The Washington Post

Obama sends JFK on an odd journey

Soviet Premier Khrushchev and President John Kennedy at Soviet Embassy in Vienna on June 4, 1961. (AP)

Obama, in closing, recounted a story about former President John F. Kennedy confronting Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

“On the flight back from Russia, after negotiating with Nikita Khrushchev at the height of the Cold War,” Obama began, talking about a slip of paper Kennedy had carried in his pocket with a favorite saying on it.

Okay. We recall Kennedy got brutally pounded — and he knew it — by the wily commie. But maybe Kennedy got more disoriented than anyone knew and took a most circuitous route back to Washington?

After all, the only summit Kennedy and Khrushchev had was not in Russia (or the Soviet Union as it was known) but in Vienna, Austria, in June 1961. (And he directly flew home via London, stopping to see the Queen, writes historian Michael Beschloss in his book “The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev.”)

Okay, so that happened just before Obama was born. But he was nearly eleven when President Nixon made his historic trip to Moscow in May 1972, the first time an American president had gone to the Soviet capital.

What was that old song by the great Sam Cooke ? “Don’t know much about history . . .”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans