They Don’t Make Kennedys Like They Used To

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What would John F. Kennedy think of Donald J. Trump?

It’s not that hard to figure it out.

President Kennedy was a patriot. His foreign policy focused on … is it good for America? That was his yardstick. Little else mattered. Even his pet project, the Peace Corps, while altruistic on paper, served as a network to further U.S. influence in the Third World.

His space program was all about American prestige. Being the first to plant the American flag on the moon, for all the world to see. He was not an internationalist in the Obama mode. He was an America First president.

Just like Donald Trump.

President Kennedy was a capitalist. He never so much as ran a lemonade stand, but he was well versed in how people, business, and the nation’s economy grow wealthy, which meant keeping the government out of Americans’ pockets. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, a self-made billionaire, got rich through grit, perseverance, and ingenuity (and some luck), without the help or interference of big government.

Just like Donald Trump.

President Kennedy was the political idol of his generation. The face of America to the world, he was the president who propelled the nation to its zenith in the 20th century. Handsome, charming, dignified, charismatic, he was what his era would define as a man’s man. Women fawned over him. Men wanted to be like him. Overnight the men’s hat industry in America declined because the new president didn’t wear one.

President Kennedy’s beloved Democrat Party would be unrecognizable to him today. The far leftward tilt of the party, more akin to the Socialist Party than the party of the middle and working class, would have been too much for him to fathom.

John F. Kennedy and Donald J. Trump were cut from the same cloth, with the same values, and the same belief in the spirit of the American people and the exceptionalism of the American nation.

If JFK were alive today, he’d surely be a Republican, at least in spirit. Not in the style of the blue-collar billionaire Trump (JFK was more a patrician) but a Republican in ideology, temperament, and practice.

Which brings us the latest torchbearer of the Kennedy legacy, one Joseph P. Kennedy III.
Joe, as the Democrats call him, or Boy Joe, in Republican circles, was tapped for the Democrat response to the State of the Union address this week.

Rightly figuring that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are losing their luster with Middle America, the Democrats pulled out all stops by reaching back into Camelot to showcase the latest anointed Kennedy, who looks younger than his 37 years.

While trying his best to look like a working man of the people, Joe used the backdrop of what appeared to be a mechanic’s garage in Fall River to try to appeal to that sliver of the country not (yet) enamored with The Donald. But his eye-rolling attempt to present himself as a compassionate, charismatic leader fell flat. The normally shy Congressman was less than convincing, no doubt leaving the common folk in the hinterland to wonder how he got elected in the first place.

But he’s a Kennedy, after all, and Kennedys always get elected — and re-elected — in the Bay State.

When he first won his seat in Congress he had just moved from his mom’s house in Cambridge, where he worked as one of many assistant district attorneys in Middlesex County. He quickly moved into the Fourth Congressional District to run for Barney Frank’s open seat. Naturally, he won, defeating an honorable (and deserving) former Marine named Sean Beilat.

Yet even so, Joe has never really been the kind of back-slapping assertive politician in the mold of his more flamboyant political forebears. Honey Fitz, he is not. Nor was he anything remotely resembling the war hero that was the great-uncle for whom he’s named. In fact, Joe steered clear of the military, opting instead for a three-year stint with the Peace Corps in the Caribbean, where he learned Spanish amidst the palm trees and peaceful natives.

Joe is undoubtedly a gentle soul. The type we’d like to see teaching our kids in kindergarten, running a PTA bake sale, or handing out participation trophies to the girls soccer team.

Yet there he was Tuesday, the new face of the Democrat Party, preaching the liberal gospel to all who would listen. In typical Democrat fashion, he recited the hardships of transgenders, pledged support for Black Lives Matter, and even put forth a brief harangue in Spanish. And, of course, he reminded the public how bad their lives really are in today’s economy — i.e., the best economy in over two decades.

He whined, then whined some more — the country is on the verge of collapse! The tax cuts are only benefiting the rich!

The same type of tax cuts that a president named Kennedy enacted long ago, sending the nation in an upward spiral for more than a decade.

Yet in the lexicon of the new Democrat Party facts matter less than drama and emotion. And if Joe Kennedy is the best they have to offer the American people, the Republicans — and the nation — can certainly rest easy.

Tom Mountain is a Member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee.