With Such a Sneering and Snobby Wife, It's No Wonder JFK Jumped into Marilyn Monroe's Arms

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Byline: MARY CARR

HIS scandalous love life and serial adultery might have besmirched his legacy, but we might now have the explanation for John F Kennedy risking so much on extra-marital affairs.

Grappling with problems such as the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Oval Office, and then on to the White House living quarters to wrestle with Jacqueline, he must have had the patience of a saint.

Beautiful Jacqueline had a glacial elegance that turned her into an icon of the 20th century, but in the newly released interviews with her shortly after JFK's tragic end, she scarcely resembles the gracious and long-suffering wife idealised in Camelot legend.

In fact, she appears as a pretentious snob with an outspoken disdain for the Irish-Americans who propelled her husband to power and gave him his identity. She also has a po-faced reverence for French intellectuals and poets, the more obscure the better.

Jacqueline was prone to histrionics and, during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, she resisted her husband's wise advice that she and the children stay at Camp David for security reasons. She said that she would prefer to die with him on the White House lawn and that the children wanted that too.

THAT'S not the sort of behaviour you'd expect from a levelheaded political wife and devoted mother - more the whining attentionseeking rant of a prima donna who can't bear being excluded from the drama.

The tapes released yesterday by her daughter Caroline, allegedly as part of a deal to stonewall an uncomplimentary miniseries starring Katie Holmes, have Jackie talking to the historian Arthur Schlesinger, a family friend and White House aide.

It is only four months after her husband's death and the former First Lady is deep in grief.

Perhaps that explains the background noise of matches striking, ice cubes clinking and children playing. And even the little girl lost voice, as perfected by Marilyn Monroe, another rival for her husband's affections.

But it hardly explains why the young widow is not bristling with grief at the lost promise of the Kennedy era and is instead indulging in a stream of idle tittle-tattle and catty observations about some of the greatest figures in world history.

She gasps about how she gets all her opinions from her husband and about how women are not made for politics.

Her petty and highly personal condemnations of everyone from Martin Luther King to Charles de Gaulle and Lady Bird Johnson, totally devoid of the larger historical or political context, certainly seem to bear out that mistaken thesis. …