Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Aristocratic Habitus

Seymour M. Hersh on the U.S. royal family:

"No outsider can fully comprehend the dynamics of another family's life, but outsiders were often shocked by what they encountered in the Kennedy household. In 1957 Lyndon Johnson, the Senate majority leader, was asked to make a speech in Palm Beach. It seemed only natural when Rose Kennedy telephoned and invited him to come to the family's beachfront home for lunch. Johnson, recovering from a serious heart attack, was accompanied on the trip by Lady Bird, his wife; Bobby Baker, his aide and confidant; and Senator George Smathers, of Florida. "So we went over for lunch," Baker recalled in an interview for this book. Rose Kennedy, gracious and charming, was alone. Suddenly, Baker said, "Old Man Joe comes in with a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old girl. Doesn't say boo. Walks right in and goes upstairs" and engages in what, clearly and noisily, is sexual intercourse. "Here you have the majority leader of the Senate and he and jack had a great relationship," Baker told me. "I thought it was the rudest thing I've ever seen." The lunch went on as if nothing had happened. Baker learned later, he said, that the young woman was Joe Kennedy's caddy from the French Riviera, where the Kennedy's maintained a vacation home." (Seymour M. Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, p. 27).


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