December 16, 1960
President Eisenhower writes President-Elect John F. Kennedy a Chilly Letter about Staffing
The weather that day, in Washington, was just a little above freezing – outside, that is, the Oval Office. There, as the 34th President of the United States wrote to the man who would soon be the 35th, ice hung from his pen. Yes, Eisenhower says, his Defense Liaison Officer – and dear friend – General Andrew Goodpaster would be available to the new President, as Kennedy has requested, “temporarily …for a period ending sometime in February or March.” After that time, however, “he will be sent to the same assignment that is now planned for him.”
Kennedy had infuriated Eisenhower, during the campaign, with his attacks on the President’s timidity; the young man thought the older a fossil and worse. Eisenhower, for his part, considered Kennedy a whippersnapper who had done little else than spend his father’s money to win office. And although both had come away from their first meeting on December 6, 1960, with a new respect for the other, it was too little, too late. The animosity that existed before the election, existed after it. This letter is a fine example of that coldness and disdain.
Typed Letter Signed, as President, 1 page, quarto, The White House, Washington, December 16, 1960. To President-Elect JOHN F. KENNEDY.