Kennedy myth-making, unraveled by Steyn: “‘What goes around comes around’ doesn’t have quite the same ring as ‘one brief shining moment’.” And while we’re un-revising the Left’s near-cartoonish version of history:
I happen to be a member of that minority—perhaps in America the minoritiest of all minorities—who doesn’t get it. I understand the sadness of a still youngish man killed in the presence of his wife before a vast television audience. What I don’t get is the glamor of, the intense emotion surrounding, the general significance of John F. Kennedy. Nor do I understand the eagerness of so many of my countrymen to make the Kennedy family America’s equivalent of the royals.
John F. Kennedy turned out to be a most mediocre president. He was at best hesitant in his support of the civil rights movement, the clearest moral event of the second half of the twentieth century. Nor did he pass any domestic legislation of major importance. In foreign policy, he made a great mess of the Bay of Pigs invasion, and with a less than pet bit of brinksmanship brought the Soviet Union and the United States as close to nuclear war as they ever got. He was the man who first put the American toe in the swamp of Vietnam, though his successor Lyndon Johnson would take the heat of liberal history for that misgotten war.
The specialty of the Kennedy administration was public relations, image-making—and an image, it is well to remember, is the thing that is not really there. The Kennedy years, or so we were endlessly told, were American Camelot, years in which culture had come to Washington, elegance to the White House, good looks and intellectual brilliance to the Oval Office. Intellectuals swooned, the higher media drooled. Think Charles Collingwood following Jacqueline Kennedy around the White House, enraptured as the first lady, in her best Miss Porter School whispering lisp, modestly explained how in her redecorations she had elevated the joint above the low standard of those pathetic philistines, the Eisenhowers.
Gee, THAT doesn’t sound at all familiar. Progressivists haven’t harbored a new idea in over a century, and this is just another example of it. They’re still plumping for another Great Man to come riding up on his white charger to save us all from ourselves.
Of course it was all baloney. None of it could withstand close scrutiny. When the scrutiny came it revealed that Jack Kennedy didn’t quite write the book, Profiles in Courage, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. The reality behind those touching photographs of his picture-perfect children cavorting round the Oval Office was their father bonking movie stars, mafia molls, and adolescent interns in the upstairs bedrooms.
The rest of the Kennedy family was scarcely better. The father, the founding father as he was called in the title of a book about him by Richard Whalen, had a dodgy financial past, was a major-league philanderer, and on balance didn’t find Adolf Hitler all that bad a sort. His brother Bobby was a bully who had worked for Senator Joseph McCarthy and, once he had power on his side, was able to make even Jimmy Hoffa seem sympathetic. The youngest brother, Teddy, later to become a great liberal hero, failed badly at Chappaquiddick, letting a young woman drown before endangering his own political career. As for the widow Kennedy, after a decent interval, she did what the cynical Gore Vidal said she was always about anyway, and went for the money in marrying the monstrous Aristotle Onassis. Such was the reality behind Camelot.
None of this is exactly a secret. Yet so little of it seems to have penetrated Americans, who, against all evidence, continue to look upon the Kennedys as our uncrowned kings.
Actually, that isn’t quite so. It isn’t Americans who feel that way about it; it’s the American corporate media establishment. In all those breathless hagiographies they’ll be running all damned day (thank God I have the little one today, so the TV will be stuck like glue to PBSKids and NickJr, who will hopefully keep their adoring tributes to JFK to a minimum), when you hear statements involving the supposed worshipful obsession with the Kennedys, just replace “Americans’ fascination/love affair/reverence/etc” with “OUR fascination/etc.” You’ll be a damned sight nearer the mark.
And while they’re revising history to better suit their pathetic fantasies, remember this too:
Look, guys. Lee Harvey Oswald murdered JFK. Oswald was a Communist. Not a small c, “all we are saying is give peace a chance and let’s support Negro civil rights” kind of Communist, but someone so committed to the cause (and so blind to the nature of the USSR) that he actually went to live in the Soviet Union. And when that didn’t work out, Oswald became a great admirer of Castro. He apparently would have gone to live in Cuba before the assassination if the Cubans would have had him. Before assassinating Kennedy, Oswald tried to kill a retired right-wing general. As near as we can tell, he targeted Kennedy in revenge for Kennedy’s anti-Castro actions.
The attempt to at best distract us from who the killer was and why he killed JFK, and at worst to pin the blame on entirely innocent people for inciting Dallas opinion against JFK (or perhaps to imply that the right-wingers plotted the assassination), even though those innocents were exactly the type of people Oswald hated, is just pathetic, and the Times and Post should be embarrassed for publishing these pieces. The Post piece is especially embarrassing because it explicitly links Dallas “right-wing extremism” circa 1963 to the modern “Tea Party,” as if to say, “if the Tea Party had been around in 1963, one of its members would have killed Kennedy.”
“As if to say”? It’s EXACTLY what they’re saying, and exactly what they believe–in direct contravention of reality, of course and as usual. But it’s not really their fault that they can’t cope with their idol having been murdered by one of their own, not entirely, the poor dears: “The King of Camelot was killed by a commie loser. The impossibility of processing that drove the left crazy, and they still can’t face it.” It really is a sickness; “liberalism” really is a mental disorder, and there’s not much out there that highlights it as clearly as all this.
Update! Nearly forgot to mention this: the object of modern Progressivists’ damp-crotched adulation would no way no how be welcome in today’s Democrat Socialist Party.
The New York Times’ executive editor calls Kennedy “the elusive president”; The Post calls him “the most enigmatic” president. Most libidinous, certainly; most charming, perhaps. But enigmatic and elusive? Many who call him difficult to understand seem eager to not understand him. They present as puzzling or uncharacteristic aspects of his politics about which he was consistent and unambiguous. For them, his conservative dimension is an inconvenient truth. Ira Stoll, in “JFK, Conservative,” tries to prove too much but assembles sufficient evidence that his book’s title is not merely provocative.
A Look magazine headline in June 1946 read: “A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative.” Neither his Cold War anti-communism, which was congruent with President Harry Truman’s, nor his fiscal conservatism changed dramatically during his remaining 17 years.
As president, JFK chose as Treasury secretary a Republican Wall Street banker, C. Douglas Dillon, who 30 years after the assassination remembered Kennedy as “financially conservative.” Kennedy’s fiscal policy provided an example and ample rhetoric for Ronald Reagan’s supply-side tax cuts. Kennedy endorsed “a creative tax cut creating more jobs and income and eventually more revenue.” In December 1962, he said:
“The federal government’s most useful role is…to expand the incentives and opportunities for private expenditures…[I]t is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”
John Kenneth Galbraith — Harvard economist, liberal polemicist and Kennedy’s ambassador to India — called this “the most Republican speech since McKinley.” It was one of many. On the day he was killed, Kennedy was being driven to the Dallas Trade Mart to propose “cutting personal and corporate income taxes.” Kennedy changed less during his life than liberalism did after his death.
Boy, you said a mouthful there. JFK wouldn’t recognize his own party now, so far Left has it lurched…and they wouldn’t recognize him from behind their rose-colored goggles. Nor would either want to have anything to do with the other.