and Flexible Response
John F. Kennedy attached even greater importance than usual to the task of putting "distance" between himself and his predecessor. His campaign critique of the previous administration had been no hasty accommodation to the requirements of winning a nomination, as Eisenhower's had been in 1952: the Massachusetts senator had articulated the basic elements of his position well before the Los Angeles convention in July 1960. 1 Nor were his criticisms aimed at gaining the support of a particular wing of the Democratic party, as Eisenhower had sought to do with the Republicans eight years earlier: most Democrats shared Kennedy's reservations about the existing administration's conduct of foreign and national security affairs, as did a fair number of prominent Republicans. 2 Mixed with this uneasiness over past policies was a "generational" imperative, symbolized vividly in the transfer of power from the oldest elected president to the youngest: there was somehow the feeling that the promise—indeed the legitimacy—of a new generation of national leadership would be called into question if its programs were not made to differ visibly and substantially from what had gone before.
This preoccupation with creating a distinct identity manifested itself in the rhetoric of Kennedy's inaugural address ("the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace"), in the emphasis on youth and vigor reflected in many of his early appointments, in an impatience with established bureaucratic structures, in the premium placed on working long hours and reaching quick decisions, in the preference for action over