Monday, November 28, 2011

JFK and the New Camelot

Frank Rich has written an article for New York magazine analyzing the presidency of John F. Kennedy and the hatred it inspired, a loathing on the part of the Right that eventually engulfed and doomed the young, charismatic President.  And then he makes some interesting comparisons with our current young and (sometimes) charismatic President, Barack Obama.

But this much is certain: Both presidents were centrists in the Democratic parties of their respective eras. Neither could be remotely described as radical, let alone “socialist,” as critics of both have contended. Both are ardent capitalists largely content to leave corporate America to its own devices. Both are wary of the institutional left. Both are hawkish by their party’s standards. But for all this moderation, they, like the similarly centrist Bill Clinton, who was accused of enabling drug running and murder on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, have inspired a hatred so nightmarishly disproportionate to their actual beliefs, actions, and policies that it’s worthy of Stephen King’s fiction.... [William] Manchester['s The Death of a President] or [Stephen King's] 11/22/63 or any other account of that time, and the vitriol that was aimed at Kennedy in life seems as immediate as today. It’s as startling as that “You lie!” piercing the solemnity of a presidential address like a gunshot—or the actual gunshots fired at the White House last week by another wretched waif. In the end, that political backdrop is what our 44th and 35th presidents may have most in common. The tragedy of the Kennedy cult is that even as it fades, the hothouse brand of American malice that stalked its hero stalks our country still.
You almost get the feeling from Frank Rich that he would like Obama to be able to finish Kennedy's unfinished term, and then go on and have a second term in which to fulfill Kennedy's  interrupted destiny of greatness. 

Read the full article for a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I'm naive, but I don't see or hear the same vitriol and hatred from the left about conservative presidents in office, although I have heard some quite scathing remarks from both left and right about "Dubya". I get the feeling that the party of Lincoln, with it's "guns, God, and gays" motto, is more bellicose than the "pacifistic" left with it's tree hugging, green thinking, compromising mindset. The left can't stop a bullet with a peace sign!