I was not a rebellious youngster. I accepted my parents’ values and their rules, and pretty much toed the line. My one area of rebellion was, looking back, a rather bizarre one: I refused to buy into the Kennedy mythology. Perhaps because I was a child of the Watergate era, I simply refused to accept that Kennedy was the epic hero the intelligentsia of my youth claimed. By the late 70s, I already knew about the Bay of Pigs debacle, the pathetic face-offs with Kruschev, the mafia involvement and mistresses. There wasn’t anything I knew about him that sounded good other than those East Coast accented speeches, and I, despite being a word person, was unimpressed.
I was therefore pleased to read Jason Maoz’s neat summary of the myriad failures of the Kennedy administration, some so bad that even its staunchest admirers, when forced to be honest, had to conceded that their idol had feet of clay:
John F. Kennedy was a president of questionable character and relatively meager accomplishments, but his untimely and violent death, followed by decades of unceasing image control by the Kennedys and their media groupies, has helped sustain the popular standing of a president who almost certainly would have been impeached or forced to resign the presidency had even a fraction of what we now know been made public while he was still alive and in office.
The left-wing journalist Seymour Hersh, after spending years wading through the muck of pumped-up war stories, doctored medical records (contrary to the image of “vigor” he liked to project, Kennedy suffered from a variety of ailments and consumed a prodigious daily cocktail of pharmaceuticals), compulsive extramarital activity, Mafia ties and electoral shenanigans, was forced to reevaluate the man he once admired.
“Kennedy,” he said in an Atlantic Monthly web interview shortly after the publication of his 1997 expose The Dark Side of Camelot, “was much more corrupt than other postwar presidents, by a major factor. Much more manipulative, though Nixon was a close second. There’s nothing wonderful about Nixon — Watergate proved that — but I think that Nixon was an amateur compared to Kennedy….”
You can read the rest here.
The Kennedy myth is especially instructive in the Obama era. His admirers are claiming him as the second coming of Kennedy, right down to the pretty young wife and cute (and they are cute) children. What they’ll refuse to admit is that Obama is probably Kennedy’s equal too in corruption, manipulation and dishonesty. And those of us who are conservatives will have to face the fact that, just as Kennedy’s image has been hagiographied to the point that even his followers’ disillusionment cannot destroy the myth, so too will the Obama myth almost certainly become impregnable to time and truth.