Or was he? Depends on who you ask. Generally, though, John F. Kennedy is popularly known as one of the most charismatic presidents ever. He embodied hope, energy and promise, especially at a time when the country needed those qualities. When the name ‘John Kennedy’ fills the room, most people will think of his assassination and the major accomplishments that he made. But few people dig through the web of compliments to identify some of his greatest flows. The merits are clear, yes, but his demerits are just as outstanding. Based on information collected from various historical sources and news publishing websites, here are some of the reasons why John Kennedy probably wasn’t one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.
He Caused the Cuban Missile Crisis
Different historians have different opinions regarding what happened in October 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis almost resulted in a nuclear exchange. Basic interpretational however suggests that had the Eastern Seaboard been wiped out that year, it’d have been due to Kennedy’s fecklessness. It appears that the Soviet Union was installing missiles in Cuba as an attempt to stir another American invasion of the country. A year earlier, Kennedy had invited Cuba. But instead of seeing this the way it really was, Kennedy fumbled and mis-reacted before finally agreeing to a deal that included promising not to attack Cuba again. Kennedy simply took many actions that increased risk of war.
He Caused the Bay of Pigs Invasion
This is probably intertwined with the Cuban missile crisis. Essentially, it triggered the crisis that almost culminated in nuclear war. The Bay of Pigs Invasion led to hundreds and thousands of injuries and damaged the reputation of America worldwide. It also solidified Cuba’s firm stand as a communist state, which is only loosening nowadays following major efforts made by the Obama administration. Although this particular escalation happened when Kennedy was still very new in the oval office, it was his fault. Despite having multiple opportunities to reverse course, Kennedy went through with the plans.
He Escalated Vietnam
Many post-war revisionists have said that Kennedy somehow failed to save the nation from an escalation in Vietnam. Although there’s little material evidence on this, it seems to hold some water. His lifetime comments during the war failed to account for a North Vietnamese escalation. In 1964, his brother, Robert Kennedy, said that the president never even considered withdrawing. It’s a complicated debate, but the general line of thinking here is that it could have been done better.
He Was a Little Slow on Civil Rights
Make no mistake, John F. Kennedy made a lot happen when it comes to civil rights. But he needed a little ‘prodding’ to take action. Many have argued that he was initially a bystander, not willing to take the firm action that he later took in 963 by calling for a real Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fellow civil rights advocates went through a lot just to make Kennedy act. At the time of his death even, Kennedy just had a small record of civil rights accomplishment. He obviously did a lot of good things, including sending troops to protect students at the universities of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as banning racial discrimination in public accommodations. The point is – he could have done a lot more!
Kennedy did a lot of great things during his tenure as president. Like most other presidents, though, he just wasn’t perfect.