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Would Democrats Embrace a JFK Today?
Townhall.com ^ | October 20, 2013 | Jeff Jacoby

Posted on 10/21/2013 4:50:15 AM PDT by Kaslin

As Democrats begin maneuvering for the 2016 presidential race, there isn't one who would think of disparaging John F. Kennedy's stature as a Democratic Party hero. Yet it's a pretty safe bet that none would dream of running on Kennedy's approach to government or embrace his political beliefs.

Today's Democratic Party — the home of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Al Gore — wouldn't give the time of day to a candidate like JFK.

The 35th president was an ardent tax-cutter who championed across-the-board, top-to-bottom reductions in personal and corporate tax rates, slashed tariffs to promote free trade, and even spoke out against the "confiscatory" property taxes being levied in too many cities.

He was anything but a big-spending, welfare-state liberal. "I do not believe that Washington should do for the people what they can do for themselves through local and private effort," Kennedy bluntly asserted during the 1960 campaign. It was a message he memorably restated in his inaugural address: "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." One of his first acts as president was to institute a pay cut for top White House staffers, and that was only the start of his budgetary austerity. "To the surprise of many of his appointees," longtime aide Ted Sorensen would later write, he "personally scrutinized every agency request with a cold eye and encouraged his budget director to say 'no.'"

On the other hand, he was a Cold War anticommunist who aggressively increased military spending. He faulted his Republican predecessor for tailoring the nation's military strategy to fit the budget, rather than the other way around. "We must refuse to accept a cheap, second-best defense," JFK said during his run for the White House. He made good on that pledge, pushing defense spending to 50 percent of federal expenditures and 9 percent of GDP, both far higher than today's levels. Speaking in Texas just hours before his death, he proudly took credit for building the US military into "a defense system second to none."

Since that terrible day in Dallas 50 years ago, popular mythology has turned Kennedy into a liberal hero. Some of that mythmaking, as journalist and historian Ira Stoll argues in a new book, JFK, Conservative, was driven by Kennedy aides, such as Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who had always wanted their boss to be more left-leaning than he was. Some of it was fueled by the Democratic Party's emotional connection to the memory of a martyred president, and its understandable desire to link their priorities to his legacy.

But Kennedy was no liberal. By any reasonable definition, he was a conservative — and not just by the standards of our era, but by those of his era as well.

Stoll draws on an embarrassment of riches to make his case.

When the young JFK launched his first political campaign for the US House in 1946, a profile in Look magazine homed in on his conservatism:

"When young, wealthy, and conservative John Fitzgerald Kennedy announced for Congress, many people wondered why," it began. "Hardly a liberal even by his own standards, Kennedy is mainly concerned by what appears to him as the coming struggle between collectivism and capitalism. In speech after speech he charges his audience 'to battle for the old ideas with the same enthusiasm that people have for new ideas.'"

He hadn't changed his political stripes by the time he ran for the Senate in 1952, challenging incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Stoll notes that Massachusetts newspapers wanting to back a liberal in that race came out for the Republican — the Berkshire Eagle, for example, endorsed Lodge as "an invaluable voice for liberalism." When his re-election in 1958 made it clear that Kennedy would be running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked in a TV interview whom she would support if forced to choose "between a conservative Democrat like Kennedy and a liberal Republican [like] Rockefeller." FDR's widow, then as now a progressive icon, answered that she would all she could to make sure Kennedy wouldn't be the party's nominee.

Many on the left felt that way about JFK. When he decided to resume nuclear testing in 1962, Bertrand Russell attacked him as "much more wicked than Hitler," and Linus Pauling, who would receive that year's Nobel Peace Prize, predicted that he would "go down in history as … one of the greatest enemies of the human race." Left-wing intellectuals raged against Kennedy's failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro (the renowned sociologist C. Wright Mills said the administration had "returned us to barbarism"). Liberals within the administration expressed dismay for Kennedy's unwavering support for cutting taxes. A dismayed Schlesinger called one of Kennedy's tax-cut exhortations "the worst speech the president had ever given."

Nearly 30 years ago, an essay in Mother Jones magazine asked: "Would JFK Be a Hero Now?" If the answer wasn't obvious then, it certainly is now. In today's political environment, a candidate like JFK — a conservative champion of economic growth, tax cuts, limited government, peace through strength — plainly would be a hero. Whether he would be a Democrat is a different matter altogether.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: budgetandgovernment; demonrats; foreignaffairs; jfk; liberals

1 posted on 10/21/2013 4:50:15 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Nah. Too far right.

Even the Republicans would blame him on the TEA Party.

2 posted on 10/21/2013 4:52:17 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
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To: Kaslin

He wouldn’t even have been elected Senator in Taxachussetts...


3 posted on 10/21/2013 4:53:37 AM PDT by Hotlanta Mike ("Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish - too much handling will spoil it." Lao Tzu)
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To: Kaslin

Yep


4 posted on 10/21/2013 4:54:49 AM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: Kaslin

He also fought the Federal Reserve. Which is why he’s dead.


5 posted on 10/21/2013 4:56:15 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (Obama's favorite game is Pin the Fail on the Honkey!)
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To: Kaslin

There isn’t one America loving, constitution respecting democrat today. Not one. That’s all I know. This article serves no relevance except to rub salt in the wound of any liberty and freedom loving American.


6 posted on 10/21/2013 4:56:56 AM PDT by albie
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To: Kaslin

I just wish this country would stop worshipping him as some sort of demi-god. He’s benn dead 50 years - do we still need to see him on the cover of all the magazines?


7 posted on 10/21/2013 4:56:58 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (21st century. I'm not a fan.)
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To: Kaslin

It’s ironic that the modern Democrat Party fully embraces the myth of a liberal JFK yet completely ignores his successor,LBJ, who was a COMPLETE lefty and whose policies are responsible for many of today’s government problems .


8 posted on 10/21/2013 4:57:21 AM PDT by Le Chien Rouge
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To: Hotlanta Mike

It has been fifty YEARS, people. Children have been born, grown, up, married, produced children of their own, and those children have produced another generation in that span of time.

Teddy pretty much single-handedly subverted whatever memory there was of JFK, and the assassination of Robert pretty much sealed the record of whatever real accomplishments the original JFK may have produced. Much of JFK’s rhetoric is also similarly deleted or de-emphasized.


9 posted on 10/21/2013 4:59:27 AM PDT by alloysteel (Men may not always be capable of evil, but they are always capable of incompetence.)
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To: Kaslin

Sorenson gave Kennedy the expression, “A rising tide lifts all boats” in a speech, something he had seen in some New England newsletter, and Kennedy was on it like a duck on a junebug.
I suspect that he would be appalled by the Browns, Obamas, Clintons and Bidens. And the Sharptons, Jackson-Lees, McKinneys, et al? All the free-spending, whining grievance-mongers?
Fuggedaboutit.


10 posted on 10/21/2013 5:01:56 AM PDT by tumblindice (America's founding fathers: All armed conservatives.)
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To: Hotlanta Mike

Senator in Taxachussetts? Based on the article, the GOPe would call JFK a “Tea Party” wacko bird and do everything possible to marginalize him if they couldn’t beat him, a la Senator Ted Cruz.


11 posted on 10/21/2013 5:04:15 AM PDT by CitizenUSA (Conservatives are not anarchists!)
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To: CitizenUSA

Senator in Taxachussetts? Based on the article, the GOPe would call JFK a “Tea Party” wacko bird and do everything possible to marginalize him if they couldn’t beat him, a la Senator Ted Cruz.


That was my point. The democratic party today is a step away from communism.


12 posted on 10/21/2013 5:10:44 AM PDT by Hotlanta Mike ("Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish - too much handling will spoil it." Lao Tzu)
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To: Kaslin

Yes they would embrace him because his policies would have “evolved” over time and he would not be saying the same things as he did as President. Let’s keep in mind that Senator Ted Kennedy was a strong pro lifer in the early 70’s.


13 posted on 10/21/2013 5:12:07 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Kaslin

Didn’t we see this same article, or similar, during the Clinton presidency?


14 posted on 10/21/2013 5:12:08 AM PDT by billhilly (Has Pelosi read it yet?)
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To: Smokin' Joe
Yup. The words of his inaugural address would elicit gasps of disbelief, and opprobrium today. A very different world indeed:

"The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
15 posted on 10/21/2013 5:16:05 AM PDT by PowderMonkey (WILL WORK FOR AMMO)
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To: Kaslin

JFK’s policies were too conservative for today’s GOPe.

JFK was only leftist on unions and government unions. On economics and defense, he was conservative.


16 posted on 10/21/2013 5:19:09 AM PDT by magellan
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To: Kaslin
Most here will say ‘no’ because JFK was so much to the right of the current ‘Rat party. I'm going to say ‘yes’ because power is all they're after and as long as he calls himself a ‘Democrat’ and can win election they're going to support him. Everything else is malleable. “We've always been at war with ... who was it, now?”
17 posted on 10/21/2013 5:20:07 AM PDT by Paine in the Neck (Is John's moustache long enough YET?)
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To: Kaslin

They’d embrace a JFK just as much as a Zell Miller.


18 posted on 10/21/2013 5:21:25 AM PDT by C210N (When people fear government there is tyranny; when government fears people there is liberty)
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To: Kaslin

One other tidbit of information on JFK to drive the left nuts, he was an NRA lifetime member....


19 posted on 10/21/2013 5:21:27 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Kaslin

A Democrat? He couldn’t even be an Establishment Republican.


20 posted on 10/21/2013 5:24:23 AM PDT by hometoroost
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To: Hotlanta Mike

I’d say the Democrat Party is more fascist, not communist. Democrats are the party of big business and the wealthy. For all their talk about taxing the rich, they don’t confiscate wealth so much as direct how it’s acquired and used. There are no shortage of very, very rich Democrats.

The GOPe, btw, is much of the same. They, like the Democrats, collude with big business against the rights of common citizens. The so called “Tea Party” is far more populist than either the GOP or Democrats.


21 posted on 10/21/2013 5:27:01 AM PDT by CitizenUSA (Conservatives are not anarchists!)
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To: Kaslin

Yes, because JFK would be Bill Clinton.


22 posted on 10/21/2013 5:36:52 AM PDT by SC_Pete
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To: Kaslin

Sure they would. JFK was all style and very little substance. The perfect Democrat candidate.


23 posted on 10/21/2013 5:38:21 AM PDT by DoodleDawg
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I once heard that JFK gave a speech one week before he died where he said that the people were victims of an incredible hoax perpetrated by certain sections of the government
the government


24 posted on 10/21/2013 5:40:32 AM PDT by Mr. K (Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and then Democrat Talking Points.)
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To: Kaslin

They’d call him an arsonist, terrorist, denier, etc...

They’d be scratching their heads in wonder and disbelieve whenever he’d mention that he was against Communism


25 posted on 10/21/2013 5:49:58 AM PDT by PATRIOT1876
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To: Kaslin

They’d call him an arsonist, terrorist, denier, etc...

They’d be scratching their heads in wonder and disbelieve whenever he’d mention that he was against Communism


26 posted on 10/21/2013 5:50:09 AM PDT by PATRIOT1876
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To: Kaslin; Mr. K; LucyT; MeganC; NoGrayZone
Fun Fact, look up Executive Order 11110.

Another Fun Fact, when did Silver Disappear from change? 1964, replaced by Fiat Zinc.

Replaced by who? Lyndon Johnson.

Remember your Grandparents saying "I remember when Gas was 25 cents a gallon?"

Do you know why? Because a quarter was 90% Silver, and guess what? The Silver in a Pre-1964 Quarter is worth about 3.00 Bucks!

Remember Dime Stores? and now dollar stores? How much do you think a pre-1964 Dime is wroth?

Amazing isn't it?

27 posted on 10/21/2013 5:53:36 AM PDT by KC_Lion (Build the America you want to live in at your address, and keep looking up.-Sarah Palin)
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To: Kaslin

I’m sure he would have found a way to “grow in office”, like a lot of Republicans have after they get to Washington.


28 posted on 10/21/2013 5:59:25 AM PDT by Hardastarboard (You can keep your doctor - if you lock him in your basement.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

“I just wish this country would stop worshipping him as some sort of demi-god. He’s benn dead 50 years - do we still need to see him on the cover of all the magazines?”

They really just need his “Ask what you can do for your country” message; Obama’s large wife said Obama was going to demand that we work, and they have to frame it in a historical context. Today’s Dems are asking what their country can do for/give to them, and JFK is being resurrected to coerce white people to pay for it.


29 posted on 10/21/2013 6:00:53 AM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Hotlanta Mike

“That was my point. The democratic party today is a step away from communism.”

Listening to Bill DeBlasio (probably NYC’s next mayor), I think we can safely say they’ve taken that step. I don’t see any Dems distancing themselves from his rhetoric; in fact, he climbed even further in the polls after his honeymoon in Cuba and work with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were exposed.


30 posted on 10/21/2013 6:04:11 AM PDT by kearnyirish2 (Affirmative action is economic war against white males (and therefore white families).)
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To: Kaslin

Of course they would. They still adore JFK. Being a democrat means you can easily ignore your principles as long as it means you can control people by illusion or intimidation.


31 posted on 10/21/2013 6:46:04 AM PDT by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: albie
This article serves no relevance except to rub salt in the wound of any liberty and freedom loving American.

Beg to differ. WADR, it may help awaken some of the clueless. IF they ever get to see it.

32 posted on 10/21/2013 6:52:00 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: tumblindice

Well Ted sure wasn’t apalled by them.


33 posted on 10/21/2013 6:54:18 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Kaslin

Blackmail would be used to bring him in line.


34 posted on 10/21/2013 6:54:23 AM PDT by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: Smokin' Joe

JFK wouldn’t be a DemonRat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


35 posted on 10/21/2013 7:17:40 AM PDT by bandleader
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To: bmwcyle

For many, many years I have described myself as a JFK liberal. Then I explain my hatred of today’s radical leftists...


36 posted on 10/21/2013 7:19:54 AM PDT by thejokker
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To: thejokker

JFK tried to buck the elite and the killed him.


37 posted on 10/21/2013 7:26:01 AM PDT by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: Kaslin

I don’t care how conservative JFK was.

The 1965 Immigration Act that was passed in his honor, killed this country.


38 posted on 10/21/2013 9:22:45 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Kaslin
You mean JFK the admirer of Adolf Hitler?

The Dems probably still would...

Jesus Christ: You can’t impeach Him and He ain’t going to resign.



39 posted on 10/21/2013 9:56:21 AM PDT by rdb3 (What the scratch-and-sniff was that?!?)
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To: dfwgator

Which was promoted by his brother, the swimmer.


40 posted on 10/21/2013 10:48:59 AM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Kaslin
Of course today's Democrats would embrace JFK.

He was a known serial adulterer!!

They know NOTHING about his economic policies, which they would dismiss as nothing more than Tea party “propaganda”

41 posted on 10/21/2013 11:25:39 AM PDT by RedMonqey ("Gun-free zones" equal "Target-rich environment.")
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To: Kaslin

The left would love JFK if they knew what the result of his election would mean, which was the destruction of America and the end of conservative/traditional America.

Besides, JFK would be campaigning differently today, it is silly to snatch political figures from a past era and pretend that they would be the same today, I think that JFK would be much more openly liberal and Reagan would be much more conservative.

The election of JFK was the end of America, Vietnam, the 60s era, LBJ, government unions, and the fatal pill of immigration.

Democrats wrote a law to replace the American voter.

“However, if there is one man who can take the most credit for the 1965 act, it is John F. Kennedy. Kennedy seems to have inherited the resentment his father Joseph felt as an outsider in Boston’s WASP aristocracy. He voted against the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, and supported various refugee acts throughout the 1950s. In 1958 he wrote a book, A Nation of Immigrants, which attacked the quota system as illogical and without purpose, and the book served as Kennedy’s blueprint for immigration reform after he became president in 1960. In the summer of 1963, Kennedy sent Congress a proposal calling for the elimination of the national origins quota system. He wanted immigrants admitted on the basis of family reunification and needed skills, without regard to national origin. After his assassination in November, his brother Robert took up the cause of immigration reform, calling it JFK’s legacy. In the forward to a revised edition of A Nation of Immigrants, issued in 1964 to gain support for the new law, he wrote, “I know of no cause which President Kennedy championed more warmly than the improvement of our immigration policies.” Sold as a memorial to JFK, there was very little opposition to what became known as the Immigration Act of 1965.”


42 posted on 10/21/2013 2:37:40 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Democrats-"a party that since antebellum times has been bent on the dishonoring of humanity.)
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