Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro last week asked the latest media darling, Democratic socialist nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, of the Bronx, for a debate on issues, since she had accused Republicans of being afraid to debate her. Her response flaunted how incoherent the Far Left has become.
“Just like catcalling,” Miss Osasio-Cortez replied. “I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.” Shapiro’s “bad intentions” to her solicited request would have included trouncing her, as anyone who has seen a sound bite of either knows.
It is tempting to call Miss OC not ready for “prime-time,” not seeming even ready for a test pattern. What fascinates is that such a figure now embodies so much of her party.
Its comrades view government as Sugar Daddy. They despise the middle class — the bourgeoisie. They form the New Totalitarians in our still relatively new democracy.
Today, the secular Left’s faith is the oldest aphrodisiac — power. To get it, since Election Day 2018, it has refused to accept the verdict of a presidential election, corrupted the FBI and Justice Department, staged an empty two-year congressional inquiry, bashed free speech on campus and in the culture, shot a GOP congressman, put a bloody facsimile of President Trump’s head on display, and cried Fascist and Racist as though brainwashed on command.
Amid the hysteria, I muse over what a real Democrat would think — someone who put country over ideology.
Not long ago, among many such people was a man who often refused to call himself a “liberal.” John F. Kennedy mistrusted the Left and Right because he felt them irrational: Instinctively, he recoiled. Donald Trump could benefit from miming JFK’s outlook and conduct. But the Democratic Party could gain more. For one thing, it is Kennedy’s inheritor. For another, its Far Left has become crazed.
John F. Kennedy governed the United States from 1961-63. He loved America — totally and unashamedly — and touted American exceptionalism — proudly and unapologetically. He had been a World War II hero, aides wearing a button, PT-109, named for his boat in the Pacific theater. Kennedy would have deemed political correctness — a willful diminution of one’s country — to be unpatriotic, even sick.
My family had been crushed when JFK barely edged Republican Richard Nixon in the 1960 election, but gave him a chance when elected, thought the president growing as a person and in office. When Kennedy went abroad, he was wildly cheered as the blue sky of America, Republicans here proud of the Democratic president, as Democrats had been of Republican Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. Our country mattered most.
Memo to Left: JFK fueled a huge tax cut, economic growth, and low inflation. When he died, Capitol Hill had the centrist leader’s legislation against segregation and for aid to education. Another memo: The upper-class beau had a middle-brow bent, enjoying Sinatra and Crosby. Another: When William Manchester termed JFK’s children “possessed of immense curiosity,” he was describing their father. Emphatic and sensitive, Kennedy sought to grasp other points of view, seeing humor almost everywhere. He lacked two traits of today’s “Resistance”: intolerance and hate.
As noted, Trump, erratic and disruptive, could also learn from JFK how to sway the public. In the 1960 campaign a drunk tossed a glass in Kennedy’s face. He picked it up and said, “Here’s your drink.” Memo to Mr. T.: Today, grace is as priceless as the Hope Diamond and seemingly as rare. Absorb JFK’s. It helped change the presidency — from an office held by businessmen to a job open to other fields; from a Protestant-only post to one of greater equal opportunity; from presidents equating success with legislation to a sense that chic could gird the legend that was Camelot.
Author Tom Wicker termed Kennedy “the most fascinating might-have-been in American history.” He used age in a self-deprecatory fashion that Trump uses little and the Left not at all. Early in 1960, St. Louis Cardinals’ great Stan “The Man” Musial was waiting with the team bus in Milwaukee when a fellow Democrat running in the Democratic primary came up and shook hands.
“I’m Jack Kennedy,” the candidate, 42, told Stan, 39. “They tell me you’re too old to play baseball and I’m too young to be president, but maybe we’ll fool them.” They did.
Two years later, the All-Star Game was held in Washington. Musial, 41, hitting an age-defying .330, made his league’s team. JFK was delighted to see The Man, who said, “Mr. President, I guess we fooled ’em.”
Churchill said that “courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities . . . because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” For Trump, it is the courage to poke fun at himself, his persona the greatest obstacle to a second term. For Democrats, it is the courage to tell the Left that Middle America does not wish to become a far different America.
If Democrats regain sanity, they can beat Trump in 2020. If not, they will find themselves as in 2016 alternating the songs “Cry Me a River” and “This Nearly Was Mine.”
Curt Smith’s newest book, “The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House,” was released this summer. He is a former speechwriter to President George H. W. Bush, Associated Press “Best in New York State” radio commentator, and senior lecturer of English at the University of Rochester. Smith writes twice monthly for Gatehouse Media newspapers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.