Diagramming The New Frontier's Implosion
By Ed Driscoll · May 16, 2006 10:10 PM · Bobos In Paradise · Democracy In America · Radical Chic · The Future and its Enemies
In 1973, Daniel Patrick Moynihan looked back on the decade which had recently concluded and said, "Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade". Back in January of 2005, I attempted to use Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic as a signpost on the road between the traditional liberalism of FDR, Truman and JFK and the more radical, punitive version that followed and exists to this day. But in Commentary, James Piereson argues that it was Kennedy's assassination and its immediate aftermath, that would cause the momentous shift that would ultimately consign New Deal-style American liberalism to the ash heap:
Liberalism entered the 1960’s as the vital force in American politics, riding a wave of accomplishment running from the Progressive era through the New Deal and beyond. A handsome young president, John F. Kennedy, had just been elected on the promise to extend the unfinished agenda of reform. Liberalism owned the future, as Orwell might have said. Yet by the end of the decade, liberal doctrine was in disarray, with some of its central assumptions broken by the experience of the immediately preceding years. It has yet to recover.Hugh Hewitt once said:
There is a Kennedy dynasty in Massachusetts and vast Kennedy affection in the Democratic Party and among liberal media. But there is no Kennedy dynasty in America, just an interesting family that wished for a dynasty and could never figure out that Jack's politics might have pulled it off, but never Teddy's.Read the whole essay by Piereson, which is tremendous; he brilliantly diagrams the transformation from one era to the next.
Another Update: I shouted out who killed the Kennedys, but after all, it was you and me.
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