Why I Can’t Hate JFK As Much As I’d Like To

There are many reasons to hate John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The fact that the Camelot myth has grown up around a man who routinely abused his power to wiretap his political enemies and bring the United States closer to global thermonuclear war than it’s ever been, all the while sharing a mistress with the mob boss of Chicago and ingesting more drugs than Keith Moon, ought to be enough to dispel any romantic illusions about the sort of men who rise to the presidency. He was the child of an Irish mafia don, the equivalent of A.J. Soprano with nuclear weapons.

But all the same, the guy had a sense of humor. He knew it was all a game, and he didn’t take himself as seriously as his acolytes. As Richard Reeves describes in President Kennedy: Profile of Power, after a campaign-trail speech promising the moon to an audience of farmers at the South Dakota State Fair, JFK turned to an aide and commented, “Well that’s over. Fuck the farmers after November.”

At some level, he knew he was a crook and a fraud, and he always had a wink in his eye about it. The problem with today’s crooks and frauds is that they truly believe they’re our saviors. They believe their own bullshit, which JFK never really did.

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Posted on Apr 13, 2008 in Cult of the Presidency | Comments

14 Responses to “Why I Can’t Hate JFK As Much As I’d Like To”

  1. Posted by: Gil - 04/14/2008

    How do you know they beleive it?

    Maybe you’re not a cynical as you thought.

    And, I’m not sure why it should be more comforting if they don’t believe it. Either way, we get bad policies.

    I say, go ahead and hate JFK too!

  2. Posted by: Monte Davis - 04/14/2008

    As annoying as the myth was the response (or non-response) accorded Seymour Hersh’s Dark Side of Camelot. Here’s an assiduous reporter who in a dozen other contexts has been hailed as telling us things we really needed to know — but this time, there was mostly an embarrassed shuffling of feet and gazing into the middel distance: ‘Poor Sy, must have got a bee in his bonnet, what an odd obsession, even Jove nods,” etc.

  3. Posted by: Chuck - 04/14/2008

    Great post. But this brings up a question that lingers in my mind. (Maybe you wrote about this on your old blog but if you did, I forgot.)

    How would you rank JFK, LBJ, and Nixon in terms of overstepping authority, general douchebaggery, and lasting damage to the republic?

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