Friday, November 22, 2013

Kennedy niche in our collective memory only now coming into focus

We’re at the half-century mark – 50 years Friday since the moment when someone with objections to then-President John F. Kennedy’s existence decided to take the matter into his own hands with a rifle.

Half century-old newsprint ...
Yet in the very acknowledgement of the fact that it takes time for the people to figure out what they think about anything, it is not the least bit surprising that it is only now we’re starting to figure out what we think of those two-and-a-half years that Kennedy was president.

WE’RE ALL NOW realizing that those ideologues of the 1960s who screeched and screamed that Kennedy was a subversive were just being ridiculous. A pair of recent polls by the Gallup Organization shows that not only does Kennedy get the highest-overall approval rating of 20th Century presidents, he also has the closet partisan split.

Both people of Democratic and Republican partisan leanings look favorably on the days of JFK. By now, enough time has passed that the trash talk of the past has withered away.

Now my point is not to present a Kennedy love-fest of any kind. Personally, I think the man died way too soon before he could accomplish acts that would have given his presidency a lasting legacy.

JFK and the whole concept of the “New Frontier” and “Camelot” is all about a promise that went unfulfilled.

BUT IT SEEMS to take us time to make that realization. As evidenced by another recent Gallup poll – one that judged the most recent presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Republican partisans are determined to believe that Obama will ultimately be judged by history as the worst president.

... making somebody rich on eBay. But, ...
Although if the experience we had in Chicago in coping with the “Council Wars” of the mid-1980s is any evidence, it seems that the people who ultimately will be remembered as the “worst” are the ones whose ideological taint is such that they devoted all their time to thwarting Obama.

There are those people amongst us who are going to have to come up with some serious apologies for their current actions – or else live with the permanent taint of scuzziness that they’re painting themselves with now!

... how much of its "fact" ...
IT MAY WELL turn out to be the worst thing we will be able to say about Obama is that he was too weak and ineffectual to crush his political opposition – thereby preventing him from achieving his accomplishments.

Of course, this isn’t a one-way political game – those with Democratic Party leanings are determined to believe the years of Bush, the younger, will turn out to be remembered as the “worst” presidency of our time (too many of us don’t pay attention to anything before our time).

Some are determined to believe he will rank worse than Richard M. Nixon – although that would be an accomplishment since Gallup found evidence that he’s the one presidency that can unite the parties in the ill-will they remember of it.

Although my own comical memory of the demise of Nixon was that on the day he resigned, an encyclopedia salesman literally showed up at my parents’ doorstep. He literally had a display book to tout his product that included the fact that Gerald R. Ford had risen to replace the president – even though that had become official just a few hours before!

BUT AS FOR the Nixon/Kennedy campaign prior or the events of 50 years ago Friday, I can’t play that “game” some people like to talk about – the one in which they reminisce about where they were at the exact moment they learned Kennedy was shot.

I didn’t exist. My mother used to reminisce about the day (and when I was a kid used to keep Kennedy memorial tribute issues of Life magazine tucked away in a drawer). But it was another nine months before she and my father married – and nearly two years before I was born.

... still holds up today?
I actually wonder what she would have made (she passed away just over three years ago) of all the hoo-hah being spread about Friday. Here’s hoping that those of us still amongst us who remember the day have goals of what could have been achieved had Kennedy survived actually become reality someday.

And that the day will come when we can reach a non-ideological view of what our most recent presidents have meant to us.


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