With an anniversary of a historic event coming up next month, and with Washington in disarray and with – possibly, but unlikely as of this hour – a financial disaster in the works, two events 50 years apart seem to come together.
If we have heard it once, we have heard a hundred times over the last few weeks how much President Obama is hated by the right wing. Chris Matthews is going to the bank with that line. Thinking back in history, we can recall no time when such strong language was used to describe an American president. Perhaps Franklin Roosevelt, but we were small then, and had little sense of the gap between the haves (some of whom hated Roosevelt) and the have-nots, who revered him.
Then came give-'em Harry Truman. People mocked him with the joke: “He’s a common man. Very common.” But people did not hate Harry Truman, who now goes down as one the of the best in his business. President Eisenhower was generally admired, and President Kennedy (where this is leading) was regarded as American royalty, with a beautiful wife and kids, from a family richer than the Roosevelts. He had looks and what Scott Fitzgerald would call animal magnetism. Apparently, a lot of women thought so.
Then came a series of presidents. Discard Nixon, who is in a class by himself, but all the others since then were not described as “hated.” Sure, people disagreed with them, but there was always a degree of respect for the office, and usually the man. Moreover, for the most part the government worked. The losers lost and they accepted it. The winners governed with the consent of the defeated.
Until now. Perhaps in this age of media over reach, too much is made of it, but it seems that in Congress there is a group (Tea Party, etc.) that will not accept tradition. In fact they seem reluctant to even accept government, mindless as that position is. They bring the country to the brink of paralysis, and find it fulfilling.
Now, for the journey back 50 years. A president of the United States was seen by most as enormously popular. Which he was, but not by everybody. The same mindset that we see among a few – and they are a few – in Washington today, existed in 1963. They were not elected officials, but they were even more powerful. They were the sinister shadow government, a combination that President Eisenhower warned about, a government unto themselves, contemptuous of any authority not to their liking. They almost surely involved some military figures in high places, and surely the intelligence community with its myriad tentacles. And they had enough control of investigative agencies to cover their tracks, and least for a time...
It is hard for some to believe today, but the Camelot president, never hated in print, was hated by a small but powerful group. Ask anybody in the Miami Cuban community from the 1960s. The haters wanted a nuclear war while we could still win it. They wanted to take back Cuba. They worried that their president might get us out of Vietnam and let the Commies dominate the world. They could not control John F. Kennedy, even after they set him up for failure. They considered him a traitor. They knew they could not beat him in an election. They didn’t care about government.
So they murdered him.