Roger J. Stone, Jr. Where does one even begin?
I’m not even going to try to tee this up. If you are unfamiliar with him, let me Google it for you. And of course there’s this –which, is, by the way, the second best profile of a personality that has ever been written. Ever. Read it. (And what is the best profile ever written, you ask? Why, it’s this, of course.)
Aside from being perhaps the actual Most Interesting Man In The World (or certainly one of them), Roger is making both news and trouble once again, this time with a shocker of a book that makes a quite compelling case that Lyndon Johnson masterminded, organized, and carried out the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ, comes out this week. It is, at the very least, a really great read.
I caught up with my old friend to talk about the book and what it’s like being Roger Stone.
CJ: Hi Roger. How’s life?
RS: Great! Mrs. Stone and I split our time between New York City and Miami Beach, Florida, with our five dogs, including Oscar, the three-legged rescue dog and our three cats. We call it Stone’s animal farm.
CJ: Nice. For the benefit of our readers, talk a bit about where you come from. What kind of family did you grow up in? What were you like as a young man, and what attracted you to politics?
RS: I was born in the industrial area of Norwalk, CT — an overwhelmingly blue-collar and Catholic community. My father was a well driller and my mother was a small town newspaper reporter. Both my parents were apolitical although nominally Republican. My grandfather was the chauffeur for a very wealthy man in New Canaan. Because my grandfather aspired to be wealthy some day he emulated his employer by registering as a Republican. Although my parents were Republicans, I always suspected that they voted for our first catholic president, John F. Kennedy. As a kid I aspired to be an actor. My parents correctly thought I would starve if I made this my life’s work. In 1964 our next-door neighbor Lee gave me a copy of Conscience of a Conservative by Senator Barry Goldwater and I was transfixed. I knew then that conservatism would be my cause and politics would be my vocation. A letter I wrote to former Vice President Richard Nixon in 1966 would ultimately lead to a position in Nixon’s comeback campaign and a lifetime relationship with our 37th president.
CJ: Here’s something I’ve always meant to ask you about but never have. I worked for a time for Sue Kelly several years ago while she was representing the 19th district of New York in Congress. She used to tell me, in a very boastful fashion, that she gave you your first break in politics. Fact?
RS: Complete bullshit. I successfully managed the campaign of Jack Hicks-Beach over incumbent liberal Bradlee Boal for the Westchester County legislature when Hamilton Fish was our congressman and Sue Kelly had not yet run for public office. Sue and her husband backed Boal. I slaughtered him in one of the nastiest campaigns in Westchester history.
CJ: She made a lot of stuff up, so I’m not surprised. Anyway, the media love to depict you as a “Dirty Trickster,” “Political Hitman” and worse. Does this make you sad, Roger?
RS: The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Politics ain’t beanbag. The political strategist who fails to frame the debate and dominate the dialogue always loses. The political consultant who always loses is very popular. In 1981 I handled a nine way primary for Governor of New Jersey for Tom Kean. He won. I made one good friend and eight enemies.