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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Fall of the House of Kennedy

The 112th congress is the first congress in half a century without a Kennedy on board. And the first glimpse of a Republican landslide came with the backlash over the "Kennedy seat" in Massachusetts. As it turned out, it wasn't the Kennedy seat, it was the people's seat. And it wasn't the Kennedy congress, it is the people's congress.

What was once a family on the verge of creating an expansive political dynasty in two branches of government, barely had enough clout to convince A&E not to air a scandalous miniseries about their family. Which is a pity, because the Kennedy family long ago became little more than entertainment, their scandals making them no different than any other group of celebrities. And that seems an altogether fitting end to their deliberate self-iconization.

The Kennedys were not the first political family, and they won't be the last, but they were notorious for how little they did to deserve their fame and iconic status. The combination of democratic machine politics and liberal idealization turned JFK into an icon without context. Media manipulation had elevated him to the rank of the great presidents, Washington, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts, but unlike those men, JFK had not taken the country through a crisis. He had hardly done very much beyond stamping his name on a ghostwritten book, which was awarded the Pulitzer, and then playing the part of the eager young Senator.

In life, JFK would have inevitably become an embarrassment, as the combined weight of his inexperience and the behind the scene scandals would have imploded his image and his leadership. And even if that had not happened, the Vietnam War would have done the job. However in death he became another icon. The martyr embodying the hopes of a liberal America gunned down in cold blood. The sheer ideological inconvenience of the murder of a liberal icon at the hands of a radical socialist like Lee Harvey Oswald helped keep the conspiracy theory machine going, as movies like JFK reinvented the assassination as a right-wing plot. The ugly truth that JFK had been killed by the left, not the right, was too much to bear.

Had the mainstream liberals who backed JFK learned the true lesson of his murder, they might have been less baffled by the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the furious anti-war rallies and the cup of madness that their children would drink from. Even a quick look into the future and the chants of "Hey hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today" and "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Viet Cong is Going to Win", should have understood exactly what brought about the end of Camelot. To liberals, LBJ might have been the great hope, but those on the left like Lee Harvey Oswald, he was nothing more than another fascist pig.

That there is an entire industry of conspiracies dedicated to preventing people from seeing that picture (quick count how many Kennedy conspiracy theories involve the right and how many involve the left) is a testament to the power of the JFK myth. A myth that overshadowed the man all his life and covered him up entirely in death. The myth, among other things, made it possible to artificially segregate history, denying the continuity of events with the Fall of Camelot. The good America before Kennedy and the bad one after him. And it was a myth too big to leave any room for the rest of the Kennedy family.

The Fall of the House of Kennedy is a study in how one myth captures another, as the death of Kennedy came to symbolically represent the failure of liberal policies. Of course those policies would have failed regardless, but the linkage gave the failure a mythic force, as if were not the intellectual flaws that brought them down, but astrological ones. As if Hope alone would have made all the difference.

Myths are so often used to shield the underlying flaws of a system, and the myth of Camelot is no different. It has passed its expiration date only because the need for it has passed. The revised history now describes the pre-Kennedy America as the bad place, and the post-Kennedy America as the good place. Mad Men is only another bucket in that deep well of another myth, another segregation of history into the good times and the bad times. The good times being defined by the counterculture and the bad times by conformity and people who wore suits. This myth is essentially triumphal, it toots the progressive horn for breaking free of stifling moral codes and character. In this version of the myth, the assassinations of JFK and RFK and MLK serve as a release of creative energy, a crucifixion of saviors for a New Age.

But myths are dangerous things. They give us power, and take away reason. Western liberals can hardly seem to go on without a cloak of myth anymore. Or more than one. And that blindness has made them very dangerous, to those they propose to rule and to themselves.

The Loughner killings has drawn RFK Jr to come out and condemn on all the dangerous "toxic right-wing vitriol". In his article he draws heavily on the tragic death of his uncle, calls Dallas "the center of extreme right wing" and spills reams of purple ink about "the forces of right-wing hatred and violence". There's only one minor problem. His uncle was shot by a Communist defector who boasted about being a radical socialist as a teenager. For all of RFK's Jesus Camp prose, his uncle was not murdered by the right wing, but by the left.

47 years later, even the nephew of the man himself has still not learned that the left is far more dangerous than the right. The right as a conservative force wants a stable society. (The progressive right as exemplified by the Nazis on the other hand is quite dangerous because it doesn't seek a return to older values, but an entirely new system.) The progressive left wants to topple that society to replace it with their vision of utopia, which ricochets somewhere between tyranny and anarchy. (The conservative left is less unstable, but still dangerous as seen in the former Soviet Union.) The opposition to JFK came from the collision of culture with counterculture, but in the end it was the counterculture that killed him.

It is always the less stable element that is the more dangerous one. The progressive driving force is more explosive in relation to social kinetic energy, than the potential energy of the conservatives. And the left is the uranium 235 of politics. It always wants change, for the sake of change. And that change always carries a moral price tag. To refuse to change is to be guilty of tyranny, of oppression and the monstrous crime of squaredom. Of obstructing the aims and agendas of angry people who are certain that their way is right and that anything less than their way is equal to the worst crimes of history. We have seen that unstable energy time and time again. It is the reason why in the 20th century two presidents were murdered by leftist extremists.

RFK Jr calls for an examination of conscience and everyone from Obama on down is echoing the downshift tone. But it is not reconciliation that we need. It is truth. American liberals have spent far too much time lying to each other and themselves, not to mention the rest of the country. The House of Kennedy has fallen, but the myths live on. With the rise of JFK, liberals traded in their political instincts for religious ones, attending at the cults of presidents. Obama is their greatest success story and their greatest failure.

It is not divisiveness that should concern us. Our divisiveness is our democratic strength. We are not a conformity or a hive. Nor are we a polite debating society. We are not students in a schoolroom or subject at the feet of the throne, we are the owners and masters of our system of government. And when government doesn't please us, we treat its officials like employees, not like lords and masters. And that is as it should be. It is not this that threatens us, but the distortion of history into myth. To know who we are requires that we know where we came from. To understand the present, we must understand the past.

22 comments:

lemon said...

I always felt badly for Rose Kennedy. She suffered so much.

Rachel said...

Eh, Robert should know that the heroin he was busted with is far more toxic than any Right wing rhetoric--and his wife's driving under the influence of said drugs could definately take more lives. As for Dallas being the center of right wing extremism--I live in Housten, and that's too funny. I don't know why libs hate Texans so much, but they are not stereotypical right-wingers.

lemon--notice how none of the Kennedy women ever stepped out of line after that 'accident' with Rosemary....

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Heroin somehow seems to be go with blogging at the Huffington Post

mindRider said...

I do not know your age, but from the article on the Kennedy's I guess you did not live that era consciously. I am by no means left wing or left sympathetic nor was I in my youth but JFK and his team where magic, especially after the dull Eisenhower years. JFK's speeches where all of at least the level of Obama's Arizona speech if not even more compelling and much more "uniting" and of greater depth than the latter's. Of course the media of the time where soft on his administration for the private life scandals but on the other hand it remains debatable wether a presidents private sex life is of any influence on his public effectiveness. That JFK did not solve a crisis is outright un true as the Cuban missile crisis was one hell of a crisis that well could have ended civilisation.

lemon said...

I don't want to let this post get hijacked on the subject, but suffice it to say what happened with the daughter was a complete mishap,not something intentional . In those times the operation was little understood.

Allen said...

Thanks David. What an incredibly well written analysis of the "myth" and why it exists. I believe the Loughner killings have exposed the progressive left in a way they have never been exposed before. They were unable to turn this into a right-wing killing for now, but I fear they have tainted enough people to believe it was; and, just as many still believe JFK's killing was a right-wing conspiracy, many will never be convinced Loughner was not influenced by the right. A crazed victim of the shootings has already been arrested for death threats thrown at the leader of the AZ TeaParty, after the victim publicly let it be known he believed Palin and Beck, and surprisingly, Sharron Angle were responsible. I was puzzled when he accused Angle, but then I remembered she had been mentioned by someone in the media's rush to accuse the right. Has Sheriff Dupnik foolishly incited violence from the crazed left? I wonder if they will make the connection to what they erroneously spouted and the actions of this confused man? Probably not. And, I fear, years from now there will still be people who believe Loughner was influenced by the right.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Allen, the left makes a point of hanging on to these conspiracies. Some of them will still go back to 2000 and claim that Bush was never elected, except by the Supreme Court.


mindrider, magic is a matter of emotional influence. And choosing to be influenced is a matter of choice. The Cuban Missile Crisis was created by JFK's own initial failure and hardly solved, just sidelined with a behind the scenes compromise that made JFK look good.

Anonymous said...

An interesting article to say the least and came upon it at Canadian Free Press. Having lived through the JFK period and obviously beyond I can say that the article in and of itself is very inaccurate. It is an article based on opinion and absolutely nothing of fact.

JFK did bring the US through a crisis and that was the Cuban Missle Crisis, which was very real to the American People. I can only assume that most of you are not old enough to have to duck and dive under your desk at school in preparation of nuclear war.

RFK was the last hope of the young American people and fought vigorously for civil rights.

It has always been common knowledge these two men were womanizers. And brother Teddy the worst of the bunch sold his sole at Chappaquicik. After that he was 'owned', turned Commie and did nothing constructive for the Republic but sell it down the river.

The Kennedy children that are left are a rag tag bunch of druggies and what all. There are few worthy of mention but most are given to the Lefty way of worldview.

Thanks for your time and only my opinion based on what is saw growing up. Linda

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Comments like the one above only showcase the pervasiveness of the Camelot myth and how strong its pull is.

HermitLion said...

Daniel,

Don't be an inaccurate fool that sells his sole to a shoe-maker: the Kennedys where obviously magical heroes fighting shadow dragons, because everyone who believes they where, says so.

Just like Stalin saved the world from the Martian pod-walkers, and Genghis Khan protected us all from the carnage of skull-pile rain.

Apparently having an opinion that's founded on glamor and spin, is somehow more factual now. No wonder hard sciences suffer so badly.

canman said...

The biggest myth is that LHO killed JFK. If the assassination was treated as a routine homicide, murder by gunshot, and all the normal investigating techniques and forensics were applied, then LHO would have been eliminated as a suspect. In this case the lone suspect was determined to be guilty by none other than J Edgar Hoover literally within hours after the crime and before any meaningful investigation had begun. From that point on all exculpatory evidence was dismissed, ignored, suppressed or altered. The manufactured case against LHO could never survive in a courtroom. If LHO himself had not been murdered, long before any trial took place the authorities would have had to concede that they had no case against him.

Cheryl Meril said...

With all do respect, the Kennedy's are about a dream and not of this world. They were killed off by Satanic dark forces because their dreams for America's future were too much for some in the military complex such as JFK's intent to do away with the CIA, Federal Reserve and Viet Nam war.

Therefore, you can't really judge the family that was killed off by evil people. If you want to be critical, you should properly be of those people like LBJ, Nixon and the Bush family dynasty.

I lived in that time period and JFK inspired love and vision. He wasn't a typical liberal. America's forefathers were classic liberals of independence. Today's liberals are mutated and corrupt because they never rose up to defeat the elements of the coup that overthrew JFK and the path he was paving for a new America to be free of the Federal Reserve bankers and CIA shadow government.

So with all due respect, I disagree with your point of view of this family and want to add you don't have evidence of any heart and soul in your observations. It's a very worldly point of view.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Hermitlion, as is often the case, satire is rendered redundant by the actual thing

Cheryl, the Kennedy family were dark forces. They got to power by stealing an election, practiced outrageous nepotism, had mob ties, used the IRS against conservative organizations and oh yes, the patriarch of the clan was a Nazi sympathizer. And the family has spawned a few too many murderers.

They weren't a dream, they were a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

I read the article you linked to about the A&E mini series. The last line says it all about the arrogance of the Kennedys.

"The Kennedys prefer to write their own scripts, the better to keep dramatic interpretation strictly in the family."

Debra

Anonymous said...

The author states," . . .but unlike those men, JFK had not taken the country through a crisis".

I disagree--
The Bay of Pigs wasn't a "crisis"?
The Vietnam War wasn't a crisis?
The Cuban missile CRISIS wasn't a crisis?
Navigating civil rights politics wasn't a crisis?

Obviously, JFK had a flawed character. But he definitely did face more than one crisis during his short presidency.
--K.G.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Kennedy took the country took the Vietnam War? How exactly did he do that.

The Bay of Pigs wasn't a crisis, it was a disaster that happened on his watch and that he did nothing about.

HermitLion said...

Daniel,

While I wanted to express some support against this uprising of true-believers, the comment about 'Satanic dark forces' really did make all satire redundant.

It is a fine example of how building a cult of personality has an outlasting effect. Fifty years from now, some poor schmo may have to somehow fend off hordes of loyal Obama-thralls, all telling him how the greatest American leader that ever lived had single handedly defeated Islam, with a sword made of fossilized mammoth horn (the famous 'bay of sheiks' incident), and burnt the racist, devil-written constitution (phrases of which repeatedly amount to 666 in numerology).

Oh, there I went with the satire again. Sorry, must be the Jewish blood.

Anonymous said...

Civli rights was not a crisis. The Bay of Pigs was a crisis, brought about by Kennedy's refusal to stand by the Cuban people.

As someone who lived through the Kennedy era until today, RFK wasn't the last or any other hope any young people, except leftist extremists, the same people who admired communism and couldn't admit a communist had killed JFK.

I look forward to all Democrat Party politicians completing the Kennedy legacy by abolishing the Federal Reserve. (Isn't that the goal of those nut job libertarians?)

The US still suffers from the ugly legacy of Kennedy lies about their sexuality, their crimes, their hateful propaganda.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Hermit, why even now we're told that Obama has changed everything. That's the problem with cults of personality, they fill an emotional need and sideline rational decision making.

Anonymous, exactly true

mindRider said...

The Bay of Pigs was a disaster, however the plan for this invasion had already been hatched under Eisenhowers administration and Kennedy did NOT want to get involved in an outright war with Cuba and decided that the Cuban emigrants could go at it themselves but without committing American manpower support. These coup planners even though they had gotten American guns and equipment, overestimated their own strength and lost when Cuba put up a strong resistance to the invasion.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

And Kennedy's inaction made it a disaster, and forced him to face down Cuba anyway, the second time around.

Anonymous said...

Canman,

Heh, heh - the evidence that LHO killed Kennedy is utterly overwhelming. Why do you not accept the cold, hard evidence? I know that the simplest explanation does not appeal to you, so you look for a more complicated explanation that fits your world view, but that's what happened. Are you one of these people who believes 'JFK' is a documentary, and not a drama? Here's a tip - IT'S A MOVIE. You'll be telling me next we didn't go to the moon, or that the twin towers were hit by mossad and taken down in a controlled demolition by Bush's black ops guys. Or, please don't tell me - The Evil Jooz run the world?! Jesus...grow up...get out of the faculty lounge.

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