Snarky Jackie Kennedy Tapes Put a New Spin on History

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. KennedyOnce a First Lady, later an endlessly admired public figure, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was always treated like American royalty and has -- it seems -- until now, been remembered that way, as well. But new revelations about her days spent in the White House, originating from eight hours worth of interview tapes released this month and included in the new book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F. Kennedy, are painting JFK's wife in a very different light. As it turns out -- she could be super b*tchy! And I LOVE it!

Jackie had no shortage of catty comments about some of the 20th century's most influential people, like FDR, who she called "a bit of a poseur," Indira Gandhi, who she said was "a real prune," Jack LaLanne, "that awful exercise man," and Charles de Gaulle, "that egomaniac." Ha! Whoa, and how about her take on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

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After hearing FBI tapes of him in a hotel room with a woman who was not the civil rights leader's wife Coretta, and finding out that he mocked aspects of JFK's funeral, she called him "tricky," "a phony," and said, "I can't see a picture of [MLK] without thinking ... that man's terrible."

During the era of Camelot, I'm sure politicians' wives were encouraged to keep their lips sealed about their opinions -- which were supposed to be completely in line with their husbands' -- especially about other public figures. Although Jackie did admit she got her political ideas from her husband, her judgments on the era's movers and shakers seem to be all her own, and I find the fact that she shared them with Arthur Schlesinger -- back then in '64! -- progressive and feminist in a way.

What's more, I love that Jackie's insights on public figures of the 20th century might help us bring these people down off of the comfy pedestals the passage of time has built for them. I mean, of course, MLK, Charles de Gaulle, and FDR were great men and heroes in so many ways, but they were also fallible human beings. Because history tends to airbrush and even glorify them, we could certainly use added dimension and reality, which Jackie's interviews seem to be providing. It could probably serve us well to learn what these people were really like. At least according to the once First Lady.

What do you think about Jackie's snarky comments?

 

Image via Amazon

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