Robert J. Samuelson: The JFK fascination

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  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Nov. 14, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    JFK lowered taxes and the economy sang. But then he allowed unions for government workers not so good. Now Federal workers realize twice the income and pensions of the private sector for equivalent jobs. The best way to judge a president or anyone else is what they do not what they say. Obama is great saying things. I am not sure he has done anything.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Chihiuahua, 00
    Nov. 13, 2013 11:45 a.m.

    JFK is the last real president the country had and I wasn't even alive when he was around. Obama couldn't even carry his towel.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 13, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    I agree with BCMom who said, "In my lifetime only two presidents have been so inspiring - JFK and Ronald Reagan".

    These 2 are the Presidents I am most proud of that served in my lifetime.

    The ironic part is... they didn't play the expected party partisan's roles, or fit the the expected political stereotypes we hold near and dear for Democrats and Republicans. Kennedy (A Democrat) lowered taxes and was very public about his faith. And Reagan (a Republican) raised taxes and didn't emphasis religion.

    So maybe... just maybe... those stock characters and partisan stereotypes are not always correct. I wish the politicos out there could learn that. They always just knee-jerk expect everybody to neatly conform to the political stereotypes they have for everybody.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    Nov. 13, 2013 7:12 a.m.

    I do have to point out one aspect of Kennedy that few ever talk about. Because Kennedy was seen by Khruschev as a weak paper tiger, particularly after the Bay of Pigs, Khruschev decided to put nuclear missiles in Cuba. He thought (mistakenly) that Kennedy would not react. It is unlikely that Khurschev would ever have tried that move with Nixon in the White House, as he knew Nixon quite well and knew Nixon was a fervent anti-communist, cold warrior. So, though it is not necessairly Kennedys fault, because of his "perceived weakness and inexperience", Kennedy helped bring the world close to nuclear war. That is why we do NOT want Presidents who are perceived as being weak. Remind you of anyone?

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:57 p.m.

    "The fascination with the Kennedys endures, though it's probably on its last lap."

    I sure hope so.

    It's clear that the Democrat part and their shills in the mainstream media have been pushing the Kennedy Camelot facade for all its worth lo these many decades.

    It now seems clear that their next choice for a fantasy dynasty are the Clintons.

    How appropriately symmetrical that both houses are so clearly tainted by serious character flaws.

    Though, to be fair, I have to say that despite the many scandals that riddle the entire Kennedy clan, the Clintons somehow seem even more corrupt, as impossible as that may appear.

    How refreshing it would be to have a president whose closet isn't so chuck full of skeletons.

  • Chad S Lorton, VA
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:21 p.m.

    "And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

    My, how we've lost sight of this ideal. I went to the JFK museum in the Texas Schoolbook Depository today and was impressed by the complete reversal Americans have undergone with respect to what we expect our government to do for us.

    Despite his many failures, he inspired us as Americans to fly to the moon. No president since has been able to inspire us as we'll as JFK.

  • BCMom Brigham City, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:14 p.m.

    In my lifetime only two presidents have been so inspiring - JFK and Ronald Reagan. Both carried an attitude of doing the impossible, both had a vision of greatness for the US, both inspired greatness in the people of this Nation that in turn had a positive and lasting impact on the world

  • BCMom Brigham City, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    Having been one who risked his life and endured life-long painful injury from war he like all veterans deserves the thankful hearts of a grateful nation.

    As President he inspired a Nation to continue in greatness with the Space Race. It is still amazing to me that with 1960's technology we found our way through innovation and determination to meet his challenge to put a man on the moon. In 8 years we went through the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Projects (even with the setback that took three astronauts) to put a man on the moon.

    Nowadays we can't even design and launch a single manned space mission in the time it took to go through three different space systems and put a man on the moon in the 1960's

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 7:05 p.m.

    @mike ricahards

    did you really juse leave both the Bush's and Nixon off your list of presidents that were not better then Kennedy? Talk about showing your political blind spots for all to see.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    His vision and leadership with the space program, his inspired speaking style, and handling the October crisis stand out as achievements more than any legislative agenda.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Nov. 12, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    The day that Kennedy was shot, I was a 9th grade student. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. My older sister was bereft. For several days, she could not stop crying. Finally, our father sat us all down and told us that assassinations were evil and cowardly, but he also said that history would tell us what kind of President Kennedy was. He was very complementary about the man, but he told us that a President is expected to do much more than Kennedy had done while holding the office of President.

    Dad's remarks were accurate. Kennedy was a much better President than Johnson or Carter or Clinton or Obama; but, he did not leave us better off than we were before he took office. We were not more secure from attack or intention to attack from our enemies. He did not uphold the principles found in our Declaration of Independence or in our Constitution.

    In retrospect, he was neither a good President nor a bad President. He failed up as often as he succeeded.

    No President is perfect. Kennedy was okay. We've seen worse.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 3:04 p.m.

    re:Roland Kayser

    John F Kennedy "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country"

    Barack Obama "Ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can give you for free"

    JFK was a former Navy PT Boat commander serving in WWII...a man of honor. JFK inspired America - probably the greatest motivator and leader we have ever had. He had his character flaws but still a great respected leader.

    Barack was a community organizer and the proud father of Obamacare.

    enough said...

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Nov. 12, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    Kennedy WAS a great president, regardless of what the man behind that mustache thinks. He inspired my whole generation. We loved him. He represented the vigor of youth, the dreams of the future, the power of justice and righteousness against evil enemies like communism and racial discrimination, which backed down for him. He was the embodiment of the very ideals of America. JFK insisted that we reach for the moon. We wept when he died.It was the end of our youth.

    BTW, Mr. Samuelson is not a great writer. What a bore.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Nov. 12, 2013 1:05 p.m.

    The appreciation of Kennedy’s Presidency is in its aesthetic singularity. Americans preserve that in memory like snapshots in a photo album precisely because his time in office was so shockingly truncated just as it was coming into full blossom. He was taken from us when we were hungry for a lot more of him.

    Memorializing is a form of false remembering. Still, we do it to assuage the hurt. We’re just that human.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    Kennedy was a man, a real man. Did you watch "JFK" last night. His rescue of a guy in his crew after PT 109 was cut in half was utterly fantastic. This man had guts. Moreover, his handling of the missile crisis was masterful. He was not a hothead. Many reading this would not be alive had Kennedy not been there. Of course, some will argue that the Soviet missiles would not have been sited in Cuba had it not been for Kennedy. AND Kennedy's cold war rhetoric was truly sickening, but such were the times. Yes, Kennedy was a mixed bag, but he was a great man.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    JFK was a cautious pragmatist, much like our current president.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    I did a paper in college about JFK. While I gave him an A+ in the inspiration and charisma areas, his actual accomplishments were average. Maybe with a full term or two terms things would have been different, but we can't dwell on the what might have been.

    JFK wasn't the best, nor was he the worst. His inagural address is a classic that more people should read and pay attention to. History has been kind to him because he lost his life in the countries service. And we leave that up to the historians. As a president, he's not in my top 10 but he served fairly well in his short time.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    I know I was SHOCKED when I first heard someone say that Kennedy was a great character but a mediocre President (and that observation was from a faithful Democrat).

    It shocked me because I didn't really know anything about his Presidency at that time. I just recalled all the emotion and laud and honor associated with his funeral. Seeing the plane land with his body and the procession and the funeral solemnly narrated on National TV is one of my earliest and most distinct memories from my childhood. My family had a book with tons of great pictures about his life (mostly about his death). I just ASSUMED he was the GREATEST President in my lifetime. Because I'd never seen a fuss like that about a President in my lifetime.

    Then to hear that he was actually a mediocre President somewhat blown out of proportion by media hype at the time and since... blew me away. But after studying his administration later in life... he did have some big failures and some big successes. He wasn't really the heroic figure I remembered. But I still remember him with the utmost respect.

  • Chester Brough Providence, Utah
    Nov. 12, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    I guess an opinion of a life is something anyone can postulate on, but success is not measured in simple evaluations; anyone who pays the ultimate sacrifice to serve their country deserves the greatest respect possible for each of us; character flaws are in everyone's life, still most of us do not suffer the public review of every mistake or flaw in the public sector. The Kennedy family has endured enough.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 10:45 a.m.

    First of all JFK was a GREAT president in that he represented the United States in a presidential manner with respect and honor AND all Americans loved JFK and were proud to have him be the symbol of America to the world. He prevailed in the Cuban Missile Crisis and he inspired the eventual Apollo lunar program. When JFK spoke he inspired people - in the US and outside the US and his words meant something to people. Was he perfect? Of course not. His extra-marital philandering was sad and wrong and his domestic policy was a work in progress. But JFK along with brother Bobbie was determined to rid America of mob influence and it was that fight that most likely got him killed. My mother - a life long Republican - voted only ONCE for a Democrat and that was for JFK. She was devastated with his assassination.

    "Ask NOT what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". Contrast those words from JFK to what Barack preaches today.... "ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can give you for free".

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 10:27 a.m.

    As a 44 year old male, I have always wondered why the fascination. You had a family whose father (Joe) achieved wealth and power as a bootlegger during the '20s and a President who was knowingly cheating on his wife. I understand the times were different and politicians now routinely resign after being caught cheating, but this family was corrupt from the beginning. I visited Dallas for the 2nd time just last week and visited Daley plaza and the "grassy noll" and saw the two white "X"s marked on the street where he was shot. It is a surreal experience.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Nov. 12, 2013 5:24 a.m.

    Unfortunately I think it is Samuelson that has grossly over simplified the situation. I am not a big fan of the whole celebrate or hero worship. I don't believe in putting anyone on a pedestal. There are just as many people doing heroic acts daily, that do unnoticed by the masses.

    But when one looses their life, particularly through an act of political rage, it does make one notice. To have survived a war, only to be killed by a fellow American who for political reasons took a life, is remarkable. We may never know if there was true greatness in what Kennedy could achieve, but we do know the greatness of the sacrifice that was thrust upon the family.

    I will not compare Kennedy to Lincoln, but I will compare him to all those others who have lost their lives in service of their country. It is no more right to try to diminish their sacrifices then it is to do likewise to Kennedy. We know he was an imperfect man, that does without saying. What we do know is he was killed doing what he thought was right. And that is worth remembering.