The new issue of Politico Magazine features an essay by the former John F. and Robert Kennedy speechwriter Adam Walinsky about why he’s planning to vote for Donald Trump. Trump, Walinsky argues, will follow in the Kennedys’ anti-war tradition by working with Russia to utterly destroy ISIS. Make sense? Actually, no. Not at all.
Start with Walinsky’s claim that his heroes, “John and Robert Kennedy devoted their greatest commitments and energies to the prevention of war” and “required that great power be used with great precision and restraint and with humility.” Really? Is Walinsky referring to the same John F. Kennedy who campaigned for president in 1960 by claiming that the US faced a “missile gap” with the Soviet Union, a charge that Kennedy either knew, or should have known, was bogus? Is he referring to the same John F. Kennedy who, upon taking office, oversaw what speechwriter Theodore Sorenson called “the largest and swiftest [military] buildup in this country’s peacetime history”? Is this the same JFK who sent rebels to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs? The same JFK who during his brief presidency oversaw a tenfold increase in the number of US military advisors in South Vietnam? The same Robert Kennedy who called Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles a “gutless bastard” for opposing his plan to send Marines to invade the Dominican Republic in 1961?
Yes, the Kennedys did at times try to prevent the Cold War from exploding into outright conflict. JFK resisted a preventive military strike on Cuba during the missile crisis. He spoke eloquently about coexistence at American University in 1963. By the time he ran for president himself, Robert Kennedy had turned against the war in Vietnam he once championed. But Walinsky’s depiction of the Kennedy brothers as consistent and impassioned doves is absurd.