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Posted by on Feb 4, 2008 in Politics | 1 comment

The Kennedying of Obama: Cautionary Note

In the desperation to be rid of Bush, this has become a year of imagery shorthand. While any Republican with a pulse claims to be another Reagan, Barack Obama is seen as a new JFK.

There are parallels. As Nixon did in 1960, Hillary Clinton is invoking her experience during the eight-year tenure of a popular president. But in both cases, the actual occupant of the Oval Office undermined the chances of his would-be successor.

Eisenhower did nothing as blatant as Bill Clinton’s campaign antics but, in trying to help his Vice-President in 1960, he asserted that Nixon played a major role during his terms in office. Asked at a press conference about any piece of advice he had heeded, Eisenhower answered, “If you give me a week, I might think of one.”

In that campaign, as Frank Rich reminds us, neither could Kennedy point to any significant achievement in his brief Senate career, but what he offered was change in a time when Americans were ready but not as desperate as they are now for new, younger leadership.

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