A Little Hardball With Chris Matthews About John Kennedy

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As to the second, and the ultimate history-shaping event, a question: Did the Cuban Missile Crisis even have to happen?

Matthews details Kennedy’s calm, deft handling of the crisis — with no interest in whether Kennedy’s own recklessness led to it. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised negotiations with America’s enemies “without preconditions.” Why not, asked Obama. Kennedy did it with Khrushchev. Bad analogy. Indeed, the young president did meet with Khrushchev in Vienna — over the objections of his secretary of state, Dean Rusk, among others. As Rusk feared, it was a disaster. Khrushchev lectured Kennedy and refused to budge on anything. “Kennedy Talked, Khrushchev Triumphed,” an op-ed in The New York Times said:

“Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy (said) the summit meeting had been the ‘roughest thing in my life. … He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. …’

“A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. … And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.”

On Kennedy’s signal economic achievement — making the case for the deep tax cuts passed after his death — Matthews spends less than a page in a 400-page book.

This brings us to the question of why lefties like Matthews fawn over Kennedy — as to policy. He was, after all, a religious man and a cold warrior who deepened our involvement in Vietnam. He believed in peace through strength: The bigger and badder the military, the less likely it will be used in war. He advocated deep tax cuts — and argued that tax cuts mean eventually more tax revenue.

Kind of like … Ronald Reagan. Odd. Very odd.

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  • Maxie

    Matthews is an irrelevant Democrat Party hack who worships at the altar of FDR as do so many lefties of a certain age. I'd guess Matthews saw Kennedy as a latter-day FDR and all the better to worship in fact than in legend. Yawn.

  • BLJ

    Chris Matthews an author? That is a good one. This guy is a joke. I wonder if his leg is still tingling when he thinks about Comrade O?

    Another book about JFK huh? How many does this make? Too many. If JFK was around today Matthews would be slamming the guy. Matthews is a clueless buffoon.

    • Reason_For_Life

      Maybe Matthews got Ted Sorenson to ghost write his book. That's how Kennedy wrote "Profiles in Courage".

      Since Sorenson died a year ago he can't be asked about it.

  • kateyleigh

    Kennedy was alone responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall in 1989…and he'd been dead 26 years. Chris has a serious problem with these tingles…maybe they're really electrical short circuits in his synaptic nerve endings.
    Typical far left Liberal, it's OK for him to snark and be nasty, but not OK for him to be engaged and confronted.

    • ebonystone

      Matthews is mixed up; Kennedy was responsible for letting the Berlin Wall be built, not for it being torn down. And for leaving Castro in charge in Cuba.

      • kateyleigh

        That was nice. I was going for hardening of the arteries and completely delusional.

  • ebonystone

    I'm no fan of Kennedy, but I believe his assassination was one of the worst things that ever happened to America. Not because he was worth anything as President; indeed he'd proven pretty much a bust, and would likely have been defeated in 1964 if he had lived.
    But his assassination allowed Johnson and the Democrats to create a fictitious "Kennedy legacy" and win a landslide majority to carry it out. The result was the "Great Society" and the Vietnam war which together have wreaked havoc on the country ever since. Just think of the U.S. if a Republican (it wouldn't have been Goldwater) had defeated JFK in 1964: no massive and financially ruinous expansion of welfare handouts and no equally ruinous expansion of the bureaucracy to administer the handouts; no tens of thousands of casualties from a poorly-conducted war and no financial burden from that war and no discredited military; no privileged minorities; and no multi-decade Senate career for Teddy and the evil legislation he sponsored.

    • Daniel Fagan

      I agree, the reason JFK was in Dallas was a desperate campaign for reelection begun earlier than any incumbent had ever launched before, His poll numbers were bad in the West and South and he knew it. Nixon lost in 60, with the help of some proven voter fraud via Nazi Joe in a squeaker. It is not unreasonable to believe that he would have been trounced by the GOP in 64.

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    Are you saying that Johnson's victory in the 1964 election was largely because of JFK's untimely death? If so, I strongly disagree. LBJ's victory was largely due to how he carpet-bombed Goldwater with baloney attack ads.("He gives Gold to the rich and water to the poor," etc.) and successfully portrayed Goldwater as being against civil rights. But even though JFK made a few very serious mistakes; including the Bay of Pigs disaster,
    he partially made up for them. For example, JFK was influenced by Winston Churchill, on military strategy and foreign policy;thus his naval blockade of Cuba was very effective.
    On balance, JFK was actually a pretty good President.

    • ebonystone

      As I pointed out in my comment, if Kennedy had lived, it's very unlikely that Goldwater would have been the Republican candidate. The Republicans knew that Johnson — running on the "we owe it to the memory of Jack" platform — was nearly unbeatable, and nominated a weak candidate. But if Kennedy had lived and run for re-election, he was beatable — he'd won in 1960 only through the theft of votes in Illinois and Texas.
      As far as being a "pretty good President", well …. He was better than Johnson, Carter, Clinton, or Obama; and not as good as Truman, Eisenhower, or Reagan.