Open Thread: Is Obama Really JFK v2.0?
There have been more than a few comparisons between Barack Obama and JFK, many of them originating in the Kennedy family. JFK, of course, is one of the most-loved American presidents, but when you look at the record, you find yourself wondering exactly what he accomplished. JFK was known for many things, and for diffusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, he deserves some credit, but his presidency was largely ineffective. Whether that was due to it being cut short when he was assassinated is debatable, but you can’t really debate the fact that he didn’t accomplish much until then.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the parallels between JFK and Barack Obama, and this comment really gave me impetus to post:
What needs to happen is educated and experienced people, people with expertise in all the relevant areas need to get on board so we get some solid brainpower behind this bus of excitement. Someone who was president of Harvard Law review is exactly the sort of person we want driving a brain train towards a smarter government.
From what I’ve seen of Obama, he’s a very smart individual. And when you listen to his rhetoric, he does remind one of JFK*. Obama’s full of high-minded speeches and high-minded ideals, and is the sort that can inspire people regardless of his ability to back it up. JFK was the same, and he really inspired the generation of the time. He was clearly seen as the fresh face who had the new “big ideas” and the wonderful charisma. When you look at JFK’s cabinet, he was nowhere short of brain power in his government. And yet we still had the Bay of Pigs and the big run-up towards Vietnam. At the same time, we had a basically ineffectual Presidency that didn’t really get anything done. All the charisma and the smarts in the world didn’t actually lead to positive results.
Obama could quite easily scour the university ranks and get an average IQ in his cabinet well above MENSA qualification. But will something like that actually work? While I have no desire to see Obama get anything done, will his administration largely bumble through the process of leadership simple due to the fact that he’s a thinker, not a doer?
In general, though, this is a question for you history buffs. Where do you see similarities between Obama and JFK, both for good or for ill?
* Full Disclosure — I’m 29, so I have no actual memory of JFK. I’m going off of the speeches I’ve heard from JFK and the reading I’ve done of the history of the time.