This week even Americans who weren't alive on Nov. 22, 1963, are reading, writing and reflecting about the assassination of the 35th president 50 years ago. In the view of some critics, the fascination with both
True, much of the adulation for Kennedy during his life and since originated in arguably superficial attributes: his youth, personal attractiveness and sophistication. But his election at age 43 to succeed the 70-year-old
Kennedy was also forward-looking in his policies. On June 11, 1963, the day on which National Guardsmen escorted two black students as they enrolled at the University of Alabama, Kennedy declared that equality for African Americans was a "moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution." He announced that he was asking
Was Kennedy a great president? Probably not. He wasn't even a good one, according to the JFK revisionists who constitute at least as much of an industry as those who mythologize "Camelot." Yes, they concede, Kennedy deftly defused the Cuban missile crisis with a combination of public resolve and a private openness to compromise — but perhaps the Soviet Union wouldn't have installed missiles in Cuba in the first place if Kennedy hadn't approved the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. It's a reasonable point.
We also now know that the telegenic husband and father of young children was serially unfaithful to his wife. Yet despite scores of biographies and endless tell-alls, the revisionists never have been able to dispel the Kennedy mystique.