Saturday, July 12, 2008
Anything But Camelot -- JFK Would Have Been Amused By Imagery But Historians Aren't. Kennedy's Real Meaning Is Breaking Barrier to the Presidency.
The constant refrain of "Camelot" whenever the Kennedy name is invoked has lasted for more than 40 years. It's one of the strangest conards in American history, one that would have amused JFK, according to the late historian Arthur M. Schlesinger. After all, Kennedy won a narrow election as the first Irish Catholic ever elected to the presidency -- hardly the stuff of British knights of the round table. Unfortunately, the Camelot imagery, though well intended and sympathetic, steals away the real historic meaning of Kennedy's tenure as the first president from a minority background in our history. The current campaign of U.S. Barack Obama has a number of striking similarities to Kennedy's 1960 effort, none more so than the attempt of another person from a minority background to break-through another barrier.
In a 2002 update to his best-selling "A Thousand Days," Schlesinger dispelled the Camelot imagery that his friend Jackie Kennedy help to create: