- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2013



Had the sturdy New England stock that coursed through the Irish bloodlines of John Fitzgerald Kennedy not been drained by an assassin’s bullet, imagine what he would be thinking about world affairs.

JFK’s mama, Rose, lived to be 104 and pop Joe, who had a debilitating stroke at 73 in 1961, lived to be 81.

Ponder Jack today, an aging statesman, perhaps preparing (or being prepared) at age 96 to head to Kennedy family grounds in Palm Beach or Hyannis Port and reading the headlines of today.

WWJD about Washington’s football team again making headlines for racial intensities.

The Redskins were the lone NFL holdout of integration and Kennedy’s Interior Secretary Stuart Udall not-so-jokingly reflected JFK’s views by calling the team the “Paleskins.”

Whether Jack would again let his feelings be known about the team’s ethnically challenged proclivity is uncertain, of course. But it’s pretty clear that Barack Obama is following a Kennedy tradition by suggesting a name change.

WWJD on the cultural front?

Well, there would be loads for him to choose from.

Miley Cyrus’ twerking and Rihanna’s exhibitionism might not wrinkle JFK’s forehead. I mean, come on, this is a guy who seemingly adored whorish behavior but married a quintessentially refined and educated lady.

Jackie Kennedy was his wife and — and — her own woman.

Jack lavished her with jewels, and she stood by her man.

Jackie, though, wasn’t the only woman who knew whether her husband preferred boxers or briefs. Still, can’t you imagine, even though he would be 96 today, can’t you picture Jack watching TV and swatting away the racy Kmart ad that shows a half-dozen Joe Boxer-clad young men hip-swaying and jingle-belling all the way?

And WWJD about health care?

I cannot imagine Kennedy not being interested in Obamacare, especially as it relates to his presidential failings on mental health care and his personal insights regarding his oldest sister, Rosemary, who was mentally ill and underwent a lobotomy at age 23.

In February 1963, in a special address to Congress, the president said that “mental illness and mental retardation are among our most critical health problems. They occur more frequently, affect more people, require more prolonged treatment, cause more suffering by the families of the afflicted, waste more of our human resources, and constitute more financial drain upon both the public treasury and the personal finances of the individual families than any other single condition.”

He also said the “time has come for a bold new approach” and that all levels of government as well as “private foundations and individual citizens must all face up to their responsibilities in this area.”

Kennedy and Congress ended up agreeing on a national mental health package that incentivized states to build new community mental health centers, improve state institutions and care, and look at preventive programs, among other things.

Critics across the board said the ambitious national effort fell short — way short.

Today, Kennedy could look at this week’s events in Virginia, involving the stabbing of a state lawmaker at the hands of his disturbed son to know that America is still wrestling with the issue of mental illness.


A madman’s bullet precisely 50 years ago Friday means we shall never know.

HIV/AIDS (continued): In my Nov. 19 column, I said “HIV/AIDS is not a ‘gay men’s‘ disease.”

For certain, gay and bisexual men and boys are dying from the disease, and so are heterosexual women who are being infected by gay and bisexual men and women.

My point is the virus doesn’t discriminate. It cares not whether you are young or old, heterosexual or homosexual. In fact, it doesn’t care whether you claim any orientation or are in serious denial.

It can infect regardless.

That’s why it is not a “gay men’s” disease.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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