The Associated Press marks the 50th anniversary of JFK's inaugural address with an "analysis" about how much things have changed since then, declaring, "Were it uttered by a modern politician, Kennedy's famous 'ask not' call to service might well be derided as a socialist pitch for more government."
Truth is, it was derided at the time as such; as Mark Perry recently noted, Milton Friedman's 1962 Capitalism and Freedom complained that "'what you can do for your country' implies the government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary." At least Friedman, though, agreed with the "ask not what your country can do for you" part, praising the message of individual responsibility, which the Associated Press, alas, seems to have edited out of the Kennedy legacy.
The AP article goes on to declare that "The Great Depression, World War II and the Interstate Highway System helped build the perception of government as a positive force. Now, after years of partisan gridlock, conservatives and many independents have soured on Washington and see federal expansion under President Barack Obama as a problem, not a solution."
World War II built a perception of government as a positive force? Did it escape the AP's notice that it was also German and Japanese governments that attacked us? Has the AP author ever seen Bill Mauldin's World War II cartoons lampooning American military inefficiency and officiousness? The Interstate Highway System, which hurt both towns and businesses that it bypassed and the neighborhoods it bisected?