BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: John F. Kennedy

Stoll on JFK Part III: Gold, Goldwater, libertarianism and more on anti-Communism

In a wide-ranging interview with Blaze Books in connection with his newest title, JFK, Conservative, Ira Stoll provided his insights on JFK’s political ideology, religiosity, foreign policy views and a whole host of other topics. Below is the final part of our interview, conducted via email. You can find Part I here and Part II here. The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

In your book you indicate that JFK took a number of public stances that were fiscally and monetarily conservative. Who were some of the thinkers that influenced his economic philosophy?

Stoll: His father was a successful businessman who was quite concerned about the flow of gold. His Treasury Secretary, Douglas Dillon, was a Wall Street Republican who wanted tax cuts. Kennedy’s friend Phil Graham, the owner and publisher of the Washington Post, was also pushing Kennedy for tax cuts to spur economic growth. I also detect in Kennedy’s speeches the influence of a libertarian writer named Albert Jay Nock, author of a book called Our Enemy, the State and of an introduction to Herbert Spencer’s The Man Versus the State, both of which were on Kennedy’s bookshelf.

How do we reconcile the more leftist items on Kennedy’s agenda such as increased social spending with his ideological principles?

Stoll: Increased social spending wasn’t an item on Kennedy’s agenda, at least not in any significant way that he fought for or achieved while in office. He gave a speech or two in favor of Medicare and for increased aid to education, but liberals within the administration were disappointed that instead of pushing for those things he focused on free trade and the tax cuts. Anyway, one can be for a modest government safety net for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill, and for efforts to expand opportunity to the young through education, as Kennedy was and as many conservatives are even today, while still being skeptical of or resistant to the excesses of the ever-expanding federal welfare state.

Read more at TheBlaze…

Ira Stoll on JFK Part II: Catholicism, social programs, Joseph, Robert and Teddy Kennedy

In a wide-ranging interview with Blaze Books in connection with his newest title, JFK, Conservative, Ira Stoll provided his insights on JFK’s political ideology, religiosity, foreign policy views and a whole host of other topics. Below is Part II of our interview, conducted via email. You can find Part I here. The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

One of the big focuses of your book is on JFK’s religiosity: How do we reconcile his devout Catholicism with his personal failings? How did JFK’s religiosity influence his politics?

Stoll: One possibility is that Kennedy was so diligent about Mass and confession and daily prayers and meatless Fridays because he knew he was sinning and felt a need to compensate for it or confess. I do argue in the book that Kennedy saw the Cold War as, as he put it in a speech in the 1960 campaign, “a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies; freedom under God versus ruthless, Godless tyranny.” In a 1955 speech, he spoke of the Cold War as “the battle for the preservation of Christian civilization.” There’s a lot of evidence given in the book that this was really what Kennedy thought — it wasn’t just rhetoric.

Speak a bit to JFK’s relationship with Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Stoll: In 1953 Kennedy voted with McCarthy and Barry Goldwater to cut U.S. aid to countries that traded with Communist China. Liberals like Albert Gore Sr. and Hubert Humphrey opposed the measure. Kennedy attended McCarthy’s wedding, and Kennedy was absent when the Senate voted to condemn McCarthy. Robert Kennedy had worked on McCarthy’s Senate staff.

Read more at TheBlaze…

Ira Stoll on JFK Part I: Tax cuts, tough on military, tough on communists, attacked by left-wingers

In a wide-ranging interview with Blaze Books in connection with his newest title, JFK, Conservative, Ira Stoll provided his insights on JFK’s political ideology, religiosity, foreign policy views and a whole host of other topics. Below is Part I of our interview, conducted via email. The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

What inspired you to write this book?

Stoll: I grew up in Massachusetts and went to Harvard, and so it was hard to avoid the Kennedys. When the JFK Presidential Library opened in Boston, I went with my parents, with my high school, with my Boy Scout troop. As I got older, I heard my conservative friends dismissing all Kennedys as a bunch of drinkers and philanderers, and I heard my liberal friends admiring JFK for what I thought were the wrong reasons. So I wrote this book to set both the conservatives and the liberals straight and to restore an accurate picture of Kennedy.

Why should skeptical conservatives read this book?

Stoll: This book is the antidote to the false story put out by liberal Kennedy historians and journalists after the president’s death that Kennedy was a liberal. If you want to understand tax cuts and economic growth and peace through strength, you’ve got to understand Kennedy. Even if you think you don’t like JFK, you should buy and read this book — it may well change your mind. It explains why President Ronald Reagan talked about Kennedy as his inspiration for his tax cuts and military buildup. The only way to correct the distortions put out by the liberal historians in their bestselling JFK books — distortions I point out in my book — is to make this book a bestseller.

Read more at TheBlaze…

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