2008.11.23: November 23, 2008: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Obama: Santa Rosa Press Democrat: As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: President Obama: 2008.11.23: November 23, 2008: Headlines: Presidents - Kennedy: Obama: Santa Rosa Press Democrat: As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable

By Admin1 (admin) (151.196.12.195) on Saturday, December 13, 2008 - 11:29 am: Edit Post

As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable

As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable

"Yes, there is the call to public service of John Kennedy, the wit and coolness, the sense of humor about the human condition, the belief that politics is our way of self-government, despite the failings," says Harris Wofford. "Here's the big difference. In 1960, it was a time when the country thought we were on the right track. The number-one campaign problem: to try to convey to voters, however much they liked Eisenhower, that we hadn't been moving forward with any dynamism or creativity. There was no crisis. His problem was stirring enough people to want some change. Very different time."

As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable

Obama-Kennedy comparisons on anniversary of assassination

45 years ago, Pres. Kennedy died in Dallas

By Amy S. Rosenberg
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Published: Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 2:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 22, 2008 at 3:16 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA As the country prepares for the presidency of Barack Obama, viscerally, at least, echoes of JFK are unavoidable.

The youth, the passing of the generational torch, the cool style, the culturally liberating presence of a writer-intellectual, the beguiling kids, the instantly iconic wife, the adoration of the world.

Especially this weekend with the 45th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, a date normally suffused with the futility of tragedy many Americans have a palpable sense that something taken from the nation has been reclaimed.

"It took a long time, but we got it back," said Bruce Kuklick, a University of Pennsylvania historian of the 20th century, who was 12 in 1963.

Each year at this time, he said, he tries to explain to his three sons just how much it all meant to him, and how much was lost.

This year, Kuklick said, with the extraordinary election night still resonant, the "same kinds of culturally liberating hope" restored, he will say, simply: "See how good it is? That's what you missed."

But for some, the comparisons to JFK go only so far (and, for others, maybe too far, given that Obama has not even taken office). For many, the Obama presidency seems destined to recall, in more substantial ways, FDR. Or, in temperament and transition, Lincoln. Or, perhaps even more powerfully, the unfulfilled legacy of Bobby Kennedy, who would have turned 83 last Thursday.

An impressive group of mentors, but also, particularly for a student of history like Obama, perhaps a daunting Mount Rushmore over his shoulder.

The comparisons to JFK bring solace to Harris Wofford, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Just as all the young Obama volunteers were enamored of their candidate, Wofford was inspired in his youth by JFK, then campaigned for him and worked in his administration on civil rights. But although he embraced Obama with the same fervor, Wofford pointed out the differences are stark.

In 1960, people were basically satisfied with their country during a time of prosperity, he noted. Kennedy's youth and intellect were refreshing after the just-turned-70, golf-playing Dwight D. Eisenhower, but not yet urgent.

As tempting as the JFK comparisons are as the Obamas seem likely to evoke the Kennedys' cultured forwardness and storied charm and vigor (or "vigah, in the parlance of the Boston Brahmin) minus the nannies, the personal ponies, and the Hyannis Port compound Wofford and others say 2008 feels more like the early '30s than the early '60s.

"Yes, there is the call to public service of John Kennedy, the wit and coolness, the sense of humor about the human condition, the belief that politics is our way of self-government, despite the failings," Wofford said in a phone interview.

"Here's the big difference. In 1960, it was a time when the country thought we were on the right track. The number-one campaign problem: to try to convey to voters, however much they liked Eisenhower, that we hadn't been moving forward with any dynamism or creativity. There was no crisis. His problem was stirring enough people to want some change. Very different time."

Wofford, 82, said he felt the echoes of that time.

"The biggest comparison to me is Franklin Roosevelt, how I felt at age 7 when I heard his inaugural address, with a huge number of Americans unemployed."

It was an age when a president could be a child's hero.

"Within six months, there were 300,000 employed in a Civilian Conservation Corps," Wofford said. "By '36, at age 10, Roosevelt was my man. ... Roosevelt was the president until I was 19. He did have the knack of great talking, and being a teaching president, reasoning with the American people. He had the determination not for a specific ideological solution, but for action."

Obama, he said, has that same teaching instinct, with a deliberateness and ability to listen that Kennedy sometimes lacked.

"Kennedy was a wonderful character, but he was impatient," Wofford said. "He didn't want to be bored with life. ... In 10 minutes, he ticked off the things he wanted to do as president."

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book on Lincoln, "Team of Rivals," appears to be a kind of template for the Obama transition, said she, too, saw the FDR comparison, especially in temperament.

"There was an internal self-confidence and a serenity" in Roosevelt, she said in an interview. "During the worst days of the Depression and even the day of Pearl Harbor, not knowing what to do, FDR calmly sat at his desk, absorbing all the information and deciding. Obama, too, retained a kind of serenity throughout the campaign."

She compared Obama's speech on race, which he gave in Philadelphia and which grappled with complex ideas about racial identity and prejudice, to the fireside chats in which FDR patiently explained complex economics to the masses.

Thurston Clarke, author of "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America," said he had been studying Obama's speeches in anticipation of the inauguration and saw clear echoes of RFK.

"His delivery is so kind of cool and JFK-like that the similar passionate words, they don't come across as passionate. If you read them, they come across as much more passionate."

Clarke noted that at a commemoration of RFK's 80th birthday in 2005, Obama, finishing his first year in the Senate and invited by the Kennedy family to speak, noted the ongoing influence of Bobby. He continued, Clarke said, with words "right out of the RFK playbook."

"Obama says, 'Somewhere another child goes hungry in a neighborhood just blocks from one where a family is too full to eat another bite. ... If we are to shine as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, we have to be respected not just for the might of our military but for the reach of our ideals,' " themes he would revisit in his speech on election night.

Obama went on to note that RFK had practiced politics that "at its heart was deeply moral, based on the notion that in this world there is a right and a wrong (and) that it is our job to organize our laws and our lives to recognize the difference."

After the ceremony, RFK's widow, Ethel Kennedy, was quoted as saying of Obama, "He feels it just like Bobby did."




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: November, 2008; Presidents - Kennedy; Presidents - Obama





When this story was posted in December 2008, this was on the front page of PCOL:




Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers RSS Feed

 Site Index Search PCOL with Google Contact PCOL Recent Posts Bulletin Board Open Discussion RPCV Directory Register


Director Ron Tschetter:  The PCOL Interview Date: December 9 2008 No: 1296 Director Ron Tschetter: The PCOL Interview
Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter sat down for an in-depth interview to discuss the evacuation from Bolivia, political appointees at Peace Corps headquarters, the five year rule, the Peace Corps Foundation, the internet and the Peace Corps, how the transition is going, and what the prospects are for doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011. Read the interview and you are sure to learn something new about the Peace Corps. PCOL previously did an interview with Director Gaddi Vasquez.

PCOL's Candidate for Peace Corps Director Date: December 2 2008 No: 1288 PCOL's Candidate for Peace Corps Director
Honduras RPCV Jon Carson, 33, presided over thousands of workers as national field director for the Obama campaign and said the biggest challenge -- and surprise -- was the volume of volunteer help, including more than 15,000 "super volunteers," who were a big part of what made Obama's campaign so successful. PCOL endorses Jon Carson as the man who can revitalize the Peace Corps, bring it into the internet age, and meet Obama's goal of doubling the size of the Peace Corps by 2011.

November 5, 2008: This Month's Top Stories  Date: November 5 2008 No: 1282 November 5, 2008: This Month's Top Stories
World Welcomes Obama Win 5 Nov
Shays Loses Congressional Seat in Connecticut 5 Nov
Steve Driehaus wins Congressional Seat in Ohio 5 Nov
Bill Josephson to speak at UMBC on Nov 13 30 Oct
Peace Corps to Resume Work in Liberia 23 Oct
Tschetter proposes PC Foundation to Further Third Goal 23 Oct
George Packer writes: Roof is falling in on Conservatism 23 Oct
O'Hanlon writes: How to finish the job in Iraq 22 Oct
Mike Paquette writes: Bolivia situation is very troubling 20 Oct
McPherson says bureaucracy delays development initiatives 20 Oct
Philip Razem writes: Reveling in the spirit of politics 19 Oct
Amy Zulman writes: Improving America's Reputation 15 Oct
RPCVs film "Once in Afghanistan" 14 Oct
Some PCVS angry at Peace Corps Bolivia pullout 11 Oct
Hill proposes compromise in Korea talks 11 Oct
Mark Schneider proposes mandatory public service 10 Oct
Ambassador Stephens Visits School after 33 Years Ago 9 Oct
RPCVs promote organic farming with "magic bus" 7 Oct
Obama talks about Doubling the Peace Corps 7 Oct
Conference on Moritz Thomsen held in Quito 5 Oct

New: More Stories from September 2008 and October

Some PCVs return to Bolivia on their own Date: October 23 2008 No: 1279 Some PCVs return to Bolivia on their own
Peace Corps has withdrawn all volunteers from Bolivia because of "growing instability" and the expulsion of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg after Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the American government of inciting violence in the country. This is not the first controversy surrounding Goldberg's tenure as US ambassador to Bolivia. Latest: Some volunteers have returned to Bolivia on their own to complete their projects.

PCVs Evacuated from Georgia Date: August 19 2008 No: 1254 PCVs Evacuated from Georgia
The Peace Corps has announced that all Volunteers and trainees serving in the Republic of Georgia are safe and they have been temporarily relocated to neighboring Armenia. Read the analysis by one RPCV on how Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili believed that he could launch a lightning assault on South Ossetia and reclaim the republic without substantial grief from Moscow and that Saakashvili's statements once the war began demonstrated that he expected real Western help in confronting Russia.



Read the stories and leave your comments.








Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Presidents - Kennedy; Obama

PCOL42564
73


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: