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Myer Feldman

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Does anyone else know more about this interesting character, who carried out some crucial tasks for the Kennedy campaign and administration, was promoted by Johnson and also played a role involving Ted Kennedy in McGovern's '72 campaign manouverings.

The NYT obituary is below.

Myer Feldman, 92, Adviser to President Kennedy, Dies


Published: March 3, 2007

Myer Feldman, an aide to President John F. Kennedy who remained virtually unknown to the public while playing an integral role in planning his presidential campaign, White House press conferences and governmental policies, died Thursday in Bethesda, Md. He was 92.

His son, James, announced the death. Mr. Feldman lived in Potomac, Md., and Miami.

Mr. Feldman’s importance was suggested in The New York Times Magazine in an article in 1962 about the prestige of having a low license-plate number in the District of Columbia. His number, 116, was the lowest of any White House official’s.

But an article in The New York Post in 1964 called Mr. Feldman “the White House’s anonymous man.”

Mr. Feldman, a lawyer known as Mike, led a group assigned to find negative information about Kennedy’s Republican opponent in the 1960 presidential race, Richard M. Nixon.

They compiled a mountain of potential embarrassments nicknamed the Nixopedia, Theodore C. Sorensen, a Kennedy adviser, wrote in his book, “Kennedy,” in 1965. Mr. Sorensen was Mr. Feldman’s direct superior at the White House, where Mr. Feldman held the title deputy special counsel.

When Kennedy was preparing to counter critics of his Roman Catholicism in a crucial campaign speech in Houston, Mr. Feldman found Irish-sounding names of Texans who had died at the Alamo for Kennedy to use in the speech. More importantly, he helped prepare Kennedy for the televised debate with Nixon.

Mr. Feldman was among a group who had breakfast with the president before news conferences. He was a behind-the-scenes liaison to Israel, a principal adviser on domestic policy and the channel for business requests, like tariffs and air routes.

“If Mike ever turned dishonest, we could all go to jail,” Kennedy said, according to Mr. Sorensen.

Mr. Feldman stayed on in the White House after Kennedy’s death to serve President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson promoted him to special counsel.

In Johnson’s 1964 presidential race, Mr. Feldman reprised his dirty-tricks role by leading a secret campaign to demean Senator Barry M. Goldwater, Johnson’s opponent. Among other tactics, they fed hostile questions to reporters who were following Mr. Goldwater, Robert Dallek wrote in “Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times 1961-1973.”

Myer Feldman was born on June 22, 1914, in Philadelphia. His father, a tailor, died in 1918 in the great influenza epidemic. He attended Girard College in Philadelphia, which was founded as a boarding school for fatherless boys ; he graduated at 16.

He worked for a roofing company, then won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to that university’s law school, where he was on the law review.

He taught at the law school until joining the Army Air Forces in 1942. After the war, he worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission, rising to executive assistant to the chairman. He went on to work for the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, where he met Mr. Sorensen, who was then an aide to Kennedy, who was then a senator.

Through Mr. Sorensen, he became a legislative assistant to Kennedy, who gleefully assigned the city boy to agricultural issues.

“Mike, how are the crops?” Kennedy would ask, The Post reported.

Mr. Feldman was sent to meet quietly with Israeli leaders, particularly David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, about matters including arms sales, Palestinian refugees, and whether Israel was building a nuclear weapon.

He remained a trusted liaison to the Kennedy family.

In 1972, just after Senator George McGovern won the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. McGovern’s advisers wanted Senator Edward M. Kennedy to be his running mate, Time magazine reported.

Mr. Feldman was dispatched to the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass.

“Ted’s not going to do it,” he reported back.

(Thomas F. Eagleton was chosen instead, but dropped out after disclosures of his psychiatric treatment. R. Sargent Shriver, a close friend of Mr. Feldman and the brother-in-law of Senator Kennedy, was then selected.)

After Mr. Feldman left government service in 1965, he started a Washington law firm that grew to 100 attorneys; made many millions buying and selling radio stations; and helped finance the condominium boom in Washington in the 1970s.

He participated in many more political campaigns, usually in the background, and his charitable work included being chairman of the executive committee of the Special Olympics.

Mr. Feldman was a book review editor for the Saturday Review of Literature and helped produce six plays. In the Kennedy White House, where wit and intellect sometimes seemed a competitive sport, Mr. Feldman and Mr. Sorensen traded memos in rhyming couplets.

Mr. Feldman and his first wife, Jackie Moskovitz, divorced in 1979. In addition to his son, James, of Washington, he is survived by his wife, Adrienne Arsht; his sister, Ethel Mufson, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a daughter, Jane Feldman of Hermosa Beach, Calif.; and two grandchildren.

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As you probably know, Piper gives Myer Feldman a few mentions. I think it's probably worth putting it on the record here.

From 'Final Judgement' (pp 40-41);

"One of JFK's first presidential appointments was naming his former campaign aide Myer (Mike) Feldman as his point man for Israeli and Jewish affairs---an important post, especially considering JFK's tenuous relationship with Israel and its' American lobby.

According to author Seymour Hersh, "The President viewed Feldman, whose strong support for Israel was widely known, as a necessary evil whose highly visible White House position was a political debt that had to be paid"1.

However, the Administration was determined to make certain, according to Hersh, that nobody--Feldman in particular--would be able to circumvent any administration policy insofar as the Middle East was concerned.

"The President's most senior advisors, most acutely McGeorge Bundy, the national security advisor, desperately sought to cut Feldman out of the flow of Middle East paperwork"2. Hersh quotes another Presidential aide as having said, "It was hard to tell the difference between what Feldman said and what the Israeli ambassador said"3.

President Kennedy himself had his own suspicions about Feldman, according to the President's close friend Charles Bartlett (to whom Kennedy in 1960 had previously voiced concerns about Israeli influence as noted in Chapter 4).

Bartlett recalls a visit with the new President at his home in Hyannisport one Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). Talk turned to Feldman's role in the White House bureaucracy. "I imagine Mike's having a meeting of Zionists in the cabinet room", the President said, according to Bartlett.4

The President's brother, Robert, himself said that his brother admired Feldman's work but added, "His major interest was Israel rather than the United States".5

However, while Feldman was busy promoting Israel's interests at the White House, the President was sending out a message to the rest of the foreign policy-making establishment in Washington.

Kennedy was making it clear that he was very much interested in finding a path to peace in the Middle East and was, in particular, looking for ways to solving the problem of finding a home for Palestinian refugees who had been displaced by Israel in 1948".

1. Seymour Hersh, "The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy". (New York, Random House, 1991), p.98

2. Ibid, p.99

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid, p.100

FWIW, the biggest black mark against Feldman for me is the fact that he prospered, and was in fact promoted by LBJ in the aftermath of JFK's death. Because the issue of whether LBJ had foreknowledge of JFK's impending death is a proven fact (for me), I am also inclined to believe such prior knowledge was shared by those in LBJ's close orbit, and therefore quite possibly Myer Feldman.

To Feldman's friends and family I would respectfully submit that since the US Government and the American power elite (including the mainstream media) disdainfully refused to investigate the brazen execution which robbed America, and the rest of the world, of its most promising statesman, then it's left to the research community to undertake this task. And we will.

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