The central thesis of James Piereson’s Camelot and the Cultural Revolution was that JFK’s assassination was the key moment that caused a large portion of once sensible liberals to begin to tilt to the far, far left, and for lack of better word, become Unhinged.
Like this calm, rational fan of the New Frontier!
In the (admittedly totally tasteless) formulation of a friend of mine, the best thing that ever happened to civil rights in this country was the bullet through JFK’s head.
Along the way, as I wrote three and half years ago on the after-effects of that sharp left turn:
You could make a pretty good argument (as I’m about to attempt) that “Radical Chic” was the most influential, or at least most significant, magazine article of the past forty years–and that it foreshadowed the next 34 years of American politics.
It helped that the timing of Wolfe’s article and book was exquisite. 1970 was the apex between two key presidential election years: two years after far left anti-war protestors attempted to disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and two years before its 1972 equivalent, where, as Ben Wattenberg said back then, “there won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who tried to riot in Chicago are on the Platform Committee.”
And these days, serving on charitable funds with future presidential candidates, while new, experimental improvisations on that staid, old, National Anthem are being invented in yet another attempt to recreate the perigee of the year that refuses to die.
(And speaking of the afore mentioned Wattenberg, my PJM Political interview with him is online here.)