Monday, January 6, 2014

Kennedy & Nixon 1

I started Chris Matthews’ Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America.

What has interested me in my reading of this book so far is that Republican Richard Nixon called himself a liberal when he was running for Congress in 1946, whereas Democrat John F. Kennedy was calling himself a conservative as a candidate for Congress.  I can see how Kennedy was rather conservative, for, according to Matthews, Kennedy was not too keen on the New Deal, and he believed that Franklin Roosevelt gave too much to the Soviets at Yalta.  On how Nixon was a liberal in 1946, I am not entirely sure, for Nixon in 1946 ran against the New Deal.

On pages 49-50, Matthews talks about a debate that Nixon and Kennedy as Congressmen had with each other regarding the Republican Taft-Hartley bill.  Although Nixon was publicly for it and Kennedy was publicly against it, each had reservations about his own public position, Matthews narrates.  Matthews states that Nixon was actually more centrist on the issue of labor unions rather than right-wing and anti-union, and that Nixon thought that Taft-Hartley “went too far” (Matthew’s words).  Kennedy, meanwhile, did not want to alienate the “working stiffs” (Matthew’s words) in Massachusetts, so he publicly supported big labor.  Privately, however, Kennedy believed in taming big labor, and he did not care for the massive strikes that it created.

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