John F. Kennedy

JFK Still Dead, Baby Boomers Still Self-Absorbed

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In a new column up at The Daily Beast, I look upon the avalanche of books about John F. Kennedy coming out to mark the 50th anniversary of this assassination and despair. Here's a snippet:

Each fall since November 22, 1963, regular programming is pre-empted and whole rainforests are clear-cut to bring us books filled with the latest minor (and often delusional) variations on who killed Kennedy and why; the supposedly transformative effect of the "Camelot" years on contemporary geo-politics and, more plausibly, the hat-wearing habits of the American male; and counterfactuals about just how awesome—or awful—JFK's second term would have been.

Whatever emotional immediacy, contemporary relevance, and news value this all once inarguably possessed, can we now admit that the topic has grown thinner than the post-1963 resume of Kennedy impersonator Vaughn Meader? It now lives on mostly as a sort of repetition-compulsion disorder through which the baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) seeks to preserve its stultifying cultural hegemony even as it slowly—finally!—begins to exit the stage of American life on a fleet of taxpayer-funded Rascal Scooters.

Read the whole thing.

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  1. The Kennedys are our royalty. And even though by the time I was born they were only a collection of drunken and somewhat criminal louts, how dare you shite all over them.

  2. The boomer butthurt at the Beast is something to behold. Good job, Jacket.

    1. This. It’s almost like they’re trying to prove him right.

    2. The comments are pure gold.

      What this writer doesn’t seem to understand — and it’s because that while he may technically be a boomer, he was barely cognizant or possibly not even born on Nov. 22, 1963 — is the effect the assassination had on the national soul. JFK’s assassination (I was 13 at the time) was my generation’s Pearl Harbor, which so profoundly affected our parents. My children’s generation had similar events; for some, it was the Challenger explosion; for others, it was September 11. I remember November 22 and the week that followed in slow motion — where I was when I learned, the faces on the people in the street as I left school, the sorrow of the Bar Mitzvah I attended the following day, where I was when I learned Oswald had been shot (and my misguided joy in hearing it).

      The writer is mocking all of this. Because he doesn’t get it.

      National souls baby, communal emotional personas for the win!

      1. If I’m still prattling on about the Challenger explosion or 9/11 in fifty years, please euthanize me.

        1. But 9/11 and JFK changed everything! Don’t you see?

      2. My children’s generation had similar events; for some, it was the Challenger explosion; for others, it was September 11

        What a bunch of bloo-bloo emoting, and over a President that was, by most measures, thoroughly mediocre.

        It’s only in the last 50 years that this kind of solipsism has become culturally acceptable. It’s telling that the generations alive during McKinley, Garfield, and Lincoln’s assassinations didn’t spend the rest of their lives permanently traumatized by it.

        1. I agree in general, but there was quite the obsession with Lincoln’s death. The never-ending funeral train, attempts to steal his body, the multiple times his coffin was opened years after his death. It’s a pretty fascinating story.

      3. “for others, it was September 11”

        ..for self-absorbed New Yorkers. If Sept 11 had happened anywhere in “flyover” country you’d have stopped hearing about it after two weeks. Two weeks of mourning, then back to work. For New Yorkers it’s decades of mourning, therapy, and extended leave from work to mourn and undergo therapy.

        1. There was Oklahoma City. Awareness of that lasted for several months, iirc.

      4. That’s why we’re Generation Jones, not Boomers.

    3. The President as father figure, who liked to diddle 18 year olds and Hollywood starlets on the side.

      Thank you, Mr. Gillespie, for that big, fat, bloviating bowel movement. Do you feel better now? Truth is, you were an infant when Kennedy was murdered and thus are incapable of relating to the incident in any meaningful, experiential way. (Perhaps that’s the root of your angst and resentment? That you missed out on some Irish wake that the rest of us shared in?) And while I’m not familiar with the writer, Wolcott, his Kennedy-as-father lament is understandable to me. Truth is, we all were contemplating incineration during the Kennedy presidency – via the Cuban missile crisis. We remember our mothers nail biting and worry, and our fathers moving canned goods into the basement. Kennedy took us through all that, and got us safely out of it – like a father would. Get it, now?

      1. Yeah, I get it. You’re a 60-year old child.

      2. Kennedy took us through all that, and got us safely out of it

        Really? My parents never mentioned JFK ever stopping by to put them at ease.

        1. My parents almost celebrated.

      3. I get it now. It is impossible to understand something unless you were around to relate to it emotionally as it happened. I trust that you will never ever ever mention the Civil War or the like, ever.

      4. “Kennedy took us through all that, and got us safely out of it – like a father would.”

        Good lord. How can anyone be such a sheep? Did Bush get us through 9/11?

    4. They’re so sanctimonious it’s delicious. Boo-frigging-hoo.

      ‘Why would the Daily Beast pay such a vulgarian!!??’

      Yeah, because the DB is a robust platform for refined taste.

      But on behalf of Nick’s mom – Nick, you are NOT forgiven for the shart comment. Beyond the pale, buddy.

  3. Nick you hit it out of the park with this one. Typical and predictable comments from the readers at the Beast who are so absorbed and entitled. I’d bet more than half of them were no older than I am (58) and it wasn’t a day that instilled anything other than we were sent home from school. Big deal. We played football. BTW, how dare you shatter the Princess’s memory from her Bat Mitvah.

    1. Yeah.

      I was born in 56 and I remember it happening but it wasn’t any sort of major traumatic event to me.

      The president, after all, was never supposed to represent some sort of national “parent” to us all in the first place.

      The liberals in that boomer age group think they “own” and speak for the views of the entire demographic contigent.

      They don’t.

      1. Yeah. My parents were 18 when JFK was killed. They were really concerned about going to college and raising my brother. It wasn’t the defining moment of their lives. In fact, my parents hold a pretty dim view of the office of the President, and the Kennedy’s in particular.

        Nick. You magnificent bastard. The finest trolling I’ve seen. Ever.

  4. Wikipedia says JFK was born in 1917, so now he’d be 96 if he were still alive. Which he probably wouldn’t be, even if Oswald had missed, due to all his health issues.

  5. We will soon be observing the 40th anniversary of Francisco Franco’s death. Yup, still dead.

  6. JFK was just like an adulterous, abusive father who almost got the world blown up. Sigh, he was so dreamy.

    1. Part of the Clinton ethos too (without the blowing up part).

      1. [joke about “blowing” deleted for reasons of taste]

        1. Yeah, I know. I thought that too but couldn’t figure out something that was both funny & refined.

  7. Not all of us baby boomers are the same and some us resent being lumped in with the rest .

    1. I feel the same way when people talk about my generation. I think it’s sort of dumb to make sweeping generalizations about a group that people don’t have an option to identify or disassociate with.

  8. In one respect, the Kennedy presidency was transformative: It was the Kennedy presidency more than any other that pushed the Imperial Presidency.

    Eisenhower and Truman were “ordinary” people in the sense that they appeared to be the typical local-boy-makes good.

    Even FDR, despite his patrician roots and imperial ambitions, played the ‘common’ role (eg: the “fireside chats”).

    1. Helped by the whole “best & brightest” crap.

  9. Marmee
    4 hours ago

    Time to grow up Nick and get some historical perspective.

    Someone here (Episiarch?) has pointed out that it’s always projetion with these people. Could Marmee be any less self aware or any more irony impaired ?

  10. The comments are solid proof that Nick was absolutely right. Hey Boomers, it’s not all about you any more, get over it.

  11. JFK was national royalty. That is, he was a disgusting, drunken lout who loved to fuck attractive peasant girls, spend enormous amount of his serfs’ money on extravagant vanity projects, and get into belligerent dick-measuring fights with other royals.

    1. Ouch!

  12. 1953
    1 hour ago
    It is obvious that the writer did not live through that horrble event as I did. I was 10 at the time, and over the years I saw how the country changed, and for the worse. The only great acheivement this country ever made since 1963 was to land men on the moon. Apart from that, it has been all downhill. The assassination instilled a sense of fear that the right-wing used to their own advantage. The reason for all of the conspiracy theories is to continue that fear. That fear and distrust of government was used to give us Reagan, whose culture of greed started the economic decline that has continued for over 30 years. It got a little better under Clinton, which really angered the conservatives, so the real reason for the impeachment was to interfere with his job and try to keep the country from getting better. Then we had 8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove with their destruction of the middle and lower classes. So, yes, we think about 1963 but not for the reasons stated in the article. We still want to do as JFK asked, to ask what we can do for the country. The Me generation, which started with those like the writer, listened carefully to Reagan, who asked “are you better off than you were 4 years ago?” which was another way of saying what has the country done for you.

    FLAGSHARE5LIKEREPLY

    That’s high quality butthurt right here. 100% pure, straight from Colombia. You’re going to prison for a long, long time, 1953.

    1. Man, it would take a book to deconstruct all the problems in that post. The whole idea that the assassination of JFK was when the trust in government started to decline has been pretty thoroughly discredited by academics. And, of course, the whole “ask not” crap was so elitist. Example: the Peace Corp which was basically founded so upper class Ivy Leaguers could travel the world and tell non-white people why they were stupid.

      1. Peace Corp which was basically founded so upper class Ivy Leaguers could travel the world and tell non-white people why they were stupid.

        This.

        Plus the fact that they never had to subject their tender souls to boot camp.

    2. Yeah, man. All down hill since 1973, the last year men were sent to the moon. Nothing good has happened since then.

      1. Yeah, but those were just achievements by people, not by The Country, so they don’t count.

        1. I.e.: They didn’t build that. (TM)

    3. We still want to do as JFK asked, to ask what we can do for the country.

      Well, it would be nice to get something in return for those sweet SocSec checks we’re sending you.

  13. Hi! I’m Anonymous Coward and I’ll be playing the role of “That One Asshole” today.

    The only downside to Kennedy catching a bullet to the head was LBJ.

    The Boy-King of Camelot, when he wasn’t busy whoring and popping pills (noble pasttimes in themselves, but not good vices in a President), he was being brow-beaten and embarrassed by Krushchev (see the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vienna Conference), nearly stumbling into World War 3 (Bay of Pigs), destabilizing South East Asia(assassination of Diem, escalation of Vietnam), and sowing the seeds of tyranny in the Middle East (supported the Baathist Coup in Iraq).

    Fuck JFK.

  14. While I have my differences with Gillespie, some days he is still capable of doing The Lord’s Work. No one can troll boomers like Nick! The comment section at the Beast will certainly provide several days of entertainment.

    As a boomer who does indeed remember the Kennedy assassination, I’ll be commemorating November 22 at the local bar at 12:30 PM, with three shots… And a beer!

  15. It now lives on mostly as a sort of repetition-compulsion disorder through which the baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964)

    I was in utero when this Irish turd assumed room temperature. Can we at least give people born after his death the dignity of not being called Baby Boomers. I have Nix, Zip, Diddly, Bupkis, Niente in common with the stereotype.

    1. You’re just going to have to live with it. I can relate though, I was born a female and I feel the vast majority of my gender is functionally retarded. (Possibly why there are so few female libertarians)

  16. Has anyone else ever been to the museum at Dealy Plaza? If you didn’t know anything about the assassination, you would think Oswald was a right-winger after you went through it.

  17. Who got laid more, JFK or MLK?

    1. I’m going to guess JFK. Whoring around is pretty much expected of a Kennedy. Reverends have to be much more circumspect with their whoring around.

    2. Given MLK was caught on tape offering to suck a dudes dick, I’d say he had the larger court to operate from and thus more likely had more strange.

  18. Nick, this is the greatest thing you have ever done. Today, I take a humble bow.

  19. the baby boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) seeks to preserve its stultifying cultural hegemony even as it slowly?finally!?begins to exit the stage of American life on a fleet of taxpayer-funded Rascal Scooters.

    *rise to begin thunderous applause*

  20. If JFK had not been assassinated, he would be little more remembered than any other President of the 20th Century.

    Most likely, around about 1966, he would have suffered the typical “2nd Term Blues” and had his approval rating plummet to the low 30s. No matter what he did in Vietnam, it was a no-win situation for Kennedy. Pull out and the hawks would have hammered him for ‘surrendering to the commies’. Escalate or even merely ‘stay the course’, he would have been hated like LBJ. No doubt he would have been blamed for the ‘credibility gap’.

    1. Dying young was a great career move back in the day. Hendrix, Morrison, Monroe, JFK.

    2. And, for JFK, re-election in 1964 was not a given.

  21. “I shall never forget where I was standing and what I was doing on the day [Kennedy] nearly killed me.” -Christopher Hitchens on the Cuban missile crisis

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