What were you doing 50 years ago on the day President Kennedy was assassinated?
I remember it well. I was a junior at Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon, and was sitting with my girl friend Mary Craner in the library when the monitor came on with Walter Cronkite announcing that the President had been shot in Dallas Texas and then later announcing with emotion, “President Kennedy died at 1 pm today.” Many students were in tears during the day (Friday), and even though I was a conservative Republican, I felt bad for the Kennedys and the country.
I was a Goldwater conservative at the time, and involved in the anti-communist movement along with my father Roy Skousen and his brother Cleon.
Today I see many conservatives are trying to make the case that JFK was a conservative, and there’s a book out now of that title (“JFK, Conservative”). I think they are trying to rewrite history. Everyone I knew back then thought that Kennedy was a social Democrat who was a big-spender and wanted more government involvement in the economy. We were opposed to his election. However, almost everyone I knew were saddened by the death of the President.
Looking back now, I see the JFK assassination as a tremendous tragedy. His successor, Lyndon Johnson, took advantage of the sympathy everyone felt about JFK’s death and pushed through “The Great Society” programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, expanded Social Security (“The War on Poverty”), which has created a lot of the social problems, unfunded liabilities, and out of control spending that we face today.
LBJ also got us involved in the Vietnam War, although the evidence is pretty clear that JFK supported the war against Communist aggression.
The one good thing that came out at this time was the civil rights legislation, although all my conservative friends and most of the Republican leadership opposed it at the time. I think this was the Republican’s biggest error. Many Republicans such as Warren Buffett switched to the Democrats after Goldwater and other Republican leaders led their watershed opposition to equal rights for blacks. I have read since then that the more rank-and-file Republicans in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1965 than the Democrats. But the leaders were opposed.
In liberty, AEIOU,