John F. Kennedy's Presidency

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Successes and failures of JFK's presidency

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John F. Kennedy's presidency saw significant successes including the establishment of the Peace Corps, the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement, and the successful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, his administration faced failures such as the Bay of Pigs invasion and initial setbacks in pushing civil rights legislation through Congress.

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What were the successes and failures of JFK's presidency?

President Kennedy was a catalyst in accelerating the civil rights movement of the early sixties. Even though Kennedy did not live to see its passage, the Civil Rights Act was introduced by Kennedy to Congress shortly before his death.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had organized and inspired resistance to school segregation in the previous decade, elevating civil rights to a top national issue. Civil rights was a major campaign theme in 1960, as Kennedy received the endorsement of Dr. King and won over 70% of the African American vote. Both houses of Congress were led by the Democratic Party throughout his term.

In 1961, the president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, sent 400 federal marshals to protect the "Freedom Ride" participants who protested continued southern segregation in interstate transportation, such as buses. In 1962, President Kennedy sent federal troops to the University of Mississippi when an African American Air Force veteran named James Meredith Jr. was denied registration several times. The military action allowed Meredith to finally successfully register for classes.

A protest launched by Dr. King in the spring of 1963 led to a series of demonstrations that got thousands of protesters arrested, including Dr. King. After violence broke out in Birmingham, Alabama, Kennedy sent federal troops to an air base. He later federalized the state's National Guard to protect African American students and allow them to register, since Alabama Governor George Wallace favored segregation.

Five months before his assassination, Kennedy addressed the national television audience on June 11, 1963, as he announced the revolutionary civil rights legislation that is often credited to his successor. The bill promised to allow equal access to public facilities, end school segregation, and provide federal protection for voting rights. President Johnson signed the landmark bill on June 2, 1964. The new law essentially outlawed employment discrimination.

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What were the successes and failures of JFK's presidency?

President Kennedy had some successes and some failures as president. One success was that he guided the country through the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many people feared when Kennedy got elected that he was too young and too inexperienced for the job. However, throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy never backed down and made it very clear that the United States would accept nothing less than the dismantling of the missile sites and the removal of the missiles from Cuba. When the Soviet Union announced it would remove the missiles and take down the missile sites in Cuba, it appeared that President Kennedy had stood up to the Soviets and had saved the country from nuclear attack. While the United States did agree to remove some missiles in Turkey, President Kennedy’s handling of the crisis was a huge success. After the crisis ended, a direct telephone line was established between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union so they could directly communicate with one other. Plus, an agreement was made to ban the above-ground testing of nuclear weapons.

There were other successes in foreign policy. President Kennedy helped establish the Peace Corps, which allowed Americans to go and work in underdeveloped areas of the world to help improve the people’s lives in those regions. Also, the United States worked closely with some Latin American governments to help prevent the spread of Communism in that region. The minimum wage increased to $1.25 an hour, and he signed the Equal Pay Act in 1963. He also signed an executive order ending gender discrimination for civil service jobs.

The biggest failure was the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. This attempt to overthrow the Castro regime was doomed from the start. While President Kennedy took full responsibility for this action, it was clear that he acted without a full and a complete understanding of the situation. American relations with Cuba, which were already poor, grew worse because of this event.

Another failure was that President Kennedy did not get many of his big ideas passed by Congress. He wanted to pass legislation in the area of civil rights, but that did not happen until after he died. While some of the blame can be placed on his shortened presidency, President Kennedy also did not help Democrats get elected to Congress in 1960, so these elected officials did not feel the need to support some of his ideas.

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What were the successes and failures of JFK's presidency?

JFK was ahead of his time on civil rights, as he addressed the entire nation and called them out on segregation and how blacks were treated in this country.  Like Truman before him, JFK was a new kind of Democrat, and this was the beginning of the split between the South and the Democratic Party.  Today, ironically, they have switched over to support the party of Lincoln.  JFK is most remembered, as mentioned above, for his foreign policy successes in the Cold War.

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What were the successes and failures of JFK's presidency?

JFK inspired people.  He made the presidency cool again.  I know this might not be what you are looking for, but I do think it's important.  He may not have actually accomplished much, and his biggest failure was getting killed, but he did leave a lasting impression.  He also gave us a hero or martyr president.

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What were the successes and failures of JFK's presidency?

The most obvious successes and failures of the JFK administration were to be seen in foreign policy.

The most high-profile and obvious failure was the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  In this incident, the US clearly failed to bring off the invasion of Cuba that it was supporting.  This made JFK look weak because he allowed the invasion but failed to support it enough to make it work.  Although we did not know it at the time, another failure (one can argue) was JFK's policy towards Vietnam.  It was during this time that the US got more deeply involved in that conflict.

The major success was the Cuban Missile Crisis.  This incident made JFK look much more effectual than he had the year before in the Bay of Pigs incident.  Here, JFK's leadership prevented nuclear war and also made the USSR back down.  This was the major foreign policy success of JFK's time in office.

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What were the failures of JFK's presidency?

Kennedy's most prominent failure would have to be not supporting the Cuban rebels who tried to overthrow the Castro regime during the Bay of Pigs invasion.  Kennedy did not provide air support to this CIA mission and the mission's disaster led to a loss of American prestige and it strengthened Castro as a leader of the people who stood against American aggression.  It was not long after this that Khrushchev stored nuclear missiles on the island in the Cuban Missile Crisis.  While that would be Kennedy's best moment as president, the Bay of Pigs fiasco should have either been supported or called off altogether.  Kennedy also allowed America to stay in Vietnam by authorizing more advisers and special forces groups to enter the country in a war that would ultimately tarnish the Democratic party for the next twenty years.

Kennedy's greatest failure domestically would be his slowness to get involved in the civil rights movement.  It was only after the televised riots that took place in Alabama did Kennedy decide to look into legislating on civil rights.  While Kennedy did not share the feelings of segregationists, he also did not want to alienate Southern Democratic congressmen.  Kennedy ultimately came around on desegregation and was about to push legislation through Congress before his untimely death in 1963.  After Kennedy's assassination, Johnson was able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by using Kennedy's legacy.  The Kennedy administration is hard to judge since a lot of it is thought of in terms of what could have happened instead of what actually happened.  

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What failures occurred during John F. Kennedy's presidency?   

Kennedy's record on civil rights was something of a mixed bag. Initially, his approach to the question was piecemeal. As a Democrat, Kennedy knew that he was reliant on Southern white supremacists in Congress to advance his legislative program. He'd also need Southern votes for re-election in 1964.

Though personally sympathetic to the cause of civil rights, Kennedy tended to react to events as and when they happened, rather than show leadership on the issue. Kennedy thought that by working behind the scenes and striking deals with Southern politicians, he could promote civil rights without undermining either his Presidency or his chances of re-election.

The failure of this approach was seen in the case of James Meredith, an African-American student who attempted to enrol at the University of Mississippi. Despite reaching what he thought was an accommodation with the state's white supremacist governor, violent segregationists prevented Meredith from enrolling at the university.

Even this very public humiliation did nothing to change Kennedy's piecemeal approach to civil rights. He continued to submit watered-down proposals to Congress that failed to address key demands of civil rights campaigners, such as equal access to public facilities.

It was only after the violent attacks on civil rights marchers in Birmingham that Kennedy started to take action. He went on national TV and announced to the nation that he would send comprehensive civil rights legislation to Congress. But five months later, at the time of Kennedy's assassination, still no legislation had been passed.

Kennedy's failure on civil rights was by no means an absolute one. It's rather that he grasped the full moral import of the issue much later than he ought to have done, slowing down the pace and extent of civil rights reforms.

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What failures occurred during John F. Kennedy's presidency?   

The Bay of Pigs invasion was probably the most conspicuous failure on Kennedy's part.  In an ill fated attempt to undermine the Communist regime of Fidel Castro, CIA trained Cuban exiles invaded Cuba shortly after Kennedy's inauguration, but were defeated rather quickly and easily.  In an attempt to camouflage the United States role in the invasion, Kennedy declined to provide air cover for the invading exiles.  This was a smaller scale battle that was part of a larger competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for nuclear supremacy and control of nations that might be easily influenced one way or the other. 

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What failures occurred during John F. Kennedy's presidency?   

I would argue that John F. Kennedy's major failures were in the area of foreign policy.  They included the Bay of Pigs invasion and the escalation of US involvement in Vietnam.

The Bay of Pigs invasion was a complete fiasco.  The US supported the invaders enough to make the invasion happen, but not enough to give it any chance of success.  Allowing the invasion to happen showed poor judgement and was a clear failure.

It was also under JFK that the US got more deeply involved in Vietnam.  On his watch, the US supported Ngo Dinh Diem even as he oppressed many of his people.  Then the US allowed him to be overthrown and (probably without US approval) assassinated.  This led to a US commitment to back a series of governments that had very little credibility with their own people.

These two things constitute major failures of the JFK presidency.

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