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After listening to some of the snippets of the Jacqueline Kennedy tapes from last night's Diane Sawyer special, I feel more sorry for her than before. The tapes were released to the public in part to help show the former First Lady's "smart" and "opinionated side." But those qualities are not in these tapes.
I don't care if her husband was President of the United States or a plumber. She was married to a slime-bag who cheated on her seemingly openly and unremorsefully -- many, many times from what we can tell. But listening to the tapes, you get no sense of a woman scorned looking to set the record straight. Almost robotically she censors out any derogatory details, and speaks ever fondly and glowingly about John F. Kennedy as a father and a husband, and especially about her "happy" marriage. These tapes only prove that either Jackie was really that delusional about her marriage and the man, or she was just a PR pro in the making and told what everyone wanted to hear.
I try to put myself in Jackie's shoes. This was another era, women were raised differently, especially those of a certain social class like the Bouviers. A proper wife shared her husband's opinions no matter what they were. They did not bash their husbands in public; just the opposite, they tried to keep intact the picture of the perfect American family, the family we all wanted to believe the Kennedys were.
Caroline Kennedy supposedly released these tapes unedited to preserve the historical integrity, but these tapes do nothing to show the real and truthful story behind the Kennedy facade; they only serve to delude and perpetuate the myth of who this guy was. Not the greatly esteemed, moral, and ethical subject worthy of hero-worship, that's for sure.
While JFK may come out of this looking like a shiny star, poor Jackie is the one who looks pathetic and naive. The tapes were released in part to show a side of her we never knew, but it turns out it's an unflattering side, the side of submissive housewife. The part that really got me was when she talked about a time during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the family was all together, she and Jack were "closer than they ever were," and they were "happy." And all those other times, like during the famous Marilyn Monroe shot, what was she then?
On top of all this, the world butchered her name. She pronounced her own name "Jack-leen" (with emphasis on the 'leen') not "Jack-a-lin" like everyone -- including her husband in one archive video! -- called her. For all this woman went through, at least he and the rest of us could have given her that.
What was your reaction to the Jackie Kennedy audio interview tapes? Did you feel sorry for her?
Image via National Achives/Getty