JFK's Impact on the Presidency
Running head: JFKS IMPACT
JFK’S IMPACT ON THE PRESIDENCY
John F. Kennedy is one of the most popular presidents in the history of the United States. Like every other president, Kennedy affected and impacted the executive office despite only being in the position for two years. John F. Kennedy is responsible for the introduction of the “personal presidency”. Kennedy’s stance on foreign policy and the decisions he made in regard to other nations greatly impacted the presidency. Another impact that Kennedy had on the office of the presidency, as well as society as a whole, was his public assassination.
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Kennedy’s use of television, the way he handled his campaign and his governing style were all aspects of his personalization of the office. Although Kennedy was not the first president to appear on television, “it was under and because of Kennedy that television became an essential determinant-probably the essential determinant-of a president’s ability to lead the nation” (Milkis & Nelson, 2007). Kennedy’s principal forum for reaching the public was the press conference. He was the first president to allow the press conferences to be televised live and without restriction, realizing that the live interview process could be a good way to address the nation. Kennedy’s use of his family to manage his campaigns for office and his appointments of family members to positions in the White House Office further contributed to JFK’s personalization of the presidency.
During his short presidency John F. Kennedy had more than one foreign issue to deal with. Kennedy’s administration was accountable for the Bay of Pigs invasion, attempting to overthrow Fidel Castro. The attempt was unsuccessful leading to death and imprisonment of American citizens. The actions of JFK’s administration led to weak relations between the United States and Cuba for years after his tenure as president ended. Under Kennedy’s administration the United States got involved in the conflict in Vietnam for the first time. Even though he was not convinced that victory on the battlefield was possible, JFK still sent more than 16,000 military advisors to assist the South Vietnamese. According to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a historian that served on Kennedy’s staff, Kennedy personally thought he had overcommitted the United States in Southeast Asia, but “he permitted the commitment to grow. It was the fatal error of his presidency” (Milkis & Nelson, 2007). Obviously this involvement in Vietnam impacted not only JFK’s presidency but other presidents in office after him up to Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford in 1975.
On November 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy was shot twice and killed. Kennedy was riding in an open car riding beside his wife while on a speech making tour in Texas. Americans witnessed JFK’s death on live television, ironically the preferred medium that Kennedy used to address the nation. The death of JFK was a mournful and terrifying experience for America. At forty-three years old, he was the youngest elected president in history. He was a young, attractive and highly personable man that the general public related to, making it all the more difficult for society to cope with. Following the assassination of JFK, public security for following presidents was greatly increased, hoping to ensure there would not be a repeat.
After his passing JFK’s legacy of equality would live on and get further through legislation than he himself was able to accomplish, with Lyndon Johnson using Kennedy’s death as a way to pass the Civil Rights Act through Congress. John F. Kennedy has gone down in history as one of the most popular presidents. This seems to be due to his untimely death, as he did not accomplish any significant challenges while in office but nonetheless he has certainly had a great impact on the role of the United States president in both domestic and foreign affairs.
Milkis, S.M & Nelson,M. (2007). The American presidency, Origins and development, 1776 -2007. Washington, DC. CQ Press