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Why Ronald Reagan beats John F. Kennedy as a better presdient
Irish Voice ^ | Thursday, January 27, 2011 | Tom Deignan

Posted on 01/27/2011 1:14:16 PM PST by presidio9

The 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration recently passed, and the event was marked by much hoopla.

There were nostalgic observations about the brilliance of JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speech that frigid January morning back in 1960.

And there was also a fair bit of blarney, such as pundit Chris Matthews on The Colbert Report implying that JFK became president at a time when there were still “No Irish Need Apply” signs.

(Matthews, by the way, more than made up for this slip by writing a brilliant piece in The Washington Post about the very Irish, bipartisan friendship between Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan.)

Things also devolved into the absurd when it was revealed that the History Channel would not be running a docu-drama based on the life of JFK and other members of that fabled clan. Apparently, certain Kennedy family members did not want the shocking news revealed that JFK might have had a roving eye!

What not many people have noticed is that all of these JFK memories came just as folks on the other side of the political aisle were celebrating the centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

Perhaps people have not linked these two events because JFK is arguably the most iconic Democrat of the past half a century, while Reagan is the most iconic Republican.

That being the case -- to go along with the fact that both Reagan and JFK have strong Irish roots -- it does beg the question -- who is the greatest, the most enduring, Irish American president?

JFK’s Irish roots, of course, are beyond reproach. The story of the journey from the wharves of Boston to Harvard to the White House has been told many times.

Perhaps this is what Ronald Reagan’s son Ron Junior had in mind when he traced his own presidential dad’s roots in his new book My Father at 100.

Yes, we know Reagan’s dad was an Irish Catholic with a drinking problem, and that Dutch’s great-grandfather, Michael, left Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary, for the U.S. But Ron Junior traces the Reagan roots all the way back to 10th century Ireland. None of which is necessary. Because in the end, Ronald Reagan’s greatest impact on Irish America – for better worse – could be seen in the past several decades. In that sense, Reagan is very similar to JFK.

Fifty years ago, it may have been hard to find a “No Irish Need Apply” sign.

But many Irish were still working class members of tough ethnic neighborhoods, not to mention devout members of a foreign religion. (It was only in 1950 that Paul Blanshard’s best-selling anti-Catholic tract American Freedom and Catholic Power sold almost half a million copies.)

Thus, the election of JFK was seen as an arrival, if not to the mainstream, then at least respectability.

Ah, but how the times swiftly changed. That hard-earned respectability was often sneered at as JFK’s noble 1960s veered off course and steered the U.S. into a period bordering on cultural anarchy.

A mere five years after JFK’s death, Reagan, in his run for the governor’s seat in California, tapped into Irish American frustration. A group that had striven so hard for acceptance was now being told that it was lame and square to strive for acceptance.

As the old saying goes, you become more conservative when you actually have something to conserve. This was only more true by 1980.

And of course, it is easy to see a connection between JFK’s poignant journey to his ancestral home in New Ross, Co. Wexford, in 1963, and Reagan’s trip to Ballyporeen some 20 years later.

But Reagan probably cemented his relationship with the Irish and other white ethnics in 1986 during the 100th anniversary celebrations for the Statue of Liberty – which was seen as a new Plymouth Rock for generations of Irish Americans who had intermarried with other ethnic groups.

Who’s the greatest Irish president? In just 1,000 days, JFK did set a tone and agenda remarkable for its ambition, from civil rights and the cold war to space exploration.

Reagan, though, was a game-changer. Even Democrats who have sought to carry JFK’s torch -- Obama, Clinton -- have voiced admiration for The Gipper and even copied certain policies, from cutting taxes to cultural conservatism.

Again, for better or worse.

(Contact tomdeignan@earthlink.net)


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: camelot; cicero; jfk; ronaldreagan

1 posted on 01/27/2011 1:14:18 PM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9

Maybe it’s because JFK left an expanding Soviet Empire and Reagan left a collapsing one.


2 posted on 01/27/2011 1:16:20 PM PST by Seruzawa (If you agree with the French raise your hand - If you are French raise both hands.)
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To: presidio9

Reagan brought down the Soviet Union. When Kennedy had the opportunity to overthrow Castro at the Bay of Pigs, he chickened out.


3 posted on 01/27/2011 1:19:04 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: presidio9

the event was marked by much hoopla

What hoopla, the guy had one good line in all of his presidency they have replayed a million times, is that the hoopla?


4 posted on 01/27/2011 1:19:28 PM PST by Jolla
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To: Seruzawa

UHH because Ronald Reagan didn’t have his daddy connect w/ the Chicago MOB(who does THIS sound like?) to put him in the White House.


5 posted on 01/27/2011 1:20:12 PM PST by US Navy Vet
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


6 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:04 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


7 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:44 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


8 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:52 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


9 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:55 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


10 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:55 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


11 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:55 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

Still though the American people will always rank JFK higher because they still believe in what EMK always called “the dream lives on.” It means different things to different person, but probably not the socialism it is.


12 posted on 01/27/2011 1:27:55 PM PST by Theodore R. (Rush was right when he said America may survive Obama but not the Obama supporters.)
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To: presidio9

IMO, JFK is way overrated. He was young, handsome, a democrat and got shot....and was hence glorified.

Coolidge at the other end of the spectrum...possibly the most underrated.


13 posted on 01/27/2011 1:29:39 PM PST by SMCC1
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To: presidio9

Because Reagan was successful in restoring America’s greatness and expanding American exceptionalism within and without our borders while Kennedy was running aroud tapping every floozy he could get his hands on and allowing government employees to unionize?


14 posted on 01/27/2011 1:32:07 PM PST by Buckeye Battle Cry (Conservatives want a CHOICE not an echo - No more RINOs!)
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To: Jolla

“What hoopla, the guy had one good line in all of his presidency they have replayed a million times, is that the hoopla?”

####

Speaking of single lines being blown out of proportion:

He also gets WAY too much credit for the triumphs and magnificent achievements of NASA.


15 posted on 01/27/2011 1:32:51 PM PST by EyeGuy (Gimme Shelter)
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To: Jolla

“What hoopla, the guy had one good line in all of his presidency they have replayed a million times, is that the hoopla?”

####

Speaking of single lines being blown out of proportion:

He also gets WAY too much credit for the triumphs and magnificent achievements of NASA.


16 posted on 01/27/2011 1:33:10 PM PST by EyeGuy (Gimme Shelter)
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To: Jolla

the guy had one good line in all of his presidency they have replayed a million times...

I assume you’re referring to the “Ask not what your country can do for you...” line?

This assumes that we exist to serve the State. Few have caught on to the Marxism inherent in this line.

In any case, say what you will about the guy - and I’ve said plenty of negative things about him in my time - I would vote for the likes of him in a heartbeat. He lowered taxes. He served his country in time of war. He had a sense of humor on a par with Reagan even though he lacked the training in these matters that Reagan had.
The rest of the family - that’s a whole ‘nother story...


17 posted on 01/27/2011 1:33:32 PM PST by Paisan
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To: presidio9

Kind of like comparing a flea on a dog’s butt (JFK) to a prime thoroughbred horse - Jack Kennedy was an immoral, disease-ridden, drug addicted, spineless narcissist with one hand on the nuclear button and the other on some chippy’s boobs. His daddy was a gangster and nazi lover who was wholly owned by Sam Giancana and the Chicago mob.
Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of my lifetime (I’m 58) and I hope too see another before it’s time to go.


18 posted on 01/27/2011 1:35:55 PM PST by dainbramaged (If you want a friend, get a pit bull.)
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To: presidio9

Maybe because Reagan was from humble beginiings and worked for a living. OTOH, JFK lived off the ill-gotten gains of his bootlegging, criminal, womanizing, mafia-loving, daughter-lobotomizing father. Good character in the genes vs bad character.


19 posted on 01/27/2011 1:40:07 PM PST by MayflowerMadam (Whatever you are filled with will spill out when you're bumped.)
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To: presidio9

JFK was a flawed human being and a mediocre president. But he wasn’t nearly as bad as the one we have now.


20 posted on 01/27/2011 1:40:33 PM PST by altura
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To: dainbramaged
JFK's assassination plummeted him to immortality. He was otherwise not much of a president. Media hyped Camelot.
21 posted on 01/27/2011 1:42:07 PM PST by onyx (If you truly support Sarah Palin and want to be on her busy ping list, let me know!)
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To: Blood of Tyrants

“When Kennedy had the opportunity to overthrow Castro at the Bay of Pigs, he chickened out.”

Moreover, his youthful inexperience led the Soviet leadership to think they could get away with placing missiles in Cuba, bringing us closer to nuclear war than at any other time in history. JFK had the luck of the Irish to dodge a catastrophe during that crisis. By the time Reagan took office, the Soviets had reached parity or possibly attained slight strategic superiority in nuclear weaponry with the U.S. Yet I would argue that the U.S. was far safer under Reagan’s watch than JFK’s.


22 posted on 01/27/2011 1:52:55 PM PST by DrC
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To: MayflowerMadam

“Maybe because Reagan was from humble beginiings and worked for a living. OTOH, JFK lived off the ill-gotten gains of his bootlegging, criminal, womanizing, mafia-loving, daughter-lobotomizing father. Good character in the genes vs bad character.” Ya forgot NAZI-Loving too!


23 posted on 01/27/2011 1:54:33 PM PST by US Navy Vet
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To: altura

Assassin’s bullets have a habit of over-hyping their recipient’s historical reputations. JFK was a mediocre president, MLK was a quasi-communist and serial adulter, which you won’t hear much about these days.

I bet if that assassination attempt against Hitler had succeeded in 1944, he would have enjoyed a much higher reputation than he has today after committing a squalid act of suicide in his bunker...


24 posted on 01/27/2011 1:57:17 PM PST by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: Paisan
This assumes that we exist to serve the State. Few have caught on to the Marxism inherent in this line."

Actually, I think the Marxism is inherent in your interpretation. You are equating the government with the country. I see them as two very different, if not competing entities. The way our founders envisioned America, if you are living up to your full potential as an individual, you are in fact serving the ideals America was founded on. One needn't serve the "state" i.e. government to serve one's country.

25 posted on 01/27/2011 2:02:13 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: onyx

Reagan’s brain was functioning at a higher level when he left office?


26 posted on 01/27/2011 2:05:40 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: sinsofsolarempirefan

MLK= Martin Luther King?

News to me that a card-carrying Republican in the mid 1960’s was a communist. Can you document that?


27 posted on 01/27/2011 2:13:37 PM PST by Don W
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To: Joe 6-pack

This may, in fact, have been JFK’s intent. Still, if you look at the Liberal intepretation of his statement, many people took his remarks to mean “Government Service”. You perhaps remember young people especially who saw this as a left-wing rallying cry to “get into” politics on behalf of misguided liberal causes.
As I see it, the primary purpose of government, is to Provide for the common defense. If I participate in this, I have indeed ‘served my country’. Beyond that, I think that most of us here, at Free Republic, would prefer to be left alone...


28 posted on 01/27/2011 2:18:59 PM PST by Paisan
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To: sinsofsolarempirefan

BTW, I did a Dogpile search using “Martin Luther King communist sympathiser” as the search term, and every link I clicked on was a refutation of the claim.

Even Snopes says NOT true.


29 posted on 01/27/2011 2:25:49 PM PST by Don W (Only a Biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.)
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To: Paisan
In his book Liberal Fascism, Jonah Goldberg made an assessment of that line that essentialy mirrors yours, and I think, especially given the whole peace corps and public service things, that certainly may have been part of Kennedy's intent, but I also think he was alluding to every person in every vocation as well.

IMHO, we let the left control too much of the vocabulary in our national dialogue, and they have long worked to forge equivalence between "government" and "country". Remember after OKC, Clinton's line, "You can't say you love your country, and hate your government"? I would beg to differ with him, and I suspect our founders would too.

In any case, IMHO, my "country" and its ideals were established by, and codified in the Declaration of Independence. The American nation is an idea, which I try to serve every day, and expect nothing from. As a veteran, I'm certainly not saying that government service is irreconcilable with serving one's country, and in fact should be perfectly compatible with it, but historically speaking, it does not always work out that way, and when some in government are their to serve themselves rather than the public, the interests of the government can be directly at odds with the interest of the nation.

30 posted on 01/27/2011 2:31:37 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: presidio9

JFK accomplished little. Most of his legacy is the result of Lee Harvey Oswald being a better marksman than John Warnock Hinckley, Jr.


31 posted on 01/27/2011 2:31:37 PM PST by MIchaelTArchangel (Obama makes me miss Jimmah Cahtah!)
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To: altura

The author is flawed. JFK delivered his inaugural speech on a cold day in 1961! NOT 1960. He was still running for POTUS in 1960.


32 posted on 01/27/2011 2:32:48 PM PST by boop ("Let's just say they'll be satisfied with LESS"... Ming the Merciless)
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To: presidio9
I love to ask liberals of a certain age to tell me what exactly, besides cut taxes, JFK actually did. Sometimes they mention his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I respond that it never would have happened if he hadn't wussed out at the Bay of Pigs.

Really, what did he accomplish? The Peace Corp? a great front for the CIA. Alliance for Progress? Ditto and a great tool for imperialism.

JFK did nothing and accomplished nothing but in that sense, he's the perfect leftist hero.

33 posted on 01/27/2011 2:38:49 PM PST by muir_redwoods (Obama. Chauncey Gardiner without the homburg.)
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To: Don W

Well, lets just say the communist sympathiser label is not proven. He was certainly an adulter though.
Also bear in mind that back in the 60s, black people were still generally republican in their sympathies because Democrats were still associated with the old dixiecrats that had held sway in the South since the Civil War. MLK would probably have transferred his allegience like many of his friends such as Jesse Jackson did to the Democrat Party had he lived...


34 posted on 01/27/2011 2:56:57 PM PST by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: Jolla; Paisan; EyeGuy
What hoopla, the guy had one good line in all of his presidency they have replayed a million times, is that the hoopla?

This assumes that we exist to serve the State. Few have caught on to the Marxism inherent in this line.

Actually, it was Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman Consul, philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, constitutionalist and Republican who said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country,” some time in the first century BC. A thousand years from now, historians will remember Cicero long after JFK has become a footnote in our American story.

Incidently, Cicero was peaking to the Senate, not the citizens, when he said it.

35 posted on 01/27/2011 7:39:48 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: All

Cicero

36 posted on 01/27/2011 7:48:19 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: Paisan
In any case, say what you will about the guy - and I’ve said plenty of negative things about him in my time - I would vote for the likes of him in a heartbeat.

Let's see: He ran against Nixon and would have run against Goldwater. Are you sure you're on the right website here?

37 posted on 01/27/2011 7:55:28 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: Seruzawa

Ron’s tax cuts, defeating the Cold War opponents, giving America confidence after Nam, and for valuing Const. as well as Biblical values makes Reagan easily the best Prez since Teddy Roosevelt. FDR, IKE JFK all have some cred because of military experience in war and love for the nation even if two of the 3 seemed to love Federal Expansion but at least they all loved America. I cannot say that about the present WH resident. I wish I could because of my age and patriotism but I cannot.


38 posted on 01/27/2011 8:38:02 PM PST by phillyfanatic
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To: presidio9
JFK did set a tone and agenda remarkable for its ambition, from civil rights and the cold war to space exploration. But how did it get done?

Reagan, though, was a game-changer.

Any adult back then with an ounce of political sense knew John F. Kennedy was one thing: he was telegenic. Period.

Without TV JFK would never have gotten enough authentic votes to enable the Mob and Democrat party fraudulent votes to steal the election.

Anyone remember Vaughn Meader comedy albums? The Kennedys were show business.. ruthless though when it came to getting what they wanted. Especially RFK.

Reagan was the real deal. JFK was fluff by comparison; superficial, a Senate super rich playboy -- and a playboy president. Surprise.

39 posted on 01/27/2011 8:44:28 PM PST by WilliamofCarmichael (If modern America's Man on Horseback is out there, Get on the damn horse already!)
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To: presidio9

Where are the likes of Nixon & Goldwater today?


40 posted on 01/28/2011 2:54:28 AM PST by Paisan
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To: Paisan

Many of the ‘other’ clan had a fit when Rush would mention that JFK was a fiscal conservative.


41 posted on 01/28/2011 4:41:42 AM PST by mathluv ( Conservative first and foremost, republican second - GO SARAHCUDA!!!!)
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To: sinsofsolarempirefan

MLK’s “I have a dream’ speech is ignored by today’s current ‘black leaders’. They seem to prefer not to remember ‘the content of their character’ part.


42 posted on 01/28/2011 4:44:36 AM PST by mathluv ( Conservative first and foremost, republican second - GO SARAHCUDA!!!!)
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To: Paisan
Where are the likes of Nixon & Goldwater today?

It has always been my opinion that that the Bushes are lot more like Nixon than they are like Reagan. Politically, not personally.

There are plenty of Goldwaters in politics today, they are equally unelectable beyond states like Arizona.

43 posted on 01/29/2011 10:20:53 AM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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