Skip to comments.Nixon and Kennedy: The Myths and Reality
Posted on 11/19/2013 9:12:32 AM PST by Kaslin
Had there been no Dallas, there would been no Camelot.
There would have been no John F. Kennedy as brilliant statesman cut off in his prime, had it not been for those riveting days from Dealey Plaza to Arlington and the lighting of the Eternal Flame.
Along with the unsleeping labors of an idolatrous press and the propagandists who control America's popular culture, those four days created and sustained the Kennedy Myth.
But, over 50 years, the effect has begun to wear off.
The New York Times reports that in the ranking of presidents, Kennedy has fallen further and faster than any. Ronald Reagan has replaced him as No. 1, and JFK is a fading fourth.
Kennedy is increasingly perceived today as he was 50 years ago, before word came that shots had been fired in Dallas.
That he was popular, inspirational, charismatic, no one denied. But no one would then have called him great or near great. His report card had too many C's, F's and Incompletes.
His great legislative victory had been the passage of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. His tax cut bill was buried on the Hill.
His triumph had been forcing a withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. But we would learn this was done by a secret deal for the withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey and a secret pledge not to invade Cuba.
And after the missile crisis, Bobby Kennedy pushed the CIA to eliminate Castro, eliciting a warning from Fidel that two could play this game. Lyndon Johnson said that under the Kennedys, the CIA had been running "a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean."
What caused Nikita Khrushchev to think he could get away with putting rockets in Cuba? His perception that JFK was a weak president.
Kennedy had denied air cover for the Cuban patriots at the Bay of Pigs, resulting in the worst debacle of the Cold War. He was then berated and humiliated by Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit in June 1961.
In August, Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall. Kennedy sat paralyzed.
In September, Khrushchev smashed the three-year-old nuclear test-ban moratorium with a series of explosions featuring, at Novaya Zemlya, a 57-megaton "Tsar Bomba," the largest man-made blast ever.
"Less profile, more courage," the placards read.
In Southeast Asia, JFK had Averell Harriman negotiate a treaty for neutralizing Laos, resulting in Hanoi's virtual annexation of the Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos into South Vietnam.
Where Eisenhower had 600 advisers in Vietnam, JFK increased it to 16,000 and gave his blessing to a generals' coup in which our ally, President Ngo Dinh Diem, was assassinated.
Then and there, Vietnam became America's war.
Kennedy had made a famous phone call to Mrs. Martin Luther King during the 1960 campaign when her husband had been arrested. Yet, he kept his administration away from the March on Washington and directed J. Edgar Hoover to wiretap Dr. King to learn of his associations with Communists.
Since his death, Kennedy's reputation has been ravaged by revelations of assignations and mistresses from Marilyn Monroe to Mafia molls to White House interns from Miss Porter's School.
All of this was covered up by his courtier journalists who would collaborate in perpetuating the Kennedy myth and collude in destroying their great hate object, Richard Nixon.
Yet, contrast what Nixon did, with what JFK failed to do.
Where Kennedy managed to get Gov. George Wallace to admit two black students to the University of Alabama, Nixon desegregated 70 percent of all Southern public schools.
Where the JFK-LBJ administration spent eight years putting 535,000 U.S. troops into a war they could neither end nor win, Nixon withdrew all U.S. troops in four years, brought home the POWs, and left every provincial capital in South Vietnamese hands.
Where Kennedy had the Peace Corps, Nixon ended the draft, gave 18-year-olds the right to vote, created an Environmental Protection Agency and a Cancer Institute and an Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Where Kennedy gave speeches about detente, Nixon negotiated the greatest arms treaties since the Washington Naval Agreement -- SALT I and the ABM treaty -- ended decades of hostility between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China, rescued Israel in the Yom Kippur War, and pulled Egypt out of the Soviet bloc into the U.S. camp.
Creating a new majority that would dominate presidential politics until 1992, Nixon was rewarded with a 49-state landslide in 1972.
Whereupon a press elite that had maintained a conspiracy of silence on Kennedy's misconduct, seized on Nixon's failure to deal decisively with misconduct in his campaign to bring him down in the first successful coup d'etat in U.S. political history.
The mythologizing of JFK and demonization of Nixon tell us less about respective accomplishments than the moral character of an establishment, which, though it had lost America by '72, still controlled the culture, media, bureaucracy and Congress.
And as they brought down Nixon with Watergate, they would seek to bring down Reagan with Iran-Contra. But that coup failed.
well lemme see, a believer in smaller government. managed to crush a strike.espoused supply side economics. big favorite of the super rich....geez. am i talking about kennedy or reagan?
There is a reason dictators hate a free press.
Nixon also came up with Affirmative Action and, in doing so, managed to give the Democrats more power than they could have imagined.
Over the years, I have both celebrated and reviled Pat Buchanan. I supported him in the 1996 primaries and worked in his campaign in Louisiana. I was furious with him for his non-support when we had troops in harm’s way in the Second Gulf War.
But when he gets his pencil good and sharp, no one can turn a phrase any better.
I remember my 9h grade civics teacher telling me that Goldwater was more popular than Kennedy. That had to be shortly before the assassination of Kennedy, followed by the character assassination of Goldwater by LBJ.
I never bought it. Not even close.
Kennedy would not be welcomed in the Democrat Party of Reid-Pelousy-ohBummer.
especially for his “ask not...” speech. the dems got 180 degrees turned around with that one, eh?
C'mon Pat...your bragging about these????
What is the consensus on FR, I wonder.
Did LBJ have JFK murdered?
Was LBJ about to be dropped from the ticket in 1964, then prosecuted for his massive corruption?
Was the shooter Oswald, or Malcolm Wallace and/or others?
Did LBJ dive to the floor of his car as it entered Dealey Plaza, before the first shot was fired?
LBJ was a vile human being and I think he could have had a role in the assassination.
LBJ coined the term affirmative action at his speech at Howard University in 1965, but Nixon made it a reality. Julie Nixon Eisenhower in time took it to mean she had to endorse Obama.
I read recently that LBJ is believed to have ordered ten to seventeen murders.
My first taste of politics came in the Nixon/Kennedy campaign. I was in 1st grade. We walked to school in those days (unsupervised!). The big kids (3rd graders?) were guarding the entrywalk to the school and asking us all who our parents were going to vote for. “What are the choices?” says I. “Nixon or Kennedy” says they. I chose Nixon and received my introduction to the way Kennedy Democrats play politics in Massachusetts. Helping ‘Rats to fail has been a lifelong obsession ever since.
“Did LBJ dive to the floor of his car as it entered Dealey Plaza, before the first shot was fired?”
I say no, because too many people would have seen it. Somebody would have talked.
“LBJ was a vile human being and I think he could have had a role in the assassination.”
Sure he could, but there was such a long line of people who wanted JFwadK dead, that one guess is as good as another.
did you ever hear/see this interview? It might remove any doubt.
A very strange statement. He seems to have forgotten the video of the last helicopters leaving the embassy, all the boat people in the harbor, the mass killings, and the takeover of the South by the North, all in less than a year.
To suggest this was a Nixonian triumph is a bit much.
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