I Like “Ike” and Kennedy`s New Frontier

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Transcript I Like “Ike” and Kennedy`s New Frontier

I Like “Ike” and Kennedy’s New Frontier
• Eisenhower felt that the
Executive should not be
the leader of social
reform—that belonged
in Congress—the real
voice of the people.
• When asked why not
send more Bills to
congress … “I don’t feel
like I should nag them.”
• Eisenhower believed in something called
“Dynamic Conservatism.”
• 1) Budget cutting (reduce unnecessary
• 2) Laissez Faire toward business (it was at this
time that GM stated “what was good for GM
was good for America);
• 3) More power in the hands of the states and
local governments.
• Eisenhower stated, “I will be conservative … in
money matters … a liberal when it comes to
human beings.”
• To prove his determination to allow business to
proceed he appointed 8 of 9 Cabinets posts to
corporate executives.
• Eisenhower was a staunch opponent of deficit
spending—in no one’s logic is deficit spending
logical—he pointed to England and France to
prove how unsuccessful it was.
• He vetoed two Public Housing Bills, fearing they
would become more Tenements and crime ridden and
poverty stricken as they had in New York and other
Big Cities.
• He vetoed some public works projects because they
did nothing to boost the economy—and temporary
work cost more than the return.
• However, it increased the federal military and foreign
aid budgets—for home security and prestige
abroad—keep small countries from turning
communist—He also raised SS coverage and
expanded it—increased the minimum wage and
expanded unemployment insurance
• Liberal Democrats and
many minorities argued for
a more activist Executive;
they used 2 focused
• 1) America’s cultural and
spiritual malaise;
• 2) Cold War politics.
• Americans wanted someone
more dynamic and could
lead America in anew
(Eisenhower did not pursue very
1960 Campaign
• Many Americans were looking for new
leadership; a more dynamic Executive, and
activist, especially the Democrats and the Civil
Rights activists.
• Both parties found their candidate—Rep.
Richard M. Nixon; the Dem John F. Kennedy.
• Nixon had been Eisenhower’s V.P. He had
made the famous “Checker’s Speech” To many
republicans he was a logical and viable
candidate—Dr. King actually preferred Nixon.
• Kennedy was young,
dynamic and very
charming. The press loved
him; the Dem’s idolized him.
• It was a close race. It came
down to the very first ever
live Television debate
between the two candidates.
• On Radio Nixon won, but on
TV where it counted the
most, JFK won. Nixon
looked to shadowy—
Kennedy looked youthful
and honest.
• Kennedy won a close
election—real close. It could
have been contested, but
Nixon thought, even though
he wanted to be President,
that something as crass as
contending the balloting
would create more harm and
diminish the Office—
• Kennedy entered office
asking people to change their
minds about Government
service and join his New
Frontier—peace corps,etc …
• His New Frontier—a torch passed to the new
youthful leaders of America had three main
• 1) A more sophisticated sense of Economics—
he hired the “Whiz Kids” to be his trusted
• 2) An emphasis on social welfare programs—
the poor in his mind had suffered enough;
• 3) Different tactics in the Cold War and
promote and accelerate the Space program.
Kennedy had 8 major goals—most defeated:
1) ↑ Federal aid for Education (Defeated)
2) Enact Medical Care for the elderly (Defeated)
3) ↑ Minimum Wage (passed)
4) Urban Reforms (modest successes)
5) Civil Rights (none)
6) End to Poverty (failed)
7) Major Tax Cuts (defeated)
8) Cold War goals. (Yes) JFK increased Cold
War spending to erase the mythical ‘Missile
Gap’ and spent much money on the Space
• Proved to be a man of much rhetoric and little
• Economics: moderate increase in federal
spending; expanded global trade; stabilized
interest rates; wanted major tax cuts.
• He did stand tough against the Russians in
Cuba and in Berlin. Overall many of his tax
policies panned out to be right, but after his
assassination in Dallas, TX Nov 22nd 1963.
• Because of the aura of mystery and conspiracy
surrounding his death, the Young President has
been ever since lionized in Political history.
• Interesting, every President since 1840 that had
been elected in a zero year had died in office:
• 1860 Abraham Lincoln; 1880 James A.
Garfield; 1900 William McKinley; 1960 John
F. Kennedy had all been assassinated;
• 1840 Zachary Taylor; 1920 Warren G.
Harding; and 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt had
all died in office—seem to be a curse!
• Regardless of the Kennedy Mystique and the
aura of “Camelot,” (jfks favorite play)
Kennedy did plan and did pursue a more
aggressive stance toward communism.
• Argued for a “Flexible response” and
preemptive “Brush fire wars.” Keep it
contained into small wars.
• Vietnam and Cuba would be early tests to his
resolve and to his legacy as President.
• Upon entering office, he
immediately had to
engage in damage
control; The Bay of Pigs
fiasco (1961).
• Soon after he also had to
deal with the Cuban
Missile Crisis. JFK took
a strong stance and
essentially forced the
Russians to back down
in Cuba
• The Missiles of October,
were about as close as we
ever came to a actual
nuclear exchanges;
• Kennedy enforced a
‘Quarantine Line’
• The Russians in response
shot down a U-2 plane
over Cuba;
• Luckily cooler heads
prevailed; disaster was
• The Cuban crisis made JFK change his mind
on Missile defense; he still believed in the
‘Missile Gap’; he still believed in fighting
communism abroad; but he did engage in
ABM and Test Ban negotiations with the
• He vigorously began to pursue Space
initiatives—the idea of Sputnik 1 and 2 and
now the Missile issues, also the Wall in Berlin
became a black eye to JFKs administration;
• Peaceful co-existence began to be his mantra.
• JFK initiated the Peace Corp; he initiated
what would become Americorp—a domestic
Peace Corp where young Americans were
recruited from the Universities and sent out as
ambassadors, project managers and
governmental liaisons to ensure that the
American Dream and assistance reached all
people’s foreign and domestic.
• In essence it was a re-named Marshal Plan.
One wins converts with honey not vinegar.
• Unfortunately we will
never know what JFK
would have
accomplished; Dallas
• What we do know,
however, is that many of
his tax plans which were
more Republican in
nature, proved to be
successful in the end—
again proving that
Keynesian economics by
itself is misguided
• There was also that little
Asian nuisance hovering
on the horizon; Vietnam.
• LBJ took the oath of
office on Air Force One;
• He continued the policies
and works of the
• What JFK couldn’t pass
in life, Congress passed
for him in death
• Johnson was from humble origins, a Texan.
• He was a fervent New Dealer– a staunch
Keynesian idealist; fundamentally believed
that the government should regulate and
enforce and oversee many avenues of private
• Originally he was a political rival of JFKs, but
Kennedy needed the SW vote; Once in Office,
Johnson was truly dedicated to abolishing
racial inequality—his voting base was poor
whites and African Americans.
• MLK thought him sincere but misguided and a
politician that would do anything to get what
he wanted—still, he ushered through many
Civil Rights initiatives such as Voting Rights,
Immigration reform, and many social
• What he wanted was a mandate from the
people—not just riding on JFKs coattails. He
overwhelmingly defeated Barry Goldwater in
the 1964 election—he had his mandate—after
that everything fell apart on him.
• Goldwater was a tactless and
too honest politician for
national politics;
• He did accuse and suggest
through LBJs previous
stances on communism that
he was soft;
• LBJ had been on two fact
finding mission in Vietnam as
VP; he decided that the
Mekong Delta should become
the TVA of Asia—now he was
determined more than ever to
succeed in Vietnam.
• Though Vietnam would define LBJ, he did
have some successes in his domestic policies;
• “The Great Society” his war on poverty.
• He argued for “maximum feasible”
participation of the poor and minorities in the
economic, social and political opportunity in
• There were many governmental programs to
help combat poverty, such as medicare,
medicaid, better SS benefits, money for
education and training—give the poor a skill.
• LBJ was a workaholic, engrossed in legislative
details; coercing people to follow his policies was
something he was good at;
• LBJ read a book by Michael Harrington (1962), The
Other America, it greatly influenced him—there also
was Oscar Lewis’ book The Culture of Poverty, it was
a cultural thing, culture and perception needed to
change to change the idea of poverty in America—
LBJs war on poverty was designed to help the poor,
but also redefine their cultural perceptions. Living in
the present and not looking into the future
perpetuated poverty--
• The Johnson administration looked at poverty in
America through sociological, psychological, political
and moral lens’.
• If poverty is perpetuated, a culture of poverty, then
LBJ wanted to change culture—understand why
there was a lack of strong male role models, why there
was so many babies born out of wed-lock etc …
scientifically and morally it could be corrected.
• Head Start, HUD, Vista program and Peace Corps
were expanded—wanted to self-start a generation
replacing cultural poverty with self-made dynamic
opportunistic individuals that would lead their
poverty areas as models of economic successes.
• Again, Vietnam and too
many policies and programs
were failing;
• many minorities took to the
• The “Long Hot Summer” of
1967 that began in Watts in
1965 revealed the frustration
and the inability of the
Johnson administration to
see the fruits of its labor—
achievements were small and
frustration was high;
• From LA to Washington DC.