Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ross Douthat’s Vile and Vicious Column on JFK and Trump Marks Him Forever as Unfit to Publish in the NYT

How Can Any Publication Print His Lies and Distortions?

In a column in the Sunday NYT the headlines of Ross Douthat’s commentary is “The Missiles of August”.  This leads one to think it will be about the dreadful Trump rhetoric on North Korea, but instead its about John Kennedy and how he dealt with the Cuban missile crisis, which incidentally happened in October, not August.

Mr. Douthat says so many things that are either not true or distorted that it is difficult to know where to begin.  For instance, there is this.

In reality, the Cuban missile crisis was the kind of scenario many of us feared could follow the election of Donald Trump: An inexperienced president gets elected on promises of toughness and flagrant lies, makes a series of bad decisions that provoke escalation from our foes, at which point political considerations make him feel he can’t back down, and suddenly we’re staring at nuclear war.

Let’s start with inexperienced President.  Kennedy had been in Congress for six years, and was then elected to the Senate where he served for eight years.  Not exactly in-experienced was he?  Trump of course ducked out of serving in the military and had no prior experience at any level of government before become President.

Ok, what about this?

. . . he went ahead with a plan to place Jupiter missiles in Turkey, a provocative gesture that made the Soviets suspect that we were looking for opportunities for a nuclear first strike.

No, the missiles were obsolete and Kennedy planned to remove them.  Don’t you just hate it when facts get in the way of a good argument.

Well there is this.

Kennedy decided that while the missiles did not place the United States in greater military danger (a nuke is a nuke whether fired from Havana, Russia or a submarine off the U.S. coast), they created an unacceptable political problem for his presidential credibility. Thus the escalation that followed — the quarantine, the invasion threat, the nuclear brinksmanship.

Oh, so the Cuban missile crisis was just a political event.  No one worried that the missiles were 90 miles away?  No one believes this drivel except Douthat.

Wait, there’s more.

There are ways in which Donald Trump is a kind of Dorian Gray’s portrait of J.F.K. — with the same appetitiveness and clannishness (swap Ivanka for R.F.K.) and personal secrets (tax returns for Trump, medical records for Kennedy), but without the youthful looks and eloquence and a patina of intellectualism and idealism to clean those failings up.

Gosh, where to start?  Kennedy’s medical history did not affect his Presidency and not releasing info was consistent with practices at the time.  Trump’s tax return reflect his business dealings which affect his Presidency, and releasing them is consistent with long held practices.

And really, Ivanka is equivalent to Robert Kennedy?  An empty headed spoiled rich girl vs one of the towering figures of his time.  C’mon man!

Incredibly, Peggy Noonan the sycophantic opinion writer for the WSJ has it right on JFK and the Cuban crisis.

What is happening with North Korea is not analogous to what happened in 1962, except for the word crisis.  . . .

President Kennedy gave great and grave attention to reassuring a nation and world understandably alarmed by nuclear brinkmanship. Does Mr. Trump? Not in the least. . . . .

In that area, at least, there are useful lessons to be drawn from ’62. In that crisis, Kennedy was verbally careful. He never popped off, because he knew words had power and how they will be received is not always perfectly calculable. He knew he could not use language—fire and fury—that invited thoughts of nuclear war. . . .

JFK himself called the publisher of the New York Times , the president of the Washington Post and the owner of Time magazine to request pledges of cooperation and discretion. All agreed. He filled in his Republican predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, on the plan to blockade Cuba. “Whatever you do,” said Eisenhower, “you will have my support.”

Before his Oval Office speech announcing the blockade, JFK briefed congressional leaders of both parties with complete confidence. Military aircraft were sent for some of them.

And this garbage that somehow Ivanka is RFK?  Here’s what Noonan, the hard right Republican says.

Ten days into the crisis, the president asked his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, to meet privately with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin. The purpose was to make sure the Russians understood the gravity with which the Americans were approaching their decisions; they didn’t want the U.S. position misunderstood. Both men were tired, and Dobrynin at one point thought RFK was near tears. The U.S. military, he told the ambassador, was pressing hard to invade Cuba. The president would have to agree if Khrushchev didn’t take the missiles out now. Dobrynin said he didn’t know if the Politburo, deeply committed to its position, would back down. They were both telling the truth and lying. RFK was putting it all on the military, Dobrynin on the Politburo, but both were under pressure.

It was a private, high-stakes meeting held, successfully, in secret. Notes were not leaked.

Could any of this happen now?

Seriously, can anyone, anyone at all imagine Ivanka in such a meeting.  About all she could contribute is how her new fall line might be endangered if nuclear war broke out.

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