There is a popular argument that JFK was only famous for getting assassinated and that during his actual term in office, he didn’t get much done.
Let’s look at that in depth here.
- He put in the nuclear test ban treaty.
- He did a lot of work for civil rights. Instead critics downgrade his civil rights bill as something he didn’t take a stand for until just before the end of his term and then not being able to pass. But they leave out that he electrified the populace to reach for Democratic ideals via civil rights.
- He handled the US Steel crisis very well.
- He inspired the country with his physical fitness campaign.
- He issued a call to public service with his Peace Corps program.
- He handled the Cuban Missile Crisis expertly. The revisionist view is that if it weren’t for the Bay of Pigs, there would have been no Cuban Missile Crisis.
- His defense of Berlin which made resulted in the subsequent Vienna meeting and the allowed us t eke out a win in a situation where we were heading towards failure.
- He presided over an economy that grew at a faster rate than any time since the Roosevelt era.
- He passed more legislation than any President since the FDR era.
- He initiated the Alliance for Progress in Latin America.
- His New Frontier project.
- He worked with Khrushchev to achieve detente in US-Soviet relations.
- Towards the end of his term Kennedy even sought rapprochement with Cuba.
- He was the first President who agreed with Keynesian economics. He pulled us out of a recession using that model, creating growth via the extra spending. He cut taxes from 90
- He curbed J. Edgar Hoover’s excessive and corrupt power by making him have to report to Robert F. (Bobby) Kennedy. Kennedy and his brother protected Blacks, including Martin Luther King, from being lynched in Mississippi and also prevented riots there. He got James Meredith into the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). He significantly increased the number of Blacks in federal job positions, ending racial discrimination in the federal government.
- Via Bobby Kennedy, he waged war on the Mafia (despite the staunch opposition of J. Edgar Hoover) and curbed Hoover’s silly paranoid McArthyite campaign against suspected communists.
- He was a huge supporter of social programs and boosted spending and access there.
- He inspired the nation with the space race.
JFK was the greatest president of the 20th Century along with FDR and Teddy Roosevelt, beating out Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Bill Clinton, and LBJ. Where JFK was as sophisticated and knowledgeable about foreign policy as anyone who ever held the office, LBJ showed total ignorance through his actions, even while knowing better from the start.