Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fouad Ajami and JFK

Since I began writing this blog several months ago, I have made occasional references to commentators whose writing I admire - Charles Krauthammer (with whom I've had several disagreements recently) and Andrew McCarthy. I have failed to include another whose work is consistently stimulating and often challenges the media's embrace of Administration narrative - Fouad Ajami.

Ajami, of course, seems most comfortable in his analysis of events in the Middle East, and while tectonic events in that region are as dangerous and world-changing as ever, they have been overshadowed by domestic affairs. I continue to resist the urge to spend much time on Obamacare since that fiasco is discussed daily by voices much wiser than mine. However, this week Dr. Ajami has written a column about domestic politics (which is unusual in itself) and it is a blistering sociological critique of the hysteria that has surrounded the President since he burst onto the national scene.

It is ironic that this examination takes place during a time when we are looking back on the assassination of JFK and the unending ripples that act continues to exert today. Through today's looking glass, it is difficult not to characterize Kennedy's worldview as conservative, since he regularly espoused the economic benefits of cutting taxes and was an unapologetic anti-communist. This is a notion that Kennedy's family and the press resist because he is often cited as the father of modern liberalism, the logical bridge between the New Deal and the Great Society, periods of great governmental expansion and assumption of federal control over issues traditionally governed by the states.

The real reason that we remember JFK the way we do is because he represented such stark contrast to the Eisenhowers and Nixons of the world. He was young, handsome, wealthy with a gorgeous wife and very young children. He embodied the changes that began to shake the world in the early Sixties-the dream of men landing on the moon, the bold embrace of Berliners trapped by a totalitarian wall, the "goodness" of Americans serving those less fortunate. And in the background, a musical revolution beginning to take shape in Britain and San Francisco. The skies were literally no limit, and the young President's optimism cut across all ideologies.

Today's progressives try to paint Obama with JFK's brush, but it is an image Photoshopped, a pastiche of qualities they desperately want to be true. Obama's actions prove he is the antithesis of a great unifier; he has worked at splitting and dividing this country like no other politician in my lifetime. His signature social achievement was passed on a strict party line vote, using a parliamentarian trick engineered by his consigliere, Harry Reid. He sets no bold agenda for the future, trapping instead future generations in a sea of debt for which he holds others responsible. He and those who support him employ the foulest of language to criticize their political opponents while appealing out of the other side of his mouth for civility in public discourse. It is hypocrisy and cynicism made whole. The contrast with JFK could not be more stark.

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