Vietnam and The Pentagon Papers, by Daniel Ellsberg
War in a Time of Peace, by David Halberstam
The Dark Side of Camelot, by Seymour Hersh
In the Company of Soldiers, by Rick Atkinson
The Mission, by Dana Priest
And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts
The River ““ A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS, by Edward Hooper
Chain of Command, by Seymour Hersh
The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, edited by Karen Greenberg, Joshua Dratel
The Best and the Brightest, by David Halberstam
Robert Kennedy ““ Brother Protector, James W. Hilty
Paris 1919, by Margaret Macmillan
The Guns of August, Barbara W. Tuchman
Franklin and Winston, by Jon Meacham
The Second World War, by Martin Gilbert
God’s Politics, by Jim Wallis
My Life, by Bill Clinton
Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton
What’s the Matter with Kansas, by Thomas Frank
Where the Right Went Wrong, Patrick J. Buchanan
Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward
Bush’s Brain, by James Moore and Wayne Slater
Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke
Price of Loyalty, by Ron Suskind
The Sexy Years, by Suzanne Somers
The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, C.A. Tripp
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Charlie Rose (John and James Zogby, Rev. Jim Wallis, Ralph Reed and many others)
The New Republic
The New Yorker
Harpers’ Index
Mother Jones
American Conservative magazine
San Francisco Chronicle
Foreign Affairs Magazine
“Meet the Press,” host Tim Russert
CNN: Larry King, guest Suzanne Somers
“Hardball,” host Chris Matthews
“Countdown,” host Keith Olbermann
“The Daily Show,” with Jon Stewart
L.A. Times
Sojourners magazine
Wall Street Journal
USA Today
Vanity Fair
Architectural Digest (issue on Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy’s White Houses)
U.S. News & World Report
The Nation
CNN: Lou Dobbs
“This Week,” host George Stephanopolous
“Face the Nation,” host Bob Schieffer
“60 Minutes”
“Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace
“Hannity and Colmes,” Fox News Channel
Air America: Al Franken, Randi Rhodes
The Sean Hannity radio show
The Rush Limbaugh radio show
Soldiers for the Truth (
Military Officers of America (Iraqi war casualties/wounded/maimed)
Blogs (DailyKos, TalkingPointsMemo and many more) (many sources appear within the site)
“¦and individual sites on the Web, which offer statistics, historical perspective and information on politics, politicians and many other subjects included in this play.