The Los Angeles Times editorial board calls John F. Kennedy, a “transformational president” yet cites no transformation.
This week even Americans who weren’t alive on Nov. 22, 1963, are reading, writing and reflecting about the assassination of the 35th president 50 years ago. In the view of some critics, the fascination with both John F. Kennedy and his assassination is disproportionate and media-driven. We disagree. Despite political and personal weaknesses that were widely acknowledged within a few years of his death, Kennedy was a transformative figure, not just a charismatic celebrity. And his violent death rightly is remembered as a rupture in what had seemed an age of optimism and inexorable progress.
Alas the entire editorial board must be too young to remember the ‘Sixties prior to Lyndon B. Johnson. Unlike the LAT I am old enough to remember the Kennedy reign. Let me refresh the board’s faulty memory, or historical ignorance. To wit:
- The Kennedy – Khrushchev summit. Kennedy was weak and the Russian peasant, sensed it.
- The Berlin Wall. Harry S. Truman helped keep West Berlin free. Kennedy saw that East Berliners had virtually no chance for freedom. Khrushchev had the wall built. Ronald Reagan saw that it is was torn down.
- The Bay of Pigs – a botched military invasion doomed a President unwilling to either cancel it or support it.
- Cuban Missile Crisis – rookie President plays game of chicken with nuclear weapons.
- Republic of Vietnam – President commits American combat forces.
I survived the Camelot era We were lucky.