Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Would he be a Democrat today?

It seems that every Democrat politician loves to drape themselves in the mantle of John Kennedy. Bill Clinton traveled to the White House as a teenager, and the picture of him in a group, listening to JFK, was a staple of his first campaign. Earlier this year we were subjected to the spectacle of JFK's daughter, Caroline, being considered for appointment to a New York senate seat for which she had no recognizable qualifications other than being JFK's daughter.

I admit to a special spot in my heart for JFK as well. As a competitor in high school speech contests, I chose his speech announcing the effort to go to the moon, which is really an inspired piece of prose.

But it's another of his speeches - his inaugural address - that got me thinking the other day about the remarkable transformation of the Democrat party over the course of my lifetime.

In January, 1961, JFK stood on the steps of the capitol after taking the oath of office, and gave a tremendous, well-crafted speech that included this phrase:

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty."

Powerful words, and words that he had to stand behind a short time later, when he faced down the Soviets by blockading Cuba in order to stop the shipment of Soviet missiles.

But put those words in the context of today's Democrat party. Bear any burden, meet any hardship? Those words ring hollow when you consider the rabid anti-war folks - the Daily Kos bashers, the Code Pink operatives, the nutjobs like Cindy Sheehan - who control most of the party.

Support any friend, oppose any foe? Again, those words are a joke to the people of Iran, who are trying to throw off the shackles of tyranny, but hear the current American president say "The political situation in Iran is for Iranians to work out internally."

In fact, there's so much of JFK that seems not just out of sync, but in irreconcilable conflict with the views of most Democrats today. Take the most famous line from that inaugural: "Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country."

Today that vision is totally backwards, with the Democrat party's largest constituencies being public employees, teachers, labor unions and shakedown enterprises like ACORN, whose primary concern is what their country can do for them.

In fact, when you think of JFK in his totality - an advocate of strong defense, an interventionist abroad, a tax-cutter (he dramatically rolled back rates on high income earners, rather than "soaking the rich") and someone willing to be a vocal advocate for facing down tyranny ("Ich bin ein Berliner") then you have to wonder if today's Democrat party would have any room for the man they consider their icon.

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