The Magazine

The Right Stuff

Where was John F. Kennedy on the ideological spectrum?

Nov 25, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 11 • By RONALD RADOSH
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Moreover, shortly before announcing the resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing—in response to the Soviets having broken their pledged moratorium—Kennedy said that the Soviet tests might well provide the Russians with “a nuclear attack and defense capability” that, without a firm Western response, could “encourage [their] aggressive designs.” Kennedy’s liberal advisers wanted him to do the opposite and announce that the United States was not taking the bait and would continue to show what they believed to be a commitment to peace. But a scant 16 days later, Kennedy went to West Berlin, where he spoke about communism being “an evil system,” told a Free University of Berlin audience that “a police state regime has been imposed on the Eastern sector of the city and country,” and predicted a unified Germany living under freedom.

In this, and his many main points, Ira Stoll has succeeded in changing our very perception of Kennedy as one of liberalism’s heroes.

Ronald Radosh is working on a book on the presidency of Warren G. Harding.