We Were Americans Then, and Young
I OD’d on the Obasm real quick; thirty seconds into The Speech and I’d already recognized lines plagarized from at least three other inaugural addresses and I turned the idiot box off and went on with my life. After all, the Inauguration is at 8 AM Alaska time and I had a meeting with my State Rep at 9 AM and I had a pretty good hangover from the House Majority Reception last night – that would be the REPUBLICAN majority. We out here in the bitter, gun-clutching places do have lives after all, and we still elect Republicans.
So, being an old retired guy I had my meeting, came home, and took a nap. So, I woke up from my nap and turned on the History Channel – OK, I turned to Fox for a minute, but my stomach turned. They’re doing this Presidents thing and they were doing Kennedy. Well, I remember that, so I watched.
When JFK was elected I was in the Fifth Grade in a Jim Crow school in a farming town in Georgia. We were all congenital Democrats but we didn’t hold much for Mr. Kennedy. The Southern stereotype notwithstanding, my family was pretty well educated and fairly attuned to National and international affairs. I can talk about JFK’s Inaugural Address in the first person because I did hear it live. We were all cautious of Mr. Kennedy, but we, especially we who were young, got it. We felt the drive and the dream. We wanted to build the rockets. We were fascinated by the style and grace, and if you weren’t there, you have no idea how little style and grace there was in a small Georgia town in the early 1960s. It was the poisonous influence of TV. Hell, nobody I knew lived like Mary and Jeff Stone or Ricky and Dave Nelson. I didn’t know anybody whose Dad left for an office in the morning and only a very few whose Mom drove a station wagon. And I sure didn’t know anybody’s Mom, or even sister, who looked, dressed, and talked like Jackie Kennedy.
And today, I know he was a fake and a fraud, every bit as much a fake and a fraud as BHO – no that’s not fair; JFK did serve his Country, with a little help from his Dad, and BHO has never even done that. But, God was he a charmin’ Devil. Only Ronald Reagan is even in the same league for Press Conferences; witty, glib, self-deprecating, yet supremely confident even arrogant at times. And the tape of when he chewed out the Air Force PR guy about all the money they’d spent on Jackie’s hospital room for Patrick’s birth; can you imagine any current political figure talking to someone like that?
For people my age (b. 1949), JFK maybe represents what these children who worship Obama are about. In those days in the early ’60s, we took that “pay any price, bear any burden” stuff to heart. I shall forever remember Alaska Governor Walter Hickel’s Inaugural in 1990. Hickel, perhaps Alaska’s foremost Republican, had run on the Alaska Independence Party ticket and won. He was introduced by a Democrat, Juneau’s former Senator Bill Ray. Ray went to Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech and took the line about how the torch had been passed and introduced Gov. Hickel by saying, “They’re Back!”
John Kennedy is frozen in time as a vibrant 40-something. My generation is frozen in time at Woodstock. Neither is true, but both are useful myths I suppose. But, I’m thinking in ’12 or ’16, I’d really, really like to reprise that “They’re Back” line.