What if JFK had lived? Experts discuss the person he’d be today

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, shortly before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. Credit: Getty Images
President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, shortly before his assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
Credit: Getty Images

Half a century later, historians of John F. Kennedy have shifted their focus from the events of his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, to imagining the impact of a presidency that could have been.

“He would be seen as significant, but without the aura,” says Robert Dallek, Kennedy historian and author of several books on JFK. “We probably wouldn’t be talking about him now.”

For some, the Cuban Missle Crisis, which transformed Kennedy from a Cold War hawk into the peace-mongering author of the first Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, is evidence that, today, he would be pursuing world peace.

“Kennedy became determined to avoid conflict with the Soviet Union and China,” says Dallek. “The new dialogue with the Kremlin and the Test Ban Treaty were a measure of how he was trying to wind down the Cold War. If he had lived, we would have had detente sooner than we got it under Richard Nixon.”

Many say Kennedy would have won the 1964 presidential election, having enjoyed a 70-percent approval rating. He also had a good chance of securing the Democratic majority in Congress, as his successor Lyndon Johnson did. That would have given him freedom from the Southern Republicans pressuring him to halt civil rights reforms, and his own advisers pushing for war with communist dictatorships.

That freedom would have extended to the Vietnam War, says Jeff Greenfield, author of “If Kennedy Lived.” “He was saying, ‘I can’t do anything until I’m elected, but after that I’m looking for a way out (of Vietnam).’”

Biographer Thurston Clarke claims Kennedy would have moved faster, “removing 1,000 advisers from Vietnam by the end of 1963.”

Dallek says America’s social revolution in late 1960s, when racial and sexual movements converged, would have been “less pronounced” had JFK stopped Vietnam. “The war provoked those divides in society; there wouldn’t have been that level of unrest.”

Without anger over Vietnam, Richard Nixon may not have been elected to stop the war. If so, the seediest episode in presidential history, when Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, would have been avoided.

Still, others say Kennedy may have struggled if re-elected.

“The press were becoming suspicious of his affairs,” said Greenfield, speculating that his infidelities would have become public and ruined him. His management of Addison’s disease would also have been difficult, he said.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.