MANCHESTER: Part Two Austin One wonders, reading Look Magazine’s second installment from William Manchester’s The Death of a President, why Manchester gives a long flash-back from 1960, when Jack Kennedy went deer hunting at the LBJ Ranch. As Manchester relates the episode, Kennedy shot a deer because Lyndon Johnson wanted him to, but Kennedy did not like to kill anything and fired the killing shot with severe distaste. Later, Manchester says, Johnson presented Kennedy the mounted deer head and badgered him about displaying it until, again with distaste, Kennedy did. Why did Manchester, in a book about the assassination, reach back three years to tell about this episode? One answer may be implied in an AP dispatch from New York quoting a source close to the Kennedy family as saying, “The whole first chapter [of the original Manchester manuscript] was a deer-hunting scene in Texas. It showed Johnson as a man of violence who loved to kill deer and would force others to do the same. It seemed to set symbolic overtones which were unjust and inaccurate. It seemed an attempt to make this the symbolic framework for the whole book, which was unjuM and disastrous.” The AP source said the chapter was tossed out at the insistence of Kennedy advisers. A version of it, however, found its way into the second installment in Look. Meanwhile, William S. White, the columnist who is a close friend of Johnson’s, pointed out that the first installment referred to Johnson being surrounded by “members of his tong,” about which White remarks: “A tong, of course, is a Chinese gang and, in common usage, a criminal gang as well.” It has also emerged that Manchester at one point wrote Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, “Though I tried desperately to suppress my bias against a certain eminent statesman who always reminded me of someone in a grade D movie on the late show, the prejudice showed through. This was cheap of me, but I suppose there is a little meanness in all of us.” Manchester said that the unfair references to which this letter referred, qualified as ones “that might conceivably have rubbed off on the Kennedy family,” were cut from the book. The Kennedy lawsuit against the book’s publication by Harper and Row having been settled, Manchester publicly criticized the Kennedys, saying their motivations in much of their attempted editing were political. Columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak quoted Johnson as confiding to intimates that “the ultimate record will be clear.” They added that “verbatim transcripts of telephone and other conversations between the President and others in the post-assassination pe 10 The Texas Observer riod have been carefully filed for future use.” In Austin, Governor John Connally is understood to be conceiving of his statement on the subject as a book; he has been approached by publishers. Breasting the waves of the Manchester controversy long enough to take a draught of air, the possibility can be seen that a book by Connally could become the Johnson group’s answer to the Manchester book. NI ANCHESTER’S second installment leaves no doubt that Kennedy, awakening the morning of Nov. 22 and seeing the splashes in the press about the refusals of Sen. Ralph Yarborough to ride with Johnson the day before, told his aides to get Yarborough in the car with Johnson. Evidently Manchester \(and perhaps also had ridden with Johnson the night before. Yarborough has stated that he did so without Kennedy having asked him to. Presumably this refers to the episode of the night before. On Nov. 22, Manchester says, Yarborough acceded to a Kennedy aide’s urgent request that Yarborough ride with Johnson \(Manchester’ does not quote the aide as invoking Kennedy’s Manchester, at one point the aide blocked Yarborough as the senator started to get out of the vice-presidential car to make room for Mrs. Nellie Connally. Manchester says Kennedy told the aide to make it clear to Yarborough that either he rode with Johnson or walked. There are new details in Manchester’s account of the events surrounding the assassination. For instance, after reading “every word” of the notorious Bernard Weissman ad in the Dallas News for that Nov. 22, Kennedy said they were going into “nut country.” As the Dallas motorcade began, Johnson “was so depressed by the continuing feud in the local party that he ordered the car’s commercial radio turned on full blast, to drown out the noise of the crowd.” At Main and Market, it occurred to Yarborough that anyone could drop a pot of flowers on Kennedy from an upper story, and when Yarborough saw beyond them the green of Dealey Plaza, he thought, “My, that open sky looks good.” When the shooting started, not only Secret Service agent Clint Hill, but also Jack Ready, another such agent, started from the back-up car to the presidential car, but according to Manchester, yet another agent, Emory Roberts, “had seen the last shot strike Kennedy’s skull [and] was certain the wound was mortal” and therefore shouted to Ready, “Don’t go, Jack!” Ready drew back. Roberts then said to Secret Service Agent Bill McIntyre, “They got him. You and Bennett take over Johnson as soon as we stop.” As the car carrying Johnson pulled up at Parkland, the commercial radio was still on. Manchester commits himself personally to a finding that the X-Rays and photographs that were taken of Kennedy’s body, but were not turned over to the Warren Commission and are not available for public inspection, show “no entry wound ‘below the shoulder’ ” but rather “clearly reveal that the wound was in the neck.” Manchester says he had not seen the material, but interviewed “three people with special qualifications who examined it before it was put under seal.” Manchester says “Robert Kennedy has decided that this material is too unsightly to be shown to anyone, including qualified scholars, until 1971.” On the rancorous issue of resentment in the Kennedy group that the Johnson party boarded Air Force One, Manchester quotes Johnson that Kennedy aide Kenneth O’Donnell “twice urged him to board Air Force One” and then quotes O’Donnell that Johnson’s version of this is “absolutely, totally, and unequivocally wrong.” Manchester seems to reason that Johnson is the one who is wrong on this and says the discrepancy is probably a result of confusion, although, he says, there is “an alternative,” which he describes so opaquely, one cannot make any clear sense of it. THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE voted to back up Connally’s reaction to the first Manchester installment that it contained distortions, rumors, and inconsistencies. On the House side, the resolution was whipped through unanimously and quickly by Speaker Ben Barnes. In the Senate, Sen. Roy Harrigton, Port Arthur, said he hadn’t read Manchester’s book yet and wanted to study the resolution, which he proposed be sent to a committee. His motion failed, 15-6, and the resolution was then adopted by the Senate. The six who voted against its immediate passage were Harrington, Charles Wilson of Lufkin, Oscar Mauzy of Dallas, Barbara Jordan and Chet Brooks of Houston, and Joe Christie of El Paso. In other eddies of the controversy, a Rice Hotel executive denied he had said Johnson looked “furious” leaving Kennedy’s suite the night of Nov. 21; Columnist Les Carpenter went into the question of who slept where in Kennedy’s suite the night of Nov. 21; reporter Bob Baskin of the Dallas News denied Manchester’s report that after the assassination, Baskin “just left” and went back to his paper’s office to see what else was going on in the world to the contrary, he was ordered back to the office as other reporters fanned out, Baskin said; Cong. Henry Gonzalez of San Antonio added vivid details to the post-assassination scene at Parkland, and the Dallas congressman, Earle Cabell, defended the Dallas role in the removal of Kennedy’s body from the city. R. D.
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