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02/17/2009

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He also has going for him that he was martyred. Die and you have a better chance of being remembered fondly.

There really is an amazing amount of sentimentality for Kennedy, though, and I say this as a man who grew up in a household of Republican activists ("Kiss Mommy goodnight, Honey. Now Daddy. Now kiss Mr. Reagan's picture."). In Stephen King's DARK TOWER series, which is about a set of mythic superheroic cowboys called 'gunslingers' from other worlds, there are several hard-to-believe moments in which the hero sees a picture of our reality's President Kennedy and knows - just KNOWS - that this man is one of the great gunslingers of our world. He can SEE IT IN HIS EYES...

It was truly funny, but serious as a heart attack.

So yeah: I have no idea how John F. Kennedy ranks over Thomas Jefferson. That's the kind of list that shows a stunning lack of perspective. But it's not a unique example.

Though Johnson was the one to actually push the legislation through Congress, The Civil Rights Act is viewed by many as Kennedy's legacy. I don't know enough to know how accurate that perception is.

Adam: getting killed while in office didn't do much for Garfield or McKinley's legacy.

As for Kennedy, he was the first teen idol president. His celebrity style and good looks covered up a fairly indifferent policy maker and a father whose record as a bootlegger and fascist apologist would get a candidate disqualified today.

I said "a better chance", not that it was a hard and fast rule. In so far as getting remembered goes, martyrdom helps.

I think it's all of the above; rock star, good looking guy, nails Marilyn Monroe and gets killed in office before he gets the chance to really screw things up. Martyrdom while at the top of your game makes many people seem far more important than they really were. John Lennon and Tupac come to mind.

Other than Lincoln, Kennedy is the only president among the top 10 in C-SPAN's survey to serve less than 7-1/2 years. What could Kennedy have possibly accomplished in 2 years and 10 months to place him among these others?

Short answer: Nothing.

I think that Wally has it right. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was introduced to Congress by JFK in June of 1963. It is seen as his legacy, and if I might add, a very good one at that.

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