There are few speakers more engaging, few presidents more charming and few people more inspiring to me than the legendary JFK. I think what entices me so much about him is the fact that in the span of two years, ten months and two days, he got more accomplished than some presidents do in two terms (Ulysses S Grant anyone?). The actual accomplishments are actually not that much. His landmark achievements are to set a clear vision for the space race which was achieved after his death in 1969 when man landed in the moon, passing the nuclear ban treaty in 1963, lobbying for civil rights, establishing the Peace Corps and handling the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. His most lasting accomplishment is actually his death.
As everybody knows, JFK was assassinated on Nov.22, 1963 in Dallas,TX. That assassination probably did more for American politics than any president since until Obama became the first African-American president. Allow me to analyze:
After his assassination, LBJ became president and won re-election in a landslide in 1964. After LBJ won re-election, he passed several important bills in civil rights. These pieces of legislation, along with the escalation of the Vietnam War, caused a huge political shift in America. The south, traditionally democrat, became more republican. The north, traditionally republican since Lincoln, became more democrat. This became quite evident in the realigning election of 1968. After that, not a single American president was elected from the north until Barack Obama. (Nixon,Reagan were from California. Carter,Clinton & Bushes were from the south). Also by coincidence, Obama is the first sitting senator since JFK to be elected.
Thus, the American political landscape was changed because what happened after JFK died, or specifically what his successor did. If JFK had lived, he would have almost certainly won re-election and perhaps not have had the effect LBJ did on reversing the political landscape.
Now that my feelings about his accomplishments are covered, lets take a look at this video:
All of JFK’s speeches were amazing, a combination of his effectiveness, delivery, mastery of oratory and the Boston accent. But note his words here:
The business of the government is the business of the people. And the people are right here.
That quote to me symbolizes an American president who actually cares about the people. Forget about the ‘Great Communicator’, forget about ‘Slick Willy’ and forget about the man who left us with two wars and a faltering economy, we need someone like JFK right now. Sadly, I do not believe that politicians like him exist anymore. I do believe that Obama is making strong progress though, even though I think his rhetoric is a bit unbelievable.
JFK in that video deals with many of the same problems that Obama is right now, being the establishment of universal health care coverage. Perhaps it would have been easier in JFK’s time, where the population was half what it is now. Still though, I applaud Obama for the courage to run a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit when the nation’s GDP is shrinking. But I doubt that his health care plan could be completely implemented by the time he leaves office. I also somewhat doubt his claim that his stimulus package could be felt by April 1st.
The problem with government is that they need to be realistic. JFK admits his faults but he admits that he’s trying. Obama is also like this, saying that the economy will get worse before it gets better. Hopefully the first northern president since JFK also adheres to the “same high standards of self and sacrifice” that the man who died at 46 (who died younger than Obama’s age now) has shown in the past.