From Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe, Would Democrats embrace a JFK today?
When his re-election in 1958 made it clear that Kennedy would be running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Eleanor Roosevelt was asked in a TV interview whom she would support if forced to choose “between a conservative Democrat like Kennedy and a liberal Republican [like] Rockefeller.” FDR’s widow, then as now a progressive icon, answered that she would all she could to make sure Kennedy wouldn’t be the party’s nominee.
Many on the left felt that way about JFK. When he decided to resume nuclear testing in 1962, Bertrand Russell attacked him as “much more wicked than Hitler,” and Linus Pauling, who would receive that year’s Nobel Peace Prize, predicted that he would “go down in history as … one of the greatest enemies of the human race.” Left-wing intellectuals raged against Kennedy’s failed attempt to topple Fidel Castro (the renowned sociologist C. Wright Mills said the administration had “returned us to barbarism”). Liberals within the administration expressed dismay for Kennedy’s unwavering support for cutting taxes. A dismayed Schlesinger called one of Kennedy’s tax-cut exhortations “the worst speech the president had ever given.”
Michale Novak writes of his intellectual journey in Writing from Left to Right. He notes that the older liberalism of the working man and individual rights has been usurped by the progressive utopianism of an an academic elite. The newer progressive arm has exerted influence on the Democrats like the Tea Party has on the GOP. As the political parties progress and morph the current political labels have less meaning to the voters, The two parties are really two coalitions of several political philosophies and dozens of special interests.