Ed Driscoll

Before the Flood

In “JFK and the Wrecking of the Presidency,” Seth Mandel of Commentary writes that JFK set the groundwork for the multiple scandals engulfing the VA and the IRS, via both his ultimately disastrous executive order which allowed unionizing federal workers, and the style of the Kennedy White House:

The style with which Kennedy helped wreck the presidency was in its self-conscious recreation of a palace and its royal court. Probably the best to chronicle this was Sally Bedell Smith. In her book on the Kennedys in the White House, her cast of characters is listed under the heading “The Kennedy Court.” Here’s her description of the royal atmosphere:

The Kennedys may have been Democrats, full of compassion for the poor and dispossessed, but the image of Jack and Jackie as king and queen* surrounded by their court had occurred to many people familiar with the administration. The British political philosopher and formidable Oxford don Isaiah Berlin—a guest at several private White House dinners—saw the Kennedys as “Bonapartist,” finding parallels in Napoleon’s brothers who, like Robert F. Kennedy as attorney general and Edward M. Kennedy as U.S. senator, held responsible positions in the government. …

The columnist Stewart Alsop complained after one year of the Kennedy administration, “The place is lousy with courtiers and ladies in waiting—actual or would be.” As with court life in earlier centuries, the Kennedy entourage made a stately progress: from the White House to expensive homes in the Virginia hunt country, to Palm Beach, Hyannis Port, and Newport—all playgrounds for the rich and privileged. “Jackie wanted to do Versailles in America,” said Oleg Cassini, her official dress designer and self-described “de facto courtier close to the king and queen.” “She said this many times,” Cassini added.

What JFK did, then, was to lay the foundation for a federal government with an explicitly royalist identity and a unionized government class with job security but no accountability, and who had the power to disrupt the lives and the rights of the citizens who had other ideas about American democracy. There has been a tendency to romanticize the Kennedy presidency, not just by liberals who miss the monarchical elitism but by conservatives who appreciate Kennedy’s tax cutting and internationalist foreign policy. The nostalgia is misplaced, for the Kennedy presidency was damaging to the American project and we are still paying for it today.

Which dovetails perfectly with the theme of Bill Whittle’s latest Afterburner:

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* Now how’s being naive, Kay?

Update: Mark Steyn on “The Merger of the Party and the State:” As Mark writes, “What a shame this ruthlessness is never extended to ISIS or the mullahs or Putin. But you have to be able to prioritize. America is a eunuch abroad but ever more despotic at home.”

When you’re a punitive leftist, you go to war against the people you have.

Related: Funny, I doubt that Mr. Obama watches many videos produced by America’s Virtual President. But a week or so after Bill’s video comparing Obama to Louis XV was released to YouTube, our socialist president is singing the praises of…French socialism:

The president is touting paid maternity in the midst of a midterm election campaign focused on women voters, without describing the details of how he would fund such a system. “If France can figure this out, we can figure this out,” Obama said.

As Ace quips, “France has figured many things out, of course, including how to create a sickly economy in permanent recession.”

To which John Kerry would respond, yes, but think how much a permanent recession helps the environment!