Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama the heir to JFK? Not so much.

Watching the Democratic National Convention last night with its homage to Ted Kennedy and the concomitant comparisons, by the media between Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy, I had to ask myself, what history are these people reading.

Ted Kennedy specifically used the “passing the torch” metaphor to compare Obama to his slain brother. That mushy pablum works as fodder for whooping up the fervor of a convention floor full of partisans hoping for change and unifying in the hope of being one of the one’s we’ve been waiting for. The reality however, is that the true legacy of John F. Kennedy and what Barack Obama actually stands for could not be farther apart.

John F. Kennedy was an old school Democrat, a tax cutter and liberal cold warrior. He represents the proud and honorable past of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is the heir to the radical sixties and the movement that sought to destroy the liberal consensus, which Kennedy personified. Think Obama’s Chicago associate and Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and his ties to ACORN.

The problem is that too many people fall for the myth of Camelot, a term contrived after Kennedy’s death, by a sycophantic journalist. By the time the mythmaking machine was running full bore, it had transformed Kennedy into a martyred peacenik cut down by hate before he could redeem this fallen nation.

Oliver Stone took the mythmaking to extreme absurdity in JFK by arguing the CIA, corporations, the mafia, and the Maytag Repairman assassinated him because he wanted to pull out of Vietnam.

The fact of the matter is that to the day he died, Kennedy was fully committed to the fight in Vietnam. This policy fit squarely in line with his staunch anti-communism. Kennedy was one of the loudest voices screaming, “Who lost China” at the Truman administration. Both he and his father were political allies of Joseph McCarthy, Robert Kennedy even served as counsel to McCarthy’s senate sub-committee, and Kennedy was far more hawkish than Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy went eyeball-to-eyeball with Khrushchev over Berlin, authorized the Bay of Pigs, and was willing to invade Cuba a second time to remove Soviet nuclear missiles from the island.

Although he died before his Congress passed his proposed tax cuts, he saw the cuts as a means to “to cut the fetters which hold back private spending,” and “reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative.” Kennedy’s tax cuts fueled one of the largest economic expansions in U.S. history.

Obama wants to raise taxes and seeks a less hawkish foreign policy. We can argue the merits or demerits of Obama’s policies. If you are speaking in myths and fables then yes JFK and Obama align like the stars in their courses. However, once you get into the substantive weeds, to say that Obama is direct heir to John Kennedy is an argument built on quicksand.


Dr. Internet said...

100% correct. And I don't recall Sen. Obama ramming an enemy gunboat in a war either.

Another point that should be mentioned is the razor-thin margin of victory Kennedy had. I don't want to get bogged down in quasi-substantiated/urban legend vote fraud, because the important point is that in the 1960 election, the nation was evenly divided at the ballot box. I suspect the same will happen this year.

However, there is one theme that is consistent between the two and that is Sen. Obama has instilled in many people a sense of optimism that hasn't been around since the early Kennedy administration. They are founded on very different principles -- and one could argue the substance and staying power of both all week long -- but it is an unmistakable similarity.

Higgy said...

JfK was almost the direct opposite of todays' democrats. In fact, today he would lean heavily toward the republican party. He would probably be very disheartened with his brother.

The optimism displayed by JFK had substance; OHB's is at best smoke and mirrors. JFK had leadership experience beginning in WW2. Even though he made mistakes his job rating has to acceptable.

OHB has not spent enough time at any level to gain anything, let alone enough experience to run this country.