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Overrated

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For those of us who did not experience Boomer nostalgia, it’s hard to understand the obsession with JFK, especially since Lyndon Johnson was a better president in every conceivable way. One can argue that had Kennedy stuck around longer, he would have adopted the pro-civil rights platform of Johnson, but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t. Of course, no one expected Johnson to do so and then he did, which is part of why he is so remarkable, along with his genuine hatred of poverty that Kennedy didn’t really share. And it’s very difficult to see Kennedy not going down the same road as Johnson in Vietnam. Now, Kennedy didn’t share Johnson’s personal pathologies, but he had pathologies of his own. And remember, Kennedy was best buds with Joe McCarthy in the Senate and ran for president in 1960 attacking Nixon from the right on national defense. None of this is to say that Kennedy was a terrible president or a terrible person, but it is to say that outside of just living through a young president being assassinated, I struggle to understand why his assassination was such a generation-transforming moment.

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