I agree with Steve Clemons that JFK had a much more complex presidency and, following on that, a more complex legacy than is commonly recalled. But JFK’s daughter wasn’t making a complex argument when she endorsed Obama today.
The idea(l) of Kennedy is one of youth, hope, promise, and responsibility. Almost 50 years later, people still reference Kennedy’s call to put a man on the moon and his call to national service with reverence.
JFK called us to be more than we are, to believe in ourselves, to take the gifts of our country and to do good. Ms. Kennedy is evoking the promise of promise in her endorsement of Mr. Obama. She believes he can guide the United States through this century’s challenges–terrorism, the disruption of a global economy, the imperative of global warming, and the needs of the least of us.
Frankly, Ms. Kennedy and I are too young to have personal knowledge of the JFK presidency, so we both have to go by what we have been told. But Ms. Kennedy and I are adults now, and through our own lenses we are both looking for inspiration and leadership–not just for ourselves, but also for our children.