John F. Kennedy & Joe McCarthy’s Ghost: The Limits Of Liberalism

Right From The Start 

It didn’t take, but fifty one years ago Republicans had a bit of fun with Jack Kennedy in office, when he started making noises about right-wing extremists.

Naturally they used Smilin’ Jack’s silky words against him.

Before he went on to become Joe Mccarthy’s bipartisan Senate pal, the youthful Representative John F. Kennedy was a pioneer in the theory that China was “lost” right here in the USA, and he pointed the finger at our man Owen Lattimore.

Chiang Kai-Shek wasn’t completely finished in early 1949, but things didn’t look good for the Generalissimo.  And Kennedy offered an early version of what became [and remains] a popular right-wing trope, that China was “lost” due to undermining by  pointy-headed liberals or worse back home.

” So concerned were our diplomats and their advisers, the Lattimores and the Fairbanks, with the imperfections of the diplomatic system in China after 20 years of war, and the tales of corruption in high places, that they lost sight of our tremendous stake in a non-Communist China.”

Note that the “corruption in high places” was only “tales.”

Nailing Kennedy was a bust.  He and McCarthy had at least a consistent if crackpot theory.  By the 60s Republicans were reduced to He-Did-It-Too-ism, saying Kennedy once calling out Commies in high places meant red hunting was forever in season.

 

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