A Fair and Balanced Blog…

In a previous post I challenged… Bill O’Reilly on the lack of historical scholarship(like using primary sources) displayed in his book Killing Lincoln.  The essence of the post was that the discipline of history is not something that can be picked up like a hobby.  Other journalists have written history books well and O’Reilly’s did not measure up.  In the name of bipartisanship(which is lacking in our society)  I can declare today that Bill O’Reilly is not alone in his amateurish attempt at historical writing.  MSNBC host Chris Matthews throws his hat into the ring with Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

American Liberals have always… worshiped John Kennedy for some reason.  Kennedy was a hawkish, conservative Democrat who defeated Nixon in 1960 by accusing him of being “soft” on communism(the same Nixon who cut his political teeth grilling Alger Hiss before HUAC.)  The dreams of Camelot,  confounded by the sudden horror of assassination,  followed by the anguish of our collective mourning have all served to shroud Kennedy’s presidency in myth.  Historians like Bob Dallek,   Gary Wills , and Michael O’Brien have written objective,  scholarly studies of Kennedy’s life over the past decade.  A clearer, more even- handed picture of Kennedy has emerged which places Matthews’ book in an awkward position.  It seems as if the host of Hardball wants to revert the Kennedy discussion back to the realm of mythology…

Historically accurate? Eeeeeeh….

Chris Matthews has written a book… that is rife with historical errors.  Robert Francis Kennedy was the President’s brother and JFK was the 35th President of the United States.  Matthews, like O’Reilly claim that this is nitpicking and easily fixed by editors.  How many edits does a book need?  Do the writers proofread or fact check themselves?  I digress…

Matthews fails his readers …with suspect historical interpretation.  The Cuban Missile Crisis is far too complicated to be summarized by claiming Kennedy was surrounded by hawks, but still saved the world from nuclear destruction.  Has Chris read Thirteen Days?  Maybe he should watch The Missiles of October    Kennedy did not rule out any course of action.  It is true, as Matthews claims, he was pragmatic; but his pragmatism included a willingness to defend American interests.  Kennedy would have used force if  necessary.  The Soviets blinked on the quarantine line and RFK manipulated a deal behind closed doors, crisis averted… This is part of the larger, but erroneous belief that Kennedy was really a dove who wished to coexist with the Soviets…

Hero worship can be dangerous… when taken to this extent.  Matthews allows his devotion to the Kennedy mystique to blind him to the historical reality.  Scholarship must win the day….

Do you really know who I am ?

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3 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Ephemera

3 responses to “A Fair and Balanced Blog…

  1. NEO

    I always thought JFK to be an OK at best president, although better than LBJ was, at least in some ways. But I’ve also always thought that the missile crises wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t botched the Bay of Pigs so badly. It should have either been called off or followed up. Anything but leaving it stranded on the beach, really. That sort of reminds me of Obama, but he did good on the missile crises, hard to see how it could have been handled better really, once it happened.

    But a demi-god? Hardly.

    • Strange that Liberals hold JFK up, but not LBJ… Johnson was the true New Deal Democrat, Kennedy was a moderate… he even ran to the right of Nixon on foreign policy in 1960

      • NEO

        He did indeed, in our terms, he wasn’t really liberal at all, pretty much middle of the road, overall. He did have, and I suspect what appeals to them, a very charismatic personality, though.

        And other than the Navy, as little administrative experience as Obama himself, but he did listen somewhat better.

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