Tag Archives: Adlai Stevenson

Imagine JFK calling Khruschev ‘Rocket Man’

It’s The Donald vs. Rocket Man.

Two heads of state — Donald John Trump and Kim Jong Un — are locked now in a standoff. The president of the United States and the dictator of North Korea are trying to out-insult each other.

What continues to amaze me, though, is that Trump decided to elevate his Rocket Man poke at Kim in a highly unusual venue. He took his insult to the floor of the United (bleeping) Nations, man!

He said if Rocket Man continues to threaten the United States, this country would “totally destroy” North Korea. That’s the way you promote peace, Mr. President … by threatening to annihilate another nation.

I’m trying to imagine an earlier president, John F. Kennedy, using that kind of language during the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. I actually have a memory of that time, when the Soviet Union began building launch pads from which it could launch missiles at the United States or our Western Hemisphere allies. It scared the bejabbers out of me — and millions of other Americans, too!

Kennedy didn’t resort to name-calling, or attaching silly school-kid epithets to his references to Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader. He actually left much of the bluster to our U.N. ambassador at the time, Adlai Stevenson.

The president’s use of a Rocket Man insult won’t get Kim to do what we want, which is to stand down in his attempt to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting us and our allies.

An earlier president, faced with an even graver threat, arguably, than the one confronting the current president, stared it down with steely resolve, which — according to commentary at the time — forced the other guy to blink.

President Kennedy didn’t need to insult his adversary.

Hillary not 'formidable'?

George Will said over the weekend that Hillary Rodham Clinton could be a damaged presidential candidate if she runs in 2016.

He said she is “not formidable.”

Interesting, don’t you think?


Will took note of what he said was the “last time” a major party had a coronation for its presidential nominee. He mentioned Adlai Stevenson’s nomination in 1956. The Democrat then went on to suffer his second consecutive landslide loss to Republican Dwight Eisenhower, who himself was “crowned” by his own party in 1952.

My own memory provides another example of a political coronation. In 1964, the country was reeling from the death of President Kennedy. The man who succeeded him, Lyndon Johnson, began pushing through much of JFK’s unfinished legislative agenda, including the Civil Rights Act.

Democrats were in no mood to fight over that nomination, so they crowned LBJ as their nominee and he then went on to trample GOP nominee Sen. Barry Goldwater in a historic landslide.

It is highly unlikely that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency in two years in such a fashion. It will be competitive, hard-fought and — I hope — edifying for voters.

However, to say the former first lady, senator and secretary of state is “not formidable” is to suggest George Will has been listening too intently to Republican hacks who keep looking for scandals where none exists.