Friday, September 19, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Is Obama making JFK-style mistakes?

ambrose column sig

By
From page A11 | January 23, 2013 |

You bump into an article in The Atlantic magazine. It’s about John F. Kennedy, an American hero writ large – except that he wasn’t. It tells of how he put the world at risk for the sake of politics during the Cuban missile crisis, though finally coming to his senses, and you think about another charismatic American president, Barack Obama. Will he come to his senses, too?

As of the inauguration, it didn’t look like it, but let’s start with Kennedy. I was a teen when he was elected, and I idolized him. He was smart, witty, athletic, good-looking, articulate, idealistic, full of energy and more. What wasn’t to like? Of course, it was much later that we learned about the character failings, that a lot of that energy, for instance, owed something to amphetamines. They were one of many drugs used to address terrible health issues he never confessed to the nation.

He wasn’t bad on all policies, to be sure, but then there was his backing of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and his reckless deepening of our involvement in Vietnam. The worst of his fumbling was taking us to within inches of nuclear war. It is detailed in a new book, “The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory,” by Sheldon Stern, head of the John F. Kennedy Library for more than two decades.

In a review of the work in the January /February issue of The Atlantic, Benjamin Schwarz points out that much of this information has been known for years, even though a far more positive version seems to prevail in the public imagination, fostered there by Kennedy colleagues and an obliging media. So know, first off, that the Soviet Union put the missiles in Cuba because we had parked missiles in its backyard, namely Turkey, and because the Kennedy administration had been trying every trick there is, including assassination attempts, to depose Fidel Castro’s communist government.

Kennedy’s own taped words show he himself knew perfectly well that missiles close to our shores posed no more danger than missiles that could be launched from afar. The problem was politics and how it would look if we didn’t make a fuss and get the Soviet Union to back down. Kennedy and gang therefore put on their tough-guy hats, initiated a Cuban blockade and made it known that they would settle for nothing less than the other side’s unconditional retreat. It seemed the Soviet Union wouldn’t budge. All hell could easily have broken loose, and that is hell as in the most devastating war humanity has ever known.

In the final analysis, the Kennedy who got us into the crisis got us out of it through a deal to remove our missiles from Turkey if the Soviets would remove theirs from Cuba. The best in him finally came out, although the deal was kept secret and cohorts happily bashed the reputations of those who publicly suggested the solution he adopted. Will Obama let the best in him come out in a second term?

Like Kennedy, he is a charmer. He has a keen intellect. He is a great speaker. And like Kennedy, he can be worse than amateurish, as in “Obamacare” (debt-expanding, job-inhibiting and full of “gotcha” mistakes), helping to give us the worst economic recovery since World War II and enlarging the debt that could wreck us (refusing even the compromise suggested by leaders of his own debt commission and negotiating with Republicans as if nobility telling the peons to go hang).

Unlike Kennedy, he is acting like he may never get it right. As Obama has himself conceded, the heart of our debt problem is the unsustainable entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Without restructuring, they will collapse along with just about everything else in government. But in his inaugural, he made it sound as if he were more interested in political points than reform, and the threat of charisma is that too many idolaters overlook ruinous faults and there is too little pressure for change. Bad outcomes and wiser Republicans may induce that change, though, and let’s all keep hoping.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Shelter uses technology to reunite pets, owners

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Police make child molestation arrest

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Dignitaries celebrate opening of $30M courthouse

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Gender identity measure splits Garamendi, Logue

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police arrest 2 in robberies investigation

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Stolen vehicle investigation leads to 3 arrests

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Police seek help to find missing Fairfield man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield eyes sale of excess government land

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
Men, again, are seen as missing in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Weather for Sept. 19, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Scots reject independence in historic vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Man arrested in fast-growing California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Strong Senate vote for Obama on Syria rebel aid

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Law makes earthquake insurance more understandable

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

GOP pushes diverse candidates, but will it matter?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Passenger says JetBlue plane filled with smoke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

PG&E emails may have violated rules, judge says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
500 Berkeley students missed sex abuse classes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Boxer indicates big decision to come next year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Father arrested in fatal stabbing of 6-year-old

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Health exchange addresses dropped policies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
UC system plan calls for anti-sex abuse effort

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Democratic state lawmaker arraigned on DUI charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
CDC tells healthy adults not to forget flu vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Border Patrol to test wearing cameras

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Kansas court: Remove Democrat from Senate ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ukraine’s pleas for lethal aid from US go unmet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sheriff: Fla. man kills 6 grandchildren, daughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Couple in Craigslist slaying sentenced to life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
In wake of beheadings, Busch Gardens removes props

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Trooper ambush suspect added to most wanted list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Series of attacks kills at least 36 in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
British hostage appears in new video

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Witness: 21 killed by Mexico army had surrendered

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant gains illustrate plight of Syrian Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

My support for anyone but Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Did the ‘War on Poverty’ fail?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

 
3 obscure bills show how big policy gets buried

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Mother-in-law bothers me at work for kid’s minor infractions

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Adam Driver shifts into hyper drive

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Leave You’ has A-list cast, B-grade result

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘The Voice’ winner goes to Broadway’s ‘Pippin’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TV Guide Network renaming itself POP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Peter Fonda’s ‘Easy Rider’ bike going to auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Darrell Hammond takes over for Don Pardo on ‘SNL’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
The Roosevelt trail, from Maine to North Dakota

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

 
Vanden volleyball team remains undefeated in SCAC play

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B7

 
49ers’ Derek Carrier ready to step in at tight end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Raiders seek ways to get Reece more involved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Athletics out of top wild-card spot as Texas sweeps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Nashville new home for Athletics’ Triple-A team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
MLS says Chivas USA might not play in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Tiger Woods says he might coach himself

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Police: Cardinals RB Dwyer head-butted wife

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Falcons romp to 56-14 win over hapless Buccaneers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

2-time Grand Slam winner Li Na retires from tour

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stacy Lewis, Mi Jung Hur share LPGA lead in Alabama

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

WR Simpson, in more trouble, released by Vikings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Royal & Ancient votes to admit female members

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Prep football capsules: Week 3

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
Signups for Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

Appeals court reconsidering Barry Bonds conviction

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Nissan’s small car excels at affordability

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Self-driving cars now need a permit in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Applications for US jobless benefits fall sharply

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Apple locks itself out of devices with passwords

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Alibaba’s plan: Today, China. Tomorrow, the world.

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Chevron meets new, voluntary shale drilling rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Ellison gives up Oracle CEO role, becomes chairman

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
California bill increases Hollywood tax credits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Fed keeps rates low, but brace for the inevitable

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Alibaba prices IPO at $68 per share

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

Home Depot says malware affected 56M payment cards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Mae Frances Jones

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9