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Witness To The New Frontier
BY LARRY TEITELBAUM
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Election night, 1960. Midnight passes and the networks can’t call the unusually tight presidential election between Nixon and Kennedy. The outcome hinges on Illinois. Exhausted from the long campaign, John F. Kennedy goes to bed without knowing who won.

Myer Feldman, deputy special counsel to President John F. Kennedy, looks on as Kennedy and Golda Meir, foreign minister of Israel, discuss Middle East issues at Kennedy’s home in Palm Beach, Florida.

The next morning, two aides entered the house at Hyannis Port, Mass., where the president-elect slept, and greeted him with the words, "Good morning, Mister President." One of those aides was Myer (Mike) Feldman W’35, L’38.

You may not recognize his name, but Feldman occupied an exalted place in Camelot. For three tumultuous and momentous years, Feldman served as a policy and legal advisor to the charismatic young leader. He was witness to the Bay of Pigs invasion, the missile showdown with the Soviets, the burgeoning civil rights movement, the space program, and the sad days following the assassination.

And now, forty-five years later, this member of the president’s inner circle speaks with reverence about Kennedy and his legacy.

"He had the most inquiring mind of anybody you could possibly imagine … He was a very fast reader and a really fast learner," recalls Feldman, who was Kennedy’s deputy special counsel.

To go from the slums of Philadelphia, where Feldman grew up in an orphanage, to the highest precincts of power in Washington took guile, gumption and exquisite timing. A Penn Law education, which he says prepared him "for whatever life had to offer," did not hurt, either.

 
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