Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.
On September 10 2013, just after the Federal Election, I highlighted some thoughts of President John F. Kennedy from an interview in 1962 that I believed would be of interest to the incoming Government and Prime Minister.
Three months on, I believe those thoughts are of even more interest.
On 17 December 1962 the ABC, CBS and NBC networks presented a one-hour interview with President John F. Kennedy in prime time. Yes, that's right, one hour in prime time, which was also carried by all major radio networks, called "After Two Years - A Conversation With The President". The interview was jointly conducted by Bill Lawrence of ABC News, George Herman of CBS News and Sander Vanocur of NBC News (who is still with us, aged 85) and was held in the President's office at the White House.
It's an interview I've referred to before because of the high quality of the questions and answers, and the respect shown by the journalists to President Kennedy and the respect he showed to them and the audience.
It's this response to a question from Bill Lawrence, and parts of responses to subsequent questions, that I thought would be of interest to the new Government and Prime Minister.
Bill Lawrence: As you look back upon your first two years in office, sir, has your experience in the office matched your expectations? You had studied a good deal the power of the Presidency, the methods of its operations. How has this worked out as you saw it in advance?
President Kennedy: The problems are more difficult than I had imagined them to be. The responsibilities placed on the United States are greater than I imagined them to be, and there are greater limitations upon our ability to bring about a favourable result than I had imagined them to be. And I think that is probably true of anyone who becomes President, because there is such a difference between those who advise or speak or legislate, and between the man who must select from the various alternatives proposed and say that this shall be the policy of the United States. It's much easier to make the speeches than it is to finally make the judgements, because unfortunately your advisers are frequently divided. If you take the wrong course, and on occasion I have, the President bears the burden of the responsibility quite rightly. The advisers may move on to new advice.
(Later in the interview, as part of an answer to a related question)
President Kennedy: The other point is something that President Eisenhower said to me on January 19th [the day before JFK's inauguration in 1961]. He said "There are no easy matters that will ever come to you as President. If they are easy, they will be settled at a lower level." So that the matters that come to you as President are always the difficult matters, and matters that carry with them large implications. So this contributes to some of the burdens of the office of the Presidency, which other Presidents have commented on.
(A final point)
President Kennedy: After being here for two years, and having the experience of the Presidency, there is no experience you can possibly get that can prepare you adequately for the Presidency.