Monday, February 04, 2008

From "I am a donut" to "Tear down this wall!"

If you page past all the hand-wringing over what could have (should have!) been the sixth-greatest sports triumph in my lifetime, you'll find in today's Boston Globe an op-ed so revisionist in its analysis that the Patriots might be tempted to name the writer team historian.

While political junkies continue to await the news that Splash will endorse Barack Obama, James Carroll finds "the real meaning of [the] torch-passing" that is the Kennedy clan's domino-like fall for a wanna-be "president like [Caroline Schlossberg's] father".

Mr. Carroll lavishes praise upon "the slain president" for his 1963 speech at (my alma mater) The American University, which, "addressed as much to the Soviet people as to the American, was a breakthrough. Gone were demonizing paranoia and saber rattling. Instead, he honored the virtue of the Soviet people, and suggested that the Cold War standoff was as much his nation's fault as theirs."

There's only one problem with the moral equivalency of this blame-America point of view: It was wrong. And being wrong, it failed.

The Cold War escalated during John F. Kennedy's term because Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev saw him for what he was: a young, inexperienced president unwilling and unable to muster the strength necessary to recognize and powerfully confront "an evil empire".

When the Berlin Wall went up, President Kennedy's defining moment came when he stood helplessly in Berlin and said, depending upon one's generosity in translation, either "I am a Berliner" or "I am a donut."

President Ronald Reagan's defining moment came when he stood in Berlin and demanded: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

By recognizing and confronting an evil empire, Ronald Reagan accomplished what John Kennedy never could: Cold War victory, without a shot.

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