Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Obama's JFK Do-Over

Between the Tuscon speech and the State of the Union next week, there is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inaugural address tomorrow, an apt moment to compare two Presidents in their 40's who broke ethnic barriers to get to the White House and found rough going.

Kennedy had his Bay of Pigs in the first months, which in retrospect looks like a walk in the park compared to Obama's term so far, but the President is now poised to recapture the momentum from his own inaugural and JFK's.

As Kennedy's papers go online, what he said on January 20, 1961 echoes down the years with new meaning. What he addressed to foreign nations could well be an Obama overture to an American Congress:

"So let us begin anew—-remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us."

How did we get from a united front against foreign adversaries to confronting one another in a fractured nation? That may be beyond the purview of any speech, but Barack Obama can make a start next week to a Congress in which some members of both parties may symbolically sit together.

He would do well to recapture the spirit that John F. Kennedy invoked half a century ago:

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—-I welcome it.

"I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—-and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."

It's your turn now, President Obama.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Oh dear, BO has absolutely nothing in common with JFK. Less than nothing. Even the (D) by his name does not mean the same thing it did beside JFK's.