- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

JFK and GWB

During the primary season (the last go-round), I wrote a speculative (and somewhat hostile) piece comparing then-candidate George W. Bush with former President John F Kennedy. I meant it as a useful mind-exercise, but as time has gone on, I think the analogy strengthens.

The backgrounds are similar: unruly scions of political families, young men who got their start in politicsthroughpure nepotism. Their frat-boy garrulousness, their effortless patriotism, their family loyalties — it all works until you get to the moment when GWB gave up the wild life at 40 and JFK kept his going.

But on policy, they are also much more similar than either the right or the left is comfortable conceding. They both came into office in a disputed election after a two-term president who presided over a major boom. President Kennedy fought an election on hawkish foreign policy; the current President Bush walked backward into hawkishness through the drastic orientation of September 11. Both cut taxes and unleashed periods of economic growth. And both argued uncompromisinglyfor democracy across the world. Some boomers may also see in Iraq the same pattern as President Kennedy’s early foray into Vietnam. I’d disagree strongly, but history will surely judge in due course. Perhaps more tellingly, both used powerful and moving rhetoric to assert the exceptionalism of the United States at a time when it was being attacked. President Bush’s speech yesterday at the National Endowment for Democracy was perhaps the high point of this president’s transformation into an old-style Democrat in foreign policy. Too bad the Democrats can neither see this nor profit from it.

Quote of the week

“I Hope the Bloodshed Continues in Iraq. Well, that should bring the bats out of the attic with fangs dripping. I won’t be hypocritical. It is politically correct, particularly in any Dem discussion to hope and pray and feel for our troops and scream “bring them back now”… I realize that not every GI Joe was 100 percent behind President Bush going into this war; but I do know that that is what an overwhelming number of them and their families screamed in the face of protesters who were trying to protect these kids. Well, there is more than one way to be “dead” for your country. They are not only not accomplishing squat in Iraq, they are doing nothing for the safety, defense of the US of A over there directly. But “indirectly” they are doing a lot. The only way to get rid of this slimebag WASP-Mafia, oil barron ridden cartel of a government, this assault on Americans and anything one could laughingly call “a democracy”, relies heavily on what a hole Iraq turns into. They need to die so that we can be free.” — A long-standing poster on the far left Web site, Democratic Underground, which boasts a subscriber list of 30,000. The post was subsequently removed.

Reagan and gays

It has become a trope of the left to describe President Reagan as viciously bigoted. Hence, the now-famous line in the canned CBS miniseries in which the former president is alleged to have said to his wife, Nancy, about those with AIDS: “Those who live in sin shall die in sin.” So, it was fascinating to read Mr. Reagan’s daughter’s account of her father’s actual views on homosexuals. Here is Patti Davis’ account of an early moment in her life with her father, published in Time last week:

“My father and I were watching an old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie. At the moment when Hudson and Doris Day kissed, I said to my father, “That looks weird.” Curious, he asked me to identify exactly what was weird about a man and woman kissing, since I’d certainly seen such a thing before. All I knew was that something about this particular man and woman was, to me, strange. My father gently explained that Mr. Hudson didn’t really have a lot of experience kissing women; in fact, he would much prefer to be kissing a man. This was said in the same tone that would be used if he had been telling me about people with different colored eyes, and I accepted without question that this whole kissing thing wasn’t reserved just for men and women.”

There you have a picture of tolerance. Which is a far truer account of President Reagan’s famed generosity of spirit than the propaganda now designed to smear him. Would that today’s Republican Party would honor his legacy in this regard.


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