Posts Tagged ‘John F. Kennedy’
November 21st, 2013 at 6:05 pm
A JFK of One’s Own
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A quick thought regarding the avalanche of remembrances of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which happened 50 years ago tomorrow.

As we all know, citing where you were when Kennedy was killed is a generational touchstone for a wide swath of Americans. That’s sort of a broader metaphor for this macabre exercise in nostalgia. Watching the coverage, it’s remarkable (though, alas, not unusual) how much certain Baby Boomers are making it about themselves. Much of the noise surrounding the anniversary has much less to do with Kennedy himself than it does with their nostalgia. The Me Generation may be going gray, but they still haven’t lost that ethos.

One other note: It strikes me as perfectly fair game to try and figure out Kennedy ideologically. You’re hearing a lot of people on the right now point out that he was a tax-cutter, a staunch anti-communist, and someone who embraced America’s global leadership role. All true, and all fair points.

We’re putting more weight on Kennedy’s legacy than it can bear, however, when we indulge in counterfactuals that imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t been killed. To hear certain pundits tell it, JFK would have ended the war in Vietnam before it really started; or he would have eventually become a Republican. It’s basically a “choose your own adventure” book where JFK miraculously always turns out to be exactly who you wanted him to be.

It’s a testimony to how iconic a figure Kennedy was that he invites this kind of speculation a half-century after his death. Let’s remember, however, that it’s all just that: speculation. We have enough contemporary political battles to fight without trying to baptize a dead president into our present-day ideologies.

July 19th, 2011 at 9:51 pm
Media Attacks on Bachmann Migraines a Sign of Growning Desperation
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Two developments have intersected in recent weeks to put Minnesota Congresswoman and 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann squarely in the media’s crosshairs.

The first is the fact that Sarah Palin shows no signs of getting into the presidential race anytime soon, depriving the MSM of its pinata of choice. The second is that Bachmann’s clear conservative principles and energetic personality are translating into real results. Just today, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Bachmann rocketing into second place (behind Mitt Romney) for the Republican presidential nomination.

Bachmann, like Palin before her, lives a life remarkably free of Beltway trappings and seems to have committed a cardinal sin amongst the punditocracy: she actually believes in her conservative principles. That may be the reason that a story as desperate as this is dominating today’s political news:

Presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann confirmed Tuesday she suffers from migraine headaches, but stressed they would not get in the way of her seeking the position or serving as commander in chief.

“Like nearly 30 million other Americans, I experience migraines that are easily controlled with medication,” Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a statement. “Let me be abundantly clear — my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.”

… Bachmann’s son, Lucas Bachmann, told The New York Times that the migraines were not incapacitating. “She is probably not going to run a mile, but in terms of being able to engage, she can comprehend and assess information — without a doubt,” said Lucas Bachmann, who is a medical resident in Connecticut specializing in psychiatry.

Good lord. A presidential candidate is revealed to have one of the most common chronic medical ailments in America and all of a sudden the media is worried that Kim Jong-Il will get the jump on her because she’ll be in a dark room with a damp washcloth on her face? John F. Kennedy spent most of his administration loopy on painkillers, steroids, and (on at least one occasion) anti-psychotics, and still manages to get royal treatment from the press to this day. There was one crucial difference, however: Kennedy and the press read from the same sheet of music.

For the anti-establishment Bachmann, this train of abuses will likely continue. At this rate, expect to see a hard-hitting expose on whether her proclivity for hangnails may prevent her from properly using the veto pen by later in the week.

January 20th, 2011 at 7:11 pm
Lieberman’s Exit Is The True End of Camelot

How fitting that on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address news of Senator Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) retirement hits the commentariat.   In today’s Senate, Lieberman is the last lion of an old-school approach to being liberal: hawkish on foreign policy, civil rights, and fiscal policy.  The statist mindset has so overtaken the modern Democratic Party that it’s hard to imagine “Give ‘em Hell” Harry Truman and Henry “Scoop” Jackson choosing to serve alongside the likes of Barack Obama and Barbara Boxer in what was once called “the most deliberative body in the world.”

Part of the corruption story of a once sane party is the outsize influence of public employee unions.  When public employees were allowed to unionize, Democratic politicians found it irresistible to negotiate sweetheart union contracts in exchange for campaign cash and poll workers.  After all, the wealth being wasted was just other people’s money.

With the economy sagging, the American people know who to blame.  Veteran Democratic pollster Doug Schoen says in today’s Wall Street Journal that if his party doesn’t start scaling back overpromised union benefits, independent voters will continue to vote Republican.  For current and future leaders of the Democratic Party looking for direction, it would be a good exercise to meditate on JFK’s famous admonition to “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

October 25th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
Remembering When Liberals Had Guts
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As we ramp up to the midterm elections with liberals claiming that the threat of Iran is overstated, that all we need to accomplish peace in the Middle East is for Israelis to stop building condos, that terrorism is better defined as “man-caused disasters”, and that Afghanistan can be won with a publicly-defined date for withdrawal, it’s worth remembering a time when Democrats produced some of the fiercest of our cold warriors.

Forty-eight years ago today, we were in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. At the time, Adlai Stevenson — the failed presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in both 1952 and 1956 — was serving as President Kennedy’s Ambassador to the United Nations. In recent years, Stevenson’s name has been most frequently invoked in comparison to President Obama — another liberal Illinois politician with a reputation for haughtiness. But Obama’s arrogance could be forgiven if he could ever produce a moment like the one Stevenson generated in Turtle Bay on October 25, 1962:

Oh, for just one more national Democrat (Joe Lieberman doesn’t count) like this.

September 10th, 2010 at 11:59 am
JFK vs. Obama on Tax Cuts
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Remember how two years ago, Barack Obama was the most exciting, intellectually inventive president since John F. Kennedy? Maybe it’s time for 44 to compare his tax policies to 35:


June 14th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
The Hubris to Think Small

As a die-hard space enthusiast, I find it hard to believe that the Obama Administration can’t seem to come up with $3 billion a year to sustain America’s manned space program.  From the folks who continue to bring us trillion dollar deficits and hundreds of billions in new spending for feel-good policies like universal health insurance, combating climate change, and subsidized job creation, can it really be that the end of the budget line stops just short of funding NASA’s Constellation program?

Apparently so.  A commission created by President Obama concluded that NASA’s current strategy is too expensive, lacks innovation, and takes too long to achieve its goal of getting Americans back to the Moon, and then off to Mars by 2020.  The criticism reminds me of the adage about getting something fast, accurate, and cheap: you can have any two, but not all three.  Thus, it looks like Americans will get nothing now that Obama’s NASA chief is directing contractors to abort their work as the government prepares to terminate the program.

So, good riddance thousands of science and engineering jobs; hello make-work Recovery Act projects!

Though I’m sure the Obama White House doesn’t agree; killing the Constellation program is the latest example of an inner circle that can’t see the forest for the trees.  Afghanistan is the war that won’t (can’t?) end; no one seems to know how to “plug the damn hole” in the Gulf; and there is growing unease about the direction of the country from the Left and the Right.  Wouldn’t a presidential challenge to put an American on Mars by the end of this decade be the kind of national rallying point we need?

It would inspire the best and brightest to pursue astrophysics instead of exotic financial careers, spur public and private investments in aerospace (and by extension, defense) technology, and give Americans a reason to wave Old Glory together apart from a sporting event or wartime.  It would also make good on the president’s implied promise to be the heir of John F. Kennedy, the first chief executive to call for a national moon shot.

For that, though, this president would need a quality that has so far eluded him: the courage to lay down an unmistakable threshold of success.