Tag Archives: JFK

President/Rev. Huckabee?

A thought just occurred to me, so I reckon I’ll share it here.

It involves former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican nomination for president once and who might do so again. Some recent polling puts him near the front rank of a large gaggle of GOP contenders for the White House.

Huckabee on religion

Here’s the thought.

Back in 1960, when Sen. John F. Kennedy, was running for president, critics of the young lawmaker were dubious about his Catholic faith. They actually expressed some fear that a President Kennedy would be taking his orders from the Vatican, that he couldn’t separate his constitutional responsibility from his faith.

The candidate ended up making a speech in Texas in which he said, in effect, that he would swear to uphold the Constitution and that the oath never would play second fiddle to anything or anyone, period, end of discussion.

Should we ask similar questions of Gov. Huckabee, who in an earlier life was a Baptist preacher?

Indeed, the question might come if Huckabee decides to seek the presidency. Imagine someone asking: “Governor, will you govern according to the Constitution or will you base your policy decisions on what Scripture says?” I’ll point out once more that the Constitution is a totally secular document that states Congress shall make no law establishing a state religion and that there shall be no religious litmus test for office seekers.

Still, the issue might find its way to the table if Rev. Huckabee decides to run for the presidency.

GHW Bush earns ‘Courage’ award

When a young man who would become president of the United States wrote “Profiles in Courage,” he sought to honor those who made difficult decisions against tall odds.

It took courage to fight the so-called conventional wisdom and to face down critics who would scorn them. John F. Kennedy’s book won him a Pulitzer Prize and it created a benchmark for others to emulate.

President Kennedy died in 1963 and in 1990 the library built to honor his memory and his family launched the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In May, the president’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, will honor one of JFK’s successors to the presidency, George H.W. Bush, for showing true courage in the face of withering criticism that — some have said — cost him re-election in 1992.


President Bush made his famous pledge at the 1988 Republican National Convention: “Read my lips, no … new … taxes.” The Louisiana Superdome crowd roared its approval and the then-vice president went on to win a huge victory that year in the race for the presidency.

Then in 1990, the president signed into law a federal budget that included — that’s right — tax increases along with spending cuts that sought to curb the federal budget deficit.

He was vilified by those on the right. Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to this day calls it a “betrayal of the American people.”

He is mistaken. The president sought to take back a promise he made in the heat of a highly charged political environment. He acted reasonably and faced down his critics.

For that the Kennedy Library is going to honor the 41st president of the United States.

President Bush has demonstrated that he truly cut a profile in courage.

Smoking a disqualifier for presidential candidates

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is nothing if not candid.

He told Jay Leno this week that he likes smoking cigarettes too much to be president of the United States. He won’t quit the nasty habit. So there, he said. He ain’t going to run for president.


I’m glad that smoking is now seen as a deal-breaker for anyone who wants to run for the highest office in the land. Think of it. The president has a Presidential Council on Fitness; he names a director to run the organization. Smoking is a key component in the message the office delivers, which is to say that children shouldn’t smoke, because the habit can kill you.

The current president used to smoke but has quit — he says. No one has yet confirmed it independently, at least I’m not aware of any confirmation. Even so, no one ever would see Barack Obama lighting up.

It didn’t used to be this way. President Franklin Roosevelt famously smoked cigarettes with that cigarette holder cocked in that famously “jaunty” angle. President John Kennedy was known to light up a stogie in the Oval Office while pondering the issues of the day. President Richard Nixon didn’t smoke, but first lady Pat Nixon did — although no one ever saw her in public; same thing was said of Jackie Kennedy, come to think of it.

President Bill Clinton? Hmmm. How do we handle this one? I guess he smoked cigars, but as we learned to our national disgrace, he did other things with them that didn’t require them to be lit.

Speaker Boehner declaration takes one national politician out of the hunt for the presidency in 2016. Other issues may derail potential candidates. I’ll give the speaker credit, though, for his forthrightness on a disgusting habit that in this day and time has no place in the Oval Office.

Nation needs to be inspired again

John F. Kennedy wasn’t on the national stage all that long.

His presidency lasted about 1,000 days. He had served in the U.S. Senate a short time before that. He didn’t exactly inspire the nation with a lengthy legislative record. His time in the House was even less inspiring. Yes, he did serve heroically during World War II.

Even though his death — which the nation commemorated on Friday — took him from us much too soon, he did manage to leave behind quite a legacy of inspiration.

My favorite is attached here.


The president challenged a nation from within at a time when it was being challenged from beyond our borders. We were locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, which would become known during the Ronald Reagan years as the Evil Empire. The Soviets were our chief geopolitical adversary then, far more than they are now — no matter what one-time Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney might have said a year ago.

We sparred with the Soviets for supremacy on the world stage. We sought to beat them in a race into space. We won that race.

But the remarks JFK gave regarding that challenge — that we do these “not because they are easy, but because they are hard” — spoke far beyond a “mere” race to the moon. He sought to challenge his constituents to accept any challenge.

As we look back on JFK’s limited but still-inspiring legacy, it gives us pause to wonder whether we’re up to that challenge again.

I keep hoping that one day — I cannot predict when — we can set aside the deep partisan differences in government and set our sights on something grander.

It might be that we need a foe we can identify, someone or something with a face, a name, a clearly defined ideology.

Absent that, we need leadership that can take us above the bickering that has stalled the machinery of our government. John F. Kennedy knew how to tap into our innate spirit of challenge.

I believe it’s still there, waiting to tapped once again.

JFK a liberal? Not so sure about that

David Greenberg, writing for The New Republic, posits a theory that President John F. Kennedy was a true-blue liberal.


Interesting, eh?

The president, who was shot to death 50 years ago next week, cut taxes. He stared down the Soviet Union by flexing the nation’s military might. He also, according to Greenberg, believed government could be a force for good, not evil. Kennedy preferred diplomacy over armed conflict, Greenberg asserts, making him more liberal than conservative.

I suppose that’s all true.

Greenberg’s piece, though, doesn’t touch on some other key issues that defines liberals and conservatives.

How about abortion? I don’t recall much discussion over the years since JFK’s death about how he viewed women’s reproductive rights. The president was a practicing Catholic, after all. Even though he made it clear during the 1960 presidential campaign that church doctrine wouldn’t inform his public policy, many politicians before and since JFK’s time have relied on their faith to decide some of these critical matters.

Prayer in school? Did the 35th president oppose school-mandated prayer, which the Supreme Court essentially struck down in 1963?

Environmental protection is another favorite issue for liberals. It wasn’t until 1970 — during the administration of Republican Richard Nixon — that the federal government created the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kennedy did seek to further the cause of civil rights, but he had to be persuaded to do so. His death in Dallas prevented him from enacting the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. That was left to President Lyndon Johnson, whose courage helped the Democratic Party “lose the South,” in the words of his good friend, Sen. Richard Russell, D-Ga.

My own view is that JFK was more of a centrist than a bleeding heart.

Given the extreme views that both parties have adopted in the past two decades, that isn’t such a bad thing.