Does Kennedy Deserve to Be Recognised as a Great President?

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Does Kennedy deserve to be regarded as a great president?

Does Kennedy deserve to be regarded as a great president?
There is no one theory on John F Kennedy; there have been numerous books written on Kennedy since his assassination in Dallas, Texas, in 1963. Cal McCrystal of the Independent points out that there has been a mixture of hagiography, vendetta, gossip, acuity, sympathy and scholarly detachment, and range through the late President's competence, stamina, physical health, sexual adventures, his wealth and of course his dealings when it came to foreign affairs. Kennedy seemed to be the first of a new breed of president; he was not so much a politician but a celebrity; to judge whether or not he can be regarded as great presidency we must look at his actions as a politician on both the foreign and domestic fronts. Kennedy’s presidency and the nature in which it ended has left the presidency one that is difficult to judge; throughout his presidency it seems as though he is waiting for his second term before he really acts in order to change America. As Robert Dallek says we are left with a “want of landmark legislation” which makes it difficult to judge Kennedy’s presidency. Kennedy did enjoy small successes in domestic policy, such as the minimum wage act, the redevelopment act, the Man power and training act, and the higher education act. The problem is that there is no evidence of landmark legislation and that the policies he passed in government were actually compromised due to his inability to control the Senate. More radical political issues such as education, civil rights, poverty, trade and healthcare were largely untouched and unchanged despite acts that were designed to address the issues; it was only when a charismatic leader like Lyndon B Johnson, who had complete control over the Senate, came to power that the important issues were addressed. The mere fact that Kennedy was unable to control the Senate is fundamental evidence against Kennedy’s claim to be a great president. The fact of the matter is that Kennedy’s failure to control the senate ultimately ended up with his presidency being one littered with failure.

When Kennedy entered government in 1960 he had two main issues to deal with; the first was the issue of unemployment which was at 6.5% and the second was the problem of inflation which stood at 3.5%. Kennedy felt that inflation would prevent the progress of the American economy; he was afraid that with the US dollar costing less an individual would have less purchasing power which would, in turn, slow the economy down; thus, he wanted to keep inflation low. This motive of Kennedy’s led to a clash with the US steel executives who wanted to raise steel prices which would lead to country wide inflation. Kennedy told the steel executives to keep prices down; Dallek recalls how they “agreed 1000 percent”. It seemed as though Kennedy had successfully kept inflation down for the benefit for the whole of the country; however on the 10th of April the steel companies went against Kennedy and announced a 3.5% percent price hike. This shows how Kennedy was disrespected by such a prominent part of the American economy and how he was completely ignored; thus feeding the argument that as a young president he never had the respect that a great president would have had. Kennedy’s reaction to the incident was, however, brilliant. At a meeting with Blough, a chief executive of the Steel company, he cursed and screamed at him exclaiming “You-double-crossed me!” Kennedy had to act decisively; the steel executives actions would lead to an economic slowdown and the trade unions felt betrayed. Dallek says that Kennedy’s reaction was to start “plotting the campaign to force capitulation”. Kennedy, in a press conference, denounced their actions as “a wholly unjustifiable and irresponsible defiance of the public interest.” With the 73% approval rate backing of the public Kennedy used the FBI...
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