November 18, 2013

How are all these JFK retrospectives affecting Obama?

Much as I think there's way too much talk about how whatever happens affects Obama, I'd like to talk about this.

We've seen it coming for years, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. There was plenty of time for media to prepare material — books, movies, TV shows, articles — going back over the historical event that's already been examined over and over. This onslaught of material was perfectly predictable, and those with present-day political interests surely thought hard about how to harness the energy and feeling that would swell up in November 2013.

But they did not know in advance how nasty the political arena was going to look. Those who were hoping to burnish the image of the Democratic Party did not know what trouble would be surrounding their current President. They must have thought all the respectful backward gazing at Jack would stir up more love for Barack (the other -ack). And now they must be — ack! — choking on the noisome melĂ©e of goo for Jack and boo for Barack.

So I wonder how Barack Obama feels about all this 50th anniversary business. Perhaps he's relieved that there's a distraction, but maybe he's irked that Kennedy is getting all the love and sentimental celebration right when there's suddenly — unexpectedly! — a rage for exposing the explosion of chaos under Obama.


YoungHegelian said...

Maybe the attention to Kennedy's 50th has another unintended consequence for present day Democrats: it shows how political hagiography & revisionist history goes back at least 50 years. It shows how ideas basic to Democratic self identity (e.g 'Kennedy was killed "by a climate of hate"'. No, he was shot by a pissed-off commie. 'Kennedy was the man to get us out of Viet Nam & pushing hard for civil rights.' No to both). Kennedy was a man of many faults, who, because he one of the "beautiful people" was given a pass by the press, who knew very well he was a shit to those around him.

The real story here is that some folks can't leave Camelot behind & will torture reality to create it yet again. And we all suffer for it.

Jane the Actuary said...

Hey, did you see that CNN speculation that Oswald was a double-agent sent by the CIA? Nice unprovable assertion - if there's no evidence, it's because the CIA has evilly erased all evidence of the plot. And I like the way communism is erased with the "double-agent" concept.

Other than that, I'm not reading any JFK retrospectives. I've never understood why the liberals love him so much -- except with the same Obamaesque projection of their expectations and dreams onto him, the blank slate (in this case blank because they can imagine that he would have done any number of magnificient things had he only lived).

MadisonMan said...

I find the JFK retrospectives very tedious. Speculation on how they might or might not be affecting Obama amps up the tedious scale about a million-fold.

Don't look back.

YoungHegelian said...


Hey, did you see that CNN speculation that Oswald was a double-agent sent by the CIA?

Yes, and they fail to mention that Oswald had shifted his allegiances from the Soviet Union to Cuba, and had been active in pro-Castro propaganda.

Jeez, why, oh, why, would a Castroite want to kill Kennedy? Maybe because of the Bay of Pigs invasion, where Kennedy tried to take out the Castro regime? Maybe because of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where Kennedy publicly humiliated Castro & Khrushchev?

And let's not forget about the ongoing plots to assassinate Castro, which even if the CIA had shut them down, no one believed them.

traditionalguy said...

Other than being the Democrat nominee once, the two are exact opposites.

JFK was a courageous realist challenging the country to become a realist and to succeed in the Cold War and in the Space Race. Obama is a cowardly Myth Maker demanding the country believe his false myths until it is finally destroyed.

gerry said...

An even bigger lie was that JFK was killed because he championed civil rights. He considered the domestic issue of civil rights as background noise and wanted the movement toned down: he pushed an anti-Communist agenda and wanted to see its defeat internationally.

In the decade before he won the White House, Kennedy said almost nothing about civil rights. In 1957, as a senator he voted against the 1957 civil rights bill.

He wasn't a martyr for civil rights: as YoungHegelian wrote, paraphrasing the libs in the press at that time, "it was a climate of hate" that murdered Jack, but that was not true. A Castrophile, a communist, a progressive murdered JFK.

That's caused a lot of cognitive dissonance for fifty years.

campy said...

How does speculation about how events affect Obama affect Obama?

The Drill SGT said...

JFK today would have run on the GOP ticket against a Liz Warren.

He was soo out of synch with today's Dem Agenda as to be laughable:

1. Free Trade, check
2. Anti-Communist, check
3. Pro-religion, check
4. Strong Defense, check
5. Buck stops here on the Bay of Pigs, check

RecChief said...

who cares? The man has been dead for 50 years. Killed by a communist. Oliver Stone's film was not history. Nor was the whole "right wing climate of hate". Next topic.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

The Secret Service better be on their toes. There are too many despondent liberals who would love to make Obama a martyr.

And of course the media would try to pin it on the tea party.

Joe Schmoe said...

JFK served honorably in WWII. Barry didn't want to become a corpse-man.

Original Mike said...

"Oliver Stone's film was not history."

Not that I'm a big movie-goer anyway, but I made a point of not seeing that film. Didn't want to spend my dementia-ridden old age "remembering" that the CIA killed Kennedy (that was his thesis, wasn't it?),

Renee said...

Local University is holding a concert in honor of the 50th...

If I say anything critical, I feel like a jerk like Bill Maher.

cubanbob said...

If one was cynical one could say JFK's martyrdom was a wise marketing campaign for the left. Maybe Oswald was part of a conspiracy!

FleetUSA said...

Americans knew JFK and Choom is no JFK. Not even close.

Also, he doesn't come close to having the Cabinet JFK had.

YoungHegelian said...


As musical tributes go, that's not bad. Nothing partisan at all. The Mozart "Ave Verum Corpus" as a nod to Kennedy's Catholicism. It could be so much worse that I'm happy to see what they chose.

If I wanted to be mean, I could propose a performance of "Don Giovanni" as perhaps more appropriate than "Ave Verum Corpus".

Sigivald said...

Far more voters today were not even alive in 1964 than actually remember Kennedy's presidency.

Why would anyone think the Kennedy Myth is any use in a modern election?

traditionalguy said...

MLK's Civil Rights was a divider of the Dems in 1960. Unlike Truman who took a stand and said to Hell With the Segregationist South in 1948 and still got a nomination no one else wanted, JFK had to be very cautious.

Therefore Jack won the Dem nomination over LBJ, but then added him to the ticket. JFK's martyrdom then gave LBJ courage to stand up against the Dem Segregationists and join the GOP, and voila we got the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Those were interesting times.

cubanbob said...

So I wonder how Barack Obama feels about all this 50th anniversary business. Perhaps he's relieved that there's a distraction, but maybe he's irked that Kennedy is getting all the love and sentimental celebration right when there's suddenly — unexpectedly! — a rage for exposing the explosion of chaos under Obama."

Occam's Razor would suggest relief from the endless drip-drip of the unfolding disaster that bears his name. Still I wouldn't be surprised if any new and sudden revelations of criminality and incompetence of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations were to come out.

Carol said...

And let's not forget about the ongoing plots to assassinate Castro,

I read that the CIA spent $100 million trying to do this. Mainly spent on guys spinning ideas in Miami hotel rooms. Sort of like grantwriting, you know. Come up with an swell idea and $$$$ ftw.

Also, the only reason JFK seemed so anti-communist is because Goldwater was breathing down his neck.

campy said...

Far more voters today were not even alive in 1964 than actually remember Kennedy's presidency.

But they remember all the annual retrospectives they've seen about the Glorious Future Which Was So Cruelly Stolen From Us (and may yet arrive if we just elect one more democrat).

Strelnikov said...

Re: your final paragraph.

I imagine Obama may feel something about it once he reads about it in the newspaper. Till then, the blissfully ignorant thing is working out great.

Glen Filthie said...

I think Kennedy and his old-world liberals would be spinning in their graves if they saw what was going on in the Whitehouse today.

The political/progressive left in America is mentally ill today and the polarization is only going to get worse as the condition worsens.

When I think of presidential assassinations I cannot think of a more deserving candidate than the current monkey in the Whitehouse - with the possible exception of Jimmuh Carduh.

Oh well better times are ahead - things can't get much worse.

F said...

Fifty years to see this coming; 150 to see the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address coming, yet Obama did not attend that. This administration seems to be embarrassed by any comparison that might be made. With good reason. . .

Brando said...

I'm not a big fan of JFK, but I do wonder if he really would have escalated the war in Vietnam to the extent LBJ did. Sure, JFK did indeed escalate--when he was killed we'd already had several thousand troops in the country--but it's not unreasonable to think that only someone with LBJ's temperament would have continued to raise the stakes until we had over half a million men fighting there, even jeopardizing his domestic agenda (which was always more important to LBJ than foreign affairs).

But it's equally hard to imagine that JFK could have been anywhere near as successful as LBJ was in pushing a liberal domestic program (related to poverty and civil rights). He had neither LBJ's skill or drive to get those laws enacted, and had sidelined his VP the whole time.

Oswald's bullets may have had the incidental effect of advancing civil rights and the biggest liberal projects since the New Deal. The murder of an American president is a tragedy, but liberals ought to acknowledge the silver lining that resulted.

Paul said...

Obama ain't no JFK.

He ain't even a Jimmy Carter.

rcocean said...

Its the older skew of news in general and newspapers in TV news in particular that they think JFK means anything to most people.

Judas Priest, it was 50 years ago. A lot of young people only think of JFK as the President who Boinked Movie stars.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Say what you want about JFK, at least his resume, up to his becoming president, puts Obama to shame.

Known Unknown said...


Known Unknown said...

If Reagan had died at the hands of Hinckley, would we ever see this kind of commemoration?

rhhardin said...

I wonder how long I can go without hearing a JFK retrospective.

It's like trying not to hear who won the world series as a personal challenge.

traditionalguy said...

JFK was cautious because his father Joe would not let him back a loser. Joe even wanted to side with Hitler over England in 1940.

So I doubt JFK would have gone all in for a land war in Viet Nam to save the French colonialists like the power player Texan LBJ did in June of 1965.

It is true that JFK did see the reality of needing to end the European Colonial Empires that had gotten WWI and WWII started.

Robert Welch (the false prophet of John Birch Society) had an anti-communist cult following in the GOP, but the Dem JFK was the real anti communist by being an anti-colonialist and fighting a containment Cold war strategy, like Truman had begun.

Incidentally, Ron Paul and family are the last of the John Birch Society cultists.

rhhardin said...

JFK Jr provided a good example of a death spiral, for what that's worth.

Tom P said...

Bill, Republic of Texas - "Why would anyone think the Kennedy Myth is any use in a modern election?"

Altering the past allows one to redefine the present, as Orwell noted. Myths have often been used in just this fashion. I would expect the current Administration would like to do some history-modification in an effort to get better control over the present. Not sure this particular myth will serve, though.

Tom P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Did anyone notice the passage of the 40th anniversary of LBJ's death last January?

Interesting that all the JFK alternate histories take as a premise that LBJ was a failure.

Scott said...

Getting back to the original post topic: On the one hand, it's the 50 number thingie. Everything gets all retrospective and stuff when the anniversary ends in 0 or is divisible by 25. So a 50th Anniversary is a double whammy.

But what we're also seeing now is the formation of a new media meme.

JFK was the noble idealistic liberal family man whose administration was tragically cut short by the bullet of a deranged progressive. In a similar (but hopefully not identical) way, Obama's serial policy failures and ongoing fall from grace is being recast as a tragedy; a noble man whose ringing rhetoric gestured to the liberal utopia that might have been, were it not thwarted by the evil Republican and scary Tea Bagger minorities who compose a mere half of Americans.

Because if you squint real hard, JFK and Obama do seem amazingly similar. Don't they.

donald said...

I question Glen Shithead's motivation here.

readering said...

What struck me was how unsuccessful JFK's presidency was through November 1961. The Bay of Pigs, Berlin Wall and Freedom Rides debacle were far more disastrous for JFK than anything Obama has experienced this year.

Big Mike said...

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

"Your government is going to dictate your healthcare options, and you will love it.

Or else."

Democrats sure have changed in fifty years.

William said...

Life, said JFK, is unfair. So's posterity. There was a poll asking Americans which American President they would like to see on Mt. Rushmore. JFK won hands down. He was a President of modest achievements and major failures. There were many shocking posthumous scandals, yet his reputation and legend continue to grow. There was something about JFK that you want to believe in, and something about LBJ and Nixon that you want to despise.

Big Mike said...

@Brando, it's impossible to say what JFK would or would not have done in Vietnam. However it's fair to note that both Johnson and Nixon had been rear echelon officers* during World War II while Kennedy had been in combat. I'd like to think he would have refused to countenance a war of attrition based on bogus body counts. But Robert Strange MacNamara certainly knew how to make the implausible sound perfectly obvious, and reading the autobiographies and memoirs of the "Best and the Brightest" around Kennedy I was struck by the "frog in a pot of boiling water" syndrome seems to have been the order of the day.

That's FWIW.
* What we called REMFs back in the day.

Michael said...

i am sure our president is sad that he is missing a moment to be compared to Kennedy. Won't happen now thanks to his multiple screw-ups and especially thanks to his lying to the face of the public. There won't be any comparisons. The press will take care not to put them in the same sentence to avoid sullying the pristine JFK image. Our current president knows this. And is sad.

Cedarford said...

While the media was too kind to JFK, I don't think there is much doubt that Obama comes out on the short end in a side-by-side comparison.

JFK before he had ghostwriters, wrote some very well received journalist pieces on his travels in prewar Europe and the Soviet Union and the iplications for the US. He had a paper trail, and most of what he wrote was his. Obama has no paper trail. He wrote nothing in his 12 years in "academia" as this supposed brilliant mind that just regurgitated the same canned con law course.

JFK sought out intellectual debate on a wide range of subjects. Especially on matters he knew nothing about but wanted to learn something on. By U of Chicago accounts of law profs, Obama made great effort to not get into discussions on matters of great legal interest to the professors..

Clearly, JFK had the wartime service and even heroism for towing a wounded man a mile and a half through the sea to shore...though no one thought him a potential Admiral for how his PT boat got sunk in the 1st place. Obama had no similar accomplishments as a young person.

JFK was a man in full, from a sickly child, much like TDR, he build himself into something men admired and women wanted. Obama, at best, is a peevish little metrosexual with a gift for jive talking and soaring "Black Preacher Speech" to the uninformed and don't really want to bother with being informed..dumbed down American masses.

When Kennedy had a far bigger crisis than Benghazi, he was in the thick of decision-making. To this day, no one knows what Obama did during Benghazi, if anyone even bothered to wake the guy from his beauty sleep before his urgent flight to campaign out West. And all he did in the bin Laden case was dither until Panetta found a way to get rid of Holder and Jarrett as obstacles..then after Gates idea to just bomb the compound was shot down by the CIA on concerns of loss of valuable intel...Obama's role was to just green light the mission and work on a speech blaming Bush if it went bad.

JFK was not a great President. But far better a one than Carter or Obama, that's for sure!!

Anonymous said...

Many in the Democratic Leadership these days have more in common with Lee Harvey Oswald than JFK.

Unknown said...

Don't care, and honestly I think "consider how the anniversity affects Obama" should have made it onto your list.

Brando said...

Big Mike--that's true about JFK facing real combat situations where his next two successors didn't. I'd also add that we saw in two of JFK's major foreign policy decisions--Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis--JFK balked at the chance to escalate once each incident reached crisis mode (deciding not to back up the Bay of Pigs invaders with U.S. air and amphibious forces, and deciding against air strikes during the Cuban Missile Crisis). Both events indicate an aversion towards escalation, perhaps driven by fear of a war spun out of control. I could see JFK perhaps continuing to escalate in Vietnam (with the prodding of the same advisers that helped LBJ escalate), but I imagine JFK would have drawn the line sooner and at a lower troop count than LBJ did. There was something about LBJ's personality--shown in his approach to elections and domestic legislation as well as his personal relationships--that explains his approach to Vietnam. Where he thought he was doing good, and that dammit, pushing a little harder might get Hanoi to the bargaining table, you could really see why he did what he did, and why almost anyone else in his place would have gotten out a lot sooner.

It's all speculation of course, but it's hard not to look at history and ponder these things.

John henry said...

LBJ did it.

Just kidding. Probably not.

However LBJ did take the Vice Presidency because based on history, 1 in 5 (1 in 4?) presidents had died in office. JFK was sicker than 6 dogs and LBJ though there was a good chance he would die in office and Lyndon would get in.

The issue of Life Magazine that was scheduled to come out the saturday after JFK was shot would have been devestating to LBJ. It detailed his financial corruption. Lucky for him it was pulled so the whole issue could be devoted to JFK and the murder.

LBJ was reviled and ridiculed by all the Kool Kidz in the Kennedy admin, not least JFK and RFK.

LBJ certainly had the motive and was probably cold blooded enough to commit murder. It is unlikely he had anything to do with JFKs death though.

John Henry

John henry said...

Big Mike said that Nixon and LBJ were both REMFs

LBJ sure was, serving 8 weeks on active duty, mainly as officer in charge of checking out Hollywood babes. He did get what was called "The least deserved and most flaunted Silver Star in History", though.

Nixon served 2-1/2 years active duty and much of it in the Solomons including Guadalcanal. (No combat, though)

Both of them are prime examples of why we should never elect a VP to the presidency. Truman, Roosevelt, Bush 1, Gore, Mondale are other good examples, though Gore and Mondale didn't make the grade.

John Henry

Drago said...

Jane: "Hey, did you see that CNN speculation that Oswald was a double-agent sent by the CIA? Nice unprovable assertion..."

It was probably penned by Robert Cook, he of "Reagan conspired with the Iranians to keep the hostages to hurt Carter" fame!


Big Mike said...

@Brando, in my alternate history JFK sics the B52s on Hanoi before Russia is able to set up the SAM sites and mines Haiphong harbor. Russia is humiliated, but is not prepared to escalate to nuclear war over North Viet Nam, so the war ends in 1964. There never are anti-war demonstrations because the war is effectively over.

Both North and South Viet Nam collapse economically, the former because of its Marxist economic model and the latter because of rampant corruption.

And no one cares.

Drago said...

EMD said...
If Reagan had died at the hands of Hinckley, would we ever see this kind of commemoration?

Yes, the media would still be paying homage to Hinckley.

Big Mike said...

LBJ sure was [a REMF], serving 8 weeks on active duty, mainly as officer in charge of checking out Hollywood babes. He did get what was called "The least deserved and most flaunted Silver Star in History", though.

@John Henry, I presume mean up until John Kerry got one for machine-gunning a Viet Cong insurgent in the back and blowing up a nearby village's winter food supply.

Unknown said...

It was pretty rude of the Kennedy's to to foist their commemoration on us during the ObamaCare crisis. Pres. Lightbringer deserves some space on the calendar to workout his signature legacy achievement.

John henry said...

Big Mike said:

@John Henry, I presume mean up until John Kerry got one for machine-gunning a Viet

Well, there is that but I think JFK still takes it. Kerry, supposedly, threw his medals away and didn't show them off much.

Any picture you see of LBJ from 1943 or so on, if he is wearing a suitcoat, you will see a miniature Silver Star in his left lapel. See here for one example.

According to Caro, especially when campaigning, he liked to get right up close to people, hook his thumbs in his labels, and literally stick the medal in their faces.

I think that is what the "most flaunted" means.

John henry said...


Not Jfk takes it.

LBJ takes it

John Henry

Hagar said...

LBJ later considerably embellished his war service; there seems to be something that compels these guys to do that.

However, the fact is that he did serve and did quite well, including a near escape airplane ride somewhere in SE Asia. He came back to Congress, when COngress passed a statute or resolution demanding that members come back to work.

Hagar said...

Interesting that all the JFK alternate histories take as a premise that LBJ was a failure.

That is because admitting it was LBJ who actually accomplished something in the way of realizing their polical aims would the shine off the legend of Camelot on the Potomac.

Besides, for the gentry left, LBJ was much too coarse a character. It is a bit odd, but the Democrats, "party of the people," always have been suckers for aristocrats and will cheerfully follow the fakes rather than the real thing.

Cedarford said...

John said...
Big Mike said that Nixon and LBJ were both REMFs

Nixon was derided as a "supply officer" by the media. What he really was was a planning and logistics officer for SCAT that went and set up forward operating air bases as the US "island-hopped" the S Pacific.
As part of that, Nixon performed well enough to get rapid promotion to Lt Commander. Part of his job was leading ground support for returning fighters and bombers - when he wasn't ordering materials that would solve bottlenecks in full warfighting capacity.
As ground leader who did not sit back and have the "enlisteds" do it, Nixon personally pulled wounded, dead, and big and small chunks of body parts and liquid gore out of crashed or shot up planes.
He was strafed twice by Japanese warplanes. He went through two bombing attacks by the Japanese. The most serious was when he and two other guys were out in the open with no time to get to a bomb shelter...they dove into a heavily built concrete coconut plantation pumphouse in the middle of a field. The Japanese dropped 15-18 large bombs on the field and all 3 men were half deaf and choking on the dust the shock waves drove off the inner walls. When the attack was over, they found the whole field cratered except for 30 feet around the pumphouse. Nixon was lucky.

And no REMF

FullMoon said...

The Kennedys paid Oswald to assassinate Jackie. He missed due to a cheap rifle and defective ammunition.

President Kennedy wanted to be free to hook up with other women. His religion and public opinion ruled out divorce.

The Kennedy clan needed to divert attention from themselves, so they spread rumors of Cuban involvement, hence the 50 plus year boycott of Cuba.

Anonymous said...

Cedarford, your post can't be improved upon.

Other than to add that LBJ engineered JFK's assassination.

David said...

It's no problem for Obama.

He's much more like Lincoln.

The Godfather said...

I knew John Kennedy. Barack, you're no John Kennedy.

You aren't even a Jinny Carter.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

11. Don't write about how all these JFK retrospectives are affecting Obama.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

LBJ was a brilliant politician who realized that, since the Democrats could no longer suppress it, it was necessary that the African-American vote be bought. He probably saved the Democrat Party.

heyboom said...

When I think of presidential assassinations I cannot think of a more deserving candidate than the current monkey in the Whitehouse - with the possible exception of Jimmuh Carduh.

Professor, I was going to register a complaint about this poster who has always shown himself to be blatantly racist, but only one other person even acknowledged his comment, so what's the point?

MayBee said...

Fifty years?

1963. Fifty years before that was 1913.
Compare that 50 years ago reference. The First World War had not yet happened. Nor had prohibition, Black Friday, nor the sinking of the Titanic. Women did not yet have the vote. People who were the age of the baby boomers now had memories of the civil war.
Did the people of fifty years ago feel deeply moved by *their* fifty years ago?
50 years is a really long time to people who do not share the memories of 50 years ago.

Mitch H. said...

If LBJ was trying to assassinate JFK, I kind of think he would have done so outside of his home state, and definitely not when one of his best political friends was in the same damn car as the target. Not to mention, not when LBJ himself was in another car in the killzone. Especially since LBJ was, aside from his storied "Silver Star" ride, a notable physical coward.

JFK's assassination was a Castro-inspired, and possibly Castro-directed, hit by a single shooter with a history of doctrinaire communism, Castro sympathies, and contact with both the KGB and the Cuban DGI. Any other theory deserves to have its throat cut by Occam's Razor.

William said...

Fifty years ago people didn't live long enough to remember fifty years ago........Obama was the first African American President. Even if he's otherwise a failure, that's a huge milestone, and he'll be noted in the history books. And most of he people who write history books will be disposed in his favor.......I think the metric figure for Obama is not Kennedy or even Carter but Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was a fuck up, but he fucked up in a way that academics approved of. It's only n the last twenty years that people are noting what a fuck up Wilson was. For the next fifty year you'll be hearing about what a terrific Prez Obama was.