February 8, 2002 - MSNBC: George and Jack

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 8:19 am: Edit Post

George and Jack

Read and comment on this opinion piece by Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews on the parallels between JFK and President George W. Bush including the strong support of both Presidents of the Peace Corps at:

George and Jack *

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

George and Jack

Presidential flashback: In policy and words, Bush is sounding a lot like JFK By Chris Matthews MSNBC

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — This week, I finally figured out who George W. Bush is. He is a classic New Frontiersman. If you doubt me, just run through the guy’s policy blueprint — higher defense spending, tax cuts, a call to national service. Add to that his commitment to free trade and his push for prescription drugs for seniors and you see the outlines of the John F. Kennedy agenda.

LET’S FACE IT. This first Republican president of the 21st century champions the same signature policies that Democrat John F. Kennedy did in the early 1960s. Here’s Bush in his State of the Union: “History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom’s fight.” Here is JFK in his Inaugural: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

SIMILARITIES ABOUND Both young presidents backed up their martial call to duty with a military budget hike. Kennedy’s rationale was the “missile gap” between the United States and the U.S.S.R. “We have not maintained our position and our prestige,” he argued in his 1960 debate with Republican Vice President Richard Nixon. Bush’s rationale is the dangers implicit in the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. Where Jack wanted more missiles, George wants a strategic defense system to neutralize enemy missiles. To get it, he wants the largest defense boost in 20 years. Both presidents are foreign-policy activists, uncomfortable in a defensive posture. Just as JFK wanted to help countries defend themselves against the Soviets and the Chinese, Bush wants to destroy the capability of countries such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea to attack their neighbors. “We cannot merely state our opposition to totalitarian advance without paying the price for helping those now under the greatest pressure.”


Another glaring similarity: Both leaders advocate the role of young volunteers in selling the American way overseas. Kennedy created the Peace Corps to show how a “free society” can compete for the hearts and minds of those in the Third World. “Every young American who participates in the Peace Corps — who works in a foreign land — will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to men that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.” Bush has created a Freedom Corps at home, and wants to expand the Peace Corps overseas. “I believe that one thing we must do,” he told a North Carolina audience the day after his State of the Union, “is to expand the Peace Corps, revitalize the mission, encourage the Peace Corps to go into the Islamic world to spread the message of economic development and really share the compassion of a great nation, and that is America.”

TAX CUTS, HEALTH CARE A third area of common purpose is cutting federal taxes. Kennedy pushed a tax cut as a way to lift America out of recession and slow growth rates. Like today’s supply-siders, he told us that cutting taxes was a more powerful way to achieve that goal than increasing government spending. “To increase demand and lift the economy, the federal government’s most usual role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities for private expenditures.”

Another example is the focus on health care for seniors. Kennedy pushed the legislation that would become Medicare, while Bush campaigned with the desire “to give seniors a sound and modern Medicare system that includes coverage for prescription drugs.” Ultimately, both men believe in free trade. Kennedy went to battle with the unions over it in the 1960s, while today, Bush is doing the same. “Good jobs,” Bush said last Tuesday night, “depend on expanded trade.”


It’s currently an open question whether Bush will match Kennedy’s restraint in foreign policy, or his conviction on the domestic front. Without a doubt, JFK’s greatest achievement was his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when he successfully stood up to both the Soviets to his left and the U.S. military to his right. George W. Bush has a chance to replicate that feat with Iraq. To do so, he must contain not just Saddam Hussein, but also the rightists within his own administration who are pushing for an all-out U.S. attack on that Arab country. If Bush does that, he may well claim a role in history as powerful and heroic as the unforgettable John F. Kennedy.

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By johnpdeever on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 12:23 pm: Edit Post

yeah, right on! both couldnt spell, both hid their youthful and/or later indiscretions, both were the not-so-smart brother whose older sib was expected to take such a high office, both brought their countries to the edge of nuclear war, both saw a Corps of volunteers as a noble and subtle way to fight communism/antiAmericanism, and both personally understood how awful war is because in their youths both had fought in the Big War that took so many lives of their respective generations. Oops, except for Shrub.

Now lets do "Who is Chris Matthews most like?"

By ebm on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 12:28 pm: Edit Post

the biggest problem with BUSH is he is dishonest, a cheater and you can't believe his actual intentions. I can not believe that he would actually support a liberal institution such as the peace corps. When we heard that he was intending on 'beefing' up the corps, I can only assume he means with covert operatives or somehow he is planning to distort the mission.

By Cathy Kleinsmith on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 1:12 pm: Edit Post

To paraphrase the words of Lloyd Benson (to Dan Quayle), "I knew John Kennedy and, sir, you are NO John Kennedy." I am stupefied and a little hysterical over the comments of Chris Matthews. How dare he even utter the names of John Kennedy and George W. Bush in the same breath let alone say they are similar! John Kennedy wanted to create dialogue among foreign countries; George W. Bush justs wants his own way as evidenced by pulling out of the ABM and Kyoto agreements. I might add that for 5 years I worked at the National Test Facility (part of Reagan's "Star Wars") and know from this personal experience that the strategic defense initiative is a total waste of money and will only reactivate the cold war by coercing other countries who cannot afford such an initiative to spend money developing their own shield at the expense of its people. And then each country has to develop weapons that will penetrate another country's shield, so then the attacked country has to improve their shield, etc., etc. As in the old Russia, the money will go towards the arms race while the people live in abject poverty. George W. Bush has been a disaster for American foreign policy by labelling Iran, Iraq, and Korea as the "axis of evil" (shades again of Reagan calling Russia the "Evil empire"). The current leadership of Iran has been trying to bring Iran back to the middle of the road, but Bush's statement in his State of the Union has no doubt set Iran back another 10 years as evidenced by the recent riots in Tehran. And how could Bush label Korea as evil--that country where people barely have enough to eat (and eat grass to survive). We know why he labels Iraq as evil; George W. is trying to vindicate his father. And George W's plan for Afghanistan is not to help that beleagured country into the 20th (let alone the 21st) century. He has stated over and over again that his plan is to eventually withdraw from Afghanistan and not institute a "Marshall-type Plan" as has been called for by many prominent Americans (Walter Cronkite for one).

Bush's call for volunteerism is not the inspirational, idealistic call "to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". His cynical choice for the new Peace Corps Director is enough evidence of that. Mr. Bush would not know idealism if it hit him over the head.

The 1960s were a totally different time when Kennedy advocated tax cuts, and he did not propose a $2 trillion tax cut, of which 43% would go to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Bush has cut $200 million of work force training for dislocated workers; cut a program to provide childcare to low-income families as they move from welfare to work; cut $700 million in capital funds for repairs in public housing, etc. No doubt, all these cuts will help fund his defense initiative. This President who says he supports freedom and the American way also eliminated funding for the "We the People" education program which taught AMERICAN school children about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and citizenship.

I perhaps abandoned my "Peace Corps" ideals and goals while working on SDI, but at least it did not blur my vision and thinking enough to even think of comparing George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy. I can't imagine what has happened to Chris Matthews since his Peace Corps service to become so misguided.

Cathy Kleinsmith
RPCV Ethiopia, 1968-1970

By Sharon Elliott (roscoe) on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 2:24 pm: Edit Post

So - just compare IQs and whether or not they were actually elected! One of the problems with Shrub is that we keep calling him "President", which to me is a word that defines a leader of the people, by the people and for the people (e.g., elected). Of course then you get into that grey (or black, brown, yellow) zone of who are the people, and do they own any land, and are they of the correct gender and sexual orientation and on ... and on... But another facet of the Kennedy years was the Civil Rights movement (and eventual legislation) which Shrub is attempting to gut at every opportunity. And then there is - who is actually formulating the policy that comes out of Shrub's mouth? I know, I know, every Pres has advisors, but occasionally a President will take action based on his own beliefs - Kennedy actually did that from time to time. I don't want to blindly mythologize the '60s yet again, but to draw parallels between Shrub and Kennedy is just, well, wrong.

By Fred Marton on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 3:49 pm: Edit Post

I give credit to Mr. Bush for recognizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Peace Corps in building goodwill between America and other countries. I wouldn't say he has demonstrated any JFK like great vision by proposing to double the size of the Peace Corps, but rather "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" ~ ~ "A stitch in time saves nine" style of good sense. I think he just compared the budgets of the Peace Corps and the Pentagon and realized it's a lot cheaper to send in the Peace Corps than the Marine Corps.

By Deborah Burr on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 6:05 pm: Edit Post

How can Bush propose to "go into the Islamic world and spread economic development" when our own economic development has only been un-developing since his "election". Also, I don't think Bush is thinking about sustainability. The countries that PCVs serve in are, in my opinion, incapable of sustainable economic development. Does Bush think he is capable of turning the third world into giant consumer nations? Most don't even have the basics for survival! I would like for him to spend 2 years in the rural third world and then talk about economic development. And what about all those countries that don't agree with the economics of the US? I don't think that the ideaa of economic development is impossible, however, I think Bush & Chris Matthews need to wake up from this pipe dream. There is nothing sustainable about economic development in Islamic nations or any other under-developed nation when the US is in the control of the entire worlds economy.

By Carl Benander on Thursday, February 14, 2002 - 11:17 am: Edit Post

To brand the Peace Corps as a "Liberal" organization is, in my mind, ludicrous. What this would imply is that Conservatives like myself do not subscribe to the goals exemplified by service in the Peace Corps.
Carl Benander Kenya 1998-2000

By Bankass.com on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 1:21 pm: Edit Post

George Bush compared with Jack Kennedy. Sorry Chris two different spirits. George Bush wants seven thousand more volunteers in service throughout the world. His Peace Corps cronies Lloyd Pearson and Vasquez underlings Ms. Olsen and Steve Weinberg are hurting Peace Corps safety and health. Susan Fagan, Larisa Jaffe, Walter Poirier, Jang Lee, Wyatt Pillsbury, Kevin Revielle, Nancy Coutu, Karen Phillips, Brian Krow and two Others from the Fiji Islands (we don't have their names) have died or are considered missing while with Peace Corps. Why hasn't he changed security policy to two volunteers at every site or village. Most of the above were assigned alone. President Bush will continue with this reckless policy Chris. They are doing it today. How many are of those 7,000 will serve alone and be at risk. Chris, this is reckless policy after September 11th. When you as a former volunteer don't speak up, have interviews with groups who are concerned with safety and health or even discuss these issues more volunteers are at Risk. Bankass.com

By Pat Brus Conley on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 4:01 pm: Edit Post

I’ve never been a Peace Corps volunteer but I know four, all of whom have differing political views, all of whom I deeply admire. All of them see the obvious: 1) George W. Bush’s words and JFK’s words can be selected to sound as though they are advocating the same principles. 2) Actions speak louder than words. W’s fondness for volunteerism includes the following: to fix the problem of hundreds of corporations ripping off the public by not paying taxes Bush’s SEC Chair, Harvey Pitt will impose tighter voluntary regulations for accounting firms; to fix the problem of big business illegally polluting our air and water, Bush repealed environmental regulations and asks corporations to voluntarily not pollute because he says that encourages them to look harder at their operations; to fix the problem of growing anti-American sentiment in the world he wants Peace Corps volunteers to counter his over-reaching foreign policy. A sincere thank-you to all PCV’s, and remember most Americans value you for what you do, not what you can do for them.

By Meredith Bunny Dalebout on Sunday, February 17, 2002 - 6:12 am: Edit Post

Chris Matthews: You have GOT to be kidding! Let's get real, here. Calling Kennedy and Bush alike is absurd. W gives us a lot of words, but he's just throwing words around, and I don't believe any of it. The rhetoric is offered as a pallitive to citizens who still believe in social and environmental responsibility at home and peaceful relations overseas (AND the philosophy and goals of Peace Corps). The one item that may be sincere is his endorsement of volunteerism. This is an enthusiasm that Republicans have used quite often in order to avoid government funding of social programs. What a great idea: let volunteers and NGOs do it! W is totally losing sight of our democratic process in his eagerness to do what he and his "advisors" want, which is to follow his agenda, which they never forget. He ignores citizen input, dissenting opinions, and concensus from issue-concerned persons. He's like a little kid who wants his way, no matter what. This is a very dangerous little kid. Where he's leading us is to the deep dark pits of fascism. Pray that Congress will be able to stop him! Let's get real.

By Terry Adcock on Monday, February 18, 2002 - 5:27 pm: Edit Post

Meredith Bunny Dalebout wrote:

"...is totally losing sight of our democratic process in his eagerness to do what he and his "advisors" want, which is to follow his agenda, which they never forget. He ignores citizen input, dissenting opinions, and concensus from issue-concerned persons. He's like a little kid who wants his way, no matter what. This is a very dangerous little kid. Where he's leading us is to the deep dark pits of fascism..."

Now let's see, Bunny, was this W or Chris Matthews you were talking about? {;-)

Swaziland RPCV's: Was Mr. Matthews like he is now when he was in Swaziland, or did he just get this way when he and his wife became rich?

By Joanne Marie Roll (joey) on Monday, February 18, 2002 - 7:52 pm: Edit Post

Chris Matthews is having a problem with falling ratings. The big money is with the so-called conservative talk show hosts...and FOX. I think Matthews is looking for a gig. I hope he comes to his senses...as he was a good historian and has some important things to say about the "street" in Africa. But right now he is sucking up. As for Jack and George....Jack went. George stayed home.
Nothing else matters.

By Ed Allan on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 1:48 pm: Edit Post

Chris Matthews has obviously confused George H.W. Bush with his son George W. Bush. Both JFK and George H.W. Bush volunteered to serve our nation and were in combat. George W. Bush volunteered to serve in the National Guard and it is not clear exactly where he served except that it certainly wasn't overseas. JFK and GHWB fought in WW2; based on his speech to the Japanese Diet, GWB seems to have forgotten (assuming that he knew) that WW2 occurred. JFK and GHWB devoted their lives to public service and adhered to the ideals of "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." GWB seems to have devoted his career taking the opposite tack. It is worth noting that the $250M tax refund that he wants to give Enron, which has not paid taxes for some years, would cover Peace Corps' EXPANDED budget for most of a year. "Ask what your country can do for your friends and what you can do to your country."

Others have paraphrased Lloyd Bentsen, quite aptly. To paraphrase Mark Twain, comparing JFK to George W. Bush is like comparing lightning to a lightning bug.

RPCV Ghana

By Thomas Santa on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 8:06 am: Edit Post

What a remarkable collection of sniping, caterwauling insults. The President of our fine nation has proposed to double the budget of an organization we presumably support having dedicated two or more years of our lives. Instead of being supportive we second guess this decision and every other he has made in his life. This is a sad commentary on the kind of polarization that has destoyed the effectiveness of Washington and is now eating at the hearts of all Americans. Thank you Chris for supporting the positive.
Tom Santa RPCV Morocco

By Hayward Allen Ethiopia 62-64 on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 11:22 am: Edit Post

I, like so many others, took JFK's challenge personally--"Ask not..."--and joined the Peace Corps. Just like Chris Matthews did. What we find insulting, I think, is that someone might assume that Bush is following in the same New Frontier steps as the Kennedy generation did. Especially one of us RPCVs. And as my fellow correspondents here reveal, our hackles are up and we're ready to engage in a fight with such comparisons. That is all to the good, as I so believe the campaign against Bush's PC director's nomination was worth the battle.
However, I think we've been media-duped by Chris' hardball accusation. It's one thing to kill the messenger and another to denounce the message. Blame it on my ongoing 1960s idealism, but I find it difficult to believe that CM actually means what he says. He's a sarcastic SOB, and quick on the draw (in the old frontier style), but lest we forget, he's a TV ratings guy just like any other talk show host/producer.
What I would find interesting would be Hardball having a debate, just as we are here, with him as host and a host of RPCVs as debaters. Maybe he's done that (I limit myself to one or two Hardballs a week...), and maybe he will again, when the dust begins to rise in the new director's footsteps.
If there is any single act that is indicative of the dissimilarity between George and Jack, it is in each president's appointments of the director of the Peace Corps. That defines the difference, I believe.

By andrew engelman on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 1:36 pm: Edit Post

Reading the messages from RPCV's its clear that few of them got ''mugged by reality''due to their Peace Corps experience. They remain whiny,blame america, liberal college kids who havent grown up.Chris Matthews is an eminently reasonable voice for both Peace Corps and current political events and to denounce him as misguided is just pure demagogery.

By ej bowen on Thursday, February 28, 2002 - 4:23 pm: Edit Post

The right wing media that Chris Matthews represents is operating one of the most grotesque propaganda campaigns I have heard in a long, long time. It reminds me of the ridiculous stuff the Soviets would put out on short wave when I was a volunteer in Zaire. Garbage in--Garbage out!! The unilateralism that the Bush Administration is demonstrating is the antithesis of what I understand the Peace Corps ideal to be. Bush is no John Kennedy. Not in my book, Not ever!!!!

By Kate Ramsey on Friday, March 01, 2002 - 1:00 am: Edit Post

As a volunteer who served in the Islamic world, I am disgusted by Bush tactics. He compromises every volunteer that works with Muslims in his specific targeting of these countries. He calls into question work that has been done and the intent of future volunteers. By specifically pinpointing 'Islamic nations' for expansion in such a political climate, he will provoke speculation about the nature and benevolence of volunteers working in these communities - and as a result threaten their safety. It shows that his aims are not to create a better understanding of ALL peoples in the world and to increase the volunteer spirit, but to add it as a specific activity in laundry list of his "war on terrorism." It's not far from the proposed satellite channel to compete with Al Jazeera. Peace Corps provides one-on-one propaganda as opposed to a satellite station spreading the wealth of propaganda. (Which by the way, shows their complete lack of comprehension of Al Jazeera - it is one of the most free press sources in the Arabic world and has even come under criticism from Arabic nations for its coverage of controversial topics. Yet, we want to run it out of business.) I for one do not want to be classified as one of his foot solidiers in this war on terrorism. Let's not forget that Peace Corps should be about promoting understanding regardless of political agendas at least not blatantly. And I wonder if Bush has ever read the goals of Peace Corps. Because I believe he forgot about the third one...bringing what you've learned back home so that people in the US have a better understanding. I think I'd like to sit down with Bush and fulfill my part of the third goal. Do you think he'd listen?

By Christine Berna, Kenya 1998-2000 on Friday, March 01, 2002 - 10:11 am: Edit Post

I agree with my fellow RPCV from Kenya, Carl Benander. The Republican party is partly based on the idea that the government shouldn't do for its people what the people can do for themselves. Isn't this the same sort of idea that we tried to embody in all of our PC projects overseas? How many of us were frustrated on a daily basis that the people we worked with wanted handouts instead of investing their time, energy and skills? I was a liberal democrat before I entered the Peace Corps but I am now Republican. Calling the Peace Corps a "liberal" organization is indeed ludicrous, just as much as calling President Bush the many negative things that so many people have posted here. Since I used to be democrat I can see how so many people don't like him, but if you take the time to truly understand how and why the Republican party acts the way it does you will at least come away with more respect for it even if you still disagree with them. Let's try to understand where people are coming from before we jump on the bandwagon and write them off carte blanche.

By Tom Murphy on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - 3:02 pm: Edit Post

Way to go, Christine and Carl! Painting the Peace Corps as liberal is as wrong as writing off old liberals with phrases like, "Anyone under 30 who isn't a liberal has no heart. Anyone over 30 who's still a liberal has no head." The democrat to republican conversion is quite common amoung those RPCVs who went because they cared deeply then who later STILL cared deeply but could now see that many capable people will take the fish or other handout rather than learn to fish or do other work. Ask any fish farmer PCV.

By Mary Bird on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 9:01 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps does not need a bunch of liberal idealists or "dreamers". We need realists and people who realize what's really going on in the world. Bush is a realist and thank god for that. He's out there to rid the world of terrorists, not just put on a good media show as Clinton so effectively did.
It's easy to be idealistic and liberal and believe that accomplishes anything. When one wakes up and realizes that actions are better than dreams and words, they become Republicans. People who attack our President for being stupid, make me realize that the media bias has obviously been forgotten by such media pawns.

By Ann Hannibal on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 11:41 am: Edit Post

Yes, there are many similarities between these two great men, however, we must keep in mind that Pres. Bush recommended infiltrating the PC into the "New Freedoms Act" which I and many others oppose vehemently. Also, we need to be wary about the "numbers game".

By Mark Burch on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 7:17 pm: Edit Post

George W. Bush is a madman seeking to start WWIII. The whole Bush family is an ongoing criminal enterprise. W needs to be impeached right away for criminal racketeering and crimes against humanity. Comparing him to JFK is absurd and is just another example of the corporate media sucking up to the right wing radicals that are trying to take over this country. They are the ideological inheritance of the Nazis. Read "Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party" by Chris Bellant.
Mark Burch, CAR FishHead 88-90

By Terry Adcock on Friday, March 15, 2002 - 2:41 am: Edit Post

President George W. Bush is compared by a Democrat-turned-Republican RPCV to an assassinated President, dead for almost 40 years.

How far behind the times can a current President be?

How transparent can a self-promoting pundit be?

By S. Willcox, RPCV India #32 on Tuesday, March 19, 2002 - 10:41 am: Edit Post

What about vision, intelligence, international respect and speaking ability? Bush is on an equal footing with Kennedy in those areas, too? Give me a break! My guess is that Bush thinks the Peace Corps is part of the Marine Corps.

By Audrey Lanier on Friday, April 11, 2003 - 9:39 pm: Edit Post

Geoge bush could never be like a JFK, in his wildest dreams. When JFK spoke the whole world would listen, most Americans can't stand to hear Geoge Bush talk, because he mispronounces words really bad.

By mike osborn (majoroz) (cache-mtc-ab06.proxy.aol.com - on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 7:14 pm: Edit Post

...that's bad"ly", Audrey.


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