Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sham-a-Lot

Depending on how you look at it, Jack Kennedy was either in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the right time on 22 Nov 63. Personally, definitely the wrong/wrong, but legacywise, it couldn't have been more right. It turned a mediocre department store dummy president into some kind of heroic figure, despite his spectacular screw-ups all over the place. Hardly any of what the man in the street thinks of as JFK's accomplishments were in fact his accomplishments. Most were LBJ's accomplishments, shoved through Congress by Johnson's skillful manipulation of everybody's newfound sympathy for the dead President. Note that I'm calling getting things done "accomplishments," whether they were good or bad. If you count only good accomplishments, neither Kennedy nor Johnson had any to speak of.

But comparing JFK with RMN, it's interesting to note that while Kennedy really couldn't get anything much legislated, Nixon got a lot legislated — a lot of it was bad stuff, in my opinion, and probably in yours, but it was stuff that did get done. And who better to tell us about it than the indispensable Pat Buchanan. This, from Takimag:

Nixon and Kennedy: The Myths and Reality

Had there been no Dallas, there would have been no Camelot.

There would have been no John F. Kennedy as brilliant statesman cut off in his prime, had it not been for those riveting days from Dealey Plaza to Arlington and the lighting of the Eternal Flame.

Along with the unsleeping labors of an idolatrous press and the propagandists who control America’s popular culture, those four days created and sustained the Kennedy Myth.

But, over 50 years, the effect has begun to wear off.

The New York Times reports that in the ranking of presidents, Kennedy has fallen further and faster than any. Ronald Reagan has replaced him as No. 1, and JFK is a fading fourth.

Kennedy is increasingly perceived today as he was 50 years ago, before word came that shots had been fired in Dallas.

That he was popular, inspirational, charismatic, no one denied. But no one would then have called him great or near great. His report card had too many C’s, F’s and Incompletes.

His great legislative victory had been the passage of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. His tax cut bill was buried on the Hill.

His triumph had been forcing a withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. But we would learn this was done by a secret deal for the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey and a secret pledge not to invade Cuba.

And after the missile crisis, Bobby Kennedy pushed the CIA to eliminate Castro, eliciting a warning from Fidel that two could play this game. Lyndon Johnson said that under the Kennedys, the CIA had been running “a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean.”

What caused Nikita Khrushchev to think he could get away with putting rockets in Cuba? His perception that JFK was a weak president.

Kennedy had denied air cover for the Cuban patriots at the Bay of Pigs, resulting in the worst debacle of the Cold War. He was then berated and humiliated by Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit in June 1961.

In August, Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall. Kennedy sat paralyzed.
(It gets worse — Keep reading HERE.)

3 comments:

  1. Pat, being a Nixon fanboi, stepped on himself a bit.
    * Desegregating Southern schools, creating the EPA (and maybe OSHA) were not good deeds at all.
    * "Rescuing Israel in the Yom Kippur War"?? I thought Pat hated Israel.
    * Voting rights were given to 18 year olds by Constitutional amendment, not Presidential decree.

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    1. True. Should've made it clearer that we're calling getting things done "accomplishments," whether they're good or bad.

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  2. Lived through Kennedy and Nixon. Kennedy was an overrated pretty boy, But like all charismatic leaders he got people off their butts and moving.
    Nixon lived up (down?) to his nickname "Tricky Dick". Puts me in mind of his Democratic counter part "Slick Willy" Clinton. Even their nicknames are similar (speak Brit?).

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