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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 26, 2009 10:15am-11:00am EST

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answers back and forth. if you have questions, i'd love to get your feedback as we go through it. well, there's a number of reasons to look at that 1960 election. first of all, you have two fascinating political characters. john kennedy and richard nixon were two of the most brilliant political minds america produced in the '60s. nixon was on the national ticket five times and won four of the five times, and last i checked that's one of the best batting averages of anybody who's run for the american presidency. and, of course, john kennedy becoming the first and only roman catholic president in american history is an interesting story in and of itself. secondly, it was an extraordinarily close election. kennedy won by just a tick or two over 100,000 votes out of the tens of millions that were cast, so it was extraordinarily close. it was also, i argue, really the first modern campaign when you think about pollsters, you think about use of media, you think of
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mass buying of advertising. and when you think about religion as a political force, you add owl -- all those things together, and many things we take for granted today in many ways began in that 1960 election, so i think it's the beginning of modern political campaigns. but it was also what i call the lahr value stage of the religious right in the united states. if you look at some of the players in 1960, you see some of the leading lights of what we now call the religious right first becoming active in politics in that election. people like billy graham, the national association of evangelicals and a host of smaller conservative protestant players really broke in their sweatshirts and sneakers in that election. and they discovered they had political power. and the politicians cared about their opinions and the trajectory then takes off so that by now, certainly, the religious right is a very powerful force in american
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presidential politics. 1960 is where they began to get a thirst and taste for playing at a very large and high political level. so those are all good reasons, i think, for thinking about this election in 1960 because those themes still reverberate down to this day. now, what did i learn in the process of writing this book? sort of two major lessons although you've got to read off 200 some odd pages to get the details. first of all, kennedy had a very sophisticated approach to his catholicism because all of his polling told him that this would be the major problem in the american electorate's mind about whether or not they would vote for john kennedy or not. now, 50 years later that strikes us as a little odd in the sense that we don't tend to think of, well, i'm going to vote for that person or against that person based on their religious affiliation. but in the middle of the 20th century, anticatholicism was alive and well in america across
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an incredibly broad spectrum of our society. conservative folk, moderate folk, even liberals had a very dim view of the roman catholic church in this country. so ted sorenson said that religion was the the toughest issue they faced, and sorenson was really kind of the brain trust inside of the kennedy campaign. and they knew all things being equal they would win that election, but their one achilles heel was the religion issue. being a catholic in the '50s and' of z -- '60s was not problem. the kennedy population had never experienced the anticatholicism that was popular in this part of the world, so they had a steep learning curve to master. and they employed a number of folk who they thought were the smartest people they could find on that issue. so they hired advisers who
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counseled them on how do do you attack this bigotry? kennedy himself had a private conversation going on on the side about how to deal with this issue. one of the criticisms of kennedy was he was going to be beholden to these leaders if he was president. he was talking to catholic leaders. they weren't telling him what to do, they were giving him advice, and in many cases he didn't take it. his primary political mentor within the catholic church was bishop john wright of the pittsburgh diocese. he had gotten to know john kennedy immediately after world war ii. wright's career takes off within the church, kennedy's takes off within politics, and eventually wright became the highest-ranking american in the vatican. he was named a cardinal and brought to rome, but they
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maintained a relationship where wright was offering him advice on how to run as a catholic for the presidency. and in the book i discovered archival material no one else has found that goes into great detail about the kind of advice that kennedy had. so kennedy applied what i call a kind of technical rationality to this problem. he didn't fully understand why his catholicism was a problem. he employed the resources he could find to understand it and then he tried to address the issues that got identified as he talked to these advisers. and so you see a kind of dexterity of policy in action in kennedy's mind. when he found the problem, he said, well, who are the best people in the world we can bring to help us with that problem, and he took that advice. in the end, i argue, it was that advice that allowed him to triumph over these more conservative protestant forces. the second thing i learned was actually, surprise, surprise, rich around nixon had an
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anticatholic strategy. in retrospect we're, perhaps, not surprised by that revelation. but nixon always said, i am not going to raise the religion of my opponent in this election. now, there was a certain nixonian veil answer to that. even the sunday night before the general election nixon, i think, bought a half hour of prime time television. and he reminded his audience yet again, i am not going to raise the religion of my opponent in this election suddenly reminding you that if you had a problem with him being a catholic, he is, in fact, a catholic, so, please, be reminded when you go to the polls in two days. but beyond this public denial, and it's true nixon did not publicly exploit the issue other than these odd throwaway lines in his speeches, he had an on-the-ground strategy of organizing conservative ministers from the national association of evangelicals, the churches of christ and other groups such that millions of
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pieces of literature were circulated on behalf of the nixon campaign during the course of that campaign because nixon had one operative in the field off of the books and below the radar screen going around organizing these forces on the ground. and there were a couple of national meetings, one in washington, d.c. and others in different places where they tried to organize leaders in these faith communities to go out and turn out the vote against kennedy because he was a catholic. so by the end of the election, almost every leading religious public figure of the day cuts across the story somewhere. billy graham is deeply involved at helping nixon win, norman vincent peel, the national association of evangelicals, an organization called protestant and other americans united for separation of church and state was deeply involved in organizing, they sort of secularized or cut off the religious part of their message, but early on they were one of
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the strongest anti-catholic voices in america in the '40s and '50s, and they went all in for nixon and worked against kennedy. those are sort of the two basic things i learned as we go through that campaign. i'm going to read a couple of passages and point you to three scenes, and we'll see how far we get, but one of them has to do with billy graham's work on behalf of nixon and against kennedy. the second one, which we'll probably skip over, is a vignette from kennedy's houston speech where there was this crisis where he felt like he had to speak in front of group of protestant ministers in houston, and the last one is set in nashville, tennessee, where one of the most prominent cher generalman, baxter, preached an anti-catholic sermon and had a u.s. congressman get up in the pulpit and rebut it immediately after it was delivered. you can imagine both the banner and the tennessean had front
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page stories on monday, just the outrageous violation of all kinds of southern taboos, you know, getting up and rebutting an iconic preacher in his own pulpit was extraordinary. so i'll probably do that one and this one about billy graham. let me just take a moment and read this episode with respect to billy graham. in the summer of 1960, billy graham had been in europe conducting a series of crusades. on august 17th he had convened a group of 25 american clergy in switzerland to discuss the presidential race and to plan a response to kennedy's candidacy. the gathering included peel, taylor of the national association of evangelicals and j. owen wright. harold and graham's father-in-law, dr. nelson bell. afterwards, peel sent nixon a handwritten account of the meeting describing their long discussion that took place among the group of distinguished
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religious leaders. according to peel, the group was unanimously behind nixon, and peel was part of a select committee chosen to meet with the vice president to convey the group's thoughts. he suggested september 8th as a possible meeting date concluding by telling nixon he had been touched by the spiritual concern expressed for him by those in attendance. he also noted that billy graham was one of nixon's biggest supporters. peel hoped something constructive and wise could come out of this meeting. he later claimed he had nothing to do with the organization that sponsored a washington meeting, but since that meeting was plan ned at that meeting, that could hardly be true. one installment in a regular correspondence between nixon and graham in the fall. earlier in the summer graham had reported that both johnson and rayburn had said if nixon were the nominee, religion would be the paramount issue of the campaign. at that point they greed kennedy
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would -- agreed kennedy would garner 100% of the vote. they had to name someone protestant that the protestants could rally behind. earlier this spring grant had sent nixon a clipping telling the story of 40u graham had led a resolution at the national consequence that was a repudiation of kennedy as a presidential candidate and an endorsement of nixon. in another long letter addressed to, dear dick, graham outlined some observations that emerged from the switzerland meeting. graham had been following the campaign with keen interest. he believed god was giving nixon, quote, supernational wisdom, end quote, to handle situations. a highly-financed office in washington to supply information to religious leaders throughout the nation, this refers to the national association of evangelicals spin-off known as citizens for religious freedom which would have been headed by donald gill, a washington staffer for the nae.
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next, he relayed the results of a recent poll the protestant clergy had estimated 76% of them were supporting nixon. dpraim felt this percentage would increase by election day as a result of the massive efforts he was planning. while there would be a large catholic block vote for kennedy, it was not as large as some had original ri thought, and he thought kennedy's share might be under 70%. those gathered in montro believed the catholic vote for kennedy had peaked whereas the protestant vote would gain right up until the election. graham and other clergyman thought nixon should emphasize the south and border states. it could put some of the states, those states in nixon's column. they did not think that johnson's presence on the democratic ticket would trump the religious issue in these states. graham's political advice then became more pointed. he and peel urged nixon to put more religion in his speeches.
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there were real questions in the protestant world as to nixon's religious convictions. graham spoke of nixon's reticence to use religion for political gain. they would insist that the people have a right to know a candidate's religious beliefs particularly, quote, at this uncertain hour of history, unquote. graham urged nixon, quote, once again, unquote, to weave this into his addresses. and perhaps most important graham wrote: i have just written a letter to my mailing list of two million american families urging them to organize this sunday school, the sunday school classes and churches to get out the vote. contrary to most people's thinking, my primary following lies in the middle west, california, pennsylvania and new york state. i think in these areas plus the south we can be of the greatest help though we have supporters on our list from every single post office in the united states. we are getting other religious groups throughout the nation to
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do the same, thus many managers will be personal -- many millions will be personality circulated. it is felt that this would bring about a favorable swing among these voters to you. graham concluded his epistle by announcing that peel was planning to endorse nixon in a sermon in early october. he also extended an invitation for nixon to visit the graham home in north carolina which has now become regular requirement of most presidential nominees. [laughter] that would be a dramatic event, it would highlight the reliberty issue -- religious issue nationally without overt mention of the topic. the next day graham sent a shorter letter with two other urgent matters he had omitted from the first letter. first he had met martin luther king jr. shortly after king and kennedy had met for three hours at kennedy's home. king was impressed and, quote,
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unquote, just about sold. graham fully realized what was at stake with king's blessing. i think if you could invite him for a brief conference, it might swing him. he would be a powerful influence. so i'll just stop there, but that give cans you a flavor of how deeply involved billy graham was with other people in enlisting the aid of millions of others in his circle, and he's writing nixon and telling him that. and nixon knew this because these letters were from graham to nixon himself. let me skip over kennedy at houston. you can read that chapter, i call it a lion in a den of daniels because he was surrounded by all of these protestant ministers, and it was universeally seen as the turning point of his campaign where he effectively answered all of the questions from these clergy people and received a standing ovation from the ministers in houston. it was nationally broadcast, rebroadcast around the country
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by the denty campaign, and i think correctly that is seen as the turning point of the campaign in early september 1960. i want to turn our attention to an episode here in nashville and read a passage about what happened in this episode. another conservative protestant denomination in the south, the churches of christ, produced a large volume of anti-catholic tracts and papered the countryside with it. as a matter of information, it's very hard to convey the current generation the power of the tract in the protestant world in the 1950s and '60s. i group up in the churches of christ, and we had a deacon whose entire work was maintaining a rack of tracts at the back of the sanctuary on every imaginable and unimaginable theological issue of the day. and we produced a robust literature on this election. dozens of tracts saying why you couldn't -- why as a member of
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this tradition you could not vote for a roman catholic. the baptists produced a literature that was just as rich, the national association of e evangelicals, millions of these tracts were mailed around the country, bought and sold, and it was a powerful political organizing stool. all of the period control calls -- periodicals wrote with the usual set of arguments. v.e. howard, one of kennedy's inquisitors at the houston speech, printed a 32-page tract called the white house: american or roman? at one point howard claimed that 400,000 copies of his tract were circulating in the country. and he was aiming for a million. the enterprising reporter david broder who is now a columnist for "the washington post" but then a young reporter for the washington star asked howard how much they cost to print and who was paying for the printing. well, howard refused to answer, but he offered them to listeners
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on his radio broadcasts, and he also sold them in bulk. his largest single order had been for 10,000 copies. but he refused to divulge the source of that order. on october 9th baxter, the minister at the hillsborough church of christ in nashville, tennessee, preached a sermon entitled a dangerous doctrine. baxter was a widely-revered minister in the tradition for his appearance on his nationally syndicated and broadcast show, the harold of truth. it was emblematic of the rhetoric that permeated pulpits and tracts in this era. baxter began by asserting that in addition to the communist threat, america faced a threat to its religious freedom in the form of the roman catholic church. so catholic church, soviet union, those are the two great threats to america's freedom. after a long litany without mentioning kennedy's name, baxter concluded, it would seem
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wise and even necessary that all non-catholics oppose the further growth and spread of roman catholicism until such time as the roman catholic church changes its doctrine of intolerance towards other religions. so note the irony here. in the name of religious freedom you want to deny the religious freedom. no sense of irony that shutting down a church was a violation of anybody's religious freedom. the iconic baxter was one of the leading ministers in the churches of christ at that time, and hillsborough was an upscale and prestigious congregation. chet huntley of nbc news had sent a crew to film baxter preaching this sermon to an empty sanctuary the day before he actually delivered it in church. nbc also filmed ramsey pollard at his church over in memphis, but after the sermon congressman
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joe evans from the fourth congress canal district in eastern tennessee who was in attendance that sunday apparently haven't been tipped off that this sermon was coming, went up and asked baxter if he might say a few words to the congregation. now, if you've ever been at a church of christ sermon, the notion of anybody getting up and speaking to rebut or respond is just unthinkable, it violates a thousand different taboos, okay? but evans entered the pulpit and briefly criticized what he labeled as a part san sermon and called for religious toleration. as you can imagine, a firestorm erupted. evans, a member of the church of christ and a kennedy supporter, was roundly criticized in church circles, and the local and national media wrote about the event. both the tennessean and banner had front page stories the next day about this episode. the elders decided to have baxter's sermon printed as a
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tract. okay. a wealthy member of the congregation paid for 60,000 copies to be printed and distributed. the contributor had been, was also a financial supporter to baxter's national television show founded by james walter nichols who had been contact by nixon's outreach man, armstrong, when armstrong began organizing conservative protestants on behalf of the nixon campaign. evans received a great bit of mail castigating him for this rebuttal of baxter. another sign, though, of how closely and seriously the kennedy campaign monitored anti-catholicism in key states, robert kennedy wrote to joe evans. now actually jack and joe, jack kennedy and joe evans had entered the house of representatives in the same class in the late '40s, so they had known each other. bobby wrote, i read about your
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recent action in speak ising out so forthrightly on the religious question. i would like you to know that i very much appreciate what you did, and i am sure that senator kennedy does too. so here we, it's an amazing scene. one of the strongest, most prominent religious leaders in this town preaches a sermon. he's rebutted by a member of his own tradition, a congressman from another part of the state, and the firestorm erupts, and the kennedys are paying attention. that's the level of fear they had, and they still entertained hopes of winning the state of tennessee in the general election which, of course, they did not. actually ended up losing tennessee, but tennessee was very much in play in their minds, and that's the level of scrutiny robert kennedy, his campaign manager, was giving to the daily story in terms of how religion was going to play out or not play out. actually, you know, i think we do have a little time. let me run you through this houston vignette, and then we'll open it up for question and answer and take our time there.
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in early september norman vincent peel convened a meeting of 150 protestant clergy in washington, d.c. at the may flower hotel, and reporters snuck in and wrote the story about what they were plotting to do to defeat kennedy, and that created a firestorm. john kennedy was engaged in making his really first long campaign trip down the west coast of california, and trip was going abysmally poorly. his speeches were bad, the press response was not very strong, it wasn't very good, and there was this sense a dark cloud had come over the kennedy campaign, and they're literally on the train when they get the news that norman vincent peel and billy graham and other americans are working against them. kennedy actually had an informant inside the nixon campaign who dictated all of these details to them. so they're in the midst of their first long regional campaign trip. it's going poorly, and then the
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bomb shell drops that millions of evangelicals are being organized by these icons. and they panic. they're absolutely stunned. they think the wheels are coming off, so they say, yes, to this invitation the next week to go to houston and to speak to these protestant clergy. in many ways it was a speech given out of fear. they felt like all the cash was on the table if you'll pardon the poker metaphor, they had to play this hand they had been dealt. if they didn't, they were going to lose. so houston, we remember, is a great speech, a speech of triumph, but people forget it was given out of abject fear because they were afraid they'd have two more months of getting hammered by nixon and these preachers. what's fascinating is people remember the speech, but afterwards kennedy did a question and answer session, and the transcript of the question and answer session is three times as long as the speech. and scholars still read the speech, but they don't read the transcript of the q&a, and you learn a lot more about kennedy's
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beliefs in the question and answer session. i talk about the speech, but i spend a lot of time looking at the back and forth between these speakers because they had an open microphone where anybody could throw a hand grenade at the candidate and it was there that kennedy did, in fact, do quite well. at the very end this is what kennedy says. let me say, finally, that i am delighted to come here today. i don't want anyone to think because they interrogate me on this very important question that i regard that it's unfair or unreasonable or that somebody who's concerned about that matter is prejudiced or bigoted. i think religion is basic? the establishment of the american system and, therefore, any candidate for office, i think, should submit himself to questions of any reasonable man. my only limit to that would be if somebody said regardless of senator kennedy's position, regardless of how much evidence he has given that he says what he means, i still won't vote for him because he's a member of
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that church. i would consider that unreasonable. what i consider to be reasonable is an exercise of free will and free choice is to ask the senator, ask senator kennedy to state his views as broadly as possible, investigate his record to see whether he states what he believes and then makes an independent and rational judgment as to whether he can be entrusted with this highly important position. so i want you to know i'm grateful to you for inviting me tonight. i am sure i made no converts to my church, but i hope at least in my view, which i believe to be the view of my fellow cat can licks who hold office, i hope it may be of some value in assisting you to make a careful judgment. with that, the meeting ended with applause bringing to close perhaps the single most dramatic moment in the entire campaign. in the immediate aftermath, the press hailed the speech as a triumph. kennedy was pleased. the reaction of liberals and conservatives would become clear in short order.
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the general election campaign had only just started, but now the kennedy campaign knew that the religion issue would not be fully resolved until election day. there was still two months ahead of them, and anything could happen. on the nixon side, organizing protestants below the radar had done more harm than good because part of it had become known in this so-called mayflower meeting in washington, washington d.c. theodore white gave perhaps the best contemporary summary of the period between the national consequence -- convention through the houston speech. he noted that round one of the general election had begun for kennedy with euphoria over the victory in los angeles, but it had swung to almost despair over the peel meeting. but it rose to a point of cautious hope in houston, texas, and here's what white wrote in summary. when he had finished, that is when kennedy had finished, he
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had not only closed round one of his election campaign, he had for the first time more fully and explicitly than any other thinker of his faith defined the personal doctrine of a modern catholic in a democratic society. how much earth, how much effect he had that evening no one could tell. he had addressed a sullen, almost hostile audience when he began in houston. he had won the applause of many and perhaps sympathies of more. the meeting had closed in respect and friendship, but how far the victory in this hall would extend its glow no one could measure. the national tv networks were to broadcast his performance in the next day in fragments around the nation. nevertheless, the candidate always happiest as a man when confronting a crisis with action, felt better. as if miraculously his cracking voice began to clear. in a few weeks he can spend constant attendance with the voice coach who had companied him. the next day he barn stormed to
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growing crowds in texas. the following day to crowds in st. louis, and then he was off to new jersey and new york and even greater things in the industrial northeast where he meant to win. so kennedy had survived a near-death experience, he had turned adversity into triumph with the houston speech. his fault therring west coast trip was now forgotten, and e entered the general election campaign with renewed momentum. in so doing, he found his stride. polls indicated that the race with nixon was tight. the remainder of the campaign would prove to be tough. all right. i'm going to stop there. we have a few minutes, i think, for question and answers, and i'm happy to take any questions you might have that you want to today my way. >> was there any actual outcome -- >> could i get you to repeat that? >> was there any actual outcome of anyone coming back and
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calculating how many catholics voted for kennedy, nixon, how many protestants, laster day saints, you name it? >> yes. in fact, i devote some time to that in the book at the end. forgive me if i misquote myself, i won't look it up. essentially, i believe kennedy won something like 80% of the catholic vote. he won about 34% of the protestant vote. now, what's interesting about that is that's exactly the same percentage adelaide stevenson won of the protestant vote in 1956. so kennedy ended up about where adelaide did, but what provided his margin of victory was his overwhelming support among the catholic vote. so he had a very, it was a very tough -- he had the whole southern democrats who were for the most part protestant, he had to hold those folks. at the same time, he hat to win the -- had to win the catholic vote. so he had an odd sort of
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strategy where he had to placate these two groups that were alien to one another. to be either nominee in a political party you've got to appeal to some very strange, different constituencies within your own party. so in the end i think he carried the day, certainly, among his catholic friends. but he stopped the bleeding among protestants. and in that sense i think his religious earth paid off hand -- effort paid off handsomely for him, and he ekes out this teeny, tiny victory. so, yeah, that has been studied by political scientists. >> yes. in houston speaking to the ministers, what points did kennedy make that seemed to be so persuasive? >> that's a very good question. there were, luckily for kennedy, some very specific public policy questions. protestant ministers were afraid -- one of them was would he appoint an ambassador to the
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vatican? and he said, no, i will not. now, this had flared up earlier in about 1948 when harry truman wanted to appoint an ambassador to the vatican. people don't remember this story. and he was going to promote mark clark, a catholic. it just made sense to truman, i've got a catholic general here who wants to work for his country, i'll make him an ambassador. well, the protestant world went nuts. they all rose up and said how can we have a southern baptist president appointing an ambassador, and they intimidated truman, so he backed down. kennedy said, no, i will not appoint an ambassador. the second big question was federal aid to parochial schools. you know, the fear was you get a catholic and before you know it, we're going to be writing checks to catholic schools, and it's going to come out of your money and mine, and kennedy said absolutely not, i won't do that.
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nixon made a horrible mistake on this point from a machiavellian political angle. nixon refused to answer that question when put to him by the baptists, and he's like, wait a minute, you're running against a catholic. he said i'm not going to spend the money, and you're not going to answer the question? late in the day, and i tell the story at the end of the book, an editor of the baptist standard which had a circulation of over 300,000. think about that. a paper by one denomination in one state that had hundreds of thousands of leaders. the editor wrote nixon and said, we're still waiting for an answer to our question, are you going to allow federal money? and nixon in a strategic blunder of just epic proportions writes back and says, well, you know, i'm a states' rights kind of guy. so if i send federal money to the state of tennessee and the state legislature decides in their infinite wisdom they want to put some of that money in the coffers of catholic churches, god love 'em.
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let 'em do it. well, you can imagine the baptist editor in texas said, you've got to be kidding me! the protestant guy is giving a catholic answer to the question, and the catholic guy's giving the protestant answer to the question. [laughter] so kennedy was adamant, i'm not going to spend federal money on parochial schools. the last public policy issue had to do with birth control. the question was if a country from the developing world comes to the united states goth and says can you -- government and says can you give us development aid to provide birth control to our citizens, will you fund that as a catholic? because the catholic church was against birth control. and kennedy kind of oscillated a little bit but essentially said, no, i'm going to make that decision based on the policy facts at hand. i'm not as a catholic say, no, we can't do that. so he was able to say, look, these are the tangible issues that my faith might present, and here are my answer on them. and he gave what he thought was a catholic answer.
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now, it's certainly true you go back to the 19th century and in the middle ages there's a lot of stuff coming out of european catholicism that would give a contemporary american committed to democracy pause. where, you know, the monarchy form of government was called the best form of government and democracy was a bad form of government. there is that literature certainly to give protestants pause, but kennedy said that was then, this is now. the catholic church has changed, those are not my views. i'm going to make my views independent of what anybody in rome has to tell me. so he was very clear of separation of church and state. and then the kicker was, he said if there's ever a conflict in terms of my conscious, i will resign the office of the presidency. and it was bishop john wright, his catholic adviser, to tell him to use that line to show them how serious he was about avoiding some kind of conflict. so he stitched all of that together in the speech and then
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in the question and answer session they had, the ministers had very specific follow-up questions for him, and he fielded them flawlessly. but that's a great question, and i go into pretty fine detail on that houston speech. i devote a whole chapter to it because it was such a pivotal moment. and the ministers there loved it and gave him ovations at several points along the way, and he really did allay their fears. thank you. it was a great question. other questions? >> would you talk about the discovery you said you made that other people hadn't used before, the resources that -- >> yes. two things. bishop john wright did a 55 single-spaced page oral history in the kennedy library about his relationship with john kennedy. and i was the first scholar to use that, i was the first scholar to read that. so it goes into amazing detail
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about their relationship and really opened up a window on the sort of wise political counsel, frankly, he got from this churchman. and that in itself was really quite interesting. the other piece was a memo from an informant inside the nixon campaign. and, again, the memo just says memo from informant r., and it's about a 9-page memo that lays out for the kennedys all of the contours of nixon's strategy. now, you know, it's one of these things, i actually began my research, i found an oral history from one of kennedy's religion guys, and he said, we had incontrovertible proof that nixon was doing this stuff. oh, my goodness, the holy grail is here somewhere. well, it took me about three years to find that memo. when i did, it was like, eureka. and i think i know who the informant was. i identify my guess in the book,
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but because -- i found the person who was involved, and i can show he was unhappy, and his last name was rye croft, begins with r.. so i make an educated guess about who this informant was, but it was his information that confirm today the kennedy camp their worst fears. in the back of their minds they thought, well, maybe we're overly paranoid here, but they finally had proof late in the game that their worst fears were true, and that's what forced them to say yes to the houston speech, otherwise they would not have given that speech. so those were two of the pieces i found that no one else had found. if you do archival research, you spend thousands of hours in libraries, and you have these one or two eureka moments which make it all worthwhile, and it was really a lot of fun to have that experience this time around. thank you, it's a great question. >> to what extent did they study the history of the 1928 campaign
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of governor smith of new york? >> yeah. it was the standard political wisdom in 1960 that a catholic can't win because of what happened to al smith in 1928. it's like today we hear, well, america will never elect a woman, an african-american, you fill in the blank. in 1960 people said 1928 tells us if you nominate a catholic, you're just really stupid as a political party. so from 1956-1960, most of kennedy's effort went into disproving that thesis. in fact, in 1956 kennedy tried to become the vice presidential nominee to adelaide stephenson, and he even wrote a hem random and leaked it to the press showing how it would help if they had a catholic vice president because eisenhower in '52 and '56 had begun to siphon off more catholics from the democratic party.
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so they spent a lot of time -- that was the press' first question, well, don't you remember the lessons of 1928? so they knew they had to have some kind of formal answer to that, so they studied that election very, very carefully and crafted a set of pluck arguments so -- public arguments to say, well, the conditions are different now. so they devoted a lot of energy to that. probably time for maybe one more? yes, sir. >> were there any protestant ministers, big name protestant ministers that came out in favor of kennedy saying this whole catholicism thing is stupid, and if they did, was there any retaliation? >> the answer is, yes. the leadership on that side really came out of new york city. n irk eber and john bennett, they wrote for a magazine called christianity in crisis and spent a lot of time saying, in fact,
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the catholic church has changed, and john kennedy would make a better president than richard nixon would, and they caught a lot of heat and flak for that. and i spend some time early in the book tracing the argument back and forth that they put forward saying kennedy's okay as a christian, you can vote for him -- as a protestant christian, you can vote for him. and certainly they were the two probably most public voices on that side. there were a lot of protestant leaders working behind the scenes supporting kennedy but not taking quite as public a view. one of the more interesting characters in all that was the methodist bishop of baltimore, washington, oxnam, who was a classic gospel liberal. if you know anything about the methodist tradition, they tend to be progressive politically and on social justice issues. but oxnam was very strongly anti-catholic. and kennedy reached out to him. one of the things kennedy did was he did kind of a listening tour of leading protestant
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anti-catholics in the country and met with them one-on-one, and he met with oxnam on a couple of occasions, and they flipped him. oxnam became a supporter. so they did reach out to some of these liberal protestant leaders. so the answer is, yes, there were some very prominent folks. they worked in their circle and networks trying to persuade people to join them. but people like the christian sensory which is one of the leading liberal christian magazines of the day was anti-kennedy and pro-nixon, so there were a lot of protestants who were deeply troubled by kennedy. some of them moved to kennedy by the end of the election, so a lot of energy did go into those folks trying to persuade them to stay in the democratic party, so i do go into detail about that a bit in the book. very interesting dynamic at work. well, thank you very much. i appreciate your questions, your time and your attention. [applause] it's been a great pleasure.
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>> shaun casey is a christian ethics professor. he also was senior adviser for religious affairs for barack obama's 2008 presidential campaign. >> did you know you can view book t programs online? go to, type the name of the author, book or subject into the search area in the upper left-hand corner of the page. select the watch link. now you can view the entire program. you might also explore the recently on booktv box or the featured programs box to find and view recent and featured programs. >> in his book hollowing out the middle, sociology professor
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patrick carr looks at young people in small towns leaving their homes. he says this leaves behind a largely immigrant, segregated population. the sumner public library in sumner, iowa, is the host of this event. it's about an hour. >> thank you very much. i am thrilled to be here, and i hope at 7:00 i'm still as thrilled. [laughter] as i am right now. i think i have two strikes against me. one is i'm an academic, so i'm totally unused to having anybody really care enough about what i do -- [laughter] to show up to a talk, so this is, you know, i'm feeling pretty edified right now. and the second strike i have against me is that i'm irish. [laughter] and


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