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Rusk KKKKKK, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk and Thomas Schoenbaum, Part 2, 1986 April

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:59 - The Kennedys

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Partial Transcript: You tell a cute little anecdote about Caroline [Bouvier Kennedy].

Segment Synopsis: Rusk speaks about President Kennedy's pride in his wife and children as well as his attitude toward the arts.

Keywords: Caroline; Jackie; Jacqueline; John

00:03:40 - Kennedy's Cabinet / Camelot?

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Partial Transcript: Well, Luther [Hartwell] Hodges [Jr.] had been governor of North Carolina I believe.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk evaluates President Kennedy's appointees, many of whom the president did not know. He talks about Kennedy's uncertainty regarding Bobby Kennedy's appointment as Attorney General. In addition, Rusk counters the idealized view of the Kennedy years, calling the early 1960s a time of crisis.

Keywords: Shriver; administration; appointments; officials

00:07:38 - Kennedy's growth in office

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Partial Transcript: After you came here to Georgia when Georgians would call you Mr. Secretary, you deflected that remark.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains the benefits of returning to a private life after working in government. He considers how Kennedy's leadership improved as he learned to act decisively and trust other officials over the course of his presidency. Rusk also details Kennedy's relationship with the State Department, where the president held televised press conferences.

Keywords: Department of State; Foreign Service; JFK; presidency; retirement

00:15:58 - Kennedy's "cool pragmatism"

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Partial Transcript: People have called John Kennedy a pragmatist and people around him as being pragmatists.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk expresses the importance of applying "basic moral considerations" to public policy decisions, and he comments that Kennedy seemed to have his own sense of morality.

Keywords: JFK; policy; relativism

00:20:09 - Educating the president's men

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Partial Transcript: Of course there was a kind of educational job that I had to take on with some of the people around Kennedy.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk recalls sharing his experience in foreign negotiations with newcomers in the Kennedy administration. He also speaks about Italy and the Bay of Pigs invasion, making points about the sovereignty of foreign nations and the importance of international law.

Keywords: Cuba; Cuban missile crisis

00:23:54 - Kennedy's focus of foreign affairs

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Partial Transcript: Pop, isn't it true that John Kennedy was far more interested and paid a lot more attention to foreign affairs than he did domestic?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk outlines Kennedy's contributions to domestic policy, including a tax break and trade bill, but maintains that the president was more concerned about international issues with Russia and Cuba. Rusk also comments on Kennedy's relationship with Congress.

Keywords: Congressmen; Cuban Missile Crisis; Khrushchev; foreign policy; legislature; polls; popularity

00:27:14 - Debating the president

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Partial Transcript: Do we have on tape that story about MacMillan that you brought up?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk indicates that despite his public show of support for the president, he opposed the Bay of Pigs invasion. He recalls advising and privately debating Kennedy on many foreign policy issues. Rusk also states that after the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy learned to recognize international law as a tool for legitimizing U.S. interests abroad.

Keywords: Cuba; Cuban Missile Crisis; Secretary of State; consensus building; law; legitimacy; liberalism

00:33:19 - Prepping Kennedy for television

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything else you want to say about John Kennedy?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk remembers helping President Kennedy anticipate questions and prepare thoughtful responses prior to television interviews. Additionally, Rusk mentions Kennedy's sense of humor and recalls being relieved of duty during the Nixon inauguration.

Keywords: appearances; press conferences; public image; responsibility