Ross Douthat has the kind of op-ed up in today’s New York Times that could easily get him fired from his post as one of the barely-tolerated conservatives appearing regularly in the Times: he takes on the “Kennedy Cult.” Zoo-ey mama!
But its narrative power still depends on accepting the false premises of the Kennedy cult — premises that will no doubt endure so long as the 1960s generation does, but still deserve to be challenged at every opportunity.
The first premise is that Kennedy was a very good president, and might have been a great one if he’d lived. Few serious historians take this view: It belongs to Camelot’s surviving court stenographers, and to popularizers like Chris Matthews, whose new best seller Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero works hard to gloss over the thinness of the 35th president’s actual accomplishments.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post Outlook section today offers what appears to be an overdue dog-bites-man story that the “Occupy” movement is a disaffected white bread affair that isn’t attracting blacks—something that has been obvious to observers in the blogosphere from the beginning. But a close reading shows that the author, Stacey Patton, objects to Occupy because it isn’t radical enough: true change, she argues, must go far beyond just bringing down Wall Street. I hope this argument catches on, though it looks as though much of the Occupy crowd, and certainly the newly nervous Democrats who initially praised Occupy, are ready to Move On. (Heh.)