John F. Kennedy
Fifty-six years ago in the historical rear view mirror, the four Kennedy-Nixon debates were the first presidential debates and set the precedent for presidential debates, although the next would not occur until 1976 between Ford and Carter. In the first debate Kennedy, who secretly suffered from numerous ailments, radiated health and vigor. Nixon looked terrible in comparison, having been hospitalized for two weeks in August over an infected knee and having not regained the weight he lost during his recovery. Nixon insisted on campaigning until the time of the debate and refused to wear television makeup. Nixon’s mother called him after the debate and asked him if he was ill. After the debate, polls indicated that Kennedy went from a slight deficit to a slight lead. Continue reading
The things you can find on the internet. Then Senator John F. Kennedy reading the Declaration of Independence on a radio station WQXR in New York on July 4, 1957, the year of my birth.
Hard to believe that the Kennedy assassination was half a century ago. Back in 1963 I was in second grade, but I was not in school. Sick with pneumonia, my mother had taken me to the doctor and he had prescribed penicillin. After getting my prescription filled my mother took me home. She turned on our television set and I planted myself on the couch to watch it. As we watched television we saw the initial news flashes that President Kennedy had been shot. This was on a Friday, and the remainder of that day and the weekend, my mother, father and I and my brother practically lived in front of the television set, riveted by the around the clock coverage, something unprecedented in this country before that dreadful day.
America was stunned at the idea that a President could be assassinated. It had been 62 years since the last President had been assassinated and the country had grown complacent. Conspiracy theories began almost at once, fueled by the surrealist murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby and by the inability of liberals to accept that their icon John F. Kennedy, ironically a very centrist Democrat, had been felled by a deranged Marxist, rather than by some sinister right wing cabal.
What was the impact of the Kennedy assassination on American history? Probably minimal. The economy was in good shape so Kennedy was doubtless going to be re-elected in 1964, especially with newsmen not covering his constant womanizing and his addiction to painkillers from a back injury he sustained during World War II. Contrary to the imaginings of some liberal commentators, Kennedy was a cold warrior to his core, and the idea that he would have avoided the Vietnam War is fanciful. Continue reading