Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Friday, September 23, 2016

As the youngest man ever to be elected president at the age of 43, Kennedy represented a new future and hope for the nation. "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," Kennedy declared in his 1961 inaugural address. While his presidency lasted only 34 months, his political accomplishments helped cement his legacy as a great president.

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In honor of the upcoming debate – and JFK's performance (Nixon sweaty collapse) – I have been thinking a lot about JFK and how he captured the public's imagination. Many think Trump has the same stage set for him now – how will he perform? This post is not about the debate so much as what allowed JFK to be such a huge figure in US politics and how was he able to inspire multiple generations despite serving only a short time before being assassinated.

I think most people would argue that JFK was a transformative president. As someone born in the late 1970's, I never experienced Kennedy first hand. In school, our history lessons always seemed to stop right after WWII. So, all I knew of Kennedy were the glowing words from my parents and the media. We all know about the assassination and the assorted conspiracy theories, the Bay of Pigs, the mistresses, and the Cuba Missile Crisis. However, how much does Gen X and younger really know about JFK and his policies? What made him transformational? As someone that is thoroughly disgusted in the ‘transformational' president Obama, I wanted to know what JFK was able to accomplish in 2 years what Obama was unable to accomplish in 8. The linked article regards Kennedy's Top 5 accomplishments. I am curious in the thoughts of the older generations – what made Kennedy inspiring to you? Why have no politicians been able to inspire the US people in the same way since? Was Kennedy truly viewed in this sense when alive or it is really just a post-death evangelizing?

This is not meant as a complaining session on the shortcomings of current politicians – but meant to ask what were the qualities that made JFK transformational?

The accomplishments listed:

1. First Catholic President (I don't see this as an accomplishment)

2. Prevented Nuclear Armageddon (I think this is up for debate)

3. Emphasized Public Service (Huge in my opinion and we need more)

4. Established the Peace Corp (Again, not a huge accomplishment in my opinion)

5. Set goal to put a man on the moon (Big, but does Kennedy deserve praise for this?)

Comments

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Well, he was going to make peace with the USSR and pull out of Vietnam, but got assassinated after only one speech on the subject. Still, it the first speech by an American president to be printed word-for-word in Pravda. It even made the front page.

#1 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-09-23 12:37 AM | Reply

Here's the speech:

www1.american.edu

That's when he came up with the idea of the Nuclear Test Ban.

#2 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-09-23 12:45 AM | Reply

"Well, he was going to make peace with the USSR and pull out of Vietnam
#1 | POSTED BY HELIUMRAT "

I am curious - how old are you and were you alive during his presidency? I think what you write is a lot of the mystic around him - what he 'was going to do'. Whether that was pulling out of Vietnam (did not happen), ending the Fed w/ reprinting greenbacks (conspiracies abound on this), putting a man on the moon (was a long, long time after he stated this - will W Bush get credit if we even put a man on Mars?), or stopping nuclear war - the USSR actually crossed his 'red line' and it seems the restraint was shown by the 'evil' Russians rather than Kennedy.

It seems like a lot of his accomplishments are a bit hollow - other than the 'inspiring part' so people finally felt they needed to give back to their country. I think this may be the split with Obama - I think we made a large part of the population disgusted by their country and feeling as though they were owed something vs. them needing to contribute more. I also think a large part of the country feel demonized by Obama (white, working class males) rather than inspired to do more.

#3 | Posted by USinVN at 2016-09-23 12:48 AM | Reply

the USSR actually crossed his 'red line' and it seems the restraint was shown by the 'evil' Russians rather than Kennedy.

We didn't know if the USSR could annihilate us, but sure we could annihilate them.
The USSR knew they couldn't possibly annihilate us, but they were pretty damn sure we could annihilate them.

If history judges Kennedy as being weak for not starting a global nuclear war he could have easily won, it will probably be fair. And it will probably be a judgment leveled by a humanity that has waged nuclear war. Again.

Whether it will be us waging that war, I'll wait until November to say yes, either way.

#4 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-09-23 12:55 AM | Reply

#3 The first president I remember was Ford. But hey, read his speech in #2, it's pretty good. And he did pretty much start the space race....

#5 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-09-23 12:55 AM | Reply

#3 Kennedy was going to end the Fed? Kewl. No wonder he had to die....

#6 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2016-09-23 12:58 AM | Reply

"We didn't know if the USSR could annihilate us, but sure we could annihilate them.

#4 | POSTED BY SNOOFY"

Same fundamental problem here for JFK's legacy - he did not create the nuclear weapons or even funding for the weapons programs given he was only in office 34 months - so, does he get the credit for having the bigger threat? I know the article listed this as an accomplishment - but I tend to think it is overstated unless someone will come on and tell me that they were legitimately terrified of being killed in a nuclear holocaust and that fear ended when JFK got into office. I still think the biggest thing is inspiring people to be proud Americans (similar to Reagan) and making community service much more important. He was also one of the first presidents in the era of true mass media - was that a huge part of it? I honestly don't know.

#7 | Posted by USinVN at 2016-09-23 01:00 AM | Reply

We don't get a lot of martyrs so Kennedy's legacy gets a huge boost because of a magic bullet.

People talk about Idiocracy like it's coming true now, but Kennedy was having Marilyn Monroe jump out of cakes for him. That is rock star level partying. Imagine if Obama did that. There would be riots. Michelle would be disgraced. The Obama girls would turn to drugs and hang out with the Bush girls.

#8 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-09-23 01:04 AM | Reply

"Kennedy was having Marilyn Monroe jump out of cakes for him. That is rock star level partying.
#8 | POSTED BY SNOOFY "

I think Clinton's humidor trick is right up there - again, would that have been handled differently in the era of Kennedy when the media had a little bit more decency when it came to preserving the respect for the office.

I do agree with you on the fact that he dies seems to have played a big part - I would wonder if it had only been him and not RFK as well - would he be remembered the same? Like I said - I grew up in a household that idolized him but the reasons could never been fully articulated on exactly why. So far, this thread seems to reinforce that.

#9 | Posted by USinVN at 2016-09-23 01:11 AM | Reply

I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Clinton's humidor trick was no Jack Kennedy.

#10 | Posted by snoofy at 2016-09-23 01:14 AM | Reply

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"I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.
#10 | POSTED BY SNOOFY "

That was an unfair ambush on a guy that could not spell potato...surprised they still carried Idaho after that gaff.

#11 | Posted by USinVN at 2016-09-23 01:20 AM | Reply

Why is there no mention of Civil Rights for black Americans. Lyndon Johnson's first speech to Congress, after the Kennedy assasination, was to ask them to pass Kennedy's dream legislation to end segregation.

"The dream of conquering the vastness of space--the dream of partnership across the Atlantic--and across the Pacific as well--the dream of a Peace Corps in less developed nations--the dream of education for all of our children--the dream of jobs for all who seek them and need them--the dream of care for our elderly--the dream of an all-out attack on mental illness--and above all, the dream of equal rights for all Americans, whatever their race or color--these and other American dreams have been vitalized by his drive and by his dedication.

And now the ideas and the ideals which he so nobly represented must and will be translated into effective action."

www.pbs.org

"but I tend to think it is overstated unless someone will come on and tell me that they were legitimately terrified of being killed in a nuclear holocaust and that fear ended when JFK got into office."

I am old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis quite well and yes we were seriously frightened. People in our neighborhood were having fallout shelters build instead of swimming pools. My mother prepared by filling the bathtub with water thinking that would somehow provide us with drinking water. We watched our TV constantly. However, we never felt that Kennedy was the only President who could have handled the situation, Dwight Eisenhower was our previous President and we trusted him completely to get us through any crisis. Richard Nixon, not so much, and he proved later that our lack of respect for him was totally justified. Comparing the increase in citizen's willingness to do public service under Kennedy with what happened under Reagan is absolutely ridiculous. Reagan ushered in the era of "greed is good." Reagan wasn't worthy of any comparison with Kennedy, one was a great man the other committed treason during the Iran hostage crisis and then again in the Iran Contra affair. He began the destruction of our middle class because the students at the University of California protested the Vietnam War, he decided that if we wouldn't support the government's wars then we were just a little to well off and decided to put an end to that. The destruction of the middle class was entirely intentional.

#12 | Posted by danni at 2016-09-23 08:27 AM | Reply

I revere JFK as a potential Profile in Courage who had his greatness cut short by an assassin's bullet. His cool headedness during the Cuba Missile Crisis is to be envied by either of our current presidential candidates.

Established the Peace Corp (Again, not a huge accomplishment in my opinion)

I think it is a "big deal" program and I'm surprised that it has managed to survive in such a politically toxic governmental system. It was reassuring to see the GOP Congress earmarked about $50M more than requested by the PC office in the last CR approval. I'm of the opinion that there is a great ROI for the USA in the PC program.
---
I've only experienced JFK through history books and videos though, so I can't weigh in on some of the perspective being sought by the thread poster.

#13 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2016-09-23 12:05 PM | Reply

"Many think Trump has the same stage set for him now – how will he perform?"

LOL

Trump is definitely no JFK.

#14 | Posted by donnerboy at 2016-09-23 08:27 PM | Reply

"Trump is definitely no JFK.

#14 | POSTED BY DONNERBOY "

Seems like 1/2 the country disagrees with you. Even on the Dem side - they know he represents 'Change' which is why they have so much fear this election. If they thought Trump was not transformational, then this election would be pretty much meaningless. So, one could argue that close to 100% of the country views Trump as transformational.

#15 | Posted by USinVN at 2016-09-24 12:15 AM | Reply

President Kennedy, the only democrat president in my lifetime that I admire.

#16 | Posted by MSgt at 2016-09-24 12:26 PM | Reply

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