This morning’s Observer column:
When John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963, he was on his way to deliver a speech to the assembled worthies of the city. A copy of his script for the ill-fated oration was later presented by Lyndon Johnson to Stanley Marcus, head of the department store chain Neiman Marcus, whose daughter was in the expectant audience that day.
The text has long been available on the internet and it makes for poignant reading, not just because of what happened at Dealey Plaza that day, but because large chunks of it look eerily prescient in the age of Trump. JFK was a terrific public speaker who employed superb speechwriters (especially Theodore Sorensen). His speeches were invariably elegant and memorable: he had a great eye for a good phrase, and his delivery was usually faultless. So his audience in Dallas knew that they were in for a treat – until Lee Harvey Oswald terminated the dream.
Last week, 55 years on, we finally got to hear what Kennedy’s audience might have heard…