Bradlee: Well, what is the magic? And is the magic that you think exists and is important at forty-three, did you have any idea what it was at twenty-six?
JFK: No, but I did always reasonably well. In the first place I worked harder than my opponents, on at least three occasions, I worked harder, with the exception of Hubert, I think, than anybody else, every time I’ve run. And then I brought advantages, as I say, I brought advantages in ’46, and in ’52 I just buried Lodge.
Bradlee: Advantages . . . well-known family?
JFK: I don’t think he was tough enough, Lodge, because he didn’t do the work. He had every advantage in ’52. I mean that was really a long shot. Nobody wanted to run against him.
Bradlee: . . . Eisenhower?
JFK: Well, yeah, he’d won by the biggest majority ever in the history of Massa- chusetts the previous time he’d run, 560,000, he beat Walsh. After four terms. I mean, Walsh was a soft touch, but it was a hell of a victory, 560,000 votes. Fifty- two, a Republican year coming up, campaign manager.
Bradlee: But is it true that the magic and the desire changes with the office, because that seems to be true?
JFK: No, I just think that as time moves on, and you move on, your perspective changes. I don’t know what makes some politicians succeed and others fail. It’s a combination of time and their own quality . . .
Bradlee: And luck.
JFK: . . . and luck. I mean, the margin is awfully small between, you know, those who succeed and those who don’t. Like it is in life.