Monthly archives "September 2013"

John F. Kennedy the Conservative

On January 20, 1961, I watched the Inaugural Address of President Kennedy in my High School auditorium here along the Front Range of Colorado.   It was a cold day in D.C. but the sun was so bright that Robert Frost could not read the poem he had written for the day so he recited a previous verse by memory.

I have reread the President’s address many times since and have watched it on c-span.  One is struck by its conservative tone.  He closes the second paragraph:  “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”   Isaiah 58:6 and Romans 12:12 make a Biblical appeal.   He closes as he began with reference to God.  Frankly it is doubtful an Establishment Republican would deliver such a speech today.  

So far as a Democrat, Barack Obama demonstrates how far we have fallen.   His most memorable line in the 2012 campaign was, “You didn’t build that.”   His entire tone is anything but Presidential.   His zig zag on Syria demonstrates, as Rudy Giuliani said, the consequences of leading from behind which is not leading but following.   Here Obama had no one to follow and fell flat on his face.  But, as Bob Woodward of Watergate fame notes, the President still thinks of himself as the smartest man in any room.   This would be funny if it were not so dangerous. 

The response of MSNBC and the rest of the Leftist Press is equally comical as they say it is George Bush’s fault.  He made such a mess of foreign policy that even President Obama cannot fix it.  I am guessing they believe that W. is also responsible for dandruff and loose dentures.

Ira Stoll is the author of a new book, JFK, Conservative.   Some of the book is previewed in the October 2013 edition of The American Spectator.    As a new Senator in 1953 Kennedy said in a June Saturday Evening Post article,  “I would be happy to tell them I’m not a liberal at all.”   As he ran for Congress he delivered a speech in Boston on July 4, 1946 in which he spoke of “Christian morality” and the “right of the individual against the state.”

In 1958, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked in a television interview what she would do if she had to choose between a “conservative Democrat like Jack Kennedy and a liberal Republican like Nelson Rockefeller.”   She replied she would do all she could to see that the Democrats did not nominate a candidate like Kennedy.   She backed Adlai Stevenson for a third try in 1960.

Jack Kennedy took a hard line against Communism abroad and stood against their influence in unions here at home.    His stare down of the Russians in the Cuban Missile Crisis was perhaps his finest hour in an Administration cut tragically short.

The President also cut taxes which was emulated by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George Bush in 2001.   President Kennedy said as he called for tax cuts:  “Paradoxically tax cuts will bring in more money to the Federal Treasury as they will stimulate the economy.”   This proved true for the country under Kennedy and Reagan and Bush as well.   Had the first President Bush heeded this policy rather than allowing a 500 billion dollar tax increase (thus breaking his read my lips pledge) he might not have handed the Presidency to Bill Clinton.

When Ronald Reagan appealed to Kennedy’s policy for his tax cuts, Senator Ted Kennedy said he had no right to do so.   Did Ted think we were Democrats and Republicans before we were Americans?  President Reagan paid tribute to Jack Kennedy in an address at the Kennedy Center that all others had turned down fearing they could not measure up to the soaring Kennedy rhetoric.  Ronald Reagan welcomed the opportunity and spoke so well that Jackie Kennedy wrote him, “Mr. President, no one has ever captured my husband as you did.”  And at his death, Ted Kennedy said we were a better country because of the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. 

President Obama combines the ineptitude of Jimmy Carter with the hard knuckle enemies list of Richard Nixon.  And Obama is more dangerous than Carter and not nearly as smart as Nixon.  This is a deadly combination.  We pray daily that there is enough left for a conservative Democrat like Kennedy or Republican like Reagan to bring us back beginning on January 20, 2017.   Most of us care not a straw if this were a woman as long as she does not wear orange pant suits in the Oval Office and does not bear the stain and shame of Benghazi on her resume.

Ira Stoll says it may be too much for liberals to see the “crowning of conservatism with the halo of Camelot” and too much for conservatives as well who have “long despised the Kennedy family, especially . . . Ted.”   But there  is a kinship between Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan that goes well beyond two exceptionally attractive men with beautiful wives.   In the words of the President to be in 1953, “tell them I am not a liberal at all.”    


Commander in Chief Dufflepud

C.S. Lewis, great Christian writer and intellectual,  died on November 22, 1963.  Because we lost John F. Kennedy to an assassin’s bullet on the same day, his death was not noted as it otherwise would have been.   Lewis is more read today on the college campus and in other intellectual settings than he was during his lifetime.

During his youth he abandoned the faith and flirted with atheism.   Of his atheism he writes in Surprised by Joy,  “I was . . . living, like so many Atheists, in a whirl of contradictions.  I maintained that God did not exist.  I was also very angry with God for not existing.  I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.”   As he struggled with his atheism he noted in Mere Christianity,  pp. 45-46, that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.   But if there is no God where, “had I got the idea of just and unjust.  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” 

A man who thinks and writes this way does not remain an atheist and Lewis returned to faith
and Christian writing.  His best know works are probably The Screwtape Letters in which senior devil,  Screwtape,  advises his novice nephew, Wormwood, on deceiving humans and the Chronicles of Narnia, which has been made into animated and feature films.  It is a set of 6 delightful volumes written from 1950-1956 in which Aslan the Lion is the Christ figure who gives his life for his subjects and rises to crush the evil White Witch who has “made it always winter but never Christmas.”

In volume 3, The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader,” Lewis introduces some monopods called dufflepuds led by the one they call “Chief.”   They are unbelievably foolish figures who, led by Chief Monopod, wash their plates and forks before dinner because, “It saves time afterward.”  As their Chief tells them when chaps are visible they can see one another the dufflepuds bounce around on their one leg and cry, “There’s the point.  No one’s got a clearer head than you, Chief.  No one could make it plainer.”

Barack Obama, our Commander in Chief, is fortunate to have a slavish press corps as silly and as embarrassing as Lewis’ dufflepuds.  Perhaps nothing has revealed this like the Obama Syrian “policy” which reminds one of Chief Monopod telling his followers that when chaps are visible they can see one another and the lap dog press tells the President no one has a clearer head than he.  The really sad ones like advisor, Valerie Jarrett, and columnist, Margaret Carlson , tell us that our Chief is so smart that we mere mortals just cannot keep up with him.
Yeah, right.  I would appeal to truly brilliant men like Charles Krauthammer who realize that Barack Obama, the Community Organizer,  does not know what he is doing, especially in foreign policy.

In August of 2012 in the midst of a presidential campaign, President Obama foolishly said that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war would be a red line.  When chemical weapons were employed Obama huffed and puffed but did nothing as his bluff had been called.  When used again he had to act or appear as the total buffoon that he is.   Enter the comic figure in this drama, Secretary of State, John Kerry, who says this is a moral outrage and the United States will act decisively and soon.

But Obama suddenly realizes the nation is not with him on this so he says he will go to Congress after he plays a round of golf and goes to Sweden.   John Kerry now learns first hand that the President cannot be trusted but Kerry soldiers on.  With even the Democrat Senate in doubt on backing Obama John Kerry indicates, in a totally parenthetical line, there will be a strike unless Syria’s President Bashar Assad gives up his chemical weapons.  Enter Russian strong man, Vladimir Putin, who says, “We’ll take that deal.”

Our Commander in Chief, who has painted himself into a corner, sees a way out and addresses the nation on Tuesday, September 10, indicating we will give negotiations a chance but huffs and puffs again saying to Assad and the world, “The United States does not do pin pricks,”  and that the Syrian regime will feel our wrath if they do not play ball with us.  Poor John Kerry, trying to gain some Senate Democrat votes and to keep up with his boss (and not due to Obama’s brilliance but rather his clueless, zig zag foreign policy) has just said our strike will be small and short. 

What does the dufflepud press do in face of Commander in Chief Dufflepud?   They bounce around on their old monopod position:  “It is George Bush’s fault.  He went into Iraq and now President Obama cannot employ our military in Syria where we need to strike because of Bush and his foolish improper cowboy use of the military.”

One person who emerges stronger than when he went into this is Vladimir Putin.   Last evening writer and Putin scholar, Michael Walker, appeared on Bill O’Reilly.  He was asked if Obama fears Putin.  Walker said that both body language and words betray Obama’s fear of the Russian leader.  Where is the Ronald Reagan figure who faced down Gorbachev when we need him?  He is not in Commander in Chief Dufflepud.

Like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton saw terrorism as a law enforcement issue who did little in face of the first world trade center attack in 1993 and attacks on our ships and embassies during his eight years.  This made Osama bin Laden think we were paper tigers and invited the September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers and on the Pentagon and the would be attack on the White House or Capital Building bravely thwarted over PA.  This is the danger of a President like Barack Obama now and for the future.  Our friends do not trust us;  our enemies do not fear us.

Barack Obama in many ways resembles the hapless Jimmy Carter.  After Carter there was the powerful Ronald Reagan who humbled the Soviets and restored morning in America.   Though we know we do not deserve it we appeal to the Lord, portrayed in Narnia as Aslan, the Lion of Judah:  Restore us again, O Lord.   Give us a strong leader once again who can lead us out of the wilderness of Barack Obama.  And we care not a straw whether that leader wear a suit or a skirt (but no former Secretary’s of State named Hillary in orange pant suits allowed in the Oval Office).

May we see a great President again of Ronald Reagan’s stature or a woman like Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.  “Restore us to Yourself, O Lord, that we may return;  Renew our days as of old.”  Lamentations 5: 21.  Restore us again.


Abraham Lincoln: Can Republicans Learn From Him?

Rich Lowry is editor of National Review, the conservative magazine founded in 1955 by the late William F. Buckley.  Still a relative young 45, Lowry became editor at age 29.  He is no fan of the Clintons having authored Legacy:  Paying for the Clinton Years, and has said of Hillary, “She has an impressive resume with no real accomplishments.”   But he has also said (as have a number of us) he would like to have Bill back rather than the radical Barack Obama.

He has authored a new book, Lincoln Unbound, which deals with Lincoln’s vision of America as an opportunity for all society.   And for all means blacks as well as whites.  Lincoln lived this as was he was a personal friend of Frederick Douglass, the black intellectual and abolitionist.   He was invited by the President to attend his Inaugural Party at the White House.   Lincoln was greeting guests when he saw Douglass being turned away.  He went to the door and said, “This man is my guest,” as he personally ushered Mr. Douglass in.

The two men had a number of meetings and Frederick Douglass would say of President Lincoln:  “He is the first great man I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single incident, reminded me of the difference of color.  He was sincerely interested in my views.”  Lowry emphasizes that Lincoln believed in equal opportunity for all. 

Lincoln scholar, Lewis Lehrman, notes that Lowry spells out Lincoln’s belief in “the dynamic capitalism that dissolved old ways of life in favor of each one making the most of his life.  Stephen Oates in his brilliant one volume biography of Lincoln, With Malice Toward None, speaks of our greatest President’s reverence for the Declaration of Independence.  He said it contained the highest political truths in human history, namely that “all men are created equal and all are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   For Lincoln this meant that men like him were not chained to the conditions of their birth but could better their station in life and harvest the fruits of their own  talents and industry.

In the midst of the Civil War it is sometimes lost that Abraham Lincoln also transformed America by setting up land-grant colleges, the transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act which privatized the public lands of the Plains States and the Freedman Bureau to assist blacks with the adjustment to their freedom after the war.   

He accepted war to preserve the Union and to free the slaves.  Without his leadership and resolve separate slave and free countries might have competed as neighbors on the same continent.  There then would not have been an integrated American economy and without that united industrial power  there might not have been a nation to destroy Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.   Lincoln believed in dynamic capitalism.  Under another great President, Ronald Reagan, the malaise of Jimmy Carter was replaced with the economic dynamo that would defeat the Communist Soviet Union.

If Republicans are to win again they must set in broad relief the freedom exemplified by Lincoln and Reagan with the statist control of Barack Obama for whom Russia’s Putin has contempt as he knows this is not the one we were all waiting for.  Here we need add a Democrat President, Jack Kennedy, who said in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961:  “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”   Sadly, it is hard to imagine Establishment, Ruling Class Republicans saying that today.  For Democrats it is sacrilege, anathema.

Let the Republicans today learn from Lincoln, Kennedy and Reagan and turn the nation away from a small President Obama who would have us believe we find answers only in the state.  Nonsense!   Let us adopt Lincoln’s “Right to Rise,” for all.