Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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The Prescient of the United States of America

We begin our two-week JFK unit in my graduate course this week. The big day, naturally, is the 22nd, when we will be discussing Don DeLillo's Libra. Tomorrow we will chat about what we've gleaned "reading around" in The Warren Commission Report. If you've never seen it, I recommend that you give it a look sometime. Every time I pick it up, I notice something new. Here's tonight's discovery, from page 42:
On the morning of November 22, President Kennedy attended a breakfast at the hotel and afterward addressed a crowd in an open parking lot. The President liked outdoor appearances because more people could see and hear him. Before leaving the hotel, the President, Mrs. Kennedy, and Kenneth O'Donnell talked about the risks inherent in Presidential public appearances. According to O'Donnell, the President commented that "if anybody really wanted to shoot the President of the United States, it was not a very difficult job -- all one had to do was get a high building someday with a telescopic rifle, and there was nothing anybody could do to defend against such an attempt." Upon concluding the conversation, the President prepared to depart for Dallas.
Even if Kennedy didn't say this, the fact that the Warren Commission was content to quote him saying it is strange enough. There's something perverse about the use of retroactive foreshadowing in non-fiction, yet it's one of the most common and effective devices in documentary filmmaking and its prose equivalents.
Tags: documentary impulse, history
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