Obama: Pire président du siècle ? (Worst president in a hundred years ? – even Carter and Nixon did better !)

https://i2.wp.com/www.la-croix.com/var/bayard/storage/images/lacroix/actualite/france/la-france-va-t-elle-si-mal-2013-11-18-1062460/francois_hollande_record_d_impopularite_23823_hd/36462839-1-fre-FR/francois_hollande_record_d_impopularite_23823_hd_lacroix_large.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510E0uz5dRL.jpgCe qui se vit aujourd’hui est une forme de rivalité mimétique à l’échelle planétaire. Lorsque j’ai lu les premiers documents de Ben Laden, constaté ses allusions aux bombes américaines tombées sur le Japon, je me suis senti d’emblée à un niveau qui est au-delà de l’islam, celui de la planète entière. Sous l’étiquette de l’islam, on trouve une volonté de rallier et de mobiliser tout un tiers-monde de frustrés et de victimes dans leurs rapports de rivalité mimétique avec l’Occident. Mais les tours détruites occupaient autant d’étrangers que d’Américains. Et par leur efficacité, par la sophistication des moyens employés, par la connaissance qu’ils avaient des Etats-Unis, par leurs conditions d’entraînement, les auteurs des attentats n’étaient-ils pas un peu américains ? On est en plein mimétisme. René Girard
Le problème n’est pas la sécurité d’Israël, la souveraineté du Liban ou les ingérences de la Syrie ou du Hezbollah : Le problème est centré sur l’effort de l’Iran à obtenir le Droit d’Abolir l’Exclusivité de la Dissuasion. La prolifération sauvage, le concept de «tous nucléaires» sera la fin de la Guerre Froide et le retour à la période précédant la Dissuasion. Les mollahs et leurs alliés, le Venezuela, l’Algérie, la Syrie, la Corée du Nord et la Russie…, se militarisent à une très grande échelle sachant qu’ils vont bientôt neutraliser le parapluie protecteur de la dissuasion et alors ils pourront faire parler la poudre. Chacun visera à dominer sa région et sans que les affrontements se déroulent en Europe, l’Europe sera dépouillée de ses intérêts en Afrique ou en Amérique du Sud et sans combattre, elle devra déposer les armes. Ce qui est incroyable c’est la myopie de la diplomatie française et de ses experts. (…) Aucun d’entre eux ne se doute que la république islamique a des alliés qui ont un objectif commun: mettre un terme à une discrimination qui dure depuis 50 ans, la dissuasion nucléaire ! Cette discrimination assure à la France une position que beaucoup d’états lui envient. Ils attendent avec impatience de pouvoir se mesurer avec cette ancienne puissance coloniale que beaucoup jugent arrogante, suffisante et gourmande. Iran-Resist
Le gouvernement est autorisé de manière unilatérale à empêcher tout élément, qu’il soit spirituel ou matériel, qui constituerait une menace à ses intérêts (…) pour l’islam, les exigences du gouvernement remplacent tous les autres aspects, y compris même la prière, le jeûne et le pèlerinage à la Mecque. Khomeini (1988)
La République islamique sera fondée sur la liberté d’expression et luttera contre toute forme de censure. Khomeyni (Entretien avec Reuters, le 26 octobre 1978.)
Tout ce que vous avez entendu concernant la condition féminine dans la République islamique n’est qu’une propagande hostile. (Dans le futur gouvernement), les femmes seront complètement libres, dans leur éducation et dans tout ce qu’elles feront, tout comme les hommes. Khomeyni (Entretien accordé à un groupe de reporters allemands à Paris, le 12 novembre 1978.)
En 1978, Foucault trouva de telles forces transgressives dans le personnage révolutionnaire de l’ayatollah Khomeiny et des millions de gens qui risquaient la mort en le suivant dans sa Révolution. Il savait que des expériences aussi «limites» pouvaient conduire à de nouvelles formes de créativité et il lui donna son soutien avec ardeur. Janet Afary et Kevin B. Anderson
La révolution iranienne fut en quelque sorte la version islamique et tiers-mondiste de la contre-culture occidentale. Il serait intéressant de mettre en exergue les analogies et les ressemblances que l’on retrouve dans le discours anti-consommateur, anti-technologique et anti-moderne des dirigeants islamiques de celui que l’on découvre chez les protagonistes les plus exaltés de la contre-culture occidentale. Daryiush Shayegan (Les Illusions de l’identité, 1992)
Je rêve que mes quatre petits enfants vivront un jour dans un pays où on ne les jugera pas à la couleur de leur peau mais à la nature de leur caractère. Martin Luther King
Si Obama était blanc, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Et s’il était une femme, il ne serait pas dans cette position. Il a beaucoup de chance d’être ce qu’il est. Et le pays est pris par le concept. Geraldine Ferraro
Ce qui rendait Obama unique, c’est qu’il était le politicien charismatique par excellence – le plus total inconnu à jamais accéder à la présidence aux Etats-Unis. Personne ne savait qui il était, il sortait de nulle part, il avait cette figure incroyable qui l’a catapulté au-dessus de la mêlée, il a annihilé Hillary, pris le contrôle du parti Démocrate et est devenu président. C’est vraiment sans précédent : un jeune inconnu sans histoire, dossiers, associés bien connus, auto-créé. Il y avait une bonne volonté énorme, même moi j’étais aux anges le jour de l’élection, quoique j’aie voté contre lui et me sois opposé à son élection. C’était rédempteur pour un pays qui a commencé dans le péché de l’esclavage de voir le jour, je ne croyais pas personnellement le voir jamais de mon vivant, quand un président noir serait élu. Certes, il n’était pas mon candidat. J’aurais préféré que le premier président noir soit quelqu’un d’idéologiquement plus à mon goût, comme par exemple Colin Powell (que j’ai encouragé à se présenter en 2000) ou Condoleezza Rice. Mais j’étais vraiment fier d’être Américain à la prestation de serment. Je reste fier de ce succès historique. (…) il s’avère qu’il est de gauche, non du centre-droit à la manière de Bill Clinton. L’analogie que je donne est qu’en Amérique nous jouons le jeu entre les lignes des 40 yards, en Europe vous jouez tout le terrain d’une ligne de but à l’autre. Vous avez les partis communistes, vous avez les partis fascistes, nous, on n’a pas ça, on a des partis très centristes. Alors qu’ Obama veut nous pousser aux 30 yards, ce qui pour l’Amérique est vraiment loin. Juste après son élection, il s’est adressé au Congrès et a promis en gros de refaire les piliers de la société américaine — éducation, énergie et soins de santé. Tout ceci déplacerait l’Amérique vers un Etat de type social-démocrate européen, ce qui est en dehors de la norme pour l’Amérique. (…) Obama a mal interprété son mandat. Il a été élu six semaines après un effondrement financier comme il n’y en avait jamais eu en 60 ans ; après huit ans d’une présidence qui avait fatigué le pays; au milieu de deux guerres qui ont fait que le pays s’est opposé au gouvernement républicain qui nous avait lancé dans ces guerres; et contre un adversaire complètement inepte, John McCain. Et pourtant, Obama n’a gagné que par 7 points. Mais il a cru que c’était un grand mandat général et qu’il pourrait mettre en application son ordre du jour social-démocrate. (…) sa vision du monde me semble si naïve que je ne suis même pas sûr qu’il est capable de développer une doctrine. Il a la vision d’un monde régulé par des normes internationales auto-suffisantes, où la paix est gardée par un certain genre de consensus international vague, quelque chose appelé la communauté internationale, qui pour moi est une fiction, via des agences internationales évidemment insatisfaisantes et sans valeur. Je n’éleverais pas ce genre de pensée au niveau d’ une doctrine parce que j’ai trop de respect pour le mot de doctrine. (…) Peut-être que quand il aboutira à rien sur l’Iran, rien sur la Corée du Nord, quand il n’obtiendra rien des Russes en échange de ce qu’il a fait aux Polonais et aux Tchèques, rien dans les négociations de paix au Moyen-Orient – peut-être qu’à ce moment-là, il commencera à se demander si le monde fonctionne vraiment selon des normes internationales, le consensus et la douceur et la lumière ou s’il repose sur la base de la puissance américaine et occidentale qui, au bout du compte, garantit la paix. (…) Henry Kissinger a dit une fois que la paix peut être réalisée seulement de deux manières : l’hégémonie ou l’équilibre des forces. Ca, c’est du vrai réalisme. Ce que l’administration Obama prétend être du réalisme est du non-sens naïf. Charles Krauthammer (oct. 2009)
Selon un sondage publié par YouGov/économiste, Ronald Reagan est perçu comme le plus grand président des 100 dernières années, même si Obama est considéré comme le « plus grand échec ». Le sondage demandait aux répondants « de coter chaque Président [depuis Theodore Roosevelt] dans six catégories : grand, près de grand, moyen, inférieur à la moyenne, échec et ne sais pas. » Les résultats ont montré que Reagan a battu Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) et John F. Kennedy (JFK) dans une course serrée pour la première place. 32 % des répondants catégorisé Reagan comme « grand », tandis que 31 pour cent étiqueté FDR « grand » et 30 % ont choisi JFK. Quant aux classement des présidents perçus comme des « échecs », Jimmy Carter et Richard Nixon ont fait mieux qu’ Obama. Pour 22% des répondants,  Carter était un « échec », tandis que 30% attribuait le même qualificatif à Nixon. Mais c’est Obama qui a pris la première place au bas de la liste, avec 37 % des personnes interrogées le choisissant comme le plus grand « échec » de tous. Charles Breitbart
Jamais un président de la République n’avait suscité autant de mécontentements. Avec 20 % de satisfaits et 79 % de mécontents dans le dernier baromètre Ifop-JDD, François Hollande bat le record d’impopularité d’un chef de l’État détenu jusque-là par François Mitterrand. La Croix
The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts — a year, an era — the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point. Mr. Obama gave voice to this sentiment in a speech on Nov. 6 in Dallas: « Sometimes I worry because everybody had such a fun experience in ’08, at least that’s how it seemed in retrospect. And, ‘yes we can,’ and the slogans and the posters, et cetera, sometimes I worry that people forget change in this country has always been hard. » It’s a pity we can’t stay in that moment, says the redeemer: The fault lies in the country itself — everywhere, that is, except in the magician’s performance. (…) Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the candidate’s « cool. » There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace Mr. Obama—he wasn’t one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new leader, all things to all people. A nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn’t his race, as Harry Reid would contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised his banners and those who objected to his policies. (…) A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Obama has shown scant regard for precedent in American history. To him, and to the coterie around him, his presidency was a radical discontinuity in American politics. There is no evidence in the record that Mr. Obama read, with discernment and appreciation, of the ordeal and struggles of his predecessors. At best there was a willful reading of that history. Early on, he was Abraham Lincoln resurrected (the new president, who hailed from Illinois, took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible). He had been sworn in during an economic crisis, and thus he was FDR restored to the White House. He was stylish with two young children, so the Kennedy precedent was on offer. In the oddest of twists, Mr. Obama claimed that his foreign policy was in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower’s. But Eisenhower knew war and peace, and the foreign world held him in high regard. During his first campaign, Mr. Obama had paid tribute to Ronald Reagan as a « transformational » president and hinted that he aspired to a presidency of that kind. But the Reagan presidency was about America, and never about Ronald Reagan. Reagan was never a scold or a narcissist. He stood in awe of America, and of its capacity for renewal. There was forgiveness in Reagan, right alongside the belief in the things that mattered about America—free people charting their own path. If Barack Obama seems like a man alone, with nervous Democrats up for re-election next year running for cover, and away from him, this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies; the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader’s will. The imperial presidency is in full bloom. There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of independent stature and outlook. It was after a walk on the White House grounds with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, that Mr. Obama called off the attacks on the Syrian regime that he had threatened. If he had taken that walk with Henry Kissinger or George Shultz, one of those skilled statesmen might have explained to him the consequences of so abject a retreat. But Mr. Obama needs no sage advice, he rules through political handlers. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s most trusted, probably most powerful, aide, once said in admiration that Mr. Obama has been bored his whole life. The implication was that he is above things, a man alone, and anointed. Perhaps this moment—a presidency coming apart, the incompetent social engineering of an entire health-care system—will now claim Mr. Obama’s attention. Fouad Ajami
Les lamentations sur ce qui est advenu de la politique étrangère américaine au Moyen-Orient passent à côté de l’essentiel.  Le plus remarquable concernant la diplomatie du président Obama dans la région, c’est qu’elle est revenue au point de départ – jusqu’au début de sa présidence. La promesse d’ « ouverture »  vers l’Iran, l’indulgence envers la tyrannie de Bashar Assad en Syrie, l’abandon des gains américains en Irak et le malaise systématique à l’égard d’Israël — tels étaient les traits distinctifs de l’approche du nouveau président en politique étrangère. A présent, nous ne faisons qu’assister aux conséquences alarmantes d’une perspective aussi malavisée que naïve. Fouad Ajami

Pire président du siècle ?

Alors qu’après un an à peine de sa réélection et au lendemain d’un prétendu accord, digne de Münich, avec les autocrates iraniens …

Un sondage place le Kennedy noir (qui a certes encore 100 ans pour se racheter – Reagan lui-même actuellement au pinacle de la popularité était loin de l’être à la fin de son deuxième mandat) …

Au rang de plus mauvais président américain du siècle (même Clinton et Nixon font mieux !) ..

Pendant qu’en comparaison, au 50e anniversaire de son assassinat, le vrai président Kennedy apparait plus que jamais pour le centriste qu’il était réellement …

Et qu’en France notre Obama blanc à nous en rajoute chaque jour un peu plus (jusqu’à, crise en début de mandat oblige, être réélu en 2017?) dans son incroyable gémellité

Comment ne pas être frappé avec le politologue libano-américain Fouad Ajami …

Tant de la remarquable cohérence de l’approche même qui avait dès le départ fait son charme et son élection …

Que, face à la redoutable sophistication de l’islamisme actuel, l’incroyable naïveté de ladite approche ?

When the Obama Magic Died
There were no economic or cultural bonds among his coalition. He was all things to all people. Charisma ruled.
Fouad Ajami
The WSJ
Nov. 14, 2013

The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. He glides through crises, he knits together groups of varied, often clashing, interests. Always there is that magical moment, and its beauty, as a reference point.

Mr. Obama gave voice to this sentiment in a speech on Nov. 6 in Dallas: « Sometimes I worry because everybody had such a fun experience in ’08, at least that’s how it seemed in retrospect. And, ‘yes we can,’ and the slogans and the posters, et cetera, sometimes I worry that people forget change in this country has always been hard. » It’s a pity we can’t stay in that moment, says the redeemer: The fault lies in the country itself—everywhere, that is, except in the magician’s performance.

Forgive the personal reference, but from the very beginning of Mr. Obama’s astonishing rise, I felt that I was witnessing something old and familiar. My advantage owed nothing to any mastery of American political history. I was guided by my immersion in the political history of the Arab world and of a life studying Third World societies.

In 2008, seeing the Obama crowds in Portland, Denver and St. Louis spurred memories of the spectacles that had attended the rise and fall of Arab political pretenders. I had lived through the era of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. He had emerged from a military cabal to become a demigod, immune to judgment. His followers clung to him even as he led the Arabs to a catastrophic military defeat in the Six Day War of 1967. He issued a kind of apology for his performance. But his reign was never about policies and performance. It was about political magic.

In trying to grapple with, and write about, the Obama phenomenon, I found guidance in a book of breathtaking erudition, « Crowds and Power » (1962) by the Nobel laureate Elias Canetti. Born in Bulgaria in 1905 and educated in Vienna and Britain, Canetti was unmatched in his understanding of the passions, and the delusions, of crowds. The crowd is a « mysterious and universal phenomenon, » he writes. It forms where there was nothing before. There comes a moment when « all who belong to the crowd get rid of their difference and feel equal. » Density gives the illusion of equality, a blessed moment when « no one is greater or better than another. » But the crowd also has a presentiment of its own disintegration, a time when those who belong to the crowd « creep back under their private burdens. »

Five years on, we can still recall how the Obama coalition was formed. There were the African-Americans justifiably proud of one of their own. There were upper-class white professionals who were drawn to the candidate’s « cool. » There were Latinos swayed by the promise of immigration reform. The white working class in the Rust Belt was the last bloc to embrace Mr. Obama—he wasn’t one of them, but they put their reservations aside during an economic storm and voted for the redistributive state and its protections. There were no economic or cultural bonds among this coalition. There was the new leader, all things to all people.

A nemesis awaited the promise of this new presidency: Mr. Obama would turn out to be among the most polarizing of American leaders. No, it wasn’t his race, as Harry Reid would contend, that stirred up the opposition to him. It was his exalted views of himself, and his mission. The sharp lines were sharp between those who raised his banners and those who objected to his policies.

America holds presidential elections, we know. But Mr. Obama took his victory as a plebiscite on his reading of the American social contract. A president who constantly reminded his critics that he had won at the ballot box was bound to deepen the opposition of his critics.

A leader who set out to remake the health-care system in the country, a sixth of the national economy, on a razor-thin majority with no support whatsoever from the opposition party, misunderstood the nature of democratic politics. An election victory is the beginning of things, not the culmination. With Air Force One and the other prerogatives of office come the need for compromise, and for the disputations of democracy. A president who sought consensus would have never left his agenda on Capitol Hill in the hands of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. Obama has shown scant regard for precedent in American history. To him, and to the coterie around him, his presidency was a radical discontinuity in American politics. There is no evidence in the record that Mr. Obama read, with discernment and appreciation, of the ordeal and struggles of his predecessors. At best there was a willful reading of that history. Early on, he was Abraham Lincoln resurrected (the new president, who hailed from Illinois, took the oath of office on the Lincoln Bible). He had been sworn in during an economic crisis, and thus he was FDR restored to the White House. He was stylish with two young children, so the Kennedy precedent was on offer.

In the oddest of twists, Mr. Obama claimed that his foreign policy was in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower’s . But Eisenhower knew war and peace, and the foreign world held him in high regard.

During his first campaign, Mr. Obama had paid tribute to Ronald Reagan as a « transformational » president and hinted that he aspired to a presidency of that kind. But the Reagan presidency was about America, and never about Ronald Reagan. Reagan was never a scold or a narcissist. He stood in awe of America, and of its capacity for renewal. There was forgiveness in Reagan, right alongside the belief in the things that mattered about America—free people charting their own path.

If Barack Obama seems like a man alone, with nervous Democrats up for re-election next year running for cover, and away from him, this was the world he made. No advisers of stature can question his policies; the price of access in the Obama court is quiescence before the leader’s will. The imperial presidency is in full bloom.

There are no stars in the Obama cabinet today, men and women of independent stature and outlook. It was after a walk on the White House grounds with his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, that Mr. Obama called off the attacks on the Syrian regime that he had threatened. If he had taken that walk with Henry Kissinger or George Shultz, one of those skilled statesmen might have explained to him the consequences of so abject a retreat. But Mr. Obama needs no sage advice, he rules through political handlers.

Valerie Jarrett, the president’s most trusted, probably most powerful, aide, once said in admiration that Mr. Obama has been bored his whole life. The implication was that he is above things, a man alone, and anointed. Perhaps this moment—a presidency coming apart, the incompetent social engineering of an entire health-care system—will now claim Mr. Obama’s attention.

— Mr. Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is the author, most recently, of « The Syrian Rebellion » (Hoover Press, 2012).

Voir aussi:

A Lawyer Lost in a Region of Thugs

Obama’s foreign policy has been consistent from its first day: Let us reason together.

Fouad Ajami

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 23, 2013

Lamentations about what has become of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East miss the point. The remarkable thing about President Obama’s diplomacy in the region is that it has come full circle—to the very beginning of his presidency. The promised « opening » to Iran, the pass given to Bashar Assad’s tyranny in Syria, the abdication of the American gains in Iraq and a reflexive unease with Israel—these were hallmarks of the new president’s approach to foreign policy.

Now we are simply witnessing the alarming consequences of such a misguided, naïve outlook.

Consider this bit of euphoria from a senior Obama administration official after the Oct. 16-17 negotiations in Geneva with the Iranians over their nuclear program: « I’ve been doing this now for about two years, and I have never had such intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation before. »

In Iran, especially, Mr. Obama believed that he would work his unique diplomatic magic. If Tehran was hostile to U.S. interests, if Iran had done its best to frustrate the war in Iraq, to proclaim a fierce ideological war against Israel’s place in the region and its very legitimacy as a state, the fault lay, Mr. Obama seemed to believe, with the policies of his predecessors.

When antiregime protests roiled Iran in Mr. Obama’s first summer as president, he stood locked in the vacuum of his own ideas. He remained aloof as the Green Movement defied prohibitive odds to challenge the theocracy. The protesters had no friend in Mr. Obama. He was dismissive, vainly hoping that the cruel rulers would accept the olive branch he had extended to them.

No one asked the fledgling American president to dispatch U.S. forces into the streets of Tehran, but the indifference he displayed to the cause of Iranian freedom was a strategic and moral failure. Iran’s theocrats gave nothing in return for that favor. They pushed on with their nuclear program, they kept up the proxy war against U.S. forces in Iraq, they pushed deeper into Arab affairs, positioning themselves, through their proxies, as a power of the Mediterranean. This should have been Mr. Obama’s Persian tutorial. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had no interest in a thaw with the Great Satan.

Yet last month at the United Nations Mr. Obama hailed Khamenei for issuing a « fatwa » against his country’s development of nuclear weapons. Even though there is no evidence that any such fatwa exists, the notion that the Iranian regime is governed by religious edict is naïve in the extreme. Muslims know—unlike the president, apparently—that fatwas can be issued and abandoned at the whim of those who pronounce them. In any event, Khamenei is not a religious scholar sitting atop Iran’s theocracy. He is an apparatchik. As the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself put it in 1988, when his regime was reeling from a drawn-out war with Iraq: « Our government has priority over all other Islamic tenets, even over prayer, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca. »

We must not underestimate the tenacity of this regime and its will to rule. We should see through the rosy Twitter messages of President Hasan Rouhani, and the PowerPoint presentations of his foreign minister, Mohammed Jawad Zarif. These men carry out the writ of the supreme leader and can only go as far as the limit drawn by the Revolutionary Guard.

In a lawyerly way, the Obama administration has isolated the nuclear issue from the broader context of Iran’s behavior in the region. A new dawn in the history of the theocracy has been proclaimed, but we will ultimately discover that Iran’s rulers are hellbent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions.

True, the sanctions have had their own power, but they haven’t stopped Iran from aiding the murderous Assad regime in Syria, or subsidizing Hezbollah in Beirut. And they will not dissuade this regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. In dictatorial regimes, the pain of sanctions is passed onto the underclass and the vulnerable.

Just as he has with Iran, President Obama now takes a lawyerly approach to Syria, isolating Assad’s use of chemical weapons from his slaughter of his own people by more conventional means. The president’s fecklessness regarding Syria—the weakness displayed when he disregarded his own « red line » on Assad’s use of chemical weapons—was a gift to the Iranian regime. The mullahs now know that their nuclear program, a quarter-century in the making, will not have to be surrendered in any set of negotiations. No American demand will be backed by force or even by force of will.

The gullibility of Mr. Obama’s pursuit of an opening with Iran has unsettled America’s allies in the region. In Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates there is a powerful feeling of abandonment. In Israel, there is the bitter realization that America’s strongest ally in the region is now made to look like the final holdout against a blissful era of compromise that will calm a turbulent region. A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel’s interests and of the region’s moderate anti- Iranian Arab coalition.

In Washington, the threats represented by Tehran’s theocrats are forgotten in this time of undue optimism, as is the Assad regime’s continued barbarity. With the Russian-brokered « deal » on Syria’s chemical weapons, Mr. Obama has merely draped American abdication in the garb of reason and prudence.

Those who run the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear program, like most others in the region, have taken the full measure of this American president. They sense his desperate need for a victory—or anything that can be passed off as one.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author most recently of « The Syrian Rebellion » (Hoover Press, 2012).

Voir aussi:

Presidential Poll: Reagan Best, Obama Worst in Last 100 Years

AWR Hawkins

27 Nov 2013

Rankings released by YouGov/Economist show that Ronald Reagan is viewed as the greatest president of the last 100 years, while Obama is viewed as the « biggest failure. »

The poll asked respondents « to rate each president [since Theodore Roosevelt] in six categories: great, near great, average, below average, failure, and don’t know. »

Results showed that Reagan bested Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a tight race for the top spot. 32 percent of the respondents categorized Reagan as « great, » while 31 percent labeled FDR « great » and 30 percent chose JFK.

When it came to ranking presidents viewed to be a « failure, » Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon fared better than Obama.

Of those polled, 22 percent of respondents rated Carter a « failure, » while 30 percent gave that same ranking to Nixon. But Obama took first place at the bottom of the list, with 37 percent of respondents choosing him as the biggest « failure » of all.

Rankings released by YouGov/Economist show that Ronald Reagan is viewed as the greatest president of the last 100 years, while Obama is viewed as the « biggest failure. »

The poll asked respondents « to rate each president [since Theodore Roosevelt] in six categories: great, near great, average, below average, failure, and don’t know. »

Results showed that Reagan bested Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) and John F. Kennedy (JFK) in a tight race for the top spot. 32 percent of the respondents categorized Reagan as « great, » while 31 percent labeled FDR « great » and 30 percent chose JFK.

When it came to ranking presidents viewed to be a « failure, » Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon fared better than Obama.

Of those polled, 22 percent of respondents rated Carter a « failure, » while 30 percent gave that same ranking to Nixon. But Obama took first place at the bottom of the list, with 37 percent of respondents choosing him as the biggest « failure » of all.

Voir également:

JFK Museum Updates Exhibit Following Complaints by Conservative Author

Author: JFK was ‘tax-cutting, pro-growth politician’

October 18, 2013

The John F. Kennedy museum in Dallas told the Washington Free Beacon that it is planning to “completely update and revise” its permanent exhibit after a historian accused it of falsely depicting the 35th president as a big-government liberal.

Ira Stoll, author of JFK, Conservative, called on the Sixth Floor Museum last month to revise alleged “inaccuracies” in its exhibit regarding Kennedy’s views on social programs, the federal deficit, and tax policy.

The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles Kennedy’s legacy and his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Nicola Longford, executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum, said the permanent exhibit is 25 years old and in need of updating. She said the institution is planning a major overhaul after the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination next month.

“While Mr. Stoll has taken issues with the content of a few exhibit text panels, and encouraged priority attention for substantial updating and revision, it bears stating that this exhibit text is almost 25 years old,” said Longford. “Clearly the world has changed dramatically during this quarter century and now half century since the assassination.”

She added that the museum’s “intent has always been to completely update and revise our core exhibit post fiftieth anniversary (November 2013) and it is at this time that we will carefully review and consider all comments and recommendations.”

Stoll wrote in a letter to Longford that he was “troubled by some passages of the permanent exhibit text about Kennedy and his administration that struck me as inaccurate or misleading.”

He disputed the exhibit’s claim that “massive new social programs were central to Kennedy’s New Frontier philosophy,” calling it “just not true.”

“Kennedy was against ‘massive new social programs,’” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy described his own Medicare plan, accurately, not as ‘massive’ but rather as ‘a very modest proposal.’ And, as [Arthur] Schlesinger [Jr.] noted, he chose not to fight for even that.”

Stoll also took issue with a passage that refers to Kennedy’s “philosophy of using induced deficits to encourage domestic fiscal growth became a mainstay of American government under later administrations, both Democratic and Republican.”

According to Stoll, “Kennedy’s recipe for growth was not a deficit; it was a tax cut that, both by changing incentives and by putting more money in the hands of the private sector, would yield growth that would ultimately narrow the deficit by increasing federal revenues.”

Additionally, the exhibit discusses the positions of one of Kennedy’s liberal economic advisors, Walter Heller, without mentioning the views of Kennedy’s “more conservative Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon,” wrote Stoll.

He said Kennedy’s own statements and actual policies hewed closer to the conservative view.

“As for the idea that Kennedy’s deficits were a ‘radical departure’ from [President Dwight] Eisenhower’s balanced budgets, that is not supported by the evidence,” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy’s annual deficits—$3.3 billion in 1961, $7.1 billion in 1962, and $4.8 billion in 1963—were modest by modern standards and as a percentage of GDP.”

When contacted by the Free Beacon on Friday, Stoll praised the museum’s response to his letter.

“I’m thrilled to learn that, after receiving my letter based on the research in my book, JFK, Conservative, calling inaccuracies to their attention, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas has announced plans to revise its exhibit text panels,” he said. “I hope the new exhibit text portrays JFK as closer to the real JFK I describe in my book—a tax-cutting, pro-growth politician who favored welfare reform, free trade, domestic spending restraint, and a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle.”

Stoll’s book, JFK, Conservative, was released on Oct. 15. It argues that the 35th president, idolized by liberal Democrats, was actually a conservative on economic and national security issues.

Voir encore:

John Fitzgerald Bush

The New York Sun

January 20, 2005

As President Bush prepared for his second inaugural, we settled down with an illuminating new book called « Ask Not, » written by a historian, Thurston Clark, about the inaugural address of President Kennedy. That is the speech in which the 35th president declared the most fundamental belief of his tenure, one for which the 43rd president has been mocked for reiterating so often – that, as JFK put it, « the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. »

One of the points that Mr. Clark makes in the book, and that was reiterated in an op-ed article in Saturday’s number of the Times, is that part of the power of Kennedy’s speech came from its autobiographical nature. When he spoke of the torch being passed « to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, » he was speaking of his own life in a literal way.

That passage was followed by the new president’s most famous vow: « Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. » This is the phrasing that inspired our expedition in Vietnam and that has stuck in the minds of millions over the years. It is against that declaration that American politics seems to be at such an ironical pass.

For in the election just ended, it was the Republican who, while so different in style, carried the substance of these sentiments to the voters, while it was the Democrat, Senator Kerry, who, while affecting so many similarities of the Kennedy style, campaigned to repudiate these sentiments. It was President Bush who fought for and won the $87 billion in funding for our troops in Iraq that became the symbol of this issue, and it was Senator Kerry, another Massachusetts Democrat, who voted against it and, incidentally, who went on to argue for a more pragmatic, less idealistic foreign policy.

When did this happen? When was the moment at which the Democrats relinquished the mantle of leadership in the struggle for the success of liberty? When, and how? Some say it was relinquished at the Bay of Pigs or, later, during the Cuban missile crisis, when, it turns out, Kennedy signaled he would pull American missiles out of Turkey if the Russians retreated in Cuba. Others reckon Kennedy relinquished the mantle when he authorized the coup that led to the murder of President Diem in South Vietnam.

Others might say that the default came the year President Johnson ran against Senator Goldwater, when LBJ mocked the conservative with the famous advertisement showing a little girl plucking petals from a daisy until an atomic bomb went off. It ushered in an era when the Democrats sought to be perceived as less likely to risk all in the war with the Soviet Union. Still others might suggest the tipping point came when Johnson chose not to run, rather than to see out the fight in Vietnam.

Nixon failed to pick up the mantle. His presidency was marked by retreat in Vietnam and detente with the Soviet Union. He truckled to the Red Chinese. President Carter sounded some of the noblest themes ever uttered by a president, such as his Notre Dame speech, where he marked the point that the great democracies of the world were not free because they were rich but rich because they were free. He engaged, through proxies, the Soviets in Afghanistan. But he kissed Brezhnev and turned his human rights rhetoric against America and the flaws of our allies.

It fell onto Reagan’s shoulders to pick up the mantle of leadership in the global fight for freedom. He abandoned the idea of peaceful coexistence and initiated the rollback that brought the defeat of Soviet Russia, the unification of Germany, and the expansion of democracy in Central America and Africa. It was a vast and sophisticated leadership, involving a rebuilding of the defense budget, the backing of the twilight wars, a brilliant fight against the Sandinistas and other communistic regimes in Central America and the Caribbean, and the greatest presidential act of the 20th century, walking away from the brink of appeasement at Reykjavik.

President Bush turned out to be a transitional figure, and President Clinton lacked the biography that Professor Clark teaches was so important to Kennedy’s inaugural. He was a child of the peace movement, who, in the most desperate hours of the fight for freedom in Southeast Asia, failed to report. As president, he was prepared to use force, at least from the air, as he showed in the Balkans. But he was not a master of it, and he was by instinct a conciliator. He failed to enforce United Nations sanctions in Iraq. Toward the end of his presidency, he made a trip to Vietnam and, en route, told the Associated Press that he had a better grasp now than he once did of what Johnson faced.

It was not until war was brought to our shores on September 11 that America was confronted with a test that a president could not dodge, which is how George W. Bush came to prove the point JFK was making when he said, « In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. » The energy, the faith, the devotion which Americans bring to this endeavor would, Kennedy said, light our country and all who serve it and light the world. And he issued his exhortation to his fellow Americans: « Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. »

JFK Museum Updates Exhibit Following Complaints by Conservative Author

Author: JFK was ‘tax-cutting, pro-growth politician’

BY: Alana Goodman Follow @alanagoodman

October 18, 2013 5:10 pm

The John F. Kennedy museum in Dallas told the Washington Free Beacon that it is planning to “completely update and revise” its permanent exhibit after a historian accused it of falsely depicting the 35th president as a big-government liberal.

Ira Stoll, author of JFK, Conservative, called on the Sixth Floor Museum last month to revise alleged “inaccuracies” in its exhibit regarding Kennedy’s views on social programs, the federal deficit, and tax policy.

The Sixth Floor Museum chronicles Kennedy’s legacy and his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.

Nicola Longford, executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum, said the permanent exhibit is 25 years old and in need of updating. She said the institution is planning a major overhaul after the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination next Tuesday.

“While Mr. Stoll has taken issues with the content of a few exhibit text panels, and encouraged priority attention for substantial updating and revision, it bears stating that this exhibit text is almost 25 years old,” said Longford. “Clearly the world has changed dramatically during this quarter century and now half century since the assassination.”

She added that the museum’s “intent has always been to completely update and revise our core exhibit post fiftieth anniversary (November 2013) and it is at this time that we will carefully review and consider all comments and recommendations.”

Stoll wrote in a letter to Longford that he was “troubled by some passages of the permanent exhibit text about Kennedy and his administration that struck me as inaccurate or misleading.”

He disputed the exhibit’s claim that “massive new social programs were central to Kennedy’s New Frontier philosophy,” calling it “just not true.”

“Kennedy was against ‘massive new social programs,’” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy described his own Medicare plan, accurately, not as ‘massive’ but rather as ‘a very modest proposal.’ And, as [Arthur] Schlesinger [Jr.] noted, he chose not to fight for even that.”

Stoll also took issue with a passage that refers to Kennedy’s “philosophy of using induced deficits to encourage domestic fiscal growth became a mainstay of American government under later administrations, both Democratic and Republican.”

According to Stoll, “Kennedy’s recipe for growth was not a deficit; it was a tax cut that, both by changing incentives and by putting more money in the hands of the private sector, would yield growth that would ultimately narrow the deficit by increasing federal revenues.”

Additionally, the exhibit discusses the positions of one of Kennedy’s liberal economic advisors, Walter Heller, without mentioning the views of Kennedy’s “more conservative Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon,” wrote Stoll.

He said Kennedy’s own statements and actual policies hewed closer to the conservative view.

“As for the idea that Kennedy’s deficits were a ‘radical departure’ from [President Dwight] Eisenhower’s balanced budgets, that is not supported by the evidence,” wrote Stoll. “Kennedy’s annual deficits—$3.3 billion in 1961, $7.1 billion in 1962, and $4.8 billion in 1963—were modest by modern standards and as a percentage of GDP.”

When contacted by the Free Beacon on Friday, Stoll praised the museum’s response to his letter.

“I’m thrilled to learn that, after receiving my letter based on the research in my book, JFK, Conservative, calling inaccuracies to their attention, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas has announced plans to revise its exhibit text panels,” he said. “I hope the new exhibit text portrays JFK as closer to the real JFK I describe in my book—a tax-cutting, pro-growth politician who favored welfare reform, free trade, domestic spending restraint, and a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle.”

Stoll’s book, JFK, Conservative, was released on Oct. 15. It argues that the 35th president, idolized by liberal Democrats, was actually a conservative on economic and national security issues.

——

JFK Conservative

By Ira Stoll from the October 2013 issue

It’s time to re-evaluate the legacy of our 35th president.

“I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all.” — John F. Kennedy, 1953

THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF John Fitzgerald Kennedy after the July 4, 1946, speech at Boston’s Faneuil Hall caution of the hazards of drawing too many conclusions from a single talk. His mother, Rose Kennedy, in pearls and a floral print dress, clings to his left arm. His grandmother, Mary Fitzgerald, clings to his right arm. His speech is rolled up in his hand like a baton. His grandfather, John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, a former congressman and mayor of Boston who had been the principal speaker on the same platform exactly 50 years earlier, looks dapper in a bow tie. As for Kennedy himself, the broad white smile is unmistakable, but the skinny young man in a jacket and tie, surrounded by proud and doting elderly relatives, looks less like a fully formed professional politician than like a high school valedictorian on graduation day.

So if, to contemporary ears, the language—his references to “Christian morality” and the “right of the individual against the state,” or his attack on the “cynical philosophy of many of our intellectuals”—seems off-key for a president who has become an icon of liberalism, there is no shortage of possible explanations. Perhaps it was the immature speech of a twenty-something who changed his views as he got older. Perhaps the young politician was led astray by a speechwriter with strong views of his own. This, though, is unlikely. Kennedy’s White House spokesman, Pierre Salinger, recalled, “Actually, speeches were not written for the president but with him. He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. The role of the speech writer was to organize JFK’s thoughts into a rough draft, on which he himself would put the final touches. His revisions would often change it dramatically.” Kennedy’s secretary in the Senate and in the White House, Evelyn Lincoln, remembered, “He usually dictated a rough draft of his speeches.” Though Salinger and Lincoln joined Kennedy’s staff some years after 1946, marks on drafts of his speeches from this earlier period show a Kennedy who was more than capable of editing either speechwriters’ or his own drafts.

Kennedy’s secretary from 1947 to 1952, Mary Davis, in an oral history interview that at times is quite negative about Kennedy (“a spoiled young man”), recalls:

When he wanted to write a speech he did it, most of it. I would say 99 percent of that was done by JFK himself. I can remember first time he ever called me in—I even forget what the speech was going to be on, but it was going to be a major speech, one of his first major speeches. And I thought, “Oh, oh, this young, green congressman. What’s he going to do?” No preparation. He called me in and he says, “I think we’d better get to work on the speech.” And I said “Okay, fine.” And I thought he was going to stumble around, and he’ll er, ah, um.

I was never so startled in my life. He sat back in his chair, and it just flowed right out.

Salinger, Lincoln, and other Kennedy aides from the presidential years may have had an interest in inflating the late president’s reputation so as to enhance, by association, their own. But here their testimony seems to match that of Davis, who quit working for Kennedy following a dispute over her salary.

Was Kennedy’s July 4, 1946, speech simply a case of political pandering? Probably not. Less than a month before, Kennedy had won the Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 11th Congressional District. It was a reliably Democratic district, and if the candidate was trying to appeal to independent or Republican crossover voters, a speech on a holiday weekend, months before the November election, would have been an odd vehicle. Perhaps Kennedy’s words were just rhetoric from a hypocritical politician who, once in office, would, in his public actions and private behavior, disregard them. Maybe the stress on religion was convenient Cold War shorthand for anticommunism, a way of drawing a contrast between the United States and the atheistic Soviet Union, or a way for an ambitious Catholic to reassure and win the trust of Protestant voters.

Maybe, just maybe—and here is the most dramatic and intriguing possibility of them all—Kennedy actually, deeply believed what he said, and would go on to serve as a congressman and senator and president of the United States according to those principles. He would take a hard line against communism in China, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, Vietnam, and even in America’s own labor unions, weathering protests and criticisms from academia, European intellectuals, and left-wing journalists. He would be supported personally in this struggle by his own strong religious faith, and he would often refer publicly to God and to America’s religious history in his most powerful and important speeches. On the home front, Kennedy cut taxes and restrained government spending in marked contrast with Lyndon Johnson’s subsequent War on Poverty.

Another aide to Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., reports that one night Kennedy remarked to him, “Liberalism and conservatism are categories of the thirties, and they don’t apply any more.” But of course they did, and they still do. The liberalism and conservatism of our two chief political parties have shifted over time, and it is hard for us to remember liberal Republicans or truly conservative Democrats. Yet Kennedy’s actions—his tax cuts, his domestic spending restraint, his military buildup, his pro-growth economic policy, his emphasis on free trade and a strong dollar, and his foreign policy driven by the idea that America had a God-given mission to defend freedom—make him, by the standards of both his time and our own, a conservative.

WHAT I TAKE to be the truth about John Kennedy and his conservatism has, in the years since he died, been forgotten. This is partly because of the work of liberal historians and partly due to changes in America’s major political parties. Yet calling Kennedy a conservative was hardly controversial during his lifetime. “A Kennedy Runs for Congress: The Boston-bred scion of a former ambassador is a fighting-Irish conservative,”Look headlined an article in June 1946. “When young, wealthy and conservative John Fitzgerald Kennedy announced for Congress, many people wondered why,” the story began. “Hardly a liberal even by his own standards, Kennedy is mainly concerned by what appears to him as the coming struggle between collectivism and capitalism. In speech after speech he charges his audience ‘to battle for the old ideas with the same enthusiasm that people have for new ideas.’”

The Chicago Tribune reported Kennedy’s election to the U.S. Senate in 1952 by describing him as a “fighting conservative.” In a June 1953 Saturday Evening Post article, Kennedy said, “I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all,” adding, speaking of liberals, “I’m not comfortable with those people.” In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked in a television interview what she would do if she had to choose between a “conservative Democrat like Kennedy and a liberal Republican [like] Rockefeller.” She said she would do all she possibly could to make sure the Democrats did not nominate a candidate like Kennedy.

On the campaign trail before the 1960 election, Kennedy spoke about economics: “We should seek a balanced budget over the course of the business cycle with surpluses during good times more than offsetting the deficits which may be incurred during slumps. I submit that this is not a radical fiscal policy. It is a conservative policy.” This wasn’t just campaign rhetoric—Kennedy kept his distance from liberalism right up until his assassination. “Why are some ‘liberals’ cool to the Kennedy Administration?” Newsweek asked in April 1962. The article went on to explain: “the liberal credentials of young Senator Kennedy never were impeccable…He never was really one of the visceral liberals…many liberal thinkers never felt close to him.”

Even after Kennedy’s death, the “conservative” label was used to describe the late president and his policies by some of those who knew him best. One campaign staffer and congressional aide, William Sutton, described Kennedy’s political stance in the 1946 campaign as “almost ultraconservative.” “He was more conservative than anything else,” said a Navy friend of Kennedy’s, James Reed, who went on to serve Kennedy’s assistant Treasury secretary and who had talked for “many hours” with the young Kennedy about fiscal and economic matters. Another of Kennedy’s friends, the Washington columnist Joseph Alsop, echoed these sentiments in a 1964 interview:

The thing that’s very important to remember about the president was that he was not, in the most marked way, he was not a member of the modern, Democratic, liberal group. He had real—contempt I’m afraid is the right word—for the members of that group in the Senate, or most of them…What he disliked—and here again we’ve often talked about it—was the sort of posturing, attitude-striking, never getting anything done liberalism…This viewpoint was completely foreign to Kennedy, and he regarded it with genuine contempt. Genuine contempt. He really was—contemptuous is the right word for it. He was contemptuous of that attitude in American life.

Alsop went on to emphasize “the great success that the Kennedy administration had with an intelligent, active, but (in my opinion) conservative fiscal-economic policy.”

In January 1981, in the early days of the Reagan presidency, a group of Kennedy administration veterans gathered at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston for a private conversation. One of the participants, Ted Sorensen, said, “Kennedy was a fiscal conservative. Most of us and the press and historians have, for one reason or another, treated Kennedy as being much more liberal than he so regarded himself at the time…In fiscal matters, he was extremely conservative, very cautious about the size of the budget.” Sorensen made a similar point in a November 1983 Newsweek article, saying, “He never identified himself as a liberal…On fiscal matters he was more conservative than any president we’ve had since.” In a 1993 speech, Kennedy’s Treasury secretary, Douglas Dillon, described the president as “financially conservative.” Combine that position with hawkish anticommunism, and it is hard to find much overlap with liberals.

EVIDENCE OF IT notwithstanding, Kennedy’s conservatism was no more a settled point during his lifetime than it is today. In January 1962, a columnist for National Review wrote that Kennedy’s latest speech had given “further proof of his dedication to doctrinaire liberalism.” In 2011, the editorial page editor of the Boston Globe, Peter Canellos, wrote of the Kennedy family, “For five decades, they advanced liberal causes.” The same year, at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration, the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick spoke of “the liberalism that he did stand four-squarely behind.” In 2012, Columbia University history professor Alan Brinkley wrote that John Kennedy “seemed to many people a passionate and idealistic liberal,” though he allowed that such a perception was perhaps “surprising.” Lyndon Johnson’s biographer Robert Caro has written, almost in passing, as if no further explanation were needed, that Johnson’s assignment of holding the South for Kennedy in 1960 was a tough one because of “Kennedy’s liberalism.”

Categorizing Kennedy is made more complicated by the difficulty of defining exactly what a “conservative” or a “liberal” was at the time he lived, and by the shifting definitions of the terms over time, in both foreign and domestic policy. The Political Science Quarterly once published a 25-page article trying to answer the question “What Was Liberalism in the 1950s?” The author finally punted: “Above all, we must resist the temptation to reduce 1950s liberalism” to “a simple idea.” If it is a frustrating point, it is nonetheless a fair one, and so too for the 1960s, when liberalism existed not only in tension with conservatism, but also in contrast to radicalism. Yet my point is not primarily about political theory, but about the policies, principles, and legacy of a person, John F. Kennedy, whose devotion to the traditional American values he spoke of on July 4, 1946, was sufficiently strong that it was said, “If you talk with a thousand people evenly divided between liberals and conservatives, you find that five hundred conservatives think that Jack is a conservative.”

If, after Kennedy’s death, there has been confusion about the reality of his politics and principles, it is certainly not the only aspect of his life on which, in spite of all the words written and spoken about it— maybebecause of all the words written and spoken about it—there are widely divergent views.

Take subjects as seemingly simple and straightforward as how Kennedy dressed or what he drank. The biographer Robert Dallek describes Kennedy in “khaki pants and a rumpled seersucker jacket with a shirttail dangling below his coat,” and quotes a secretary as saying, “He wore the most godawful suits…Horrible looking, hanging from his frame.” By contrast, the journalist Ben Bradlee remembers his friend as “immaculately dressed” in “well-tailored suits” and “custom-made shoes and shirts,” and fastidious to the point of castigating Bradlee for the fashion foul of wearing dark brown shoes with a blue suit. According to Garry Wills, Kennedy was more or less a teetotaler, a man who pawned off his liquor coupons while stationed in the Solomon Islands during World War II. By contrast, Sorensen writes of Kennedy, “When relaxing, he enjoyed a daiquiri, a scotch and water or a vodka and tomato juice before dinner and a brandy stinger afterward.” Kennedy “never had brandy in his life,” insisted his wife Jacqueline.

Some of these differences may be explained by changes in Kennedy’s behavior over time. But there is a deeper issue too. Kennedy himself once said that “what makes journalism so fascinating and biography so interesting” is “the struggle to answer that single question: ‘What’s he like?’” He grappled with this in his own historical writing: The last chapter of his book Profiles in Courage begins with the observation that, “However detailed may have been our study of his life, each man remains something of an enigma…shadowed by a veil which cannot be torn away…Something always seems to elude us.”

THE QUESTION OF Kennedy’s ultimate political convictions is more than a matter of mere historical curiosity. Kennedy consistently ranks near the top of public polls asking about the greatness of past presidents. His popularity suggests that the American people think his record is a model worth emulating. Simply to ape Kennedy would be impossible, of course. The Soviet Union is gone, tax rates now are lower than when Kennedy wanted to cut them, and the state universities of the South have been racially integrated. But if the contours of the foreign policy, tax, and education fights have shifted, Kennedy’s course in them may nonetheless inform our choices today, as it has since his death. And other issues of Kennedy’s time are still with us, including economic growth, government spending, inflation, and, as he put it, “Christian morality,” the “cynical philosophy of many of our intellectuals,” and “the right of the individual against the state.”

Calling Kennedy a political conservative may make liberals uncomfortable—perish the thought!—by crowning conservatism with the halo of Camelot. And it could make conservatives uncomfortable too. Many have long despised the entire Kennedy family, especially John’s younger brother Ted. But conservatives need not always trust received wisdom, especially when it comes to conservatism. Better, then, to forge ahead, to try to understand both the 29-year-old Navy veteran speaking at Faneuil Hall and the president he became.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureofCapitalism.com and author of the new book JFK, Conservative (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), from which this essay is adapted.

——

cf. :

Updated September 12, 2012, 6:48 p.m. ET

The Obama Democrats

This isn’t the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton. They’re different.

Daniel Henninger

It is no accident that the Chicago teachers union would walk off the job, seeking a 29%, two-year wage settlement, days after the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. The Chicago teachers union and the podium speakers in Charlotte are part of the seamless political fabric that has been created by Barack Obama and the modern Democratic Party. They’ve got goals, and what they want from the people of Chicago or America is compliance.

The speakers in Charlotte fastened the party to a theme: We’re all in it together. This claim is false. The modern Democratic Party, the party of Obama, is about permanent division and permanent opposition. You’d never have guessed they were speaking on behalf of an incumbent and historic presidency. One speaker after another ranted that the America system remains fundamentally unfair.

Despite seven Democratic presidencies since FDR, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Harvard still grieves, « The system is rigged! » Jennifer Granholm, who seems to have summered in Argentina, shouted that for Mitt Romney, « year after year, it was profit before people. » The economics of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro (Stanford, Harvard Law): « It’s a choice between a country where the middle class pays more so that millionaires can pay less. » Sandra Fluke: « Six months from now, we’ll all be living in one [future], or the other. But only one. »

How is it that this generation of Democrats, nearly 225 years after the Constitutional Convention, sees 21st century America at the precipice of tooth and claw?

Recall all the talk about Bill Clinton’s politically « generous » speech. His speech was an outlier. Set against the furious voices roaring off that stage, Bill Clinton was a figure from the Democrats’ crypt.

The Obama Democrats are no longer the party of FDR, Truman, JFK or Clinton. All were combative partisans, but their view of the American system was fundamentally positive. The older Democratic Party grew out of the American labor experience of the early 20th century, which recognized its inevitable ties to the private sector. The systemically alienated Obama party more resembles the ancient anticapitalist syndicalist movements of continental Europe.

In its 2008 primaries, the Democratic Party made a historic pivot. The center-left party of Bill and Hillary Clinton was overthrown by Barack Obama and the party’s « progressives, » the redesigned logo of the vestigial Democratic left.

The internal tension between the party’s liberals and the left blasted to the surface at the Chicago convention in 1968, when the famous Days of Rage street protesters vilified the party of LBJ and Hubert Humphrey. The « San Francisco Democrats » dominated the 1984 convention, but the party still nominated the establishment liberal Walter Mondale.

While liberals owned the party apparatus, the left took control of its ideas. By 1990, liberal Harvard Law School was torn apart by a left-wing theory called critical legal studies, which condemned the American legal and economic system as . . . rigged.

What binds Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Sandra Fluke and the rest of the Charlotte roster is the belief, learned early on, that their politics has made them a perpetual band of American outsiders.

It’s an irony now that one of their touchstone ideological works has been Richard Hofstadter’s « The Paranoid Style in American Politics » (1964), which was about the American political right back then. Today it’s the Obama Democrats who insist that something like voter-identification statutes are a racist conspiracy. Barack Obama in his grave acceptance speech fears that « this nation’s promise is reserved for the few. » And so out on the plains, the Obama Democrats will assemble a voter army from that vast proletariat, the U.S. middle class, to pull down « the wealthiest. »

This is a party whose agenda is avenging slights, wrongs and the systemic theft of « our democracy. » For all this injustice, someone must be made to pay. How far all this is from the America called for in Lincoln’s first inaugural: « We must not be enemies. »

The Obama administration’s battle with the Catholic Church over contraceptive services is symbolic and important. The tradition of religious independence, which even liberal Catholics thought legitimate, has no standing with the do-the-right-thing politics of the Democratic left. Kathleen Sebelius to American Catholics: Get out of our way.

An Obama victory wouldn’t be just a defeat of the GOP. It would be a defeat of the post-World War II Democratic Party. And they know it. The progressive left has wanted to push Democratic liberalism over the cliff for decades. This is their best shot to get it done.

Mitt Romney—whose own political conversation is remarkably bereft of history—ought to be explaining to Democrats-turned-independent how far Mr. Obama has moved their party from its traditions. FDR’s Social Security and LBJ’s Medicare asked all to buy in to supporting it. ObamaCare doesn’t; Mr. Obama revels in explaining how « they » will pay for « you. » Left unanswered, demagoguery can win elections. And take a generation to undo.

——

It’s Not Your Father’s Democratic Party: How the Party has Changed for the Worse since Clinton’s era

September 3, 2012 – 8:52 am – by Ron Radosh

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, one thing is clear: it’s not your father’s Democratic Party any longer. Readers of Jay Cost’s important new book, Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, already know this. Cost gives us the analysis that shows the slow but unmistakable transformation of the once broad-based political party to a machine operation controlled by the new elites and the public sector unions, beholden not to the American public but to the narrow interests that dominate its machinery. As the publisher’s description of the book says:

No longer able to govern for the vast majority of the country, the Democratic party simply taxes Middle America to pay off its clients while hiding its true nature behind a smoke screen of idealistic rhetoric. Thus, the Obama health care, stimulus, and auto bailout health care bill were created not to help all Americans but to secure contributions and votes. Average Americans need to see that whatever the Democratic party claims it is doing for the country, it is in fact governing simply for its base.

Use that description as the guide when you watch the convention the next three days. Cost making this argument is one thing — after all, he writes for the Weekly Standard, and some will thus write him off as a conservative and simply ignore what he has to say. But Newsweek making the same argument is another thing. Following Niall Ferguson’s much-discussed cover story of two weeks ago, Tina Brown has done it again. This week features an analysis of Bill Clinton’s apparent reconciliation with Barack Obama, and the meaning of his featured prime-time speech at the DNC.

Written by Peter J. Boyer, the article is not really about Clinton, but rather is a sharp analysis of how the Democrats have changed since the era of Clinton’s presidency. Clinton may have accepted the difficult task of trying to save the Obama presidency and speaking on the president’s behalf to satisfy his large ego, but everyone knows the truth. Obama and Clinton have had what Boyer calls an “uneasy” relationship since 2008, due to the bitter primary fight with his wife that “inflicted real wounds” that in fact have not healed.

More to the point is that the party and the politics Bill Clinton represents are far removed from our current president’s lurch to the left. After Republicans gained strength and Clinton saw the handwriting on the wall, he moved to the center, reflecting his own origins as head of the moderate and centrist so-called New Democrats. They were aligned with the now defunct Democratic Leadership Council, which sought to reflect the concerns of blue-dog Democrats, centrists, and the business community. When Clinton won re-election, he worked with Republicans to institute real welfare reform, and he abandoned his ill-conceived experiment in universal health care. Earlier, he got NAFTA passed despite union opposition and with Republican votes.

So while Clinton will speak in Charlotte, as Boyer writes, “that brand of centrist New Democrat politics that helped make him the first president of his party to win reelection since FDR … will be mostly missing. Conservative and centrist Democrats, so critical to Clinton’s efforts to reform welfare, balance the budget, and erase the image of the party as being reflexively anti-business, have nearly vanished.”

Today’s Democratic Party is an institution beholden to its public-sector union clients, academics, Eastern elites, and the crony capitalists who give it funding and benefit from the White House’s largesse when it gives them contracts — such as those for the failed energy companies like Solyndra.

Its base is the anti-business and anti-war Left, symbolized by the likely-to-fail campaign for Senate in Massachusetts waged by Elizabeth Warren. Hers, like that of the president, is that of a party that has taken “an ever-more-stridently leftward turn.” Gone is the emphasis of the DLC for private-sector growth, government efficiency, personal responsibility, and what Boyer writes is “an affirmation of mainstream values.” And one should add that also gone is a tough foreign policy against very real enemies, replaced by Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy. This has left the U.S. without influence to stop the slaughter in Syria, to defend Israel from ever growing attacks, and, most importantly, to force Iran to stop preparing the enrichment of uranium.

Boyer highlights the very real differences:

Obama’s presidency has seemed, in key regards, a repudiation of the New Democrat idea. Clinton Democrats embraced business; Obama attacked private equity. A New Democrat would have championed the Keystone XL Pipeline; Obama, yielding to environmentalists, has resisted it. Although Obama campaigned in coal country in 2008 as a friend of the industry (and of all those blue-collar jobs associated with it), his Environmental Protection Agency has established regulations so severe that one administration official admitted, “if you want to build a coal plant you got a big problem.” Many of the workers affected by such policies are swing-state voters, who are also keenly sensitive to values issues. Obama’s health-care mandates on contraception may help him with single women and urban voters, but it might hurt him among Catholics in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act; Obama stopped enforcing it, and then declared himself a supporter of gay marriage — the day after North Carolinians voted a traditional definition of marriage into the state’s constitution.

Pollster Doug Schoen says Obama has “substituted class warfare for Clintonism.”

“I think the New Democrat movement can be saved,” says Al From, founder of the Democratic Leadership Council. “We do go through cycles. But it would have been a lot better if we had had a second New Democrat president to cement it.”

From, speaking to Boyer, ties the change to those he calls the “cultural liberals,” reflected in the press, academia, New York’s Upper West Side and Brooklyn’s Park Slope, and, of course, most of the film academy and big Hollywood boosters of Obama like George Clooney. The rest of the party’s base is made up of those who get government checks and those in the business community who get what From calls “corporate welfare.” In other words, the party has become “the party of elites and dependents.”

Given this reality, it is not a surprise that during the Republican National Convention — as I said in my previous column — the media did not highlight the speech by Jane Edmonds or even let most people know of the defection to the Republican side of former Alabama Congressman Arthur Davis, the man who seconded Obama’s nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Davis is an African-American who must have taken great pride in the symbolic importance of a black man receiving the nomination of one of America’s major political parties. But Davis found that Obama had taken a different path than that which allowed Democrats in the South to gain electoral victories. Rather than trying to get those who had voted for Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan to vote for him, Obama, Davis points out, “was figuring out how to rally the Democratic base around him,” and he never “had to do what Clinton had to do …which was to figure out how to construct some kind of other political case that appealed to conservative-leaning voters.”

The other point made by Boyer, who favorably cites Democratic pollster and analyst Doug Schoen, is that Obama has “substituted class-based politics — resentment of the rich, taxing the rich — for fiscal discipline, and prudence.” That was most validated when the nation saw Obama simply ignore any of the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission. As Davis tellingly says, the Democratic Party is “slipping in the direction of becoming a self-conscious vehicle of the left, that is more concerned about developing a righteous leftist platform than one that has a particular project to govern.”

And yes, Ed Rendell is right in his observation that one of the problems is that while Newt Gingrich could bring along his base and get them to accept compromises and work with Clinton to implement them, the current congressional Republican leadership is stymied because many of the new Tea Party-elected officials owe no loyalty to them, and can’t be budged to accept any suggestions the Boehner-Cantor leadership might suggest that they disapprove of. But, one should note, when Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress, he still could not get his own Democrats to move one inch and to accept any compromise with Republicans. Nancy Pelosi and her followers ran the show, rather than the White House.

So will Clinton turn the day, making those independent and moderate swing voters decide to vote for Obama? Doug Schoen tells Boyer that he doubts it, and sees Clinton’s coming speech as mere “political artifice.” It is meant, Schoen thinks, to “achieve a short-term political result,” and not a “change in philosophy.”

So the reasons Ronald Reagan asserted as to why he became a Republican still stand. “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party,” Reagan said. “It left me.” Now, many Clinton Democrats, reflecting on the four years of Barack Obama and the party he represents, will join Artur Davis and others in making that same statement. The time and moment for the Democrats to change their philosophy has long passed.

For Democrats who really want to move forward, they too have to abandon a liberalism that has become both obsolete and reactionary, and join conservatives, libertarians, and moderates in voting this November for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Lieberman: This is not your father’s Democratic Party

http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Fathers-Democratic-Party/dp/1477600957

——–

JFK and the Death of Liberalism

By Jeffrey Lord on 5.31.12 @ 6:11AM

John F. Kennedy, the father of the Reagan Democrats, would have been 95 this week.

May 29th of this week marked John F. Kennedy’s 95th birthday.

Had he never gone to Dallas, had he the blessings of long years like his 105 year old mother Rose, the man immutably fixed in the American memory as a vigorous 40-something surely would be seen in an entirely different light.

If JFK were alive today?

Presuming his 1964 re-election, we would know for a fact what he did in Vietnam. We would know for a fact what a second-term Kennedy domestic program produced. And yes, yes, all those torrent of womanizing tales that finally gushed into headlines in the post-Watergate era (and still keep coming, the tale of White House intern Mimi Alford recently added to the long list) would surely have had a more scathing effect on his historical reputation had he been alive to answer them.

But he wasn’t.

As the world knows, those fateful few seconds in Dallas on November 22, 1963 not only transformed American and world history. They transformed JFK himself into an iconic American martyr, forever young, handsome and idealistic. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his assassination—and in spite of all the womanizing tales, in spite of the passage of now almost half a century—John F. Kennedy is still repeatedlyranked by Americans as among the country’s greatest presidents. In the American imagination, JFK is historically invincible

All of this comes to mind not simply as JFK’s 95th birthday came and went this week with remarkably little fanfare.

As readers of The American Spectator are well familiar, TAS founder and Editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has a new book out in which he details The Death of Liberalism.

Once upon a time — in 1950 — Bob Tyrrell notes that the liberal intellectual Lionel Trilling could honestly open his book The Liberal Imagination with this sentence:

In the United States at this time Liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.

It was true in 1950 — and it was still true on the day John F. Kennedy’s motorcade began to make its way through the streets of Dallas.

It was still true a year later, when Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson swamped the GOP’s conservative nominee Barry Goldwater.

But something had happened by 1964. Something Big. And it’s fair to wonder on the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s 95th birthday if in fact that Something Big would ever have happened at all if Kennedy had not been in Lee Harvey Oswald’s gun sight that sunny November day almost 49 years ago.

In short, one wonders. Did the bullets that killed JFK hit another target — liberalism itself? Unlike JFK, not killing liberalism instantly but inflicting something else infinitely more damaging than sudden death? Or, as Tyrrell puts it, inflicting “a slow, but steady decline of which the Liberals have been steadfastly oblivious.”

While LBJ would ride herd on American liberalism for another year, in fact the dominant status of liberalism in both politics and culture that Trilling had observed in 1950 had, after JFK’s murder, curiously begun to simply fade. Not unlike Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat, leaving nothing behind but a grin. Writes Tyrrell:

Yet Liberals, who began as the rightful heirs to the New Deal, have carried on as a kind of landed aristocracy, gifted but doomed.

The new book in Robert Caro’s biographical series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power has received considerable attention for Caro’s detailed depiction of LBJ’s transition from powerful Senate Majority Leader to a virtual impotence as Kennedy’s vice president. But there’s a clue in this book as to the future decline of liberalism that is completely overlooked (and wasn’t published until after Tyrrell’s). A clue that revolves around the treatment of Vice President Johnson by Kennedy insiders and JFK’s Washington admirers — a treatment, it is important to note, that was never ever exhibited by JFK himself.

While Kennedy gave strict orders that LBJ was to be treated at all times with the respect due his office — and this was in an era when vice presidents customarily went unused by presidents, a fate that had befallen all vice presidential occupants from the nation’s first, John Adams, to Johnson — there was something else bubbling just below the surface in the Washington that was the Kennedy era.

Robert Caro describes it this way:

Washington had in many ways always been a small town, and in small towns gossip can be cruel, and the New Frontiersmen — casual, elegant, understated, in love with their own sophistication (“Such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not”, recalls Ashton Gonella) — were a witty bunch, and wit does better when it has a target to aim at, and the huge, lumbering figure of Lyndon Johnson, with his carefully buttoned-up suits and slicked-down hair, his bellowing speeches and extravagant, awkward gestures, made an inevitable target. “One can feel the hot breath of the crowd at the bullfight exulting as the sword flashes into the bull,” one historian wrote. In the Georgetown townhouses that were the New Frontier’s social stronghold “there were a lot of small parties, informal kinds, dinners that were given by Kennedy people for other Kennedy people. You know, twelve people in for dinner, all part of the Administration,” says United States Treasurer Elizabeth Gatov. “Really, it was brutal, the stories that they were passing, and the jokes and the inside nasty stuff about Lyndon.” When he mispronounced “hors d’oeuvres” as “whore doves,” the mistake was all over Georgetown in what seemed an instant.

Johnson’s Texas accent was mocked. His proclivity for saying “Ah reckon,” “Ah believe,” and saying the word “Negro” as “nigrah.” On one occasion of a white tie event at the White House, Caro writes of LBJ that “he wore, to the Kennedy people’s endless amusement, not the customary black tailcoat but a slate-gray model especially sent up by Dallas’ Neiman-Marcus department store.” The liberals populating the Kennedy administration and Washington itself were people with an affinity for words, and they began to bestow on Johnson — behind his back — nicknames such as “Uncle Cornpone” or “Rufus Cornpone.” Lady Bird Johnson was added to the game, and the Johnsons as a couple were nicknamed “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop.”

None of this, Caro notes, was done by John Kennedy himself. JFK had an instinctive appreciation for Johnson’s sense of dignity, and he thought Lady Bird “neat.” This is, in retrospect, notable.

Why?

Let’s rocket ahead now to what Bob Tyrrell calls The Death of Liberalism. In particular the numbers — polling data. Tyrrell spends an entire chapter discussing polling data, as well he should. His findings are the ultimate teachable moment as we settle into the 2012 Obama-Romney race.

By 1968 — five years after the death of JFK and in the last of the five years of the Johnson presidency — the number of “self-identified” conservatives began to climb. Sharply. The Liberal dominance Lionel Trilling had written about had gone, never to this moment to return. Routinely now in poll after poll that Tyrrell cites — and there are plenty of others he doesn’t have room to cite — self-identified liberals hover at about 20% of the American body politic. Outnumbered more than two-to-one by conservatives, with moderates bringing up the remainder in the middle.

What happened in those five years after JFK’s death?

One very compelling thing.

The attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy’s liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists — slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself.

Recall Caro’s descriptions of people who were “in love with their own sophistication,” who were “such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not.” Think of the snotty arrogance displayed as these people laughed at LBJ’s accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife (“Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop”).

Slowly, and then not so slowly, these elitist, arrogant and if not outright snotty attitudes sought out a new target during the years when LBJ was sitting in the White House — when, in the view of these people, “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop” had replaced the King and Queen of Camelot.

That new target?

The American people themselves. They had, after all, elected LBJ in a landslide in 1964. Now Uncle Cornpone was the elected President of the United States. To make matters more unbearable, LBJ was using his newfound power and popularity to actually pass the liberal agenda of the day, which Johnson labeled “The Great Society.” Uncle Cornpone, it seemed, wasn’t such a ridiculous figure after all when it came to getting the liberal wish list through the Congress.

No one better than JFK would have known instantly what a huge mistake this elitist attitude would be. Discussing the relationship of a presidential candidate with the American people, JFK had told historian and friend Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series, that, in White’s re-telling, “a man running for the Presidency must talk up, way up there.” It was a principle Kennedy surely would have applied to his own party — and did so while he was president. Not from JFK was there a drop of elitist contempt — from a man who unarguably could claim the title in a blink — for his fellow countrymen.

But in a horrifying flash, JFK was gone. And the elitist tide spread.

Slowly this contempt for the American people spread to institutions that were not government, manifesting itself in a thousand different ways. It infected the media, academe and Hollywood, where stars identified with middle-America like John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball were eclipsed in the spotlight by leftists like Warren Beatty and Jane Fonda.

The arms-linked peaceful civil rights protests led by Christian ministers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr gave way to bombings and violent demonstrations against the Vietnam War led by snooty, well-educated white left-wing kids like Bill Ayers. The great American middle class — from which many of these educated kids had sprung — was trashed in precisely the fashion LBJ had been trashed. For accents, clothing styles, housing choices (suburbs and rural life were out) food, music, the love of guns, choice of cars, colleges, hair styles and more. Religion itself could not escape, Christianity to be mocked, made into a derisive laughingstock. The part of America between New York and California became known sneeringly as “flyover country.

As time moved on, these attitudes hardened, taking on colors, colors derived from election night maps where red represented conservative, Republican or traditional candidates and blue became symbolic of homes to Liberalism.

Red States. Blue States.

Liberal candidates hoping to carry Red States or even Purple States had to hide the contempt they felt for their own constituents. When Governor Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary snapped in a 60 Minutes interview over her husband’s infidelities that:

You know, I’m not sitting here — some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.

— the Clinton campaign quickly swung into damage control mode, an apology as quickly forthcoming.

Sixteen years later it was Barack Obama’s turn, the candidate caught on audio tape describing Pennsylvania voters to a fundraising audience of rich, fashionable San Francisco liberals as:

bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The Obama and Hillary Clinton expressions were about as far as one could get from JFK’s conception that when running for president one has to talk “way up there” to the American people.

By now, millions of Americans have come to see the elitism that once was directed privately at LBJ in Georgetown salons as an ingrained characteristic of Liberalism. Even NBC’s Tom Brokaw is getting antsy at the insiderdom on televised display at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Think of the treatment of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin versus that afforded Hillary Clinton. The treatment of Clarence Thomas — versus Barack Obama.

Self-identify with that kind of treatment? Of course not. Compounding the problem for liberals is that this attitude is linked to what Tyrrell accurately calls Obama’s “Stealth Socialism.” And the combination of the two is proving to be politically deadly.

Here’s a JFK-Obama contrast.

In 1960, JFK determined that if he were to win the Democratic nomination he would in fact have to win the West Virginia primary. Why West Virginia? Because Kennedy was Catholic, no Catholic had ever been elected president — and West Virginia was heavily Protestant. It was a knock-down, drag-out fight — a furious battle against Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey. In an upset, a legend in West Virginia politics to this day, JFK won. By emphasizing his PT-109 heroism in World War II and his support of coal mining — and coal miners.

What happened the other day in the West Virginia Democratic primaries? That’s right. A Texas prison inmate named Keith Judd paid the $2,500 filing fee to get his name on the ballot opposing Obama — getting 40% of the vote. Why this particular humiliation? Right again. The President’s “Stealth Socialism” — specifically in West Virginia his energy and environmental policies — are seen by West Virginians as savaging the state’s coal industry. A world away from the JFK approach.

And let’s not forget the double standard that elitist liberals in the media love when it comes to their fellow countrymen.

What was one of the most notable stylistic aspects of the Kennedy presidency that had Georgetown parlors and the liberal media of the day swooning with admiration?

Exactly. They loved Jackie Kennedy — specifically they absolutely adored that the First Lady was an accomplished horsewoman. Scenes like this video of Jackie riding with her children in the Virginia hunt country – as JFK watched from nearby — were staples of the liberal media, the only media, of the day. If one grew up in the Kennedy era it is recognized instantly, particularly the scene where Caroline’s horse “Macaroni” is nibbling on JFK as the President laughs. Horseback riding as Mrs. Kennedy pursued it was an expensive hobby then — as now. And this fact was lavishly presented to the American public as a sign of class — both financial class and as in “classy.”

What was the big story about Ann Romney the other day? Take a look at Breitbart.com where they have neatly caught onto the sneering elitism that is falsely ascribed to Ann Romney because — yes indeed — just like Jackie Kennedy, Ann Romney rides horses. With one very big difference. In Mrs. Romney’s case horseback riding was prescribed as therapy for her multiple sclerosis. Now, however, as was true with a big front pagestory in the New York Times, Republican Ann Romney is involved with a “rarified sport.” Translation: Mrs. Romney is a snob. What’s fabulous for Jackie is snooty for Ann.

Which leads us back to where we began.

Had John F. Kennedy been alive and well this week, celebrating his 95th birthday, one can only wonder whether liberalism would have survived with him.

This is, after all, the president who said in cutting taxes that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” Becoming The favorite presidential example (along with Calvin Coolidge) of no less than Ronald Reagan on tax policy. This is, after all, the president who ran to the right of Richard Nixon in 1960 on issues of national security.

In fact, many of those who voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960 would twenty years later vote for Ronald Reagan. One famous study of Macomb County, Michigan found 63% of Democrats in that unionized section of autoworker country voting for JFK in 1960. In 1980, same county, essentially the same Democrats — 66% voted for Reagan. The difference? Liberalism was dying.

There is a term of political art for these millions of onetime JFK voters — a term used still today: Reagan Democrats. It is not too strong a statement to say that in point of political fact John F. Kennedy was the father of the Reagan Democrats.

Would JFK have let the arrogant liberal elitism that was bubbling under the surface of his own administration metastasize to so many American institutions — including his own party — had he lived?

Would he have sat silently as the liberal culture turned against the vast American middle and working blue collar class and its values, sending JFK voters into the arms of Republicans in seven out of twelve of the elections following his own?

Would he have fought the subtle but distinct change of his famous inaugural challenge from “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” to what it has now become: “ask not what you can do for your country, ask what service your government can provide you?”

We will never know.

But there is every reason to believe, after all these decades, that, to use the title of JFK biographer William Manchester’s famous book, The Death of a President, brought another, quite unexpected death in its wake.

The Death of Liberalism.

——–

JFK: Democrats’ role model ?

September 04, 2008

The John F. Kennedy legacy came up repeatedly during the Democratic National Convention. But today, would JFK even be a Democrat?

Kennedy supported, in today’s lexicon, a George W. Bush-like « belligerent » approach to fighting the Cold War, and told CBS’ Walter Cronkite it would be « a great mistake » to withdraw the American presence from Vietnam. In his 1961 inaugural speech, Kennedy said, « Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. »

How would such a man feel about fighting today’s global peril – Islamo-fascism?

Barack Obama likes to point to the 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev summit to support his desire for meetings « without preconditions » with enemies such as Iran and North Korea.

But Kennedy’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk, urged against such a non-conditions-based summit. And later, Kennedy called the summit meeting the « roughest thing in my life. (Khrushchev) just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. » Indeed, Khrushchev thought Kennedy a weak amateur. Following the summit, Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall and placed missiles in Cuba, an action that led the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.

Kennedy believed in cutting taxes – deeply and dramatically. Before Kennedy’s tax cuts, the top marginal tax rate stood at over 90 percent, and Kennedy – albeit after his assassination – got it reduced to 70 percent, a much greater percentage reduction than did Bush. Kennedy, in a 1962 speech before the Economic Club of New York said, « It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country’s own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy, which can bring a budget surplus. »

In January 1963, Kennedy addressed Congress: « Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government. » Several days later, JFK sent another message to Congress: « Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate. »

In a televised national address just two months before his assassination, Kennedy broke it down: « A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. »

Kennedy, unlike Obama, opposed race-based preferences. In a 1963 interview, Kennedy expected blacks to resist a call for preferential treatment: « The Negro community did not want job quotas to compensate for past discrimination. What I think they would like is to see their children well educated, so that they could hold jobs … and have themselves accepted as equal members of the community. … I don’t think we can undo the past. In fact, the past is going to be with us for a good many years in uneducated men and women who lost their chance for a decent education. We have to do the best we can now. That is what we are trying to do. »

Kennedy also objected to assigning positions or granting promotions based on what today’s advocates call under-representation: « I think it is a mistake to begin to assign quotas on the basis of religion or race – color – nationality. … On the other hand, I do think that we ought to make an effort to give a fair chance to everyone who is qualified – not through a quota – but just look over our employment rolls, look over our areas where we are hiring people and at least make sure we are giving everyone a fair chance. But not hard and fast quotas. … We are too mixed, this society of ours, to begin to divide ourselves on the basis of race or color. »

So when the haze disappears, what remains? A man of limited government, low taxes and strong national defense who rejected a government-led redistribution of wealth.

In other words, someone who would today fit very comfortably in the party – the Republican Party.

———

John F. Kennedy on taxes

July 19, 2004

By William J. Federer

Editor’s note: The following quotes are published in the book, « The Interesting History of Income Tax, » by William J. Federer (Amerisearch, Inc., P.O. Box 20163, St. Louis, MO 63123, 1-888-USA-WORD)

« It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus. »

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, president’s news conference

« Lower rates of taxation will stimulate economic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 17, 1963, annual budget message to the Congress, fiscal year 1964

« In today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarges the federal deficit – why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: « The Economic Report Of The President »

« It is no contradiction – the most important single thing we can do to stimulate investment in today’s economy is to raise consumption by major reduction of individual income tax rates. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 21, 1963, annual message to the Congress: « The Economic Report Of The President »

« Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.

« A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every taxpayer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues. »

– John F. Kennedy, Sept. 18, 1963, radio and television address to the nation on tax-reduction bill

« I have asked the secretary of the treasury to report by April 1 on whether present tax laws may be stimulating in undue amounts the flow of American capital to the industrial countries abroad through special preferential treatment. »

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 6, 1961, message to Congress on gold and the balalnce of payments deficit

« In those countries where income taxes are lower than in the United States, the ability to defer the payment of U.S. tax by retaining income in the subsidiary companies provides a tax advantage for companies operating through overseas subsidiaries that is not available to companies operating solely in the United States. Many American investors properly made use of this deferral in the conduct of their foreign investment. »

– John F. Kennedy, April 20, 1961, message to Congress on taxation

« Our present tax system … exerts too heavy a drag on growth … It reduces the financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking … The present tax load … distorts economic judgments and channels an undue amount of energy into efforts to avoid tax liabilities. »

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, press conference

« The present tax codes … inhibit the mobility and formation of capital, add complexities and inequities which undermine the morale of the taxpayer, and make tax avoidance rather than market factors a prime consideration in too many economic decisions. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 23, 1963, special message to Congress on tax reduction and reform

« In short, it is a paradoxical truth that … the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. The experience of a number of European countries and Japan have borne this out. This country’s own experience with tax reduction in 1954 has borne this out. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus. »

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, news conference

« The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources and to a higher rate of economic growth is the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative and incentive. »

– John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, special message to Congress on tax reduction and reform

« Expansion and modernization of the nation’s productive plant is essential to accelerate economic growth and to improve the international competitive position of American industry … An early stimulus to business investment will promote recovery and increase employment. »

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 2, 1961, message on economic recovery

« We must start now to provide additional stimulus to the modernization of American industrial plants … I shall propose to the Congress a new tax incentive for businesses to expand their normal investment in plant and equipment. »

– John F. Kennedy, Feb. 13, 1961, National Industrial Conference Board

« A bill will be presented to the Congress for action next year. It will include an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in both corporate and personal income taxes. It will include long-needed tax reform that logic and equity demand … The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy. Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy. »

– John F. Kennedy, Aug. 13, 1962, radio and television report on the state of the national economy

 « This administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes … Next year’s tax bill should reduce personal as well as corporate income taxes, for those in the lower brackets, who are certain to spend their additional take-home pay, and for those in the middle and upper brackets, who can thereby be encouraged to undertake additional efforts and enabled to invest more capital … I am confident that the enactment of the right bill next year will in due course increase our gross national product by several times the amount of taxes actually cut. »

– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, news conference

William J. Federer, is a best-selling author and the president of Amerisearch Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.

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6 commentaires pour Obama: Pire président du siècle ? (Worst president in a hundred years ? – even Carter and Nixon did better !)

  1. […] gauche qui s’était une spécialité de le critiquer et une Amérique émasculée par son Carter noir, l’Europe semble enfin se décider à reprendre en Afrique le rôle plus que nécessaire de […]

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  2. […] sur ce président américain qui pourrait bien se révéler l’un des pires (et plus naïfs) présidents de l’histoire […]

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  3. […] The current troubles of the Obama presidency can be read back into its beginnings. Rule by personal charisma has met its proper fate. The spell has been broken, and the magician stands exposed. We need no pollsters to tell us of the loss of faith in Mr. Obama’s policies—and, more significantly, in the man himself. Charisma is like that. Crowds come together and they project their needs onto an imagined redeemer. The redeemer leaves the crowd to its imagination: For as long as the charismatic moment lasts—a year, an era—the redeemer is above and beyond judgment. Fouad Ajami […]

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  4. […] la Maison Blanche, le premier président de la diversité est bien parti pour remporter le titre de pire président du siècle […]

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