John F. Kennedy: This week in up-is-downism

THE temptation to write a tongue-in-cheek post arguing that Ronald Reagan was a flaming left-winger is a mighty one. But ultimately, the public interest is not served by a #slatepitch race to the bottom. So I will confine my response to Ira Stoll’s ridiculous argument in Time, “JFK Was a Political Conservative”, to simply noting that John F. Kennedy, the Democratic president who inspired a generation of liberal idealists, championed liberal labour and civil-rights legislation, and, in accepting the 1960 presidential nomination of New York State’s Liberal Party, announced “I’m proud to say I’m a liberal”, was in fact a liberal.Here, for example, is then-Senator John F. Kennedy explaining why he voted against a Republican attempt to strip government funding for public housing, education and medical services and a minimum-wage hike from a civil-rights bill in August 1960.These bills—housing, education, medical help, and minimum wage—are vitally important to millions of American Negroes and whites because they affect all those Americans who are on the lower level of our economic ladder.Here is the senator the following day, explaining his support for amendments to the Fair Labour Standards Act which raised the minimum wage by 25% and extended the act’s protections to millions of previously uncovered workers, mainly in the retail and service industries.Conscience and good …

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