Presidents and Protesters: Political Rhetoric in the 1960s

By Theodore Otto Windt Jr. | Go to book overview

3
The Crisis Rhetoric of President John E. Kennedy The Final Year

The final year left to President John E Kennedy was a year of remarkable changes both in foreign policy and domestic policy. His first two years had been marked by "crises" in foreign policy. They had also been years when he showed little public interest in the struggle for civil rights among black Americans. In the final year left to him, he would reverse this process by attempting to seek detente with the Soviet Union and by putting the force of the presidency behind the civil rights movement.


Seeking Detente with the Soviet Union

In the spring of 1963 President John Kennedy embarked on a policy not to foment crises, but to seek conciliation with the Soviet Union. Instead of confrontation, he sought cooperation. In terms of his "crisis" presidency, Kennedy's political moves toward detente with the Soviet Union reversed the rhetorical process of creating or responding to the "crises" of the first two years of his administration. Now, he went on the rhetorical offensive. During the summer of 1963 he sought to wind down the confrontational mentality that had dominated American-Soviet relations and to replace standard anticommunist rhetoric, at which he had been so adept, with a more conciliatory rhetoric, at least toward the Soviet Union. But how does

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