As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy approaches, JFK remains a mythical figure for left-liberals. But they’re wrong to call him the standard bearer of their principles, because though Kennedy had some liberal characteristics he would hardly recognize the Democratic Party as it is currently constructed. Here are five liberal myths about the 35th president.
1) JFK was a Ted Kennedy clone.
Liberals today are understood to stand for the opposite of everything Republicans stand for, but the labels were more fluid in the JFK era, when some Republicans were liberal and some Democrats were conservative. In 1953, shortly after being elected to the Senate, Kennedy said, “I’d be very happy to tell them I’m not a liberal….I’m not comfortable with those people.” In the 1960 “I’m a liberal speech” Democrats often cite, Kennedy sounded more like a compassionate conservative:
If, by “liberal,” [our opponents] mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrates that we are not that kind of “liberal.” But if, by a “liberal,” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people….if that is what they mean by a “liberal,” then I’m proud to say that I’m a “liberal.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the L-word.