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JFK: A Conservative? November 19, 2013 8:59 AM | Tagged as JFK, Kennedy, Keynesian

WSJ 11/18/2013, Page A16, “Exposing the Myth of JFK Politics” By J. Gordon Crovitz

Unlike his younger brother, Ted, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy who was assassinated fifty years ago this week, was actually a conservative by today’s standards. Mr. Crovitz summarizes Ira Stoll’s new book, JFK, Conservative.

Here’s some interesting facts from Stoll:

1.       JFK ran in 1960 against Nixon. Who was extolling the virtues of limited government? JFK, not Nixon.

2.       JFK’s famous statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” was seen my liberals as a slap at the welfare state.

3.       In 1962,  JFK’s top legislative goal was tariff reductions for wider foreign trade. Something that bothers many a liberal and union boss.

4.       JFK extolled the virtues of tax cuts to grow the economy. “A rising tide lifts all boats!”, he said. John Kenneth Galbraith, the leading Keynesian economist of the time, was told by JFK to “shut up about [his, Galbraith’s] opposition to tax cuts.”

5.       The tax cuts were passed after his death and led to a long stretch of economic expansion and improvement in well-being for the US.

6.       Kennedy was hard line against the Soviets. Reagan’s famous, “Tear Down This Wall” speech quoted JFK.

Stoll argues that the two leading biographies of JFK were written by liberals and this created the myth of JFK being a liberal himself. Sorensen and Schlesinger, both White House advisors at the time and both ardent liberals, helped create the current mythology of this president.

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