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from The Great Debate:

JFK’s legacy: The party’s over

The current commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy raises one lingering question: What explains JFK’s enduring hold on the national imagination?

Why does Kennedy figure so largely in American memory when his presidency was so short, his accomplishments so few (particularly in the domestic arena where he cannot compare with his successor) and his legacy transient?

So is our collective fascination with Kennedy just superficial -- a product of the remarkably attractive, compellingly visual nature of his presidency?

After all, though presidents since William McKinley appeared on film and Dwight D. Eisenhower made brilliant use of the new medium of television, Kennedy truly became the first media president. His presidency remains primarily a series of images -- from the hatless, apparently vigorous man at the lectern on Inauguration Day to the poignant photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket 50 years ago this month.

from The Great Debate:

King’s legacy in the Age of Obama

When President Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, he will inevitably be compared to Martin Luther King Jr., whose oration that day framed the moral purpose of the civil rights movement.

But there are huge differences between the prophetic icon and the political prodigy that reveal the competing and, at times, conflicting demands of the vocations they embraced. If we fail to understand the difference between the two, we will never appreciate the arc of their social aspiration -- or fairly measure King and Obama’s achievements.

from The Great Debate:

King’s deferred ‘Dream’ of democracy

In the midst of current retrenchments on voting rights, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech provides an important opportunity to consider whether his “dream” has been realized. Or, is it now, in the words of the famous poet Langston Hughes, a “dream deferred.”

In that speech and many others, King lays out a powerful vision of democracy “deeply rooted in the American dream . . . ‘that all [persons] are created equal.’” King also articulated a three-pronged vision for American democracy -- inclusive, substantive and transformative -- throughout his struggle for civil rights.

from The Great Debate:

Why did court treat two minorities so differently?

Gays win, blacks lose. That's the upshot of this week's landmark Supreme Court decisions.

“It's an exciting day for civil rights in America,” a young gay man standing outside the Supreme Court told the Washington Post. “I am a significant step closer to being an equal citizen under the law.” That sentiment was not shared by African-Americans. The day before, Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called the court's voting rights decision “an egregious betrayal of minority voters.”

from David Rohde:

Obama’s ‘war on inequality’

He quoted Jack Kennedy but sounded more like Lyndon Johnson.

In an audacious State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama made sweeping proposals to reduce poverty, revive the middle class and increase taxes on the “well off.” While careful to not declare it outright, an emboldened second-term president laid out an agenda that could be called a “war on inequality.”

“There are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it is virtually impossible to get ahead,” Obama declared in a blunt attack one a core conservative credo. “And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.”

from The Great Debate:

GOP v. Voting Rights Act

The Republican Party is in danger of reaping what it has sown.

Much has been written about the GOP’s problem with minority voters.  Quite simply, the party has managed to alienate every nonwhite constituency in the nation.

This is not an accidental or sudden phenomenon. Ever since Republicans chose almost 50 years ago to pursue a Southern strategy, to embrace and promote white voters’ opposition to civil rights, the party has been on a path toward self-segregation.

from The Great Debate:

As Republicans court Latinos, they can learn from LBJ’s Great Society

Hoping to win the affections of Hispanic voters who scorned their presidential nominee in record numbers on November 6, some Republicans have embraced comprehensive immigration reform. But will the passing of one piece of legislation, however comprehensive, be enough to persuade significant numbers of Hispanics to begin voting Republican in 2014 and 2016?

History and recent opinion polls suggest not.

To understand why, look back to the 1950s and early 1960s, when both major parties were locked in intense struggles for black votes. That saga might offer some insight into the enormous challenges confronting Republicans.

from The Great Debate:

Vote is referendum on the New Deal

 

We have been told throughout this presidential campaign that the contest is a referendum about two visions of government, one activist, the other passive ‑ like every presidential election since 1980. But that may actually understate the stakes. In a larger context, it is a choice between maintaining the last 80 years of American governance or abruptly ending it.

In fact, this election is really about whether the New Deal and its descendant, the Great Society, will survive or whether they will be dismantled. And that is historic.

from Tales from the Trail:

Great gift ideas for the political animal

The Vietnam War caused the biggest political division in the United States since the Civil War. It also radicalized a generation and drove a president from office. Yet Democrats are using a photograph of two of the Vietnam War's leading characters to try to rally the party and raise money.

The fund-raising outfit that helps elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate has opened the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Online Store "just in time for the holidays."
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Yes, there are the typical campaign buttons you'd expect. But besides being the first in your neighborhood with a fashionable DSCC mug, this year's holidays also can be celebrated with a framed photo of President Lyndon Johnson, conferring with his secretary of defense. That would be Robert Strange McNamara, an architect of the American troop escalation in Vietnam.

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