Baby Boomers Remember Kennedy and Inflate His Legacy

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 21, 2013 | Go to article overview

Baby Boomers Remember Kennedy and Inflate His Legacy


Byline: Christopher Harper, Special to The Washington Times

The media coverage of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination has overwhelmed the American public, with books, documentaries, made-for-television dramas and journalistic memorials.

Many of these specials, and there are dozens, are as preoccupied with the images and bereavement of baby boomers as they are with the slain president, Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times wrote recently.

I couldn't agree more. We baby boomers like to revel in our story. Nearly all of us remember precisely where we were when we got the news. But more and more Americans - those born after 1963, which is generally considered the last birth year of the baby boomer generation - have little interest in the Kennedy legacy. Most of this exhaustive media coverage failed to note Kennedy was a mediocre president. His record of less than three years provides little support for his place in many polls as one of the best presidents in history. A recent survey ranked Kennedy as the most popular president in the past 50 years.

Within a month after Kennedy's assassination, his widow, Jacqueline, started to sculpt the myth in cooperation with author Theodore White, who wrote a glowing article in Life magazine comparing the Kennedy administration with the Camelot of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

White wrote that the Kennedy presidency represented a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back.

But let's look at the record. For the most part, his domestic agenda in the New Frontier provided the underpinning of liberal policies from food stamps to expanded unemployment benefits that still burden the country. …

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