It’s hard to believe, but had she lived, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would celebrate her 80th birthday tomorrow, and, according to her biographer, C. David Heymann, she probably would have marked the occasion at her old stomping grounds, the White House.
Mr. Heymann, the author of “A Woman Named Jackie,” which was later turned into a miniseries, tells G2 that the enigmatic Jackie O likely would have spent her elderly years as the mother of the president, or, more precisely, an American version of England’s queen mother.
“Had she lived, her son John Jr. probably never would have died because he made her a solemn vow he would not fly,” Mr. Heymann explains, referring to the late John F. Kennedy Jr., who perished in the plane he was piloting 10 years ago this month.
“He started flying again a few months after she died.” Mrs. Onassis died of complications from lymphoma in 1994 at age 64.
“John had already started a fact-finding committee to look into running for [the seat of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat]. He would have one day run for president. His magazine, George, was just a stepping stone.”
Mr. Heymann’s latest book, “Bobby and Jackie,” chronicles the purported affair between Mrs. Onassis and Robert F. Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother and a Democratic senator from New York and a 1968 presidential candidate.
One of the most striking claims in the book is that it was Mrs. Onassis, not Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s wife, who told the doctors to turn off the life-saving machines the senator was hooked up to as he lay dying in a Los Angeles hospital after he was shot.
The book asserts that it was Mrs. Onassis who signed the necessary papers to allow Mr. Kennedy to die.
When pressed by G2 for proof of these allegations, Mr. Heymann responded calmly, “Have you read the footnotes? I talked to a cop who was on duty and one of the nurses who saw and heard everything that was being said.”
Mr. Heymann says Ethel Kennedy was well aware of the relationship between her husband and former sister-in-law, but allowed Mrs. Onassis time alone with him in his final moments.
“That took a lot of grace on Ethel’s part,” Mr. Heymann says.
Michelle Obama, often compared to Mrs. Onassis due to her youth and style, would have found an ally in Mrs. Onassis, Mr. Heymann reflects.
“All the first ladies turned to Jackie for help on how to raise their children and provide them a normal upbringing.”
Sunday on the court
He may from the Hoosier state, known for its basketball, but Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, happily spent his Sunday afternoon on the tennis court as an amateur VIP player in the Washington Celebrity Tennis Challenge before the World Team Tennis Championship Finals.
“Actually, tennis is pretty popular in Indiana,” Mr. Bayh told us after he and Fox News anchor Bret Baier lost a doubles match to Alan Krueger, assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department, and Gene Sperling, special assistant to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Mr. Bayh took his defeat with humor. “I have been playing since I was about nine or ten, but I guess you would never know it from today,” he said.
Tennis, in the Bayh clan, is a family affair. “Both my boys play better than me, and my father, who is eighty-one years young, still plays,” he told us referring to Birch Bayh, the former senator from Indiana.
We reminded Mr. Baier that G2 had reported on his performance at a karaoke competition earlier this summer. Are there any other talents that are going to fall out of the venerable newsman’s closet? “Golfing,” he said. “I’m a much better golfer than singer or tennis player.”
On the sidelines as a line judge was Margaret Carlson, a columnist for Bloomberg News and formerly a commentator on the heated political debate show — now canceled — “The Capital Gang” on CNN.
Which is easier: keeping the peace in the crossfire on the show or on the court today?
“This is easier, because I get the final word,” she replied.
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