Put up or shut up

October 13, 1962

Upstate New York is pretty grungy. I’ve been giving speeches in support of the Democrats running for Congress next month. On every stop I have tried to tell these rural and small-town up-staters that their Senator, Ken Keating, is unpatriotic (bordering on treasonous), for not revealing who his sources are—about who is feeding him stuff about Soviet military installations in Cuba. Is it the exiles in Coral Gables? Is it the CIA analysts, who are developing the U-2 pictures of the sites? Anyway, Keating must either put up or shut up—that is my basic message. And I think I am making some headway.

Bobby told me on the phone last night that he had a conversation with Lyndon Johnson. Since they hate each other, I was surprised. But Bobby said that for the first time in his experience, Lyndon actually said something useful. Lyndon told him that we should put out a story, from an unattributed source, that Keating screws sheep, that he has been screwing sheep for quite some time, and that evidence is in hand to prove that Ken is whacking the livestock. The goal, according to Lyndon, is to get Keating to deny that he screws sheep. Apparently, this is a tactic well known in Texas. Lyndon told Bobby that you start with the sheep, which are sort of cuddly. Then you move to accusations that a politician screws cattle, which are less cuddly and smell a helluva lot worse. Finally, you get to horses, he said. The great physical difficulties in consummating the act tend to focus the minds of the constituents, who often can’t think of anything other than the image they have of a Texas politician pole-vaulting into position to have at Old Dobbin. After I got my laughter under control, I told Bobby I would bear in mind Lyndon’s sage advice.

Speaking of being screwed: that’s yours truly, if our U-2s ever find nuclear missiles in Cuba.