Skip to comments.Brown Coakley race has echoes of 1952: JFK attended tea parties as Lodge promoted Ike
Posted on 01/17/2010 5:56:37 PM PST by nwrep
The Brown-Coakley Senate race has echoes of another time, another era when a Mass. Senate race generated extraordinary enthusiasm and created a seismic shift in voter attitudes that came to define a lasting political realignment.
In 1952, a young Irish Catholic Democratic Congressman named John F. Kennedy took on sitting Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who had previously defeated three similar Irish Catholic candidates. Lodge, of course, was from one of the "first families" of Massachusetts, and with his WASP pedigree and Republican heritage, typified New England political structure of the time.
However, solidifying the trends of the previous decades, New England in general, but Mass. in particular was turning Democrat, and the young JFK was eager to tap into and exploit this trend.
Lodge took this challenge in stride, but from the New York Times reports of the time, did not campaign hard, instead spending most of his time promoting the Presidential candidacy of General Dwight Eisenhower, and angling for the VP slot on the ticket.
According to the New York Times article from November 2, 1952:
Mr. Lodge was busy all spring furthering the General's candidacy, and Mr. Kennedy was busy attending tea parties around Massachusetts in the interest of making himself better known. This is Mr. Lodge's fourth Senate campaign; he has defeated his previous challengers by substantial margins.
I blame JFK for his weakness in 1961 which led to Khrushchev’s overreach in 1962. So the Bay of Pigs fiasco, for fear of a brief burst of Latin outrage, led to a confrontation with a nuclear power. I blame him for not intervening in modest force in Laos, which would have severed the pipeline to the Viet Cong, and of course the murder of the Diem Brothers. As for the Civil Rights movement, he was pretty much reacting to events and of course he had not not a chance in hades of getting a civil rights bill through Congress. Only Johnson could have done that. I think that Nixon, on the other hand, could have gotten one through, one that—ironically—a more modest bill sheparded by LBJ—who looking to 1964 would not have antagonized the South, although they would not have supported it, and maybe not even Goldwater. I can see a Civil Rights act that did not more than implement the terms of the 14th Amendment and did not contain the more radical parts being signed by Nixon. As for the war, I was astonished when I saw LBJ decide to intervene with insufficient force. Anyone looking at the map could see he needed twice the force he was willing to commit. ( I got the same feeling when Bush started WITHDRAWING the invasion force in 2003 as the follow-on force started arriving. ) One thing about Kennedy, though. I think he respected the advise he got from Eisenhower . Eisenhower never liked what was going on and Kennedy might have listened to him where Johnson wouldn’t.
That is unfortunate. (understatement)
Although Goldwater and most of the other minority of Republicans that voted against the Civil rights act did so for constitutional reasons it’s that vote that gave Johnson 90% of the black vote.
And unfortunately it stayed that way. Even though the act wouldn’t have passed without the support of conservative GOP Senate leader Ev Dirksen. (who’s decomposed bones I’d glady vote for over Mark Kirk)
Good points. Frankly, given what was going on in the world in 1960, voting for Nixon was a no-brainer. Nobody else was more prepared and had the experience to step into the Presidency than he did. His 1968 victory may have been a nice vindication for him after the theft of 1960, but having inherited the disastrous mess of his predecessors at an absolutely awful time, he was going to have a difficult go of it regardless.
The sad part of all of this was the assassination of JFK probably did more to speed up the course of the nation to the left than had he lived. Having been denied the showdown between him and Goldwater in ‘64, which would’ve been a much closely-divided race at a time when JFK’s popularity was beginning to slide (why he made the trip to a very hostile TX, and to Dallas, probably THE most anti-JFK city in the state) prevented the country from having a sober referendum on his Presidency, rather than one borne of martyrdom, for which no Republican could’ve hoped to have overcome.
JFK and Nixon were pretty close on the issues. Nixon’s mistake, his biggest one, was that first debate. But that was a matter of appearance. Looking back, he should have used his sore knee as an excuse to have the parties seated. Hindsight and all that. I knew he looked shakey; I didn’t know he was having an issue with the knee.