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JFK, Conservativeby Ira Stoll
Synopses & Reviews
“America, meet the real John F. Kennedy.” — Washington Times
John F. Kennedy is lionized by liberals. He inspired Lyndon Johnson to push Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act. His New Frontier promised increased spending on education and medical care for the elderly. He inspired Bill Clinton to go into politics. His champions insist he would have done great liberal things had he not been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
But what if we’ve been looking at him all wrong? Indeed, JFK had more in common with Ronald Reagan than with LBJ. After all, JFK’s two great causes were anticommunism and tax cuts. His tax cuts, domestic spending restraint, military buildup, pro-growth economic policy, emphasis on free trade and a strong dollar, and foreign policy driven by the idea that America had a God-given mission to defend freedom — all make him, by the standards of both his time and our own, a conservative. This widely debated book is must reading for conservatives and liberals alike.
“Provocative and compelling . . . Ira Stoll has succeeded in changing our very perception of Kennedy as one of liberalism’s heroes.” — Weekly Standard
“An informative analysis of the ways in which JFK did indeed evince his conservative side — he was very religious, open to a free market unencumbered by governmental interference, and staunchly anti-Communist.” — Publishers Weekly
"Stoll (Samuel Adams: A Life) makes his stance clear right from the beginning, opening with John F. Kennedy declaring, 'I'm not a liberal at all.' Some 70 odd pages later, the former managing editor of the New York Sun glosses over the speech J.F.K. delivered in acceptance of the New York Liberal Party nomination in September of 1960, when the soon-to-be-president elect spoke at length of how 'proud' he was to be a liberal, and what that label meant to him. Here, Stoll highlights J.F.K.'s definition of a liberal as 'someone who looks ahead and not behind... someone who cares about the welfare of the people' — not someone who favors a 'super state' dependent on big government and big spending. Stoll's obvious allegiances notwithstanding, this is still an informative analysis of the ways in which J.F.K. did indeed evince his conservative side — he was very religious, open to a free market unencumbered by governmental interference, and staunchly anti-Communist. Stoll's stated goal is to reveal the man behind the hype, yet a clear corollary aim is to wrest J.F.K. from the rhetorical and political grip of today's Democrats. Conservatives will find plenty to enjoy here, while more open-minded left-leaners will be given pause to consider the ways in which politicians — especially in retrospect — can be said to have simultaneously occupied two very distinct camps." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy comes a sure-to-be-controversial argument that by virtually any standard, JFK was far more conservative than liberal.
A startling reconsideration of John F. Kennedy’s record and achievements
John F. Kennedy is lionized by liberals. He inspired LBJ to push for landmark civil rights laws. His “New Frontier” promised new spending on education and medical care for the elderly. His champions insist he would have done great liberal things had he not been killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.
But what if we judge him by the lengthy record of his actual political career, in historical perspective? What if this hero of liberals was, in fact, the opposite of a liberal?
As Ira Stoll convincingly argues, by the standards of both his time and our own, John F. Kennedy was a conservative. His two great causes were anticommunism and economic growth. His tax cuts, which spurred one of the greatest economic booms in our history, were fiercely opposed by his more liberal advisers. He fought against unions. He pushed for free trade and a strong dollar. And above all, he pushed for a military buildup and an aggressive anticommunism around the world. Indeed, JFK had more in common with Ronald Reagan than with LBJ.
Not every Republican is a true heir to Kennedy, but hardly any Democrats deserve that mantle. JFK, Conservative is sure to appeal to conservative readers — and will force liberals to reconsider one of their icons.
About the Author
IRA STOLL is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com, and the author of Samuel Adams: A Life. From 2002 to 2008 he was vice president and managing editor of The New York Sun. Previously, he served as Washington correspondent and managing editor of The Forward, as North American editor of the Jerusalem Post, and as president of the Harvard Crimson.
Table of Contents
1. PT 109 9
2. Congressman 17
3. Senator Kennedy 38
4. Presidential Campaign 53
5. Transition and Inauguration 80
6. The New Frontier: Domestic Policy 94
7. Tax Cutter 122
8. The Cold War and the Freedom Doctrine 140
9. The Death of a President 181
10. Passing the Torch 197
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