Another world, another time. I ran across a clip of President Kennedy (JFK) talking about Social Security and the need for a national health care program. He was so easy to listen to, so eloquent without being stilted or dense in wordage. And he was a rich kid and maybe a bit like FDR, who some called a “traitor to his class”. He talked of looking out for “working people” who did not want a hand out, just some assistance. He gently mocked the men of business who said a minimum wage would wipe them out and destroy the self-reliance of working people.
I was only a freshman in high school when JFK was assassinated, but I remember him.
On this clip, listen to his reference about the men in straw hats and canes (how quaint).
Kennedy might be thought of as a liberal in today’s politics but I think he more accurately would be described as “progressive”. At one time there were progressive Republicans, in fact, if memory serves me correctly, it was the Republicans who had the original progressives. Think of Teddy Roosevelt.
Whatever. JFK was not perfect, and he made major errors — the Bay of Pigs comes to mind (although it was set into motion by the previous Republican administration).
But he stood up to the Soviet Union in Cuba and he forced two Southern Governors to step aside when they tried to bodily prevent black students from entering publicly-funded universities.
He was cool under fire. He did not engage in bombast. And yet he could be forceful. He had the gift of charm that worked with women and men. Well, not completely: unfortunately, in his push for civil rights he faced a recalcitrant congress. Back in his day there were still segregationists in the Democratic Party (they would later move to the Republican Party when LBJ pushed through civil rights legislation. The party of Lincoln, who freed the slaves, became the modern party that tried to keep the descendants of slaves down).
Today’s Republican presumptive nominee for president is a rich man who claims to be beholding to no one. Whether that is true or not, he seems mainly to be concerned about himself, about his brand as a tough guy, who insults who he pleases, dispenses with manners, and encourages divisions in society and violence that can go with it. And he is not a bit eloquent and his message is always a bit unclear (except for the hate and violence part) or short on details and subject to change, literally from one minute to the next.
We just don’t have politicians like JFK today.
I’m not sure how he would fare in today’s atmosphere. In fact, today’s atmosphere is a lot like the hate-filled atmosphere in Dallas, Tex, where JFK met his end.
(That is not to say that there were not gracious and civil-minded people in Dallas — admirers and the curious crowded the streets to see him and were horrified when they either saw what happened or got the news, but the hate mongers had their effect then and seem to now.)
Oh, and one more thing. All those chicken hawks who talk tough militarily, who never served themselves, seem so small standing in the shadow of JFK who served as a skipper of a PT boat in the South Pacific in World War II, and rescued men of his own crew after enemy action.