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Why America Continues to Prefer JFK (Why he ranks first among past 9 Presidents)
National Review ^ | 12/09/2010 | Alvin Feizenberg

Posted on 12/09/2010 7:44:30 AM PST by SeekAndFind

A conservative friend of mine asked me why the public continues to rank John F. Kennedy first among Barack Obama’s nine predecessors in public opinion surveys, as they did again just this week — a Gallup poll showed Kennedy with an 85 percent approval rating, eleven points higher than that of his closest competitor, Ronald Reagan.

At first blush, my friend’s bafflement seems justified. In office barely a thousand days, Kennedy was hardly the kind of president Barack Obama would term “transformative” — not like Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan, who each set the nation on a new course consistent with their vision.

Kennedy had few legislative achievements. Those enacted while he was in office — such as the Peace Corps, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and mental-health initiatives — however worthy, pale in comparison to the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the GI Bill, the Interstate Highway System, NASA, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, welfare reform, and the Strategic Defense Initiative. Kennedy deserves credit for being the first president to declare the equal enforcement of the law to all citizens as a “moral issue” — as “old as the Scriptures and as clear as the Constitution” — and, after nearly three years of delay, sending up to Congress what became the 1964 civil-rights bill, but it was Lyndon Johnson who steered it to passage.

Those who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 — and the many who have studied it — rightly maintain that Kennedy’s deft handling of the situation averted nuclear war. But they often overlook another truism: that but for Kennedy’s bungling of the Bay of Pigs affair a year earlier, Khrushchev might never have had the opportunity to install missiles on an island 90 miles away from American shores. Kennedy’s “successful” resolution of the crisis assured the enslavement of the Cuban people for a half-century and provided Marxists of all varieties with a beachhead from which to export revolution elsewhere in the western hemisphere (and the Soviets with surrogate troops to fight proxy wars in Angola).

As the U.S.’s half-hearted measures to assure the survival of South Vietnam as an independent, non-Communist state began to fail, Kennedy advisers put out word that JFK planned to begin removing combat forces from South Vietnam after his reelection. (There were 16,000 on the ground there the day Kennedy took his fateful journey to Dallas.) They neglected, of course, to say why a president who confessed this to White House aides made no mention of it to his vice president, whom he sent on a fact finding mission to South Vietnam.

After he succeeded Kennedy in office, Johnson shrewdly observed that the greatest mistake the U.S. made in the entire war was the coup Kennedy sanctioned that led to the assassination of Ngo Din Diem and his brother. (Readers can find prescient coverage of tensions between the Kennedy and Diem regimes in Clare Booth Luce’s account in National Review the very month the Diems and Kennedy were assassinated.)

Why then, with such a record as this, does Kennedy remain the president of the past half-century to rank “first in the hearts of his countrymen”? I can think of three possible explanations.

Elected at the tail end of a recession, Kennedy sought to grow the economy — and at a rate that would make sufficient room for the Baby Boomers who would be entering the work force toward the end of what he expected would be an eight-year presidency. The Keynesians, dominant among economic schools at the time, divided down the middle as to how to do it.

New Deal veteran John Kenneth Galbraith advocated increased government spending and investments in public works. (Think of it as an Obama-styled stimulus, but with real spending on infrastructure.) “Young Turk” James Tobin, who headed Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisers, recommended cutting marginal tax rates.

Rather than seek to split the difference between the two, Kennedy threw his weight behind Tobin. What resulted was a cut in the top marginal tax rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. Steered to passage by Johnson, the “Kennedy tax cuts” made possible the prosperity we associate with the 1960’s. Money put in the hands of investors found its way into new and expanding industries such as aerospace and computers. These produced high-paying jobs — for the highly educated and for others — in entities that kept the big job generators amply supplied.

In his battle for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, Kennedy had defeated the most ardent of the New Dealers. As president, he was willing to endure criticism from his base in order to keep his promise to “get America moving again.” Self-proclaimed “conservatives” of the era were far from pleased with Kennedy’s tax-cut proposals. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, and recently elected Rep. Bob Dole (R., Kansas) all termed them reckless and irresponsible and said that they would add to the deficit. Short-term spikes in the deficits were prices Kennedy and Tobin were willing to pay in order to attain long-term growth. (Midway through Johnson’s presidency, the economy was growing by 5 percent annually.)

A second reason Americans remain fond of Kennedy is that he reigned at a time when Americans believed that anything they set out to do was attainable. Elected only fifteen years after the end of World War II, the “can-do” approach Kennedy carried into office with him captured the spirit of the era. When Kennedy was president, the vast majority of people still looked upon government more as a solution to their problems than as a cause of them. His days in office preceded the assassinations, civil disturbances, and campus unrest of the 1960s, Vietnam and Watergate, and the “culture wars” that endure without end.

Americans, including those who were not yet born when he was in the White House, look back on those times as an era before America lost its innocence. It was also a time when the word “elitist” was not considered a pejorative, good taste and elegance were encouraged and much in vogue, people looked up to their leaders, and children were taught to look upon the president as a role model. Kennedy may have fallen short of the image his handlers presented of him, but that in no way diminishes the nation’s nostalgia for what they perceive to have been the reality. In this regard, old Joe Kennedy had it right when he told his sons that it “is not what you are that matters, but what people think you are.”

The final explanation for Kennedy’s enduring popularity may be his unfulfilled promise. He was the last president his country did not see grow old. Like the nation he led, Kennedy remains young in spirit. What he and his administration might have been, more than what they actually achieved, remains an enduring part of his legend. If, as many have observed, ours is a nation of dreamers, Kennedy’s unfinished presidency provides us all with an opportunity to imagine whatever ending we would have preferred to the tragic one so many of us witnessed.

— Alvin S. Felzenberg is author of The Leaders We Deserve (and a Few We Didn’t): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game. He is currently at work on a book about William F. Buckley, Jr.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: jfk; president
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1 posted on 12/09/2010 7:44:35 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

PT 109


2 posted on 12/09/2010 7:45:53 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: SeekAndFind

“85 percent approval rating”

Uh, yeah. Of course.

Poll question: “Do you approve the president who was murdered in broad daylight?”

I’m shocked 15% say no.


3 posted on 12/09/2010 7:46:59 AM PST by Christian Engineer Mass (Leftys who zone in on Palin miss the point. America's not about single figures. That's for NK/Cuba.)
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To: SeekAndFind

One thousand days is the answer. He was assassinated before he could thoroughly screw things up.

That, and compared to Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama, he looks pretty good for a Democrat.


4 posted on 12/09/2010 7:47:04 AM PST by old3030 (I lost some time once. It's always in the last place you look.)
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To: SeekAndFind

JFK -

Largest tax cuts in American history
Pro-gun (NRA Life Member)
Anticommunist and not afraid to use troops for America’s national interest
Anti-abortion (we can assume by being a ardent Roman Catholic)
Bona fide war hero - personally brave and deeply patriotic
Assassinated by a devout Marxist leftist named Lee Harvey Oswald

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

—JFK would be shunned by the democrats of today...


5 posted on 12/09/2010 7:48:34 AM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: SeekAndFind

Americans admire JFK because he wasn’t in office long enough for them to learn to abhor him.

The opposite is true for two-term Presidents. They wear thin. Look at public scorn directed toward Reagan, Clinton, Bush II.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.


6 posted on 12/09/2010 7:48:37 AM PST by Jedidah
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To: SeekAndFind

I blame the public school systems in this country for the veneration of this misogynist. FDR, JFK, and Clinton are esteemed as the greatest in generations in our public schools while true leaders like Harding, Ford, and Reagan are seen as problem Presidents.

Being a product of public schools, I can say with confidence that they’re the reason for these poll results.


7 posted on 12/09/2010 7:49:29 AM PST by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: SeekAndFind

A lot of the reason why JFK is remembered so fondly is due to the fact that he died so young, and wasn’t given a chance to finish his career. When people look at JFK’s presidency they don’t see accomplishments; they see unfulfilled promise, and they give him credit for the great things they imagine he would have done had he lived.


8 posted on 12/09/2010 7:50:41 AM PST by random_user_827 ((d) buy a new computer, this one's toast)
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To: SeekAndFind
Harry Truman was the last rat president with any admirable qualities. The chief of which was his courage to make the decision to use the weapon to end the war in Japan, thereby saving numerous American lives.
9 posted on 12/09/2010 7:50:57 AM PST by Graybeard58
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To: SeekAndFind
In rereading JFK's inaugural speech, it occurs to me, that speech wouldn't see the light of day, today.
Actually a hell of an address...taken way out of context by today's RATS.
10 posted on 12/09/2010 7:51:57 AM PST by stylin19a
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To: SeekAndFind

Martyrdom. He died in the line of duty, and in the television age. He is revered for that sacrifice particularly, and because being struck down in his prime crystalized the “Camelot” mistique surrounding him and his family.

SnakeDoc


11 posted on 12/09/2010 7:52:47 AM PST by SnakeDoctor ("They made it evident to every man [...] that human beings are many, but men are few." -- Herodotus)
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To: old3030

Obama’s at less than 700 days and nobody has screwed up the nation more. Kennedy was wise enough at least to not set out on a course to screw the nation up.


12 posted on 12/09/2010 7:53:12 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: SeekAndFind
He was another democrat media-created icon. The whole "Camelot" thing, Jackie, and the Kennedy clan pushed the story to legend status.

Actually, most of America's internal class struggles began with him.
13 posted on 12/09/2010 7:53:48 AM PST by FrankR (Don't let the bastards wear you down!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Government unions is the gift he gave to America!


14 posted on 12/09/2010 7:55:00 AM PST by lone star annie
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To: SeekAndFind
It seems the American public has stars in their eyes when it comes to JFK..I wonder just how much people checked into his true life and not the Camelot thing..he was a cheater on his wife, and also a Kennedy, and that tells a lot right there..anyway he was not my favorite..I do remember I was a little girl when he was killed and it was a sad time in my house hold everyone was crying but of course everyone in my family were democrats..I am not glad he got killed,I just don't see what was so great about him..

I do believe there was more to his death than is being told..He was probably messing around with a mob bosses girlfriend..so they had him killed..

15 posted on 12/09/2010 7:55:49 AM PST by PLD
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To: SeekAndFind
It seems the American public has stars in their eyes when it comes to JFK..I wonder just how much people checked into his true life and not the Camelot thing..he was a cheater on his wife, and also a Kennedy, and that tells a lot right there..anyway he was not my favorite..I do remember I was a little girl when he was killed and it was a sad time in my house hold everyone was crying but of course everyone in my family were democrats..I am not glad he got killed,I just don't see what was so great about him..

I do believe there was more to his death than is being told..He was probably messing around with a mob bosses girlfriend..so they had him killed..

16 posted on 12/09/2010 7:56:44 AM PST by PLD
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To: 2banana

JFK-
inveterate womanizer
poorly handled foreign policy that almost got us into WWIII multiple times and did get us in a war we never intended to win
poorly handled cabinet that helped exacerbate his lack of direction in foreign policy


17 posted on 12/09/2010 7:57:52 AM PST by discostu (Keyser Soze lives)
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To: SnakeDoctor

Exactly why I feel if someone ever got to Obama the exact same thing would happen. He is a Carter alive in 2012 and a Kennedy if killed, he should fear his own side now more than Conservatives.

I firmly believe that if something happens to him it will come from someone to the left before the right.


18 posted on 12/09/2010 8:00:54 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: SeekAndFind

The press has had almost 50 years to whitewash his reputation.


19 posted on 12/09/2010 8:06:02 AM PST by CaptainK (...please make it stop. Shake a can of pennies at it.)
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To: old3030

Ding, Ding!
We have a winner....
I am a huge Beatles fan, but have no doubt if they had continued to be a band, they would have become quite ordinary after a period of time....
“Legends” die before they become bland...


20 posted on 12/09/2010 8:08:20 AM PST by Maverick68
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To: SeekAndFind
Simple fact is most people that are alive today weren't alive during the JFK years or were too young to actually remember those years.

Most people therefore can only admire the myth of JFK that has been created, not the reality of JFK that was.

21 posted on 12/09/2010 8:10:19 AM PST by IMR 4350
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To: PLD

Most of the American public did not know about those things then the newspapers never reported his cheating. I have always believed LBJ had a hand in his death then I came across this.

http://viewzone2.com/lbj/indexx.html


22 posted on 12/09/2010 8:11:18 AM PST by FromLori (FromLori)
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To: SeekAndFind

JFK represents the final victory of “Style over Substance.”


23 posted on 12/09/2010 8:11:43 AM PST by dfwgator (Congratulations to Josh Hamilton - AL MVP)
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To: SeekAndFind

For all his flaws JFK generally had the best interests of the US as his main goal. His cutting the highest marginal tax rates from 91% to 70% sparked an economic boom. Could you imagine how things would be different if Obama had been handling the Cuban Missile Crisis? Were he alive today JFK would be shunned by his own party.


24 posted on 12/09/2010 8:12:26 AM PST by The Great RJ (The Bill of Rights: Another bill members of Congress haven't read.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Look at the competition:

LBJ was rude, corrupt, and “responsible” for Vietnam, to the extent that fighting a war with a goal of breaking even can be considered responsible.

Nixon was . . . Nixon.

Ford was not a bad man, but he was tainted by having been appointed by Nixon and then pardoning Nixon.

Jimmy Carter was not only the least capable president of his century, but he proved his spinelessness to all of our enemies.

Ronald Reagan was a great leader, but half of our country is upset that he toppled communism (outside America at least, although he didn’t notice its dangerous growth in Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii, and eventually Chicago) and dismantled a small portion of the welfare state.

Bush - Clinton - Bush - too recent to have been processed.

And now instead of a real American in our White House, we have a terrorist-loving anti-American thug who genuinely believes in a socialist command economy with himself in charge and who lacks even the most fundamental leadership or management skills.

JFK is not my favorite former president, not by a long shot, but he wasn’t a terrible person. That puts him way above Clinton and Obama (and Carter as an ex-President), even ignoring JFK’s tragic murder.


25 posted on 12/09/2010 8:14:57 AM PST by Pollster1 (Natural born citizen of the USA, with the birth certificate to prove it)
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To: Jedidah

Believe me, the scorn for Reagan pre-dated his first day in office.


26 posted on 12/09/2010 8:16:20 AM PST by 9YearLurker
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To: massgopguy

PT 109.................. Party time? Having a good time in the boat, not being on watch and being rammed by a Destroyer you didn’t hear or see? = Hero? Dereliction of duty if you ask me. I never bought into PT 109 Legend. One of my relatives was in the one of the PT Squadrons assigned to the Leyte Gulf area, he didn’t buy into it either.


27 posted on 12/09/2010 8:16:27 AM PST by Bringbackthedraft (The candidate they smear and ridicule the most is the one they fear the most.)
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To: massgopguy

His book : “Profiles in Courage” was Ghost written by speechwriter : Theodore Sorensen.

This was denied for years but Sorenson admitted to writing large sections of the book in his 2009 autobiography, Counselor.

Of course JFK won a Pulitzer for this.

JFK’s life is a like a very nice car. Many like to believe it drives well and refuse to look under the hood.


28 posted on 12/09/2010 8:17:14 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Since this brings up the subject of ranking presidents, I thought it would be fun to do this myself. Here’s my opinion on the ranking of the presidents so far during my lifetime, starting with the best:

1. Ronald Reagan (unquestionably)
2. George W. Bush (a distant second)
3. George Herbert Walker Bush
4. Gerald Ford
5. Richard Nixon
6. Bill Clinton
7. John F. Kennedy
8. Barack Obama (I rank Obama slightly higher than Carter because I think Obama, in spite of his ideology, is a little more pragmatic than Carter)
9. Jimmy Carter
10. Lyndon B. Johnson (although I don’t consider him to be the least qualified to be president on the list, I rank him last because of the profound damage caused by his ‘Great Society’ programs)


29 posted on 12/09/2010 8:18:14 AM PST by Texan Tory
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To: SeekAndFind

1) A genuine war hero
2) Unfullfilled promise
3) Telegenic in a new media age
4) Leadership in the fight against Communism
5) Vision for American Excellence (NASA, etc)

I can clearly see how people would admire and respect him even with differing with some policies and his personal life.


30 posted on 12/09/2010 8:19:37 AM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: 2banana
He was also a conspirator in one of the biggest election crimes in American history. His father was one of the most corrupt politicians in American history and he participated in his father's crimes in 1960.

He was a philanderer that would make Clinton blush. He even had liaisons with a East German spy.

Anti-abortion? Probably as anti abortion as brother Teddy.

He betrayed those fighting for freedom in the Bay of Pigs. He turned his back on them and promised never to invade Cuba.

He used the IRS illegally to attack Conservative organizations.

He participated in the illegally taped MLK communications, among others, and listened to MLK’s sex escapades.

His PT 109 heroics are a farce.

JFK was a fraud and a crook. He should have been impeached.

31 posted on 12/09/2010 8:19:49 AM PST by MBB1984
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To: SeekAndFind

Americans as a rule...mighty when stirred...are not real informed by a corrupt media and academia

sadly...this includes many GOP supporters today as well...especially on the hot topics


32 posted on 12/09/2010 8:19:51 AM PST by wardaddy ("Out Here" by Josh Thompson pretty much says it all to those who will never understand anyhow)
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To: SeekAndFind
I still have a couple of Lee Harvey Oswald sharpshooting medals in my sock drawer. That's the 50 cent coin struck after JFK was beatified.
33 posted on 12/09/2010 8:20:34 AM PST by RicocheT
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To: SeekAndFind

Kennedy reached mythological status when he entered the proverbial “blameless house of the dead” in his prime.

I am probably the only person on earth who feels this way, but when I see the film of Jackie prodding her son to step forward and salute his daddy’s coffin, I see a conniving wife and mother who knew where the cameras were, and knew how to make journalistic history. And maybe that is the job of the wife of a public figure, to embody the hearts and minds of the population. But I have always felt like the Kennedys were more manipulators than public servants, and that Jackie fit right in with them.

Ok, hit me with your best shot.......


34 posted on 12/09/2010 8:28:26 AM PST by Badabing Badablonde (New to the internet? CLICK HERE)
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To: Texan Tory

What are your reasons for ranking Bubba above JFK?


35 posted on 12/09/2010 8:31:28 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: 2banana

They always leave that last part out, don’t they? I guess it isn’t acceptable to expect other countries to contribute to their own well being.


36 posted on 12/09/2010 8:36:55 AM PST by ruiner
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To: SeekAndFind
Remember the Kennedy era well, I was in my mid-teens. The media loved Kennedy, he was far younger & much more charismatic than Eisenhower ... plus he was a democ’Rat. Ben Bradlee editor at the Washington Post (a fellow Bostonian) practically lived at the White House during the Kennedy years. Kennedy was a product of a constant positive spin barrage by the liberal media. Camelot? Give me a f’ing break ... JFK, in spite of all the media BS was a mediocre president at best.
37 posted on 12/09/2010 8:39:11 AM PST by BluH2o
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To: nutmeg

.


38 posted on 12/09/2010 8:45:31 AM PST by nutmeg
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To: 2banana

“Anti-abortion (we can assume by being a ardent Roman Catholic)”

We can? JFK was not an “ardent Catholic” in my opinion. Many dems were prolife, I doubt if it was an effect of their faith, I just think common sense was perhaps more prevalent back then whether their religion confirmed the unborn being people or not.

Freegards


39 posted on 12/09/2010 8:57:04 AM PST by Ransomed
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To: SeekAndFind

“What are your reasons for ranking Bubba above JFK?”

Funny you should ask, because those two gave me the most pause, and I went back and forth a little on their ranking. I gave the slight edge to Clinton in the end, because he signed the Welfare Reform legislation, and because there was relative economic prosperity during his administration. I do give Kennedy credit for cutting taxes to stimulate the economy though.


40 posted on 12/09/2010 9:02:40 AM PST by Texan Tory
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To: SeekAndFind

Kennedy is popular because of a sustained PR campaign by the leftist media.


41 posted on 12/09/2010 9:04:44 AM PST by DaxtonBrown (HARRY: Money Mob & Influence (See my Expose on Reid on amazon.com written by me!))
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To: dfwgator
JFK represents the final victory of “Style over Substance.”

This true. Especially with the advent of TV which showcased his "boyish charm" - as compared to previous CiCs..

However, ya gotta tip your hat to his sound-bytes, which were memorable and delivered with a sense of sincere promise:

"Ich bin ein Berliner!"

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

"We will go to the moon. We will go to the moon and do other things, NOT because they are easy but because they are HARD.”

42 posted on 12/09/2010 9:06:04 AM PST by Conservative Tsunami
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To: SeekAndFind
Report: "A conservative friend of mine asked me why the public continues to rank John F. Kennedy first among Barack Obama’s nine predecessors in public opinion surveys, as they did again just this week..."

Response: Media hype and an electorate 50% of which have an IQ below 100.

43 posted on 12/09/2010 9:07:02 AM PST by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: old3030

Can you believe that he appointed his own brother as Attorney General?

Imagine if President Bush had put Jeb in that slot, LOL.


44 posted on 12/09/2010 9:10:11 AM PST by donna (Synonyms: Feminism, Marxism, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Islamism, Darwinism)
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To: Badabing Badablonde
I see a conniving wife and mother who knew where the cameras were, and knew how to make journalistic history. And maybe that is the job of the wife of a public figure, to embody the hearts and minds of the population. But I have always felt like the Kennedys were more manipulators than public servants, and that Jackie fit right in with them.

Ok, hit me with your best shot.......

Compared to the cheezy-bad acting of the current First Slob and her "Can't-Hide-Da-Hate" family, the Kennedys were Academy Award winners if and when they were acting.

45 posted on 12/09/2010 9:12:50 AM PST by Conservative Tsunami
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To: FromLori
Thanks for the information Lori..I have to go out right now, but will read this when i get back it is something new to me..To tell the truth I thought the same about Johnson he was a SOB and anyone that would tell the truth about him would say the same..So yes he could have been involved with the assassination of Kennedy..
46 posted on 12/09/2010 9:15:41 AM PST by PLD
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To: SeekAndFind

He ranks first among past 9 Presidents because of his funeral, with the pretty wife and brave little son. Sentimentality, nothing more.


47 posted on 12/09/2010 9:18:52 AM PST by flowerplough (Pennsylvania today - New New Jersey meets North West Virginia. Or maybe we're North Alabama.)
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To: donna
Can you believe that he appointed his own brother as Attorney General?

Imagine if President Bush had put Jeb in that slot, LOL.

That'd have driven the Dems WILD.

GW did assign Poppy an "Ambassadorship" however. Along with Bubba to campaign for Tsunami relief. That kinda drove conservatives crazy.

48 posted on 12/09/2010 9:19:20 AM PST by Conservative Tsunami
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To: SeekAndFind

Here’s the legacy that I personally remember from the Kennedy years:

Hiding under school desks in futile bomb drill exercises. Good thing I didn’t comprehend the destructive power of Russian nukes back then.


49 posted on 12/09/2010 9:24:10 AM PST by TexasRepublic (Socialism is the gospel of envy and the religion of thieves)
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To: SeekAndFind

Rankings IMO since 1960—— Reagan, Bush Sr, JFK, Nixon, Bush Jr, Ford, Clinton, Carter, OBama


50 posted on 12/09/2010 9:27:33 AM PST by tflabo
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