December 4, 2005

CHEAPSKATES:

What Would J.F.K. Have Done? (THEODORE C. SORENSEN and ARTHUR SCHLESINGER Jr., December 4, 2005, NY Times)

WHAT did we not hear from President Bush when he spoke last week at the United States Naval Academy about his strategy for victory in Iraq?

We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest wars in American history, is a running sore.


Here's a question we might consider: if Iraq is the costliest war in American history at $224 billion and 2,000 dead when we have a population of 300 million and a GDP over $12 trillion, how can we justify not fighting more wars?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 4, 2005 1:03 PM
Comments

From USA Today: In Vietnam, the last sustained war the nation fought, the United States spent $111 billion during the eight years of the war, from 1964 to 1972. Adjusted for inflation, that's more than $494 billion, an average of $61.8 billion per year, or $5.15 billion per month.

According the BEA, the average GDP, in 2004 dollars, for the years 1964 through 1972 was $922.4 billion. So, we spent 6.7% of GDP on the Vietnam war. In order to spend as much on Iraq, we would need to spend $800 million per year.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 4, 2005 2:00 PM

"What would JFK have done?" Are they serious?

He'd do what he always did, bring in some babes and leave the Cubans to die at their leisure at the Bay of Pigs.

There's no way I could read the article. I can't stand Kennedy. IMO he's far worse than Carter or LBJ. He's in FDR's class.

Posted by: erp at December 4, 2005 2:15 PM

I wouldn't be that dismissive of FDR; he accomplished many things in his time, and some of them were even worth doing.

I forget exactly who, but a blogger I read recently said there were two FDR's: on the basis of his prosecution of World War II he is a great President, while on everything else he is mediocre or worse. (Especially on the court-packing attempt; where would we be if he had gotten away with that?) The two sides averaged out make FDR an average President or slightly better than average - that sounds about right to me.

While he has some good points, JFK would not have half the adulation he presently enjoys were he not (1) assassinated, and (2) a Democrat. That much is obvious, but it probably doesn't hurt to say so in print.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at December 4, 2005 2:44 PM

Stalin thought so.

Posted by: oj at December 4, 2005 2:51 PM

> THEODORE C. SORENSEN and ARTHUR SCHLESINGER Jr.

Are they still alive?

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at December 4, 2005 3:45 PM

Kennedy was a Democrat like I was a Democrat. He was a hawk and a patriot. His inaugural speech was something that Bush could easily have delivered. It is not his fault that his drunken little brother went out with the tide.

I am not saying that he did a great job. Far from it. Cuba was a chicken feathers botch job, as was Berlin. Aggressive definitive action in those places would have prevented the missile crisis and Viet-Nam.

But, if he were still alive, he would more likely be a Zell Miller/Ed Koch Democrat than a Teddy Kennedy fool. Of course Schlesinger and Sorenson are senile old fools who have drifted along with th left wing of the Democrat party, and in their senile dementia think that Jack would be just like them. Maybe they are correct, but I am skeptical.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 4, 2005 3:48 PM

These guys are still trying to make out that Kennedy was a good president. I thought he was mediocre at best and given what I remember of the polls at the time his re-election was not even a shoo-in. Other than the tax cut what did he actually do? He gave a talk telling us about the Cuba Missile Crisis. Boy that was a tough call! He called himself a donut in Berlin and got a laugh. He was lucky enough to marry Jackie, the best thing about his presidency. He lucked out in having a dad who could afford to buy the presidency. Other than that he was totally mediocre at best.

Posted by: dick at December 4, 2005 5:18 PM

PS to David. I think you mean 800 billion, not 800 million dollars per year. Just a thought.

Posted by: dick at December 4, 2005 5:20 PM

Kennedy was no politician. He was a dumb playboy who could read a line better than Reagan and charm an adoring media. He was closest to the truth when he said in Berlin that he was a dinner roll. He and the dinner roll shared the same IQ.

Khrushchev read him perfectly and knew that he could go ahead and build the Berlin wall with no objections from Jack or Jackie.

This country must be blessed to have survived so many horrible presidents. Please to tell me what FDR did that could be considered beneficial other than leaving the prosecution of the war to the generals and dying in time for Truman to okay the atom bombing of Japan. Had he lived, he might very well have nixed it.

Posted by: erp at December 4, 2005 5:21 PM

Roosevelt had Lend-Lease, which helped keep Britain alive until we entered the fight - and this at a time when the America-Firsters were at their most vocal. That should count for something.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at December 4, 2005 5:27 PM

Dick: Ach, you're right.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 4, 2005 5:28 PM

John:

The Nazis couldn't cross the Channel.

Posted by: oj at December 4, 2005 7:02 PM

JFK's legacy carriers would make you believe he would have tracked the career of his slacker younger brother Edward M. had he lived, when it fact the Kennedys moved to the left following JFK's death and the acelleration of the war by LBJ as much for strategic political purposes as anything else. There was no base to run to the right of Johnson within the party in the late 1960s, while Bobby saw userping Gene McCarthy's position as the way to get the family back in control in 1968.

Had JFK done what Ted and Artie now claim he would have done, and disengaged from Vietnam by 1964, especially in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the election would have been a disaster for the Democrats on national security (gee, that sounds familiar). Odds are he would have maintained the U.S. presence there, though how much is unknown, and the "Kennedy wing" of the Democratic Party would not had gone spinning off into Teddy's moonbat liberalism, but would have ended up as a more centerist group defending the status quo their brother had helped create.

Posted by: John at December 4, 2005 7:36 PM

What would Kennedy have done? Here's a clue.

The Bay of Pigs failesd because the Administration lost its nerve at the last minute and withheld the promised fighter cover for the operation's close air support. The accounts imply that the promise had been a CIA foul-up, a promise that never should have been made and which Kennedy was not responsible for.

This is hardly credible, as CAS had to have been a major part of the plan. Even in the 60's, when you're out of airplanes, you're out of beer.

Viewed in the light of history, the Sorenson/Schlesinger position has some validity. Kennedy wimped out on the Cuban Freedom Fighters, he would have left our Vietnamese allies hanging from the helo skids if it had been up to him, and certainly would never have taken down Saddam Hussein, at least not without the French permission slip, which means not at all.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 4, 2005 7:53 PM

What would Kennedy have done? Here's a clue.

The Bay of Pigs failesd because the Administration lost its nerve at the last minute and withheld the promised fighter cover for the operation's close air support. The accounts imply that the promise had been a CIA foul-up, a promise that never should have been made and which Kennedy was not responsible for.

This is hardly credible, as CAS had to have been a major part of the plan. Even in the 60's, when you're out of airplanes, you're out of beer.

Viewed in the light of history, the Sorenson/Schlesinger position has some validity. Kennedy wimped out on the Cuban Freedom Fighters, he would have left our Vietnamese allies hanging from the helo skids if it had been up to him, and certainly would never have taken down Saddam Hussein, at least not without the French permission slip, which means not at all.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 4, 2005 7:53 PM

Given the careers of JK and clinton, I think that we should amend the constitution to require presidents to be over 50.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 5, 2005 2:58 AM

We lost over 250,000 soldiers and marines in WWII. That was costly.

Posted by: pchuck at December 5, 2005 11:11 AM

Why to these Dem seances never seem to bring forth the shade of Wilson, Truman, Johnson or Carter? The latter is invoked so rarely he's been forced to take the initiative himself, more and more often. Will we see the same for Billy Jeff in a decade or so?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 5, 2005 5:54 PM
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