Unless you’re really up on current events, you may not have even heard about a recently-aired, high-quality television mini-series about the Kennedy family in the JFK era. That’s in part because the programs aired on the obscure Reelz Channel when the History Channel, under intense pressure from the current Kennedy family and friends, ditched their plans to air the series. A source for which I have great respect—World Magazine—in its review wonders what all the fuss was about after viewing the eight fair and balanced episodes. So do I.
Hollywood and the media in general could learn a lot from productions like this one. By presenting the Kennedys, warts and all, but in such a way that their dignity remained intact (in other words, in a way that mature adults could appreciate), a conservative viewer can actually come away from it with a higher regard for both JFK and his brother Robert (Ted was not a part of the story). Especially when compared to the current White House occupant, President Kennedy and his closest advisor brother come across, agree with them or not, as earnest, patriotic leaders who faced numerous crises with an acceptable blend of political as well as what’s-best-for-the-country considerations. JFK’s caution in his handling the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall and Cuban missile crises could easily be interpreted as timidity, especially when contrasted with his top general’s hawkish insistence on forceful action. However, the programs let the give-and-take between Kennedy and his advisors play out and allowed the audience to draw its own conclusions. Certainly, it could be argued that at least in the case of the Cuban missiles, Kennedy’s cautious compromise of the naval “quarantine” showed just the right amount of resolve to make Khruschev back down from the brink of nuclear war.
Unlike the adolescent-mentality, insulting productions about the Reagans and Bushes produced in the recent past by typical Hollywood liberals, The Kennedys treated their subjects with the respect they deserved in recognizing their gifts and their love of country as well as their flaws. And although there were ample references to JFK’s well-documented womanizing, it was not of the in-your-face variety; the only woman with whom the president was shown in the bedroom was his wife. And Bobby was revealed, as the World review acknowledges, as a principled family man. In fact, I found myself wondering how different things might be today if Bobby had survived the assassin’s bullets and gone on to be president in 1968. Just think—no Nixon; no Watergate; the man and the event that unhinged the Left then and ever since.
It’s sad that the surviving Kennedy clan and their allies had such paranoia about this production’s release. Granted, it is a documentary and is certainly not 100 percent factual; yet it’s probably more true to life than any over-the-top productions the Hollywood left would produce to glorify them. But their reaction illustrates the very divisiveness that Robert Kennedy decried in his 1968 campaign. They so distrust us that they believe none of us is enlightened enough to handle the truth and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. In so doing, they expose the yawning gap between today’s blame-America-first ultra-liberals and yesterday’s wrong-on-issues but undeniably pro-American Democrat party. In my opinion, JFK was not a great president—but compared to the current occupant, he stands head and shoulders above as a true American patriot who revered his country. The Kennedys miniseries only served to burnish that part of the Kennedy legacy, and it’s a great thing that today’s children need to see.