"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
James Piereson argues provocatively in a new book that JFK's assassination led to a change in American liberalism, from a positive creed that saw America as a force for good in the world, to a negative tendency, cynical of American society, power and influence.
It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy’s death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?
Certainly the Cold War liberalism of the JFK Era had dash. Think New Frontier and the Space Race. Think Passing the Torch and Bearing Any Burden. Think James Bond and Felix Leiter. What is "liberalism," so called, today? The puerile, embittered leftists of the Daily Kos? Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter, and Nancy Pelosi?
Piereson maintains that, after President Kennedy was killed, a meme developed that JFK had fallen in right-wing Dallas to a sort-of amorphous Hatred at loose in American society, which fit the agenda of the Sixties Left more than the truth, that JFK had been assassinated by a Communist. As a result, he argues, liberalism took its eye off the ball as far as winning the Cold War and defending the Free World was concerned, and allowed itself to become the province of prune-faced kiljoys who see America an oppressor and the source of the world's ills. (Or something like that.) I don't know that I'm 100-percent convinced, but he makes a very interesting case. Certainly, the paranoid style, once considered the trademark of John Birchers and anti-fluoride crusaders on the right, now seems entrenched among grassy knollers on the left.