Political Relationships – Kennedy & Sorenson

One of the most interesting relationships in political history is between John F. Kennedy and his friend and speechwriter Ted Sorenson. Their relationship is a model of the type of self-sacrifice and blurred identity that comprises many successful legendary political teams.

Ted is rumored to be the real author of Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Profiles in Courage.”

Though subject to some scrutiny, the media was reluctant to give Sorenson credit from fear of insulting Kennedy and threats of lawsuits. Kennedy had authored a previous book “Why England Slept,” his Harvard thesis that described mistakes made by England’s appeasement of Hitler before WWII.

Kennedy was bedridden when “Profiles in Courage” was written from 1954-1955. For many years, Sorenson refused to admit that his role in writing the book was anything more than as research assistant and editor. It was not until 2008 that Sorenson more vocally admitted that his role had been more.

What is interesting to note about this story is its example of the type of self sacrifice and blurring of identities necessary to work for the President. How many people can say they would have been as modest as Sorenson for the sake of another? The Pulitzer Prize is the greatest literary achievement in the world other than the Nobel Prize, and for years Sorenson refused to officially admit the magnitude of his role.

One can argue that to political strategists like Kennedy and Sorenson, it did not really matter who the real author was. In a sense in their political roles, Kennedy already was Sorenson and likewise. Through intense conversations and strategy, they molded together in pursuit of the same cause, a cause greater than the Pulitzer Prize.

I mention this in connection with my book “The Home Run That Tours America” because a reader might notice the overlapping nature of the two main characters Joe and Jack. Their successes are different yet the same, their perceptions different yet co-mingled and parallel.  A close reading reveals that Joe might never be elected president without Jack.

When I wrote the first drafts of this book, I envisioned Joe and Jack to be like Kennedy and Sorenson: one the president, the other his spokesman and strategist. As I developed the book, it turned out that the story worked better with Jack as a character without political ambitions. Yet any reader might see that Jack seems to have more political sense than Joe for most of the story.

“The Home Run That Tours America” looks at these political relationships and provides teachers and educators with a tool to explain these complicated political ideals. There is no other fiction book for young readers that provides as powerful a historical, psychological, and dramatic rendering of the path to the White House.

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