John F. Kennedy

Happy days

Popular opinion may still support him as against the outrageous Republican alternative, and may yet conceal ... a growing and substantial dissatisfaction because of the meager results that have followed his magnificent promises, and because of the confusion and lack of direction that his rapidly shifting and self-contradictory program embodies. --"Is Roosevelt Slipping?" TNR, August 14, 1935. As President Clinton prepares to become the first two-term Democrat since FDR, commentators on the left and the right are busy expressing skepticism about his achievement.

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Stormin' Mormon

John Judis on Mitt Romney's 1994 challenge to Ted Kennedy.

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One Nation Under a Groove

  I.   My dream was to become Frank Sinatra. I loved his phrasing, especially when he was very young and pure….

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Hamalot

  The elect and the elected, Robert Lowell said in "Washington in Spring," come here bright as dimes, and stay until they are soft and disheveled. As if acting out the line, there was Edward Moore Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee, conjuring feelings of sympathy and support for Judge Bork every time he intervened. There is hardly a personal tragedy in the husk that he has so patently become, because there never was enough of a nut inside it for even a squirrel to nibble on.

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Cool Hand Duke

Michael Dukakis’s message to the Democratic Party is neither epic nor apocalyptic. He is not promising, like Joe Biden, to restore John F. Kennedy's spiritual days of glory or, like Richard Gephardt, to save the nation from impending economic serfdom to the Japanese and South Koreans.

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NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

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NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

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In his belated support for a day honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan predictably recalled the man as an inspiring—and innocuous—advocate of good will, brotherhood, and harmony. Such a carefully cropped portrait of Dr. King has gained wide popularity, perhaps because it enables the nation to create a comforting icon out of the career of a political iconoclast.

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The Powers That Be by David Halberstam (Knopf; $15) David Halberstam. Halberstam, that was what everybody called him (after all, it was his name). They always said what Halberstam needed was a good editor, his sentences ran on and on, he piled phrase upon phrase and clause upon clause, he used commas the way other men used periods.

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Kennedy the President

Edward Kennedy favors national health insurance, everybody knows. He also favors detente with Soviet Union, a break-up of the big oil companies, immediate normalization of relations with Communist-China, the Equal Rights Amendment and Medicaid-financed abortions. He doesn't think Russian mucking about in Africa should affect our willingness to negotiate arms limitation treaties. He co-sponsored the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment bill. He publicly criticizes human rights violations in Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Nicaragua, but prefers the "quiet approach" to the Soviet Union.

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