WPCNR NEWS AND COMMENT By John F. Bailey. (reprinted from November, 2001) UPDATED. November 22, 2017:
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 54 years ago when President John F. Kennedy was shot riding in his motorcade in front of the Texas Book Depository Building.
November 22, 1963. A most unfortunate coincidence that someone should have noticed.
Fifty-four 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.
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?
It seems so. With disgruntled misfits just taking guns and shooting innocent people on a weekly basis.
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 54 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, Barack Obama found out, it may not happen.
However, the political rancor and hysterical hatred of our President Obama that was expressed in the Republican debates, on talk radio and by candidates who should know better one year ago created an atmosphere of disrespect for then President Obama and the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton exceeded even that aimed at George W. Bush.
The lack of respect for President Trump today has created an atmosphere that is far more dangerous for the President and the country than we can ever tell. Mr. Trump has polarized the nation into two warring camps with unprecedented name-calling, purely nasty, hurtful policies towards minorities and immigrants, and planned takeaways of health care, and blatant giveaways to robber barons on poshly covered crags in concrete canyons.
The toxicity against the Presidents, both Obama and now President Trump (though much is of Mr. Trump’s own immaturity and inability to manage) was been further inflamed 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 to President Obama two years ago alluding to what was needed was revolution to change things were historic as well as despicable. And dangerous.
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 by Michael Steele’s statement about Emperor Obama and his “reign of lawlessness” is exactly the sort of talk that paved the way for the Republican campaign of hatred in 2016. 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.
The Republicans’ inability to compromise has stalled the nation on recovery, immigration, health care…you name the issue, the Republican Party has stalled progress in their frantic effort to roll back the clock to the turn of the 20th century.
We should always remember The Republicans’ whining. Bullies always whine. Fixers always are sore losers.
Ideas and rhetoric are one thing, but to vilify the President on the scale of what we heard in 2016 is irresponsible. Because it was listened to by persons across the country who suddenly got the “OK” from Republican candidates and “leaders” that it was ok to hate, to blame America’s problems on immigrants, and trade policies, and ignore science. When educated leaders in congress endorse the policies of hate and punishment people can be OK with that. Leaders are giving people license to hate and hurt, discriminate, exploit, and build up themselves at the expense of others.
And they elected a President who is doing just that.
So when you sit down to turkey Thursday give a thought to be thankful for a nation that once did 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 once spoke and felt as one, and hopefully will learn to do so again even though we disagree.
I hope so.