Colombo's Canadian Quotations

1974 edition, pg. 300

The American president and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker met in Ottawa in May of 1961 and parted on cordial terms. Theodore G. Sorenson continues the story in Kennedy (1965): "Kennedy had inadvertently left behind one of the staff papers he had been using. Diefenbaker not only expropriated the paper but threatened to expose it publicly, claiming that it referred to him as an s.o.b. (Apparantly this was a typically illegible reference to the OAS, which the president was urging Canada to join.) Kennedy denied the charge, and dismissed the scibbled letters: 'I couldn't have called him an s.o.b., I didn't know he was one - at that time.'"

Arthur M. Schlesinger in A Thousand Days (1965) added: "Kennedy thought the Canadian insincere and did not like or trust him." Kennedy is said to have winced when he heard Diefenbaker speak French and later declared, "It was so bad, I was tempted to try myself."

The working paper, mislaid by Kennedy on his visit of May 16-18, 1961, was written by Walt Whitman Rostwo, policy planning director of the U.S. State Department, and according to Peter C. Newman was headed: "What We Want from the Ottawa Trip." Kennedy is said to have scribbled on the paper: "What do we do with the s.o.b. now?" Newman regards this as hardly plausible in Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years (1963).

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