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Chris Matthews on JFK: My Take

by John on 03/23/2012

Chris Matthews definitely pays homage to JFK in his book, “Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero“.  But it has relevance to the 2012 presidential election candidates too. 


It’s worth the read if you want a nice romp through 20th Century U.S. political history from the Kennedy perspective including some of JFK’s closest buddies.


However, it’s not worth reading if you’re looking for juicy details on JFK’s affairs.  Matthews does not avoid JFK’s “girling”, as he called it.  But he doesn’t delve into them either.  Marilyn Monroe isn’t mentioned.


It’s also not a scholarly read.  It’s a journalist’s account from those who knew JFK through his life.  You get the feeling Matthews was worried some of these guys, now in their 80s, might not have more chances to tell their stories and cement JFK’s place in history.


For a more in-depth historical view of Kennedy, I would suggest two books: Robert Dalleck’s “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963” and Richard Reeves’ “Portrait of Camelot”.


Granted, Matthews, the MSNBC TV host and political analyst, with his own show “Hard Ball”, is a strong apologist for  the Democrats.  But Matthews hits on some key lessons that are useful today.


The first is that JFK was no liberal.  In fact, he was a strong anti-Communist and, some would say, a fiscal conservative.  Like today, a Democrat can only get elected to the White House if he has some middle of the road or right-leaning views.


Second, JFK was a lot like Romney.  He knew he wanted to be President of the United States — and set out to achieve that goal.  Like Romney, he also lost his first attempt, but learned from it.  I am not saying Romney is going to win this November, but like Kennedy, he learned how to play the delegate game.  In 1956, Kennedy realized he had not  fostered the relationships around the country that would get him the delegates to seal the nomination.  Whatever you say about Romney that is one lesson he has learned — as you witness his lead in delegates.


If you’ve read this book, give me your take.

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