Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Peter and JFK

Peter was totally out of his element within the Kennedy family. He was apolitical, and was not yet a citizen of the U.S. and so couldn't vote. But he was useful to Jack Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign because of his experience with television. It was Peter's advice that Jack look directly into the camera (and thus at the viewers) during the televised debates with Nixon. As a result he looked earnest and trustworthy, whereas Nixon looked shifty-eyed. Kennedy often called Peter after a major address to get his critique of his appearance and delivery. (Once Jack called and Peter had fallen asleep. He bluffed his way through the conversation.)

Still, JFK liked nothing more than to tease Peter. The photograph above hung in a hallway near a bathroom of Peter's Santa Monica beach house. Peter was using the facilities, and he heard the president's booming voice calling at him to come out. Flustered, Peter hurriedly finished up and came into the hallway. "Peter, take a look at this picture," Jack said. "What's wrong with it?" Peter wasn't sure what the right answer was."I don't know, sir," he replied. "It looks all right to me."

"I'll tell you what's wrong," Jack said. "Nobody's gonna believe this picture because it looks like I'm listening to your advice!"

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