November 21, 2013
<em>Our</em> President, in that he is claimed by all of us.
Our President, in that he is claimed by all of us.

In the 50 years since President John Kennedy’s assassination, George F. Will writes, he’s become so iconic and co-opted by various groups that his actual governance has been obscured. Specifically, that his interventionalism and lowering of the highest income tax brackets sound pretty darned conservative these days. Also that people born in 1917 are in the age group statistically most likely to be conservative, according to Gallup.

No, PostScript said the last one, but it’s sort of the point that many commenters had. In the broadest sense, yesterday’s liberalism becomes the past era conservatism tries to maintain.

cmsatown, for example, says that Kennedy cut taxes on the highest income brackets, but to waaaaay higher than would be politicially possible today:

Kennedy cut the top rate from 91% to 65%. Conservatives called Obama a socialist redistributor for taking the top rate back to 35%. By comparison to Kennedy Obama is a severe conservative.

BCAnnapolis has a quote from Kennedy, in fact, in which he claimed 60s-era liberalism, provided he got to define it first:

“If by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal”, then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”
― John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage

ManOfRome1, though, has a quote from Kennedy in which he claimed 60s-era conservatism:

In a speech before the Chamber of Commerce, right before the 1960 Democratic Primary in Maryland, Oregon Senator Wayne Morse challenged Senator Kennedy about his business and tax policy prescriptions; insisting that they were out of touch with the Democratic Party at the time.
Kennedy responded, “I believe that in a slow economy you dramatically cut both personal and corporate taxes, and reduce the regulatory burden on business; so that they can profit from their hard work and responsible decisions. Cutting taxes stimulates economic growth, and in the end brings in far more revenue into the treasury than raising taxes on the wealthy. Senator Morse seems to think that being a fiscal conservative is a liability for a Democratic presidential nominee. I disagree. In fact, I wear the title as the most conservative Democrat in the Senate with great pride, and view it as an asset in the general election.”

sslatten3 says you can play the same game with conservative presidents. And we do:

Reagan raised taxes 11 times as president and supported the 1967 Therapeutic Abortion Act as governor of CA. He also believed, first and foremost, in political compromise. His enduring quote was, “If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that’s what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.”
My point is that supporters of both political parties tend to stamp their own ideologies onto their fallen heroes. Often, this makes the fallen hero into something they weren’t.

Well, PostScript has no snarky rejoinder to that. Sorry, everyone.