John Kennedy Schlossberg Defends JFK's Legacy in the 'New York Times'

The fallen president's grandson writes an earnest letter to the editor, and possibly launches his own political career

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Reuters

The earnest words of John F. Kennedy's grandson and namesake, John Kennedy Schlossberg, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's 18-year-old son, were published in Friday's New York Times.  As a "Letter To the Editor" on Page A22. Here is the text:

As a young man inspired by politics and history who has spent time studying the Kennedy administration, I take issue with Ross Douthat's Nov. 27 column, "The Enduring Cult of Kennedy," about President John F. Kennedy, my grandfather.

Mr. Douthat suggests that President Kennedy was a "near disaster." He criticizes Kennedy on civil rights; Kennedy was the first president to deem civil rights "a moral issue," and applied federal authority to force desegregation.

The president described as "famously hawkish" resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis peacefully. Mr. Douthat does not mention what President Kennedy called his proudest accomplishment: the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Contrary to what Mr. Douthat asserts about the Vietnam War, in 1963, at American University, Kennedy stated that America would never start a war. Many who served in his administration, including Ted Sorensen and McGeorge Bundy, long argued that my grandfather would have never invaded Vietnam as Lyndon B. Johnson did.

Finally, I take issue with Mr. Douthat's condescending view of the American people. He suggests that Americans who admire President Kennedy -- and as Mr. Douthat points out, the majority of Americans rank him among our best presidents -- do not understand their own history.

Instead, I suggest that President Kennedy's legacy remains relevant today not because of Camelot or conspiracy, but because Americans find inspiration and meaning there.

JOHN KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG

New Haven, Nov. 30, 2011

And, presto, just like that, Ross Douthat becomes the answer to a 22nd Century trivia question about the columnist who launched the political career of a beloved president's grandson. And, actually, Douthat deserves that ignominy for this piece.

Presented by

Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is a legal analyst for 60 Minutes and CBS Radio News, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Commentary Editor at The Marshall Project

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