Lessons From: John F. Kennedy

How absensce can make you beloved

We've already covered how you can sometimes end with all of the credit for an idea with Charles Darwin, but what about making the world's perspective on you better than it should? John F. Kennedy is known as one of the most beloved presidents the United States has ever had, but was he really that good, compared to somebody like Richard Nixon, for example? Hell, they had one of the most interesting electoral campaigns in history, very intellectually charged, and both of these presidents were pretty defining for a new generation post WWII. 

JFK had a couple of rough bumps in the road. The most famous are, of course, the Bay of Pigs invasion, in which an army of Cuban refugees worked with the C.I.A. to attempt a coup in Cuba, which miserably failed, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the world was brought to believe in mutually assured destruction as an imminent threat for the first time. This, fortunately, was a success in the sense that nuclear bombs weren't detonated on either side, but seen as a defeat for the loss of strategic warhead placement in Turkey, right in the Soviet Union's front yard. 

People tend to forget smaller failures like his meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin's successor, which has been called by some the worst day of his life (sans getting his head blown off taken into consideration I assume), in which he was seen as weak by the soviet dictator and in fact probably led to the eventual threat of nuclear war. It was after their meeting in Vienna, in fact, when the Berlin Wall's construction began. 

He did have a few successes, of course. Keeping a cool head and preventing total annihilation is an achievement, but the threat itself was partially caused by him. He also created the Peace Corps and paved the way for the Civil Rights movement, which was finally brought to fruition by his successor Lyndon B. Johnson. 

Compare that to Nixon, then, who is one of the most disliked presidents in history, next to Buchanan, most of all because of the Watergate scandal in which it was found that Nixon's administration had been abusing power and had been recording many conversations which were promptly given to investigators and lead to the impeachment process and his resignation. 

Thus, it's no surprise that people overlook his reforms in welfare, civil rights, energy, and environmental policy, established the EPA, fought against sexual discrimination, lowered the voting age to 18, lowered the amount of troops in Vietnam and used the dividends to finance social welfare, made sure that Southern schools had thorough desegregation, and when it came to foreign policy, he was deemed to be a master of it, having even engaged the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the latter which opened its markets to the rest of the world as a result. You wouldn't drink a glass of clean water with one drop of shit, after all. 

What can we learn from this?

In a way, this speaks about the effectiveness of martyrism as a way to erase your past mistakes and redeem yourself. It's very clear that his charisma helped people remember him in a better light, as well, after all, the American public could even forgive his affairs and everything because he was a charmer and it was expected. 

Of the 48 Laws of Power he inadvertently used 16: Use absence to increase respect and honor. Had he died early, he probably would've been forgotten or at least not so revered by everyone, and had he died after his presidency, the impact would've been much smaller, after all, there is a whole world of speculation and conspiracy theories you can create when a president dies. Learn when the right time to disappear is, and you can wash your hands clean of your own mistakes as well.

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