The John F. Kennedy Presidency – A Brief Look at One of America’s Most Loved Presidents

An overview of the foreign and domestic policies followed by Kennedy during his short time as President of the United States.

John F. Kennedy is one of America’s most loved presidents, yet his time in office was famously ended by his assassination only two years into his first term. He was well known outside the political arena for his work as a journalist and writer, and even won a Pulitzer Prize. He came from a well known family and he and his wife achieved popular celebrity status. He also served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate before his inauguration as President.

Kennedy made a name for himself as a Cold Warrior, and took an aggressive line in his dealings with the Soviet Union. Whilst this was possibly a tool for gaining popular support at home, he often failed to consider the messages that he was sending to the USSR, who regarded his speeches as indications of America’s aggressive intent towards them.

His Cold War politics brought America into direct conflict with the island nation of Cuba. The disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion was an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Soviet-supported regime. It was planned that Cuban exiles would take over the island, supported by the USA. However all of the exiles were captured or killed, and the operation was an unmitigated failure.

Kennedy is also remembered for his part in the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event which history remembers as the closest that the world ever came to nuclear war. In the end, Kennedy negotiated the removal of missile bases from Cuba in exchange for his removal of missiles from Turkey. This was a skillful political operation, as the missiles in Turkey had already been scheduled for removal. However, Kennedy played a risky game, and it is only in the years since that we realize how far Fidel Castro had been willing to go.

Domestically, Kennedy had very limited achievements. He was only in office for a short time, throughout which he had a very poor relationship with Congress. Nevertheless, he did make important steps towards ending racial discrimination. His Civil Rights Act was not passed until after his death, but it is fitting that we should give him credit for it.

John F. Kennedy, as has been mentioned, was hugely popular, and the nation was traumatized by his death. However his political achievements were not particularly great and it would seem that his popularity was more due to his personality, media skill and family connections than his skill as a politician.

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