President John F. Kennedy

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There is something about John F. Kennedy. Could it be his

charisma and charm that still entrances America? Maybe it

is his elevated status as a pop culture icon that bedazzles

most American citizens. It might be the martyr status he

attained through his tragic assassination that makes

American culture revere him as a President. Whatever the

reason is that defines John F. Kennedy as probably one of

the most beloved Presidents in American History; one

assumption by many is that it has nothing to do with his

political legacy. Many respected historians will tell you that

he has an insubstantial political legacy. Using the body of

legislation that was passed during his short time in office as

evidence, historians say that significant legislation was

lacking. More than likely they will remark about his

emphasis on rhetoric and his deficient action. On the other

hand, many historians and writers contend his political

legacy reverberates to this very day. They claim that

through his mastery of that novel medium of his day,

Television, his inclusion of culture into the office of

President, and most of all his idealism, echoes in today's

political atmosphere. In total, the latter argument is actually

stronger. Although JFK does lack substantial legislation

that would bolster a claim to a significant political legacy, in

other ways John F. Kennedy has such an intense political

legacy that to this very day the Presidency of the United

States cannot escape it. In respect to truly monumental

legislation, John F. Kennedy does lack and therefore the

people who say he does not have a true political legacy

have a point. These critics believe a true political legacy is

in what the President has accomplished legislatively in the

White House. With Kennedy, they state he was more talk

than action. They do concede it was not truly do to his lack

of initiative. He did have many proposals, but because he

was dealing with a Congress that was very strong and

composed of a Southern Democrats/Republican majority,

he had a hard time. (Kilpatrick, 51) So proposals like

federal aid to education, the creation of a Department of

Urban Affairs, and Medicare were shot down. (Kilpatrick,

53). To drum up support for them, Kennedy had to

convince the public and gain their support. That's where

Kennedy's famous rhetoric comes in. The talk may have

later led the American public to support the mentioned

proposals in the Johnson years, but in JFK's years they did

nothing but make his critics say he was a lot of talk and no

action. Yet John F. Kennedy did have some significant

legislation passed through Congress, and even got

accomplishments done around Congress' back. One

achievement is when John F. Kennedy formed the Peace

Corps. (Sorensen, 256) Another was the giving of federal

support to the arts, which was done through executive

orders. (Kilpatrick, 54) Economically, his tax cut resonates

in the policy of former President Reagan. In fact, when

tallying the recommendations Kennedy sent to the 87th

Congress, of the 107 he sent 73 were enacted into law,

with measures dealing with water pollution, mental health

care, hospital construction, mental retardation, drug safety

and medical schools. (Manchester, 227) In total, his

biggest achievement was not in what was accomplished,

but what was proposed. The critics might believe that

passed legislation is the only indicator of political legacy,

but in reality what is proposed can have profound effects.

His proposals on Medicare and programs like it might have

lead to nothing in his term, but they did come to fruition in

later Presidencies. Truthfully, one cannot say a man does

not have a political legacy if he had proposed ideas, but

they had not been passed, since those proposals can

deeply influence later Congresses and...
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