For one thing, he would never have dared tell his tyrannical old father, who had paid for his entire political career and was probably the source of the family’s connection with organised crime. For another, as innumerable members of his court have attested, the intervention in Indochina was a test, as he thought, of the young Kennedy’s own masculinity. And we know how fragile a plant that was.
Machismo is most often a sign of insecurity and it recurs throughout the Kennedy drama.
He tried to create panic among voters when he first ran in 1960, accusing President Eisenhower of allowing a “missile gap” to develop between the USA and the USSR. It was, as Kennedy well knew, a precisely false description of the real balance between the two superpowers. And the same dangerous rhetoric necessitated, when in office, a crazy invasion of Cuba and a later confrontation which nearly took the world over the nuclear brink.
Of course, among his worshippers JFK gets credit for avoiding the crunch that he helped to precipitate. He didn’t destroy the human race after all! Well, thanks a lot. (The chapters in Dallek’s book, describing the daily intake of drugs while Kennedy was quarrelling with Krushchev, make alarming reading.)
I wonder what the liberals would say if George Bush was to appoint his brother as Attorney-General, as JFK did. Actually, I know there would be much angry talk about dynasties and hereditary privilege. But even today, the star-struck Kennedy fans refer breathlessly to them as “America’s royalty”. And this brings me to another aspect of their eclipse.
There are too damn many of them, and many of them are not much damn good. It really is uncomfortably like the House of Windsor, in other words.”
Assuming the proposed miniseries did actually expose Kennedy’s less-than-stellar record, I truly doubt it is possible to change popular opinion on “America’s royalty.” I say anyone who wants to learn American history should forget the Kennedy biopics, and read a book by Amity Shlaes or Tom Woods!
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