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View Diary: September dKos Straw Poll results (417 comments)

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  •  ironic that JFK (none)
    exercised the most impressive executive skills, at least within a short period of crisis, of any president, IMHO (during the Cuban missile crisis).

    "Scrutinize the bill, it is you who must pay it...You must take over the leadership." - Brecht

    by pedestrian xing on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 11:08:43 AM PDT

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    •  I don't agree. (none)
      The Cuban missile crisis was a bad situation created in part by Kennedy's horrible decision to organize the Bay of Pigs invasion. Certainly it could have gone worse than it did, but it was partly a crisis of his own making.

      The neocons will not give us our country back. If we want it back, we'll have to take it.
      --Lila Garrett

      by peacemonger on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 11:10:43 AM PDT

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      •  Actually.... (none)
        ...The true history of Bay of Pigs, far as I've uncovered, is that Kennedy was not told about it at all until it was failing, when the hope was (implicitly) that he would fly off the handle and order a full-scale invasion of Cuba. He didn't.

        And the mafia, which had not forgotten the great cash cow it had had in Cuba, never forgave him.

        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

        by NewDirection on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 12:55:20 PM PDT

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      •  Just talking about the 13 days (none)
        I'm not suggesting Kennedy was the best president ever, by a long shot. But I think the leadership he showed in the Missile Crisis was truly extraordinary. Of all other men who have ever served as president, or who might have been president instead of Kennedy at that time, I see very few who would have averted a major war in that situation.

        Basically, you had the entire US military establishment saying, we must launch a preemptive strike, right now, in a closing windom of oppurtunity (which we now know was no window at all: some missiles were already operational). Much of his own cabinet, the Congress -- no one was willing to find another way out of that situation. Kennedy's restraint, his trust in his own judgment (which was so strong he actually went out of his way to bring in someone like old cold warrior Dean Acheson, who argued the hard line attack option against him -- can you imagine Bush doing anything remotely like that?), his creativity in finding or creating an interactive, engaged staff environment in which others could find new options not initally presented to him (naval quarantine, acting as if they had never received the second Kremlin cable), and his hands-on command authority to prevent accidental war (again, imagine Bush doing that) were all stunning examples of executive leadership at its best.

        One could argue that Bay of Pigs led to Cuban Missile Crisis, but then it is also true that Kennedy learned from is experience in Bay of Pigs, and when the military again said what "had" to be done in the Missile Crisis, he was willing to stand up to them -- virtually alone -- and say no this does not have to be done.

        And then there is one other aspect of the CMC that I think bears remembering: the discussion of whether to attack Cuba preemptively was opposed, in part, on moral grounds, that it was simply wrong for a big country to attack a weak country without direct provocation. The main advocate for this view was actually Bobby Kennedy, but obviously JFK took this view to heart, and, one could argue, had the good sense to have his brother's conscience in his cabinet.

        I look at Iraq, in which essentially the exact same moral choice was before us (except that the perceived threat in Iraq was as we now know completely phony, while the potential threat in Cuba was a very real nuclear threat, i.e., a vastly better justification for those who wanted war) and was decided by Bush in the exact opposite way, and I just want to weep.

        Kennedy had many many flaws, and made many mistakes, and was not always so resolute or courageous, holding his finger to the wind. But in those 13 days in October long ago, he was all the things he should have been, all that the country, the world, needed him to be, all I think that anyone could have asked for.

        It is easy to look like a leader by sending in troops, by waving a fist, by doing what all around you urge you to do. The leadership in CMC was more extraordinary and far more rare: leadership by refusing to accept a crisis in the terms in which it is presented, and by withstanding unimaginable pressures in order to do the right thing. I'll take that kind of leadership any day. And compared to the cretin who now occupies that chair, it's of course no contest at all.

        "Scrutinize the bill, it is you who must pay it...You must take over the leadership." - Brecht

        by pedestrian xing on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 03:00:11 PM PDT

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        •  Spot On. (none)
          JFK's resistance to the pressure from the Pentagon and Acheson to invade Cuba immediatedly saved the world feom all out nuclear war.

          Ike probably would have doen the same thing as JFK but God help us all if Nixon had won in '60.

          ownership society - you are on your own

          by Sam I Am on Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 05:19:09 PM PDT

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