John F. Kennedy sure is getting a lot of play on the Wall Street Journal editorial page in the last couple of days. Yesterday, an editorial praised him for his efforts on youth physical fitness. Today, there's a piece by Fouad Ajami about President Obama:
Now and then Mr. Obama's devotees nodded to American history with evocations of FDR's New Deal and superficial parallels to JFK—the good looks, the glamour, the young children. But Kennedy had seen combat, was a Cold Warrior, and believed in the burdens of American power. Yes, he charmed Parisians and Berliners—but as the standard-bearer of an American empire of liberty. He never journeyed abroad to apologize on behalf of his country.
"Never" is a long time. I'm an admirer of Kennedy's. The closest I think he ever got to an apology was in his March 13, 1962 address on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress. He said: "For too long my country, the wealthiest nation in a continent which is not wealthy, failed to carry out its full responsibilities to its sister Republics. We have now accepted that responsibility." He was speaking to crowd of foreigners — the diplomatic corps of the Latin American countries — but the remarks were delivered in the White House state dining room. And he didn't come straight out and say, "I apologize." But he came pretty close.