UGA Libraries Logo

Rusk PPP, Theodore C. "Ted" Sorensen, 1985 March

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:04 - Meeting Dean Rusk / Kennedy's interest in foreign affairs

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm talking with Mr. Ted Sorensen.

Segment Synopsis: Sorensen recalls briefing Dean Rusk on the Democratic Party platform and Kennedy's particular policies after Kennedy became president. He remembers playing a joke on Rusk and receiving a satisfying response. Sorensen says that foreign affairs, rather than civil rights or economic issues, were President Kennedy's primary interest. For this reason, he says, Kennedy liked that Secretary Rusk was more deferent and less domineering than other cabinet members.

Keywords: Bob McNamara; State Department; administration; appointments; cabinet; foreign policy; preparation; selection

00:10:31 - Rusk: a trusted adviser to Kennedy

Play segment

Partial Transcript: On page 304, you said, "At no time did John Kennedy regret having selected him."

Segment Synopsis: Sorensen explains that as part of the East Wing, Arthur Schlesinger did not work closely with President Kennedy or Dean Rusk, thus he did not have an accurate picture of their relationship. Sorensen claims that Kennedy valued Rusk's input highly.

Keywords: A Thousand Days; foreign policy

00:16:10 - Political impacts of family events

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let me ask you a question. Are you his only son?

Segment Synopsis: Sorenson discusses Dean Rusk's concern over how his daughter's interracial marriage would affect President Johnson's political image. Sorensen claims that under Kennedy, "there was not really a war in Vietnam," and he talks about a Mother Jones article about the sons of various Vietnam policymakers.

Keywords: Eisenhower; Lyndon Johnson; Marines; advisers; civil rights

00:22:57 - Chester Bowles / Rusk's intelligence

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You were involved in the hiring, the firing, and reassignment of Chester [Bliss] Bowles.

Segment Synopsis: Sorensen recalls helping reassign Chester Bowles in light of poor performance and public relations. He also discusses Rusk's disappointment with speechwriters in the State Department and Rusk's bright but unpolished mind.

Keywords: Roger Hilsman; education; speeches

00:29:26 - Command decision-making

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I have one question about my dad, and it's the kind of question that only a son would really think hard about.

Segment Synopsis: Sorensen considers how negative externalities--especially U.S. deaths--in Vietnam may have effected Secretary Rusk and President Kennedy's willingness to use greater military force. Sorensen mentions that Kennedy recorded large meetings with advisers to hold them accountable to their word and so that no one could change sides later.

Keywords: Americanization; Bay of Pigs; Cuba; Vietnam; bloodshed; crisis; record-keeping

00:37:36 - Inter-agency challenges / Kennedy's attempts to deescalate Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Hillenbrand tells an interesting story, and it pertains to the Berlin situation.

Segment Synopsis: Sorensen considers bureaucratic inefficiency, assessing claims regarding lost communications between the White House and the State Department during the Berlin Crisis. He discusses Kennedy's preference for negotiation over military operations and ponders what actions Kennedy may have taken during a second term. Sorensen talks about a partial withdrawal from Vietnam in December of 1961.

Keywords: Bay of Pigs; advisers; bargaining; commitment; communism; correspondence; memos