Thursday, July 25, 2013

The United States' Royal Baby

Celebrating Fifty Years of JFK’s "Silly Bastard" Phone Call

One of the most popular US Presidential phone call recordings celebrates its 50th birthday on July 25, 2013. In the phone call, recorded on July 25, 1963, President John Kennedy berates an Air Force general in the Pentagon for wasteful expenditures, using some rather salty language. In various outlets on the web, such as YouTube, the recording has been heard close to half a million times..

On July 25, 1963, people in the United States were waiting with baited breath for the birth of their own version of the royal baby. The First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, was eight months pregnant and vacationing in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The closest military facility, Otis Air Force Base, immediately prepared a maternity suite for Mrs. Kennedy's use should she require it.

A story about the maternity suite preparations appeared in the July 25, 1963 edition of the Washington Post. In the article, it was reported that $5,000 ($38,000 in 2013 terms) had been spent on refurbishing the suite, including new furniture from noted Boston area department store Jordan Marsh. After reading the story, President Kennedy immediately began phoning aides in Washington, including Assistant Secretary of Defense Arthur Sylvester and Air Force Aide Gen. Godfrey McHugh. As with the presidents before and after, Kennedy made a habit of recording all his phone calls on dictatape. These phone calls are in the public domain and available at the JFK Presidential Library and other sites.

An obviously angry Kennedy peppers the call with expletives, including repeatedly calling an Air Force Captain standing for a press picture next to Mrs. Kennedy’s bed a 'silly bastard.' The call ends with Kennedy telling General McHugh that there has 'obviously been a f*** up.'

Mrs. Kennedy gave birth to a son, Patrick, on August 7, 1963. Patrick was diagnosed with a lung ailment shortly after his birth and died on August 9, 1963.

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