Sunday, November 27, 2011

JFK, Hollywood and American Politics


I barely resisted yesterday talking about JFK while writing a post about Marilyn Monroe. But today after reading Ross Douthat's classic column about 'myths of JFK' I could not agree any more with Ross about that - JFK Presidency was not that great for Americans after all. As like with passage of time folks are understanding the lasting impact of LBJ Presidency (legacy of Medicare and signing of Civil Rights Laws) despite the humiliation brought by the Vietnam war; people will start realizing that indeed JFK was not that great and he was the genesis of Vietnam quagmire. Douthat's lists all of the consequential shortcomings of JFK presidency. Except for unequivocal support for a 'space program' (which Douthat forgets to point out); there are few things of lasting importance to which JFK contributed.

And then there was Marilyn Monroe - it is hard to ignore circumstances surrounding her relationship with the married Catholic President. It would not be a surprise to learn Marilyn Monroe expected the president to leave his beautiful wife, kids all that to marry a tinsel town sex symbol; all while being in the White House! That was how much she had been unreasonable / unhinged in her expectations from others. Not that such an unreasonableness on Marilyn's part absolve what JFK rumored to start - adulterous relationship while being in the White House (which in the end culminates in 'that spot' on the blue dress of Monica Lewinsky, all by Democrats). Regardless of whether JFK had relationship with her or not, there is no doubt that JFK didn't find it anything abhorrible to use some Hollywood 'stardust' and 'flesh' for his own political means. 

But of course, it is not only Democrats who have used Hollywood for their own purposes. When it came to Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, GOP did find utility in Hollywood glamour too.

This all means, until American Politics learn to stay away from Entertainment Industry and not to exploit publicity of practitioners of that industry for their own political means; we will continue to have this collusion of interests and even flesh. In that respect, Americans have grounds to be satisfied with recent presidencies of George Bush and Barack Obama. As Douthat implies, unless America buries properly all this JFK and Marilyn Monroe hoopla, we would not have emotionally cleansed. Canny politician as he is, Obama Presidency would not let die this JFK mythology till November 2012 election as he still needs votes in droves of likes of Frank Rich, the baby boomers infatuated by JFK who still struggle to see beyond even after so many years and acquired wisdom due to aging. For sure, Obama will not do anything to encourage this 'Camelot business'; least because that will be a unflattering comparison with his own performance in the first term. But come January 2013 and if he is reelected, it is in Obama's interest to take Democrats fully out of the JFK land once and for all. For a Republican President, things would become easier to drop these JFK references from Public Mind.

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