Thursday, November 22, 2007

    If he were still alive, John F. Kennedy would be turning 90 tomorrow. As an elder statesman, what would he think about our world?

    For a start, he would be puzzled by George Bush’s bubbled White House. Kennedy’s own curiosity was insatiable. He devoured books, took a speed-reading course to absorb more, wanted to know everything. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he held a running seminar at the White House to consider every possible way to avoid a nuclear showdown. Only then did he act.

So writes Robert Stein in an excellent essay, JFK: Bush, War and the Web, on his blog,
Connecting.the.Dots. He wrote the essay back in May, but I discovered it only today, following a link from his equally readible post, Thanksgiving and JFK, at The Moderate Voice. (One quibble, though: He leads by asserting, "For anyone over 50, today is not only Thanksgiving but the day JFK died 44 years ago." Well, I'm not quite over 50 yet--give me another month or so--but I remember the day indelibly. First the news, as I sat at our kitchen table on Hascall Street, Omaha, that the president had been shot. (In those softer times, we were allowed to venture homeward for lunch, provided we lived close enough and it was okay with our folks. We lived right across the street from St. Joan of Arc school.) Later, Sister Geralda came to our room with the news that JFK was dead. Even among second-graders, there was a feeling that he had been hated, and possibly even murdered, because of his religion as much as his politics.)

Anyhow, both of Stein's essays are well worth the read.

I especially like this line from the Connecting.the.Dots piece:

    This could go on like one of those montages on the Daily Show, but the difference between the President we lost too soon and the one we have had in office too long is as simple and as complicated as poetry.

    After JFK’s death, the world’s poets filled a volume with elegies and anguish. That won’t be happening again any time soon.

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