Regarding JFK

Yesterday, Steve wrote about how the left has turned on John Kennedy. To me, the wonder is that it didn’t turn on him years ago.

Kennedy’s presidency might have been liberal as that term was understood at the time, but it wasn’t “progressive.” In fact, today it might reasonably be considered conservative.

Kennedy gave Americans a big tax cut on the theory that this would stimulate the economy. It did.

Kennedy proposed sweeping civil rights legislation based on the idea that individuals shouldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of race. Today, conservatives uphold this view. The left believes that “equity” requires discrimination against Whites.

Kennedy was stridently anti-Communist. He authorized an invasion of Cuba. He called for a substantial buildup of America’s military (claiming falsely that we had fallen behind the Soviet Union in terms of missiles). There is nothing for the contemporary left to like about any of this.

Regarding women, it’s not clear to me how the left should view Kennedy. The writer Steve quoted says that “Kennedy treated an unending series of other women as disposable receptacles for his lust.”

Should the left hold this against him? As far as I know, Kennedy never sexually harassed or assaulted anyone. What the quotation above really means is that Kennedy enjoyed casual sex.

Is this problematic for the left in the post-sexual revolution, hook-up age? Apparently so at least in certain precincts. For some, feminism has taken a puritanical turn.

If Kennedy’s sex life was truly problematic, that’s due to its recklessness. If, as president, Kennedy had an affair with Judith Exner, who was connected to the mob, that was reckless. If, as president, Kennedy had an affair with an East German spy, that was beyond reckless. However, I don’t know that it has been established that the woman in question, Ellen Rometsch, was either a spy or Kennedy’s mistress.

There’s no dispute that Kennedy had plenty of extra-marital sex. However, Kennedy is hardly unique among presidents in this regard. I doubt the left wants to toss him overboard for this.

In my view, Warren Harding is the president most analogous to JFK. I made that case in some detail here.

This is not to disparage Kennedy. Harding was a fairly good president during his limited time in office. So was JFK in my view, though I think Harding was probably better.