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Lieberman On Jfk

As if his main goal in life is to make Jon Chait's blog posts even more topical, Joe Lieberman decided to pen an op-ed in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. There's nothing in the piece that you have not read before (Democrats used to be strong, but now are weak; John McCain hates terrorism; Lieberman's more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone), but he does make a point about John F. Kennedy that is worth exploring. Here's Lieberman:

How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?

And this was the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy, who promised in his inaugural address that the United States would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of freedom."

Quoting Kennedy's inagural address is almost a requirement for op-eds like this one, but I have always been curious about what Democratic hawks such as Lieberman actually liked about Kennedy's foreign policy. Anyway, Lieberman's lack of specifics leads to howlers like this excerpt: 

There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.

Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.

That's right: It wasn't all that bad that JFK ordered a disastrous invasion of Cuba that almost led--at least indirectly--to nuclear war with the Soviets. No, that was fine when compared to Obama's "naivete." And as for Reagan's Iran policy, well, nothing to criticize there. Perhaps if Obama sent Ahmadinejad some missiles and a birthday cake, the Illinois Senator would gain Lieberman's approval...

--Isaac Chotiner