"The federal government's most useful role is ... to expand the incentives and opportunities for private expenditures. ... It 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. Kennedy was driving 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.
The Kennedy library here where he lived draws substantially fewer visitors than does Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where he was murdered. This is emblematic of a melancholy fact: How he died looms larger in the nation's mind than how he lived. His truncated life remains an unfinished book and hence a temptation to writers who would complete it as they wish it had been written. This month, let it suffice to say what Stephen Spender did in "The Truly Great" (1932):
"Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun.
And left the vivid air signed with their honour."
George Will's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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