was jF Kenedy a great president? Why or why not? was jF Kenedy a great president? Why or why not?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No good. JFK would have been of little significance if he had not become a sacrificial victim.  If you will read the documented biographies of the Kennedy family, you will discover some very interesting facts.  For one thing, Joe Kennedy was know to have nothing but disdain for black people.  At his exclusive country club he once complained, asking why a Negroe was in the parking lot.  When he was told that the young man was a parking attendant, Kennedy insisted that he be fired; he was.  One of the Kennedy maids contributed to a chapter of a book about him and said how she was paid very little and rarely given any gift or tips.  Some historians suggest that Kennedy supported civil rights reluctantly and only because it would further his political career.The Civil Rights Movement legislation and the Great Society were put through by Lyndon Baines Johnson after Kennedy's assassination, as an examination of dates will verify.  

The Kennedy administration was fraught with hypocrisy.  First of all, JFK was elected because he carried the state of Illinois; he carried this state after a "deal" was made with Sam "Mo-Mo" Giancana of the Chicago Mafia.  In short, Giancana had people "vote early and vote often" as the saying went in Chicago.  Then, when Bobby Kennedy was Attorney General, he had the audacity to go after the mob and Teamsters' boss Jimmy Hoffa, who was connected to the mob. Bobby's actions towards prosecuting the Mafia may, indeed, effected his death since the family had taken "favors" from them during the presidential campaign and the voting.

That the Southern Democrats supported Kennedy as stated in post #2 is dubious, indeed.  When Kennedy was shot, there were celebrations in the South, especially in Alabama and Mississippi where Catholics were anathema [this fact is documented]. Kennedy  carried few states in the South. Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida did not vote for him. 

His reckless and indiscriminate sex life makes what Bill Clinton did seem Boy Scout-like.  All these women--two were called "Twiddle-Dee and Twiddle-Dumb--coming and going in the White House posed a serious security risk.  (His philandering did not make the news because yellow journalism was not the mode as it is nowadays.) Also, a well-documented NBC program on Kennedy when Peter Jennings was the Nightly News Anchor Man showed how Kennedy used many drugs because of his severe back pain from his war injury.  Needless to say, there was great concern within his administration about this drug usage since JFK had "his finger on the button" of a nuclear bomb, especially during the particularly "hairy" Cuban Missile Crisis in which American citizens were literally terrified.

----Regarding putting the blame for Vietnam on Kennedy, it was really escalated by Johnson, who let the heinous MacNamara allow ten of thousands of Americans to die in a foreign civil war--small wonder that Johnson did not seek a second term.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe JF Kenndy was a great president. He was not afraid to take a stand on the Civil Rights Movement. Under his leadership, the Civil Rights Movement progressed.

JF Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He started the Egypt Project. He had insight in eliminating poverty in the Middle East. He realized that young men who lived in poverty would not be lured into terrorists groups if poverty in the Middle East could be eliminated.

One can only wonder if the terrorists acts would be so prevalent if the Egypt Project had taken root.

Most importantly, JF Kennedy died while fighting for change. The Civil Rights Movement needed a great President like JF Kennedy. Perhaps, had he not been killed, there would have been less violence when blacks stood up for the equal treament they deserved.

Then again, because of Kennedy's death, his supporters were more determined than ever to radicate what he had given his life for.


bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have long been dismayed when I see specials on "Camelot" and how some revere JFK as much as King Arthur.  

 While it was tragic that he was assasinated, I believe the only reason he was as revered as he was is that he and Jackie were good looking and became Hollywood-type celebrities.

In his personal life, JFK was far from "good". He had dozens of extramarital affairs and even allegedly consorted with mobsters and those on the "seedy" side of life. See link below:



ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kennedy's presidency could not be qualified as great. Many of the big moments of his presidency were reactive instead of proactive. The Bay of Pigs is one example. Another example is the civil rights movement. Kennedy's actions toward this were a result of the very publicized children's movement in Montgomery. Kennedy really had no action until the pictures and newscasts of children being arrested by the busload, or being thrown to the ground by fire hoses became public. Could he have been a good and effective leader had his presidency transcended the infancy stage? Possibly.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

JFK did very little to push for civil rights because he depended so much on the political support of Southern Democrats.  He did very little of anything in terms of any sort of domestic programs.

Sure, he did succeed in the Cuban Missile Crisis, but what about the Bay of Pigs?  And what about Vietnam?

If he hadn't been killed, he would never be remembered as a great president simply because he really didn't do much in his almost three years in office.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He had lots of affairs from what I can see.  He and his brother didn't mind standing up against the odds of the mafia and/or organized crime which supposedly put him in office in the first place.  The Kennedys seem to made out to be the royal family of the United States when they are infamous for their crimes (Ted Kennedy left his girlfriend at the bottom of a lake in his car), poor choices, and poor behavior.

Can't vote for "best President" here.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, I think JFK has been lionized somewhat after his tragic death, but that being said, I still think of him as an above average President.  You don't hear his name coming up on many historians top 5 lists, and I think that's justified, but being such a strong and public advocate for civil rights in a controversial time, his handling of Cold War issues and his intelligence and ability to motivate Americans make him an above average President.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do have to agree with some editors above in questioning the heroic status that JFK supposedly has. He certainly promised to deliver great things, but his death didn't necessarily give him the opportunity to deliver completely on what he had promised. Whilst he did handle the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the post above demonstrates, revelations about his private life have questioned his suitability to hold the power of the Presidency.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
When a president is assassinated, especially one who is already beloved, his reputation only grows. Part of the reason is that they are often not in office long enough to make unpopular policies. Had JFK lived, he might have been a great president. It's hard to tell. However, despite his reputation now and then, there really isn't enough evidence to compare.
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that Kennedy's stature has been greatly exaggerated because of his assassination. However, I do like to believe that his accomplishments would have been greater had he lived long enough to complete his term and win reelection, which was almost a certainty.