It’s that time again – I’m deep in research mode as I create my new game about the Bay of Pigs. This means I’m just bursting with odd little historical tidbits that strike me as funny or interesting, which may or may not make it into the final product. While my family is managing (barely) to not roll their eyes when I come out with yet another Bay of Pigs story, I think they’d appreciate me finding another outlet. So here you go! You’re welcome!
In the 1960 presidential election, Eisenhower’s VP Nixon was up against Kennedy. Nixon knew all about – and approved of – the CIA’s top-secret plans to land a group of Cuban exiles on Cuba and thereby start a counter-revolution and get rid of Castro. Kennedy, being merely a candidate, was not in the loop.
As an election ploy, Nixon started attacking Kennedy as soft on communism – a serious charge for the times, and one that played well in presidential debates. Kennedy fought back, claiming it was important for America to support Cuban exiles – “fighters for freedom” – who could rally anti-Batista Cubans and overthrow Castro’s government.
Now Nixon was in a pickle. To distinguish himself in the campaign, he had to go against what he actually believed. Gritting his teeth, he said Kennedy was being reckless, that “American backing for the exiles would not work, would be condemned by the UN, and amounted to an invitation for Russian involvement in Latin America.”*
In the end, Kennedy won the election, and decided to reluctantly go ahead with the Bay of Pigs plan.
The ironic part? Nixon’s campaign predictions were right.
Source: Prados, John. Safe for democracy: the secret wars of the CIA. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Inc, 2009. Print.
*IBID p. 240