In the late 50’s the aurora of John Kennedy grew by leaps and bounds assisted by an exciting world war ll military record, a family of wealth and eventually the selection of a sophisticated princess wife with a French flavor, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. In 1960 JFK, as he was affectionally called, beat Richard Nixon for the Presidency of the United States.
Almost from the start of his political career, JFK had some magic with the press and the public. He was young, 43 when he was assassinated, his wife was well educated but charming and able to identify with the public and his family was colorful with considerable pull in the political community. In no small way his family ties allowed him to overcome whatever discrimination some of the public harbored against him because he was catholic. He became the first Roman Catholic President of our country. Now what I have just told you is not new information if you are over 55 years of age. Those younger may not remember a lot of details but almost certainly they recall the phrase Camelot Presidency or some similar reference to JFK’s short reign as president.
Indeed the press coined the phrase “the Kennedy Camelot Presidency” referring to a king and queen for our country. The term Camelot presidency was only used in the most positive sense. The press felt the future would be filled with high hopes with a minimum of politics in running our government and a positive future of new ideas and social changes.
Of course the assassination of JFK in 1963 left the country in a state of profound shock and sadness. Clearly Camelot would not be obtained, certainly not with the new President Johnson, an experienced, get things done by deals, politician. While the press couldn’t let go of the hope that JFK represented the future, the public eventually adjusted to moving on with the political life that was part of reality.
The press eventually satisfied its hopes with periodic references of what might have been with a Camelot presidency, until 1998, 38 years after the assassination. A young man of mixed blood, an exotic history of life in foreign lands and a sterling education appeared on the horizons of Chicago politics.
Barak Obama stirred the passions of the liberals and the press. The press, more sophisticated after 38 years still had a sense of hope and change, a new Camelot if you will. Barak had many of the features that JFK had, not the war record but the liberal record and sense of direction for the county that democrat party members seemed to identify with and of course the press embraced. When Barak ran for President he capitzied on the hope and change that the press saw in this young mixed race candidate, maybe the first mixed race President in this country’s history, a “first” the press would be delighted to promote in the 2008 election. The press seldom if ever used the phrase Camelot in association with the Obama campaign but they did as they had in the JFK era structured many stories about the candidate that was based on a new hope for the future from a progressive, socially advanced, prejudiced free representation of “all” of the U.S. citizens. There were some usual liberal promises by Obama of stopping the war, improving education for the poor, putting environmentally driven regulations first to save our nature and “leveling” the business playing field so “everyone” gets a chance to make more money and of course last but not least, taxing the rich to level the field of government responsibilities.
While not spoken by the press because they don’t want to be accused of nostalgic support of the Camelot idea they do believe, not so secretly that Obama is their answer to a promise they looked to change our country for the better.
Now this might be the time to point out that President Kennedy’s untimely death left in place the hopes for change that the press and many of the liberal democrats felt would happen with a JFK regime. However JFK’s two plus years in charge didn’t actually allow the public to see if his ideas and proposed legislation would actually work. There were also indications that Camelot was not so perfect when it came to decisions in Cuba, Vietnam and some other pending issues. The fact was that the dream of Camelot could stay in place because it would never really be fully tested.
Obama on the other hand came into the presidency off of a Bush senate controlled for the last two years of George’s Presidency by the democrat party. He has had his three and a half years plus to implement his promises, the first two years the congress controlled by his party. The net result is that the promises made to the democrat party, the liberal voters and the press have not been met or only partiarially achieved.
Failures or partial successes aside it is not uncommon for people who voted for Obama to say that while they are not happy with what he has or has not done to meet the promises they as voters expected, they will probably vote for him again.
I proffer the idea that unlike JFK who didn’t have a chance to finish his first term Obama has had his chance and fallen short of the liberal and press hopes. The Obama voters willingness to “give him another chance” is I believed based on the Camelot syndrome, a desire by the press and liberal voters to let him try one more time, knowing that by the many actions he has taken in his three and a half year reign he is really human, more a politician than anything else….but who knows, he may still be able to make the changes he promised in his 2008 election, his Camelot moment.