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|‘LBJ killed JFK’ theory embarrasses Bush aide
WHEN President George W Bush was looking for a new White House spokesman to replace Ari Fleischer last July, he turned to his close circle of Texan friends for an ally he knew to be loyal, discreet and uncontroversial, writes Tony Allen-Mills.
Few in the White House press corps expected political fireworks when the president chose Scott McClellan, a long-time Bush supporter who had been Fleischer’s deputy and was renowned for his unassuming manner. McClellan’s brother Mark is a senior administration official and their mother is a former mayor of Austin.
Despite his polished political pedigree, McClellan’s family ties have suddenly brought him unexpected embarrassment. His father Barr, a 63-year-old former Texas lawyer, claims in a book that President John F Kennedy was assassinated on the orders of the man who succeeded him — Lyndon Baines Johnson.
After 40 years of rabid conspiracy theorising over JFK’s murder in Dallas in 1963, the older McClellan claims to have found a new culprit — Edward Clark, a former US ambassador to Australia and close political ally of Johnson.
At a time when the new White House spokesman is fending off criticism of Bush’s handling of the economy and Iraq, he is also having to cope with speculation that his father is either a crackpot — or may just have found the missing link in one of the most notorious mysteries in American history.
McClellan Jr has so far declined to comment on the awkward fuss over Blood, Money and Power: How LBJ Killed JFK. “I think at this time it’s best that I keep my relationship with my dad a private matter,” he said.
His father has been less discreet. Keen to promote his book, published by a tiny firm in Arkansas, he has been gaily telling interviewers that LBJ resorted to murder because he was worried about being dropped as vice-president by Kennedy. “I knew LBJ well. He was very brutal,” McClellan Sr said.
LBJ has until now escaped serious suspicion and Robert Caro, his biographer, dismissed the scenario as “highly implausible”. Other historians called it “absurd”.