Are Obama Comparisons to JFK Unhealthy ‘Baby-Boomer Reminiscing'? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Are Obama Comparisons to JFK Unhealthy ‘Baby-Boomer Reminiscing'?

New York Times blogger Matt Bai argues that it's time to move forward instead of backward, as all the Kennedy comparisons do:

There's something unhealthy about all this Baby-Boomer reminiscing, because it forces Democrats always to look backward, to serve some unrealized ideal of government rather than a more modern and relevant vision of what government might become. There is a faint line between nostalgia and delusion, and with each passing year, those liberals who long for the reincarnation of their heroes seem ever closer to obliterating it.

In Mr. Obama's case, such comparisons are especially misguided (even when he himself is the one making them), because they would seem to contradict the very point of his campaign. Mr. Obama was born during John Kennedy's presidency and was 6 years old when RFK was killed, and thus he is the first presidential candidate of our time who wasn't shaped by assassination and war. (Mrs. Clinton was a college junior in 1968; Mr. Edwards was 15.) Mr. Obama's essential argument is that it is time for both parties to get past the 1960s already and to recognize that the new century demands a different kind of debate than the one in which Boomers have engaged for the last 30 years. Whether or not he actually has the skill and experience necessary to dislodge us from the past is the real question surrounding his improbable campaign.

It seems to me that Mr. Obama should stay away from Kennedy allusions, and perhaps Democratic voters will follow suit. After all, you can't really revive the era of Camelot and try to bury it at the same time.

Previous Comments

ID
116243
Comment

This blogger may indeed have a point. It is, however, a natural comparison. Whenever I hear Hillary shooting her mouth off about experience I immediately think of John and Robert Kennedy.

Author
msgrits
Date
2008-01-08T15:23:09-06:00
ID
116244
Comment

Yeah, good point, msgrits. She has very little actual experience, and much of that has been spent preparing herself to run for the presidency i.e. working on her moderate image. I'm telling you: political machine. In that, I don't find her much different from Barbour.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-01-08T15:30:26-06:00
ID
116245
Comment

Considering RFK and JFK didn't live up to their own post-mortem legends, I agree it's time for Democrats to move forward in life.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2008-01-09T08:29:36-06:00
ID
116246
Comment

I agree it is unhealthy to 60-ize Obama. Times are very much different now. Race relations, while still far from perfect, are considerably better than in the past. Notice that suburbanites don't complain much about having black neighbors merely because they're black (at least if they're solidly middle class - but once you bring that up, the question shifts to more economic status than race). What he's saying is that we need to end the Iraq War and to lift more Americans out of poverty. If elected, history will judge Obama by how he handles THIS day and ages problems. True, some of these 60s problems have yet to be fully resolved, but that does not change the fact that these are THIS day and ages ones.

Author
Philip
Date
2008-01-09T10:12:39-06:00
ID
116247
Comment

I'm not comfortable with the near-constant comparisons of Obama with people who were all assasinated in their prime.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2008-01-09T10:19:15-06:00
ID
116248
Comment

I think its inherently unfair to compare any one to anyone else. America has a baaaaad habit of doing it. We do it in sports, music, and now politics. Obama is the first OBAMA. JFK was JFK, Martin was MARTIN etc. We too often try to ressurect past glories when times are clearly different. unless youre performing surgery on me, building my house, babysitting my kids, or flying a plane and several other instances....Experience is overrated. Period. And in no other place is it most prevalent than in THIS race.

Author
Kamikaze
Date
2008-01-09T10:51:34-06:00
ID
116249
Comment

People draw comparisons to bring context to a situation or personality. i can appreciate the attempt to convey a broad spectrum ideas using the minimal act of comparison... i trust Obama not to get carried away with the comparison - and i wouldn't dodge the comparison either. He is a smart man. i wouldn't get too worked up about the harmful effects of reminiscing - language and understanding are processes. One moment it is a JFK comparison, the next an abstract idea of the first "online" president. It is all part of a broader attempt to create this leader while he in turn creates himself. Obama. The leader for 2008.

Author
daniel johnson
Date
2008-01-09T22:25:42-06:00
ID
116250
Comment

It's getting nasty: Clinton, Obama clash over race issue

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-01-13T18:02:50-06:00

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