The Presidency by Hugh Sidey: Styles of Political Mafias

Richard Scammon, the elections analyst, came home from the first and last 1964 campaign meeting held by President John Kennedy just ten days before his assassination in November 1963. Scammon sat down with his wife Mary and with great snorts of laughter recounted that by his tally there were, around the table, eight Irish Roman Catholics and two Unitarians from the Middle West.

The Irish Mafia, named by Sander Vanocur, then NBC White House Correspondent, still controlled the heartbeat of J.F.K.'s three-year-old Administration. In Scammon's mellow hindsight, there is no doubt that the tough, pragmatic, but often tender and...

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