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Posthumous Assassination

July 14, 1991

The reviews of both Michael R. Beschloss' and Thomas C. Reeves' books on J. F. K. ("The Crisis Years" and "A Question of Character," respectively; June 23) provide parallel proof that Kennedy continues to be assassinated long after his death.

What makes Kennedy's indiscretions seem so much more unsavory and newsworthy than those of his peers? Why is so much writing devoted to Kennedy's morality and sex life?

While both Eisenhower and Johnson were reported to have had extramarital affairs, Americans appear to be uninterested in such revelations concerning older, less vital public figures. (They do not find it unusual that Nixon appears to have had no sex life at all while in office.) Yet J. F. K. appeared youthful and handsome, charming and wealthy, articulate and virile, and he is therefore the target of choice.

Given Kennedy's "glamour quotient," such scrutiny is not unusual. What is absurd, however, is how such innuendo is always (given) an exaggerated importance in recognizing J. F. K.'s political achievement.

Reeves writes (that) Kennedy lacked compassion. Would Kennedy have called for a celebration of returning Persian Gulf troops without also calling upon us to alleviate the suffering created for millions of Kurdish, Kuwaiti and Iraqi women and children? Would he knowingly appoint federal judges with a questionable commitment to racial equality and civil liberties? (Reviewer) Ronald Steel apparently decries how under Kennedy "the military budget was dramatically increased," while analysts who favor Reagan credit his Gargantuan military budgets with eroding communism.

These books on Kennedy center on irrelevance or falsehood and therefore put history readers on a fruitless path. I look forward to the exhaustive analysis of an America more fascinated with the forward-looking, inspirational Kennedy's sex life than with the unconscious, insensitive, greed-provoking legacy of Reagan, which we are all just beginning to suffer from. . . .

You dryly show Kennedy knotting his tie in your illustration. When the time comes, perhaps you will depict Reagan asleep on a cot in the Oval Office, while Nancy dances with Frank Sinatra, and a pack of middle-aged white men convey sacks of money from a vault labeled "America's Future."

ALEC BALDWIN

LOS ANGELES

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