December 31, 2012
WHAT IF JFK LIVED TO HAVE A SECOND TERM?
Historians often speculate on what a second term might have been like if John F. Kennedy had lived & been reelected.
Several years ago, Robert Dallek*, added his contribution to the speculation in "The Atlantic" magazine.
"Historians generally agree that if Kennedy had lived out his 1st term & won a 2nd, America would have witnessed something similar to the early years of (Lyndon) Johnson's Great Society."
The professor did admit, however, that "the details might have been different" & JFK might have had greater difficulty in getting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed.
As far as the topic of foreign policy, Dallek is not so certain that JFK's decisions would have mirrored those of LBJ.
He cites new documentary evidence which supports the long-held view of JFK's advisers that President Kennedy was in the process of rethinking the situation in Southeast Asia & would have been reluctant to escalate the war as LBJ did.
Dallek also writes that "even more surprisingly," JFK "appears to have been moving toward the idea of accommodation with (Castro's) Cuba."
In support of this, Dallek says that in October 1963 during a meeting with French journalist Jean Daniel (who was on his way to Havana), JFK said that "he might lift (the economic blockade on Cuba) if Castro ended communist incitements in the region."
"JFK's Second Term," by Robert Dallek, The Atlantic, June 2003
Robert Dallek (on left)
CSPAN 2 Image
*Robert Dallek was born in 1934. He earned a BA in history at the University of Illinois in 1955, a MA & PhD from Columbia in 1957 & 1964. Professor Dallek currently teaches in Washington, D.C. His published works include "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963", Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 2003.