The nation can learn a lot from John F. Kennedy’s presidency, yet for some reason folks in this town only seem to want to focus on bad things. For example, the 50th anniversary of his assassination, as it is being billed. Several newspapers will run front page stories with photos of his JFK’s casket. It’s somewhat ghoulish, especially when there is so much more to focus on with regards to JFK’s legacy.
Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated. Most Americans remember Kennedy and Lincoln. What about the other two? Does it really matter who killed them? Alright, it makes for fascinating and at times outlandish reading. The grassy knoll. The second shooter. Those Cubans in Mexico. However, there is a lot more to the JFK presidency than an assassination. Liberals know that. They have another agenda.
While most of his domestic policy legacy was built on failed programs rooted in the FDR New Deal mold, a political issue we struggle with to this day, JFK did one thing that I most President’s since have not been able to do: he challenged the country dream and dream big. Land men on the moon, for example. Plant the red, white, and blue, first, on a body in our solar system. The only potential policy shift on this point was JFK’s suggestion during a UN speech that maybe the U.S. and the Soviets could accomplish this goal together. That never came to pass. Historians will need to sort out if he was serious about it. Fortunately, LBJ pressed ahead. Solo.
Not a single U.S. President has really pushed the American people to reach for the stars, literally and figuratively, as JFK did. I like that he wanted Americans to do it, alone. Americans like winner. Americans like to shine and do things bigger and better. The Soviets had launched Sputnik, but we were going to one up the Ruskies. Sure, Sputnik was historic but the U.S. was going to show the world that outer space was more than placing in orbit a $15 million tin can.
It is unlikely that JFK would be very pleased with the state of space policy these days or the state of national politics on many issues. Heck, when Newt Gingrich suggested returning to the moon he was ridiculed by the left and the right. Rather than aiming for the stars, and beyond, society appears to be aiming for the lowest common denominator in just about every walk of life. Think, ObamaCare. Think, radical environmentalism. Class warfare. Higher taxes. The list goes on and on. That really needs to change. America can do better. At least it always has tried to do so.
P.S., on the Sputnik program, its nitpicking but worth a mention. The Russians stole a lot of technology from the West during World War II, some the U.S. gave them, that was used to build the Russian and then-Soviet space programs. The Soviet space program was a disaster. Close to two hundred people died and it has the unlucky distinction of suffering the first death in outer space during the Soyuz 1 mission. Beyond placing satellites in orbit, the Soviets, now Russia, has never beat the United States in the space race.