Election 2008: Ronald Reagan vs. John F. Kennedy?

Disclosure: I voted for Obama in the primary and strongly prefer him as our next president over Clinton.

I was not around to witness the Jack and Bobby era first-hand, but before this latest wave of JFK comparisons I felt that in Obama I was witnessing a phenomenon akin to JFK/RFK. Yet, the more I hear the ‘Obama as the Black Kennedy’ meme, the more suspicious I become.

And since Caroline and Teddy have made overt their feelings about the Obama/Kennedy connection, more people have jumped on the bandwagon and each day a different old-Democrat war horse comes out and echos the “I knew JFK and Mr. Obama is a new JFK” theme. In Kristoff’s New York Times column, we see this:

“I’ve worked for three presidents and known two or three others,” said Michael Blumenthal, who started his public career under President Kennedy and served as Treasury secretary under President Carter. “And Obama is just about the only politician I’ve ever seen who compares to Jack Kennedy.”

My question is this: is this nation-wide Obama/Kennedy comparison an organic, genuine feeling? Or is this the Dems taking a page out of the Republican play book? Is JFK the Dem Reagan? The Republicans act as if Reagan was ten feet tall and his tears cured cancer. Each Republican candidate has dug up the corpse of the Reagan mythos and made sweet love to it in stump speeches and televised debates. There’s a whole generation of people who have no information about Reagan, yet the Republicans have done such a fantastic job fabricating the new Reagan brand that people think he is second only to Jesus Christ himself in terms of American salvation.  It doesn’t matter who McCain chooses for VP, he wants people to think Ronald Reagan is his running mate.

It makes me wonder: did the Dems feel they needed their own dead president with which to enter the realm of political spiritual warfare? Is this Obama/Kennedy comparison a cooked up, coordinated effort so that the ghost of JFK could do battle with the ghost of Ronald Reagan in November?

I said above that I do feel the Kennedy comparison is valid. However, I think pro-Obama Democrats are laying it on thick the same way Republicans lay their love for Reagan on thick.  If Obama wants to run against Clinton on the “It’s the past versus the future” campaign theme, overuse of the JFK comparison might not be the best idea.

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