WPCNR NEWS COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. November 22, 2014 (Originally published in 2001):
Someone made a big mistake this year. The papers this morning have no reference to the day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed
Today is the day in Dallas 51 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was shot in his motorcade in front of the Texas Book Depository Building.
November 22, 1963. A most unfortunate coincidence that someone should have noticed.
Fifty-one years ago today at about midday eastern standard time, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.
When I heard the news, I was heading up the steps of Gray Chapel at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. It was sobering news. Then within the hour it was reported that the President was dead, and the search was on for potential suspects.
It was the first time in my life a national event had ever affected me.
Persons in their late 60s can probably remember exactly what they were doing when they heard that electrifying news.
Disbelief. Concern. Sadness.
Who would shoot the President? How could they? The President no matter who he was was revered and respected at that time — not ridiculed, mocked, vilified, and criticised for his every move as he is today.
President Kennedy’s popularity was ebbing at that time. The public was initially inspired by the vision of Camelot and the likable, energetic young president. However, by the time he was assassinated, President Kennedy was coming under harsh criticism for his foreign policy and his inability to move an agenda through congress. He was ridiculed by impressionists and pushed around by congressional heavyweights — eerily not too much different from our President today.
But, when Kennedy was shot, the American public, even those who disagreed with his politics and considered him in over his head in the presidency, were stunned by grief and horror.
Nothing had happened like that in America since 1901 when President William McKinley was assassinated.
An entire nation reflected in guilt for a week as the three television networks showed 24 hours a day assassination and funeral coverage. Walter Cronkite shed a tear on camera when he reported Kennedy was dead.
Until the Trade Center Horror in 2001, this nation had not experienced anything on that national scale of reaction to an event.
Were we a more sensitive nation then? More sensitive to what killing actually is? I wonder. In the fast-moving sensationalism of news today, would the same sensitivity be there today?
Or, have we been hardened to violence, and do we now see violence as more of an acceptable solution to problems than to be avoided at all costs?
I remember how Americans sat mesmerized in front of their televisions as the Kennedy goodbye played out. I remember, too how Kennedy’s death swiftly paved the way for the landmark Civil Rights act of 1965, legislated by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. That legislation, without Kennedy’s assassination would probably never have been passed. I believe it passed because of collective guilt over Kennedy’s demise.
For 49 years, politicians, when their charisma is measured, have always been compared to Mr. Kennedy.
However, charisma does not get things done. Does not make for change by itself. It is nice but it achieves nothing unless you have some solid ideas, management skills, and are willing to work hard for it. Even, then, as a recent Kennedyesque President found out, it may not happen.
However, the political rancor and hysterical hatred of our current President expressed in the Republican debates, on talk radio and by candidates who should know better two years ago created an atmosphere of disrespect for the President that exceeds even that aimed at George W. Bush. This was brought to an unheard of level this week by Michael Steele’s comment about Emperor Obama and his reign of lawlessness.
The lack of respect for the Presidency today has created an atmosphere that is far more dangerous for the President than we can ever tell.
This has been further enflamed by the whining of rich little brat Mitt Romney who has been given everything he wanted and bought everything else except the Presidency. His comments after losing two years ago alluding to what was needed was revolution to change things were historic as well as despicable. It was a rich boy’s whining. It was reckless and immature. No defeated presidential candidate has ever made remarks like that. Even Al Gore when he lost the election did not, to my memory come out and call for revolution. Romney’s petulance showed the voters saw right through this Guy Smiley of a candidate they in their guts knew the phoney he was.
Romney’s comments Two years ago to his donors, were echoed this week by Michael Steele’s statement about Emperor Obama this week and his “reign of lawlessness” is exactly the sort of talk that can inspire violence. It was irresponsible of Romney and Steele. A losing Presidential candidate has one job, unite behind the new leader. Romney is the only President in my memory ever to act this way. And the Republicans’ inability to compromise has stalled the nation on recovery, immigration, health care…you name the issue, the Republican Party has stalled progress.
We should always remember The Republicans’ whining. Bullies always whine.
Ideas and rhetoric are one thing, but to vilify the President on the scale of what we hear today is irresponsible.
So when you sit down to turkey Thursday give a thought to be thankful for a nation that does not rise up in arms whenever a leader is elected that a portion of the populace does not like. Be thankful that the American people speak as one, and still do, even though we disagree.