December 27, 1960
HYDE PARK . . . . I think the storm of protest which has been aroused by the appointment of Robert Kennedy to the Attorney-Generalship is beginning to seem foolish. Granted that he is young, granted that he has no long experience as a lawyer behind him, he nevertheless has integrity. His ability seems to be unquestioned and it is just possible that he understands certain phases of his brother's programs better, and has a more comprehensive knowledge of them, than anyone else that the President-elect has been able to find.
In this case, I doubt whether the President-elect is choosing his brother. I think he is choosing a man whom he believes will get some of the things done which he wants to accomplish.
With an Attorney General who will use his powers to the limit, a good deal can be accomplished along the lines that I am sure the future President wants. Much can be done for civil rights, something can be done to control racketeers.
It may well be that after careful thought and search the President-elect has decided that the qualities needed to carry through this job are found in his brother. This judgement may be good or bad, but it seems to me that we might wait with a little more calm to find out whether President-elect Kennedy's objectives are better obtained through the way he has chosen, or whether he should have observed the unwritten tradition that having members of your family in positions of government where they carry real responsibility is dangerous.
Index to this Document: Civil rights: RFK and; Kennedy, John F.: RFK, appointed as attorney general; Kennedy, Robert F.: appointed as attorney general; character of; JFK and; nepotism and; public criticism of; ER's support for; My Day; Racketeering: attorney general and; RFK and; Roosevelt, Eleanor: on attorney general; JFK, appointment of; JFK, character of; JFK, on criticism of; JFK, popular support for; on nepotism
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. http://adh.sc.edu.
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
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