Even if you're the President, your mother still has the power to embarrass you

Raymond Chen

Last year, in honor of Mother’s Day (the United States version), the John F. Kennedy Library shared a letter sent by President Kennedy to his mother. Mrs. Kennedy had contacted Premier Khrushchev asking for an autographed photo, copies of which were subsequently forwarded to the White House so that the President could sign them as well. President Kennedy tries to express in the politest language he can muster that the mother of a sitting president directly contacting a foreign dignitary is “subject to interpretations”, and that in the future, it would be greatly appreciated if she would let the White House clear any future such contacts.

It so happened that this particular letter-writing incident occurred very close to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I can imagine President Kennedy burying his hand in his face upon realizing that his mother may have inadvertently exacerbated a major international crisis, just by doing what moms do.


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