July 9, 2007


Sham-a-Lot (JOSEPH EPSTEIN, July 9, 2007, Wall Street Journal)

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Richard Goodwin and Theodore Sorensen were among the circle around Kennedy -- a president the British humorist Malcolm Muggeridge called "The Loved One" -- who have kept pumping away at his already inflated reputation. Scheslinger, who started out in life as an historian and ended up as a courtier, worked most assiduously at this project, writing thick, overly dramatized books on both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, books with a very low truth quotient. But everyone pitched in. All had a stake, for the greater they could make John F. Kennedy seem, the more heightened would the drama of their own lives appear.

The Kennedy public-relations juggernaut continues to roll. Recent evidence of it is found in the July/August issue of Washington Monthly. Its cover story, "The Speech I Wish the Winner Would Give," was written by Mr. Sorenson, who is best known for the phrase, planted in his boss's inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He is -- only in America! -- the country's most famous ghostwriter; or, if you prefer, its most noted political ventriloquist.

The speech Mr. Sorenson would write for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee contains neither surprises in the realm of policy nor lilting turns of speech. Instead, it would have the candidate essentially avow that he will do nothing George W. Bush has done.

The speech is, then, the usual canned goods, notable only for straining after the Kennedyesque tone; its final paragraph begins: "I'm told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes . . ." Yet in its very insubstantiality it reminds one of how the Kennedy administration's insignificant years in office and the decades-long public-relations campaign that followed it have skewered and ultimately helped wreck the Democratic Party.

John F. Kennedy & Co. took the party up-market, making it an Ivy League and, later, a Hollywood operation. After the Kennedy administration, the Democrats were no longer the party of the little man (Harry Truman's party), or the party of the underdog (Franklin Delano Roosevelt's party), but that of the intellectual and cultural sahibs pretending to speak for the little man and the underdogs because it makes them feel virtuous to do so; they turn politics into an affair of snobbery, where politicians are judged on elegance not substance.

...is that following too blowout losses by the eggheaded Adlai Stevenson to the prototypically Stupid Ike, these supposedly smart guys turned the Democrats into a Stevensonesque party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2007 11:44 PM

Note that the only Democrats elected President since then were Southerners running against Goldwater, Ford, Bush+Perot, and Dole+Perot.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 10, 2007 12:35 AM

Southern Evangelical males.

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2007 6:12 AM

All of whom won with pluralities, not majorities, in 3-way races.

Posted by: Mike Earl at July 10, 2007 11:39 AM

Even with all of the above, the worst thing the Kennedy mafia foisted on the country, were the primaries which supplanted the smoke filled room and allowed candidates to be self-appointed

Posted by: erp at July 10, 2007 11:57 AM

"Culturally superior and morally virtuous"? I guess, if you consider Marylin Monroe slurring the words "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to be all that superior and virtuous. Of course, the modern Democrat party certainly does.

Posted by: JonSK at July 10, 2007 1:40 PM

The problem with the Democrat party, for me, was that Joe McCarthy etc. drove the Reds and the Pinkos underground, to eventually migrate (worm their way) into the main stream Democrat party, ultimately subverting it into the mess it is in today. I'm no Truman fan, but I'd bet he's rolling in his grave.

McCarthy proved correct, but we're living with the unintended consequences today.

Posted by: Genecis at July 10, 2007 3:07 PM

Another example that divine intervention is at work keeping us a viable land.

Posted by: erp at July 10, 2007 3:11 PM

The commies were already in control of the leadership of the "arts" and with out McCarthy they would have seized it openly and completely. He was a martyr and should be honored for his service to our country.

Posted by: erp at July 11, 2007 9:19 AM