Robert Dallek: Why John F. Kennedy’s Legacy Endures

Roundup: Historians' Take

Robert Dallek is the author of “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963.” He wrote this letter to the New York Times.

The Enduring Cult of Kennedy,” by Ross Douthat (column, Nov. 27), is anti-Kennedy overkill.

No serious historian would suggest that John F. Kennedy’s unfinished presidency deserves to be ranked with those of Washington, Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt. But he deserves better than Mr. Douthat gives him.

True, it took President Lyndon B. Johnson to win passage of President Kennedy’s four great legislative initiatives — a tax cut, Medicare, federal aid to education and civil rights — but he put them on the table and would have been well positioned to pass them after his more than likely re-election in 1964....

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