Are the private messages a public figure writes of importance to our understanding of the past? Should all correspondence, particularly emails, of public figures be subject to public scrutiny and permanent retention regardless of what server or storage device they may be on? These are serious questions that will not be answered easily and are so politically charged at the moment, that resolution is not imminent. Fifty-five years ago we were not confronted with the problems posed by public policy via email, and fairly reasonable guidelines for managing the paper files of government officials were in place, although presidential tape recordings in the White House would prove a thorny issue to resolve some years later, consuming one presidency in the process. Today Presidents probably fire off notes as instant messages from their phones or tablets, but apparently President Kennedy used small hand-written ones.
Not too long ago our son acquired a book containing a hand-written note that intrigued him and our grandson Everett.
The more things change, the more they remain the same, especially in the South China Sea. Perhaps if President Kennedy were in office today, he would call on someone like Max Freedman and discuss the biography of the next to last of the Manchus to relieve the tension, even if he did not record the call for us to listen in.