With this week's inauguration, several media stories recounted past inaugural addresses. One oration prominently featured and applauded was the speech given by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
On CNN's Web site, it was listed as one of "The six best inaugural addresses." U.S. News & World Report's site included it as one of "The 5 Best Inaugural Addresses," noting that it set "the benchmark against which subsequent addresses have been measured." Just in case readers missed it, the following day the same site carried the story "What Obama Can Learn From the Greatest Inaugural Addresses," this time declaring part of Kennedy's speech "poetry." At The Washington Post, The Fix counted it as part of "The 10 most famous inaugural addresses." Politico claimed it "ranks alongside Lincoln’s two for pure eloquence."
All articles cited the best known line spoken by Kennedy that day: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."
Yet none of the glowing articles noted that JFK's soaring rhetoric of sacrifice didn't align with his agenda. Nine days after becoming president, Kennedy gave his first State of the Union address. It was peppered with things that he thought the country can do for us, or at least some of us. He called on Washington to extend unemployment compensation, establish a food stamp program, expand the services of U.S. Employment Offices, stimulate housing and construction, raise the minimum wage, offer tax incentives for plant investment, increase the development of natural resources, and encourage price stability. And all that was in just one paragraph.
In the golden age of Camelot, we had a Democrat president who viewed government intervention as the solution to many problems. In this he was similar to Barack Hussein Obama. Little wonder the media recall him so fondly, if not fully.