Friday, March 10, 2006

An Appropriate Award

Murtha to Receive JFK Profile in Courage Award
( - Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who was the subject of a recent Cybercast News Service investigation of his military and political record, will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his stance against the Iraq war.
A pertinent analysis of JFK's Pulitzer prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, for which the award is named:

The book was published on January 1, 1956, to lavish praise. It became a best seller and in 1957 was awarded the Pulitzer prize for biography. It established Kennedy, till then considered promising but lacking in gravitas, as one of the Democratic party's leading lights, setting the stage for his presidential nomination in 1960.

But doubts about the book's authorship surfaced early. In December 1957 syndicated columnist Drew Pearson, interviewed on TV by Mike Wallace, said, "Jack Kennedy is . . . the only man in history that I know who won a Pulitzer prize on a book which was ghostwritten for him." Outraged, Kennedy hired lawyer Clark Clifford, who collected the senator's handwritten notes and rounded up statements from people who said they'd seen him working on the book, then persuaded Wallace's bosses at ABC to read a retraction on the air.

Kennedy made no secret of Sorensen's involvement in Profiles, crediting him in the preface as "my research associate," and likewise acknowledged the contributions of Davids and others. But he insisted that he was the book's author and bristled even at teasing suggestions to the contrary. Sorensen and other Kennedy loyalists backed him up then and have done so since.

The most thorough analysis of who did what has come from historian Herbert Parmet in Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy (1980). Parmet interviewed the participants and reviewed a crateful of papers in the Kennedy Library. He found that Kennedy contributed some notes, mostly on John Quincy Adams, but little that made it into the finished product. "There is no evidence of a Kennedy draft for the overwhelming bulk of the book," Parmet writes. While "the choices, message, and tone of the volume are unmistakably Kennedy's," the actual work was "left to committee labor." The "literary craftsmanship [was] clearly Sorensen's, and he gave the book both the drama and flow that made for readability." Parmet, like everyone else, shrinks from saying Sorensen was the book's ghostwriter, but clearly he was.
Murtha's "courage" with respect to Iraq is as bogus as JFK's Pulitzer. Murtha's "heroism" in Vietnam -- his bona fides for attacking the war in Iraq -- may also be bogus.