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JFK in Forth Worth, Nov. 22, 1963


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This is perhaps not the most important question. But nonetheless I believe it's interesting. When JFK, Jackie, LBJ and Lady Bird et al, had that early morning breakfast, the President was given a couple of presents. One of them was a real Texas "cowboy" hat. President Kennedy raised from his chair, accepted the gift, but refused to put the hat on.

Whenever I see this I keep asking myself why JFK did that? "If you come up to the White House on Monday, I'll put it on there...". No doubt the crowd was disappointed by this. But those were the times, I guess. Today I could not see any politician anywhere to refuse a crowd pleaser like this. Quite the opposite, in fact. They're looking for opportunities like this.

Now, JFK was certainly a full fledged political animal but he was also one of the first US politicians to really understand the impact and value of media exposure.

What quick political calculation did JFK do that morning, that prevented him from putting this hat on?

[As an aside, it's a thought provoking idea to imagine JFK wearing this hat throughout the motorcade in Dallas a couple of hours later, would that by any chance have changed the course of history?]

EDIT: FORT WORTH, of course, sorry.

Edited by Glenn Viklund
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This is perhaps not the most important question. But nonetheless I believe it's interesting. When JFK, Jackie, LBJ and Lady Bird et al, had that early morning breakfast, the President was given a couple of presents. One of them was a real Texas "cowboy" hat. President Kennedy raised from his chair, accepted the gift, but refused to put the hat on.

Whenever I see this I keep asking myself why JFK did that? "If you come up to the White House on Monday, I'll put it on there...". No doubt the crowd was disappointed by this. But those were the times, I guess. Today I could not see any politician anywhere to refuse a crowd pleaser like this. Quite the opposite, in fact. They're looking for opportunities like this.

Now, JFK was certainly a full fledged political animal but he was also one of the first US politicians to really understand the impact and value of media exposure.

What quick political calculation did JFK do that morning, that prevented him from putting this hat on?

[As an aside, it's a thought provoking idea to imagine JFK wearing this hat throughout the motorcade in Dallas a couple of hours later, would that by any chance have changed the course of history?]

EDIT: FORT WORTH, of course, sorry.

I think there was an inside joke during that segment you mention with the hat. It was maybe that JFK did not want to mess up his hair by putting the hat on, at least that's the impression I got when I saw it first. And sort of the crowd got that same impression too I guess.

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Guest Robert Morrow

JFK was very proud of his chestnut hair and as a rule almost never wore hats of any type - usually. So it was not just a cowboy hat thing.

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This is perhaps not the most important question. But nonetheless I believe it's interesting. When JFK, Jackie, LBJ and Lady Bird et al, had that early morning breakfast, the President was given a couple of presents. One of them was a real Texas "cowboy" hat. President Kennedy raised from his chair, accepted the gift, but refused to put the hat on.

Whenever I see this I keep asking myself why JFK did that? "If you come up to the White House on Monday, I'll put it on there...". No doubt the crowd was disappointed by this. But those were the times, I guess. Today I could not see any politician anywhere to refuse a crowd pleaser like this. Quite the opposite, in fact. They're looking for opportunities like this.

Now, JFK was certainly a full fledged political animal but he was also one of the first US politicians to really understand the impact and value of media exposure.

What quick political calculation did JFK do that morning, that prevented him from putting this hat on?

[As an aside, it's a thought provoking idea to imagine JFK wearing this hat throughout the motorcade in Dallas a couple of hours later, would that by any chance have changed the course of history?]

EDIT: FORT WORTH, of course, sorry.

I think there was an inside joke during that segment you mention with the hat. It was maybe that JFK did not want to mess up his hair by putting the hat on, at least that's the impression I got when I saw it first. And sort of the crowd got that same impression too I guess.

Thanks.

While no one could have doubted JFK's vanity, this explanation beats me.

In my world, JFK did this to avoid being an opportunist, and certainly not at the behalf of his Texan VP.

But it looks like I'm making a hen out of a feather.

Appreciate your views.

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This is perhaps not the most important question. But nonetheless I believe it's interesting. When JFK, Jackie, LBJ and Lady Bird et al, had that early morning breakfast, the President was given a couple of presents. One of them was a real Texas "cowboy" hat. President Kennedy raised from his chair, accepted the gift, but refused to put the hat on.

Whenever I see this I keep asking myself why JFK did that? "If you come up to the White House on Monday, I'll put it on there...". No doubt the crowd was disappointed by this. But those were the times, I guess. Today I could not see any politician anywhere to refuse a crowd pleaser like this. Quite the opposite, in fact. They're looking for opportunities like this.

Now, JFK was certainly a full fledged political animal but he was also one of the first US politicians to really understand the impact and value of media exposure.

What quick political calculation did JFK do that morning, that prevented him from putting this hat on?

[As an aside, it's a thought provoking idea to imagine JFK wearing this hat throughout the motorcade in Dallas a couple of hours later, would that by any chance have changed the course of history?]

EDIT: FORT WORTH, of course, sorry.

The answer is President Calvin Coolidge. He once famously put on a native American Indian headdress and nobody like him in it. He was ridiculed. When Will Rogers saw the photo he said, "Politics makes strange red fellows." People thought it diminished the office of the President of the United States. Ever since this incident presidents have avoided wearing odd hats and/or costumes. LBJ while Vice-President had to wear odd things as he travelled about. LBJ was likewise ridiculed, and this was another reason why LBJ hated the Kennedys.

See - http://www.c-spanvideo.org/appearance/563343969

Joe Backes

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During his administration, JFK was famous for eschewing hats. It became an influential fashion trend - I believe hat sales dropped off in the Kennedy years. The couple times he was photographed in hats - a topper worn to greet Eisenhower on Inauguration morning; a dark fedora worn for an evening car trip - were the exceptions that proved the rule that Kennedy looked more stylish sans hat. So his demurrer in Dallas was an "inside joke" that the audience would have been complicit with. I doubt he offended anyone who wasn't already gunning for him.

Edited by David Andrews
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During his administration, JFK was famous for eschewing hats. It became an influential fashion trend - I believe hat sales dropped off in the Kennedy years. The couple times he was photographed in hats - a topper worn to greet Eisenhower on Inauguration morning; a dark fedora worn for an evening car trip - were the exceptions that proved the rule that Kennedy looked more stylish sans hat. So his demurrer in Dallas was an "inside joke" that the audience would have been complicit with. I doubt he offended anyone who wasn't already gunning for him.

So I've been told since I raised this question. Thanks David, it appears I've missed this entire aspect of JFK and his Presidency.

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Glenn - I find the Ft. Worth breakfast MC's comment about Kennedy needing cowboy boots to protect against "local enemies," like the rattlesnakes on Johnson's ranch, to be rather ominous, and more telling of Texas animosities than the hat thing

PS: Seen this gag?

Edited by David Andrews
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It's been said that JFK was probably the most wittiest President in the modern era, and maybe the closest to match or surpass the wit of Lincoln. If you see this whole speech on that morning in Ft.Worth, JFK deliveries one of his last and more memorable witty responses when he talks about how it feels similar going around Texas with Ms. Kennedy like in Paris.

He says something to the effect 'Nobody Cares what Lyndon and I wear'. Room breaks out with laughter and you see the camera pan to LBJ, and he turns his head towards Lady Bird sort of smirking probably thinking to himself 'you got me again you son of a bitch'. You see Jackie console him a bit after the remark. JFK's last shot at LBJ I guess.

Here it is, Start at 5:04 below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWe6oqAyV50

Wish I had wit like him. I don't know who is a witty person these days anyway. Especially in politics.

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