When Khrushchev then backed down (thankfully, otherwise you might not be alive and reading this book) and removed the missiles and the crisis suddenly ended without any war, Americans felt an enormous letdown.17 The media reported on "The Strange Mood of America Today Baffled and uncertain of what to believe..."18 It began to ask what were seen as frightening questions: "Will It Now Be A World Without Real War? Suddenly the world seems quiet...Why the quiet? What does it mean?"19 The prospect of peaceful quiet felt terribly frightening.
Americans from all parties were furious with Kennedy for various pretexts. Many began calling for a new Cuban invasion, agreeing with Barry Goldwater's demand that Kennedy "do anything that needs to be done to get rid of that cancer. If it means war, let it mean war."20 Kennedy was accused of being soft on Communism for living up to his no-invasion pledge to the Soviets, and when he then proposed signing a Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with them, his popularity dropped even further.21
The nation's columnists expressed their fury towards the president, and political cartoonists pictured Kennedy with his head being chopped off by a guillotine (above). Richard Nixon warned, "There'll be...blood spilled before [the election is] over,"22 and a cartoon in The Washington Post portrayed Nixon digging a grave. Many editorialists were even more blunt. The Delaware State News editorialized: "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His name right now happens to be Kennedy let's shoot him, literally, before Christmas."23 Potential assassins all over the country-psychopaths who are always around looking for permission to kill-saw all these media death wishes as signals, as delegations to carry out a necessary task, and began to pick up these fantasies as permission to kill Kennedy.24
Kennedy's aides warned him of an increase in the number of death threats toward him. His trip to Dallas, known as the "hate capital of Dixie," was seen as particularly dangerous. His aides begged him to cancel his trip. Senator J. William Fulbright told him, "Dallas is a very dangerous place...I wouldn't go there. Don't you go."25 Vice President Lyndon Johnson, writing the opening lines of the speech he intended to make in Austin after the Dallas visit, planned to open with: "Mr. President, thank God you made it out of Dallas alive!"26 Dallas judges and leading citizens warned the President he should not come to the city because of the danger of assassination. The day before the assassination, as handbills were passed out in Dallas with Kennedy's picture under the headline "Wanted For Treason," militants of the John Birch Society and other violent groups flooded into Dallas, and hundreds of reporters flew in from all over the country, alerted that something might happen to the president.27
Kennedy himself sensed consciously he might be shot. Two months before the actual assassination, he made a home movie "just for fun" of himself being assassinated.28 The morning of his assassination, an aide later recalled, Kennedy went to his hotel window, "looked down at the speaker's platform...and shook his head. 'Just look at that platform,' he said. 'With all those buildings around it, the Secret Service couldn't stop someone who really wanted to get you.'"29 When Jackie Kennedy told him she was really afraid of an assassin on this trip, JFK agreed, saying, "We're heading into nut country today....You know, last night would have been a hell of a night to assassinate a President. I mean it...suppose a man had a pistol in a briefcase." He pointed his index finger at the wall and jerked his thumb. "Then he could have dropped the gun and briefcase and melted away in the crowd."30 Despite all the warnings, however, Kennedy unconsciously accepted the martyr's role. He was, after all, used to doing all his life what others wanted him to do.31 So although a Secret Service man told him the city was so dangerous that he had better put up the bulletproof plastic top on his limousine, he specifically told him not to do so.32 In fact, someone instructed the Secret Service not to be present ahead of time in Dallas and check out open windows such as those in the Book Depository, as they normally did whenever a president traveled in public as Kennedy did.33 Only then, with the nation, the assassin, the Secret Service and the president all in agreement, the assassination could be successfully carried out.
Eventually Nikita Khrushchev “wanted the Soviet Union to be admired rather than feared and hoped for a thaw in the Cold War, removing Soviet troops from Austria.”94 Nevertheless, despite the ability of the U.S. to destroy all human life on earth with its nuclear missiles, John F. Kennedy got elected to the Presidency on a mythical “missile gap” claim, and then gave the go-ahead to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba over the objections of his military.95 Then, saying he had to “make us appear tough,”96 he began what was termed Operation Mongoose that included inciting insurrection and sabotage in Cuba.97 One of the first plans the military suggested to him was Operation Northwoods, “calling for innocent people to be shot on American streets and people framed for the bombings, all blamed on Castro.”98 The CIA warned Kennedy that attempts to remove Castro might cause the Soviets to “establish a medium-range missile base in Cuba.”99 Krushchev responded by putting Soviet missiles into Cuba.100
The origin of Kennedy’s need to prove his masculinity was his early child abuse. His mother had battered him as a child with coat hangers and belts, his father smashed his childrens’ heads against walls, so that his resulting fears of impotence made him fill the White House during evenings with sexual partners to demonstrate how hyper-masculine he was.101 After the U.S. discovered that Soviet missiles had been placed in Cuba, Kennedy deemed this a threat to his hyper-masculine hawkish pose, despite the opinion of his Secretary of Defense, who “saw no major threat to U.S. security from the missiles”102 since Soviet missiles were already in the area on their submarines. The Cuban missiles were just the excuse for Kennedy to demonstrate his manhood. As Wofford puts it: “The real stake was prestige…In the Kennedy lexicon of manliness, not being ‘chicken‘ was a primary value.”103 Kennedy admitted “there may be 200 million Americans dead” if he precipitated a nuclear war,104 but nevertheless when it looked like the Soviets might not agree to keep secret his promise to remove the U.S. Turkish missiles which might make him “lose face,”105 Kennedy sent American planes carrying 1,300 nuclear bombs into the air on Sunday with orders to begin bombing Russia the next day if Khrushchev didn’t immediately say he would keep the secret.106 Few Americans opposed Kennedy’s actions, even though they said they would likely lead to a nuclear war.107 Only Khrushchev’s agreeing to remove his missiles without making Kennedy seem “chicken” avoided a nuclear WWIII.
Kennedy soon needed a new war to consolidate his defensive masculinity pose, increased the U.S. military spending the largest amount in any peacetime, and then committed 16,300 U.S. soldiers to Vietnam. When he went to Dallas, where there were many highly publicized death threats to kill him, he needed still more “toughness,” and told his wife, “Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it.”108 “His Secret Service aides told him he better put up the bulletproof plastic top on his limousine, so he specifically told them not to do so,”109 committing suicide to demonstrate his hypermasculinity.