JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1828THE PRESIDENCY: CENTER OF LEADERSHIP, POLITICAL & MORAL
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-six years ago today, January 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy, candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, spoke at the National Press Club* here in Washington on the topic "The Presidency in 1960."
His comments are just as applicable today in the midst of the presidential primary season of the Election of 2016. Senator Kennedy said...
"The modern Presidential campaign covers every issue in and out of the platform from cranberries to creation. The history of the Nation has largely been written in terms of the different views of the Presidents...or by the Presidency itself."
While George Washington set the example for all presidents to follow, historians write about the Jeffersonian Era and the Age of Jackson. At the turn of the century, Theodore Roosevelt brought a progressive, activist approach to the White House and his cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt made such an impact on the Nation that he was elected POTUS four times.
JFK said that history should tell the voters they have a right to know "what any man** bidding for the Presidency thinks about the place he is bidding for..."
One of the things they should know, the Senator said, is if the candidate would be willing to use the power that he sought.
Senator Kennedy believed the times required a stronger leader...a "vigorous proponent of the national interest and an active participant in the legislative process."
He concluded his address to the National Press Club with these words...
"We will need a real fighting mood in the White House--a man who will not relent in the face of pressure from his Congressional leaders...but the White House is not only the center of political leadership, it must be the center of moral leadership..."
In this political year, Americans are divided, just as they were in 1960, on just who they want to put in power. We, as then, must listen carefully to the words of the candidates and consider, as JFK suggested, what they plan to do if they attain the power they seek.
*The National Press Club, a professional organization for journalists and communication professionals, was founded in 1908 in Washington, D.C. Every President since Theodore Roosevelt has been a member of the NPC with the exception of Warren G. Harding.
**JFK was indeed a "man" of his time. One huge difference 56 years later is that a woman is not only the likely nominee of his party, but also arguably, although Republicans would disagree, in a very good position to be elected POTUS.
The American Presidency Project, by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, "The Presidency in 1960," by John F. Kennedy, National Press Club, Washington, D.C., January 14, 1960, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25795
JFK's Oval Office Desk