Thursday, November 21, 2013

Myth and Reality Surround Kennedy


By Alan Caruba

I was in the Miami, Florida office of a human relations organization when someone burst in to say that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. The date was November 22, 1963, fifty years ago.

I was age 26, had graduated from the University of Miami, served in the Army until my discharge in 1962. My first job took me back to Miami, but at the time Kennedy was killed, my enthusiasm for it had departed and I took the occasion to let my boss know that I too was departing. I returned home to New Jersey where I would pursue a career in journalism for several years.

There are moments that mark one’s progress through life. For anyone alive at the time, most can tell you where they were. The Kennedy assassination didn’t just come as a shock to the nation; the world felt the loss as well. He was handsome, articulate, married to a beautiful wife, Jacqueline or Jackie as she was more often called. He had two cute children.

It was a time of considerable turmoil at home and abroad. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum. The women's rights movement began in earnest. Indeed, the entire decade left its mark on history. Just five years later in 1968 Kennedy’s brother, Robert, was assassinated during his campaign to become President. Two months earlier, in April, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis. 

No one wants to live such turmoil, but the 1960s bequeathed its values to our culture—sex, drugs and rock’n roll—and our politics. Without that decade’s civil rights movement, it is unlikely Americans would have elected a black President in 2008. Two generations have been born since the 1960s.

For those of us in our twenties fifty years ago, the optimism we felt with Kennedy in office was replaced with a growing sense of pessimism as the Vietnam War lingered through Johnson’s administration and into Nixon’s. Watergate severed most feelings of confidence in whoever was the nation’s chief executive until Ronald Reagan came on the scene. I am known these days as a conservative commentator, but back then I was a Democrat and a liberal.

Countless books have been written about Kennedy’s life and death. There have been films and television programs devoted to him. He wasn’t in office long, serving from 1961 to 1963, but his youth, his personality, his love of the arts, and other pleasing attributes made him very different from his older predecessors.  

America loves youth. It indulges the young, makes “idols” of some, and devotes most of its entertainment to them. They bring energy to the passing scene, but they are unwittingly and unknowingly the passing scene. Fifty years after the assassination is already “ancient” history to new generations.

Lost in the story of that fateful day is the fact that Kennedy was assassinated by a Communist.

That was my thought as I address the fact that fifty years have passed since JFK was killed. It is my generation who lived through the event. To think that a half-century has gone by since that day takes a moment to contemplate; to ask what I have done with my life since then. It is a question others of my generation will ask as well. In the past fifty years, with the exception of the 1980s, the nation has moved inexorably to the left.

History turns on such events. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 triggered World War One. The assassination of JFK led to the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson who dragged the nation into a distant civil war in Vietnam and included a fruitless domestic “war on poverty”, a liberal program that was doomed to failure in the same way Obamacare is.

As the French say, Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes—the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In retrospect many observers have concluded that Kennedy was in many respects a conservative. He was a religious man. He opposed Communism. He increased spending to the military. He cut taxes. One can go on, but it is obvious now that he was not the liberal many would have us believe. That is a myth.

As I think back, I realize how little I knew of the politics of the years in which I was attending university, serving in the Army, or working that first job in Miami. My political education began when I was a young journalist, but my political maturity did not begin until the 1980s when Ronald Reagan served his two terms.

It was nice being young when Kennedy was President. Being old as Barack Obama, a Marxist, uses the presidency to destroy the nation, is a nightmare.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

8 comments:

Ronald Barbour said...

@Alan:

Actually the country has been moving to the Left for more than 100 years starting with the administration of Teddy Roosevelt, the first Progressive president, who went on to create the first Progressive political party in 1912 he called the "Bull Moose Party."

The first Democrat Progressive was the white racist Woodrow Wilson, who had the world premier of the pro KKK "Birth of a Nation" at the White House in 1916, and his other big accomplishments were the direct election of U.S. Senators that cut the power of the various states to the bone, the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve.

Then came Progressive FDR and the New Deal in 1933...Lyndon Johnson and his 1960s Progressive baggage... ditto Jimmy Carter...ditto Bill Clinton...

In fact, in the entire 20th century there have only been two conservative presidents, Calvin Coolidge (1923 to 1929) and Ronald Reagan (1981 to 1989) whose administrations were very good for the economy.

However, in the 21st century the division of the United States into two hostile groups of Capitalist and Socialist are coming to head, and I predict the issue will not be determined by elections and letters to the editor, but on the battlefield of civil war.

The next ten years will be hell on earth in the USA.

Travis sez said...

Alan, I was 28, in my first year of law school in Berkeley, CA. I remember being in the hallway between classes when the news broke. At that time, I was also a Democrat, with a law & order bent. As a Criminology major and former police officer, I was interested in the details, etc. But it was still mind-numbing.

TexasFred said...

"but back then I was a Democrat and a liberal."

I think everyone in the South was a Dem, not all were Liberal but most were Dems...

I was 10 years old and remember that we were traveling back from Louisiana where most of the family lived, to Oklahoma where we lived..

I remember that we had stopped for lunch and when we walked into this roadside diner people were crying and shook up. My father asked what was wrong and that was how we heard the news..

I remember my Mother being glued to the TV for the next few days, she worshipped Kennedy, he was young, good looking, White and Catholic, she liked all of that, and she was devastated by his death.. I don't think she fully recovered until Reagan was elected..

The thing I remember most is the constant news reporting, and I am convinced that this is where the concept of 24/7 news like FOX, CNN and all the others came from..

I am sorry the man got killed but it was 50 years ago, and I am still convinced that Americans don't, and never will know the REAL story of that death...

Rest in Peace, if they will let you...

TL Winslow said...

The power of the Internet now allows anyone to scope JFK's assassination without unprecedented speed, accuracy, and depth. Give it a try with my cool free JFKScope at tinyurl.com/jfkscope

gawfer said...

I would submit this:

Just as gravity draws water downhill-following the path of least resistance, so does liberalism, decaying common sense and unraveling the moral fabric of this country. The water never stops; it only finds another avenue to obey the forces it has no control over.

You mentioned the ‘60’s; I grew up a mere 30 miles from Haight and Ashbury. Mom and dad thought our small town was untouchable; free from the insidious influence of corruption and narcissism. But like a plague, liberalism spread throughout the Bay Area, consuming every little hamlet and shire. There are still small pockets of conservatism scattered about, but even the Bay Area churches aren’t immune. Political correctness has harnessed the most charismatic leaders. Why? Because the human race is inherently lazy, continually seeking the easier road at the expense of those who fought and died to insure our freedom would continue.

Alexander Tytler(?) was credited with the following statement:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”
Now, it doesn’t really matter who said this, because there is much truth to the statement. We can clearly see the forthcoming demise of this once great nation and the freedom we lost while pursuing the path of least resistance. Here in California we have fallen so deep into a sea of dependence, bondage and debauchery, there really isn’t any hope. And the sad truth is, ‘as California goes, so goes the nation.’

Sorry for the incessant monolog, but today sucks more than others.

Alan Caruba said...

Thank you, gentlemen. Excellent comments, all.

Bruce AB said...

Alan, I was one year out of military service and working as a draftsman in my home town when this happened. It was 3 days after my 24th birthday. I remember well how one of my bosses did not like Kennedy.

Like many others, I do not believe the Warren commission conclusion. Just google 'LBJ and the wink' and let me know your thoughts.

There ar too many unanswered questions considering the location of the crime (Texas, LBJ's kingdom), the way Ruby got in to kill Oswald, how difficult it would be to shoot a man riding in a moving vehicle from such a great distance, how JFK's head snapped back on the second shot, etc.

Could you just imagine what would have happened in the streets if something more sinister did happen and the public knew about it? We will never find out as the truth would tear apart the democrat party.

Keep up the good work and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Winter Soldier said...

It is ironic that the Demoncrats spend so much time lionizing Kennedy, when a man of his political inclinations would never even be able to get a nomination from them in today's world.