Here’s the Merton money quote from the introduction to Unspeakable:
“I have little confidence in [John F.] Kennedy, I think he cannot fully measure up to the magnitude of his task, and lacks creative imagination and the deeper kind of sensitivity that is needed. Too much from the Time and Life mentality, than which I can imagine nothing further, in reality, from, say, Lincoln. What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what politicians don’t have: depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole: a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will break through into that someday by miracle. But such people are before long marked out for assassination.”
This was written in January of 1962.