letters | JFK a paragon of the right?

Flawed analysis of political climate

Like Ira Stoll’s new book, “JFK, Conservative,” Jeff Jacoby takes John Kennedy’s policies out of their 1950s and ’60s context in his Oct. 20 op-ed column “Would Democrats embrace JFK now?” Jacoby claims Kennedy was “an ardent tax-cutter,” but fails to mention that the highest income tax rate in 1960 was 91 percent, as compared to today’s 39.6 percent. Jacoby notes that military spending as a percentage of GDP was greater under JFK than it is today, yet the nation at the time faced a higher threat of nuclear war than at any time in our history.

In addition, Jacoby uses misleading quotes from figures who bordered on the far-left fringe, such as Linus Pauling and Bertrand Russell to characterize the sentiment of “many on the left.”


John Kennedy once proclaimed: “I’m proud to say I’m a liberal.” To insinuate that he would somehow be a hero of today’s conservatives, a group among whom Ronald Reagan would have a difficult time winning a Republican primary, is not only a misreading of history, but a flawed analysis of today’s political climate.

Ryan Ferguson


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