Peggy Noonan desperately tries to find something nice to say about John F. Kennedy, because he was assassinated and because he was the only Roman Catholic U.S. President:
Two small points. It is interesting that JFK was celebrated as the first modern president, the first truly hip president, and yet the parts of him we celebrate most are actually the old virtues. He lied to get into the military, not to get out of it. He was sick, claimed to be well, and served as a naval officer in the war. In the postwar years he was in fairly constant physical pain, but he got up every day and did his demanding jobs. He played hurt. He was from a big, seemingly close family and seemed very much the family man himself. What we liked most about him wasn’t hip.
And he was contained. He operated within his own physical space and was not florid or mawkish or creepily domineering in his physical aspect.
. . . . . .
He didn’t hug the other pols on the platform, he didn’t give a big man-hug to the others on the dais, he didn’t kiss everyone and point at the audience and give them a thumbs-up. He didn’t act, he just was. Like a grownup. Like a person with dignity. Like a person with public boundaries who is an actor but not a phony.
Seriously? I’d never call a serial (some would also say sociopathically predatory) womanizer “contained. . . within his own physical space.” In fact, “creepily domineering in his physical aspect” is exactly what I’d call him, given all of the stories that have come out about him in the past several years. To wit:
The well-supported story of Mimi Alford, a nineteen-year-old White House intern at the time of her involvement with JFK, is impossible to overlook. Initiated into JFK’s sexual world just four days into her internship, Alford lost her virginity to Kennedy as he conducted what can only be called a deeply inappropriate affair with a young charge; it even included a Kennedy-directed episode of oral sex with aide Dave Powers while Kennedy watched. This behavior, barely hidden from others within the White House and involving government resources to shuttle Alford to and from the traveling president, has caused some to question Kennedy’s basic fitness for the highest office.
More here. This is just one of dozens of well-documented incidents in which the president failed to act “like a grownup. Like a person with dignity. Like a person with public boundaries.” I’ll give Noonan this, though: she’s right when she says that Kennedy displays “the old virtues.” Droit du seigneur is very old school, if no longer celebrated by most as a “virtue.”
Also please note the fairly explicit fear of the Big Dog in Noonan’s fake nostalgia for JFK. That’s what that dig about lying to “get out of” military service is all about, not to mention the complaint about “florid or mawkish” presidents who are prone to deliver the “big man-hug.” Looks like we’re gonna party like it’s 1993 for the next three years!
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