John F. Kennedy
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
This Thursday (September 9th) will see former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) come to my campus, the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Santorum is set to give an address on the role of Faith and Public Life. It is quite clear that this address is merely a precursor to a 2012 presidential run and thus it will be a highly politicized speech, as was JFK’s speech on Faith in the Public Square 50 years ago. Nonetheless, I am curious to hear what Santorum has to say. I promise to provide a recap of the address for this blog sometime next weekend, so stay tuned.
If Santorum is to run for President successfully he is going to have his work cut out for him. Much like Senator Sam Brownback in 2008, Senator Santorum will be pegged as the “values candidate”. In order to gain any traction, Santorum will need to do well in Iowa, a state that has a track record of hostility towards Catholic candidates. If social conservative heavyweights like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin jump in the race, Santorum might as well throw in the towel and hope to be someone’s VP. To his great credit, Santorum has admitted that he was wrong to have endorsed the pro-choice, Arlen Specter over the pro-life candidate, Pat Toomey during the 2004 Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary.
Even though he has been out of the Senate for almost 4 years now, Santorum remains a controversial figure in American politics, as evidenced by comments on blog posts here and here. More on Santorum next weekend…