If there was one matter on which Richard Nixon and Bobby Kennedy could agree it was their initial belief that a right winger killed President John F. Kennedy.
Nixon phoned FBI director J. Edgar Hoover asking if “one of the rightwing nuts did it;” Kennedy phoned the CIA asking if one of their anti-Castro exiles fired the shots. Both calmed down, and to some degree accepted that the assassin was a far leftist. But their immediate reactions spread to the populace. The Draft Goldwater Headquarters received so many death threats that they had to shut down. Goldwater supporter and Texas Sen. John Tower had to hide his family in a hotel
Even after Oswald was in custody, the media blamed the right for creating the climate that killed Kennedy. These beliefs had consequences. As Rick Perlstein, in his study of the Goldwater movement in 1964 stated, “Lee Harvey Oswald had cut down Goldwater’s chances as surely as he did John Kennedy.” And conspiracy nuts began their search for a more politically satisfying sniper.
To his credit, author Stephen King does accept that Oswald did it alone. But in a recent interview with Camelot merchant Chris Matthews on MSNBC, King reverted to the media’s “blame the Right first” school of assassination theories.
King said that right wingers in 1963 created the atmosphere of hate that ultimately killed Kennedy. Even when Matthews reminded him of the central thesis of his new novel “11/22/63,” that a far leftist killed Kennedy, King still stuck to the script.
He dismissed Oswald’s Marxism as merely the “product of a demented mind” and argued that what really motivated Oswald’s life was a desire for fame. King applied the atmosphere of right-wing hate then with now, and feared that once again a president would be struck down.
King claims that he delved deep into Oswald’s life while writing his new book. If true, then he should know Oswald was far from being an activated agent but was a careful planner. Right-wing hate did not propel him into joining the Marines or associate with Japanese communists while in uniform. Nor did a Bircher-like atmosphere frog walk him into defecting to the Soviet Union.
King should have not ventured beyond Oswald the “fame junkie” for every act he performed — attempting to join both the American Communist Party and the Troskyites, passing out pro-Castro leaflets in a naval yard, trying to get a visa into Communist Cuba, planning to hijack a plane to Cuba — was an attempt to elbow his way into history.
If there was an anti-Communist atmosphere that activated him, it centered around Kennedy’s attempts to kill Oswald’s beloved Fidel Castro. In one stroke, Oswald could satisfy his two twin passions: fame and helping the Cuban Revolution.
Most damning to his theory of the hate climate killing Kennedy is in how he portrays Oswald’s richest and best friend in Dallas, George De Mohrenschildt. The wealthy Mohrenschildt, a Castro supporter, encouraged Oswald to kill Kennedy and thus end the assassination attempts. If King wanted to provide fictional support for his beliefs, it might have been better to have Oswald listening to a right-winger preaching violence, and then, robotically, perform his own. But alas,in this case, fiction is more valid than King’s facts.