Letter: Kennedy did care about a minimum wage

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The Independent Online
ROBIN BLAKE, in his review of Richard Reeves's book President Kennedy ('Initial magic of the man that nobody knew', Sunday Review, 9 October), could have scrutinised Richard Nixon's self-serving misrecollection of what Kennedy said to him in April 1961 about presidential priorities and the minimum wage: 'Who gives a shit if it's dollars 1.15 or dollars 1.25 in comparison to something like this?' Instead, Blake supposes the quote to be evidence of Kennedy's 'scant interest in domestic policy'.

The JFK-Nixon meeting took place in the wake of the Bay of Pigs debacle. It's fanciful to believe that Kennedy would have asked for Nixon's opinion about presidential priorities. Nor would he have said that 'foreign affairs is the only important issue for a President to handle'. He may have reflected ruefully that had he not spent so much time in February and March cajoling Congress to pass his Minimum Wage Bill he would have been better able to discover the flaws in the CIA- Nixon plan to land Cuban dissidents on Cuba and topple Castro.

His meetings on the minimum wage may, therefore, be among 'the key White House meetings of JFK's 1,057 days in office'. There is no reference to them in Reeves's highly selective book.

Michael Meadmore

London W12

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