In a New York Times op-ed John F. Kennedyâ€™s daughter, Caroline Kennedy – a direct link to an era nostalgic Dems wistfully refer to as â€œCamelotâ€ – endorses Barack Obama (D-IL) in the presidential primaries:
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.
We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isnâ€™t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country – just as we did in 1960. â€¦
I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.
I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president – not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.
Without a doubt, Obamaâ€™s candidacy has been inspirational to Americans across the political spectrum. He makes a convincing case that cynicism has held this countryâ€™s aspirations hostage for too long â€“ and the sleazy, divisive campaign tactics used against him by Bill and Hillary Clinton illustrate his point all-too-well. But when you compare their stump speeches and voting records, the real difference between Obama and Hillary is style, not substance. JFK would be aghast at the Dem dogma that the partyâ€™s presidential candidate dutifully – and uncritically â€“ recite by rote, especially on matters of national security.
For instance, would JFK have opposed going to war against Iraq as Obama has? Based on the available intelligence about Saddam Husseinâ€™s WMD program, probably not. On the other hand, JFK would also give careful consideration to initiating military action in Pakistan if there is reliable, actionable intelligence on al Qaedaâ€™s movements and Usama bin Ladenâ€™s whereabouts, as Obama has advocated.
Any similarities between Obama and JFK are superficial, and a stronger case can be made that George W. Bush is more JFK-like.
Throughout his political career, JFK was a staunch anti-communist. In 1954 he was the only Dem senator who did not vote to condemn Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade; running against then-Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election he (falsely) accused the Eisenhower administration for falling behind the Soviet Union in stockpiling ballistic missiles; as president, his foreign policy initiatives were focused on resisting the spread of Communism in Latin America and in the Western hemisphere (the â€œKennedy Doctrineâ€).
Indeed, the Bush Doctrine is eerily evocative of the foreign policy vision that JFK laid out, if one substitutes â€œradical Islamic terrorismâ€ in place of â€œCommunismâ€:
â€œLet 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. â€¦ Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? â€¦ 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.â€ – JFKâ€™s inaugural address, January, 20, 1961
â€œThere is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom. â€¦ So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. â€¦ Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. â€¦ Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself – and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.â€ – GWBâ€™s second inaugural address, January, 20, 2005
“(The next President) must above all be the Chief Executive in every sense of the word. He must be prepared to exercise the fullest powers of his office — all that are specified and some that are not…. He must reopen the channels of communication between the world of thought and the seat of power… must know when to lead the Congress, when to consult it and when he should act alone…. It is the President alone who must make the major decisions of our foreign policy…. Even domestically, the President must initiate policies and devise laws to meet the needs of the Nation. And he must be prepared to use all the resources of his office to ensure the enactment of that legislation — even when conflict is the result…. The White House is not only the center of political leadership, it must also be the center of moral leadership…. We will need in the sixties a President who is willing and able to summon his national constituency to its finest hour — to alert the people to our dangers and our opportunities — to demand of them the sacrifices that will be necessary.”
Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.