Was JFK over-rated?

I have heard a lot of people say that JFK was one of our best presidents in history. But i have not heard of anything he actually did while in office except for almost get this country nuked and die. Can someone enlighten me?

IIRC, He wasn’t a remarkable president. He was full of charisma and plans. He was a breath of fresh air to the country. Everone put their faith in him. With his death the air escaped the balloon and everyone was devastated.

If nothing else JFK deserves a lot of credit for his actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis. While various advisors were itching to start WW III, including Eisenhower, JFK went the other direction and diffused the situation without any invasions of Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crises firmly puts him in my book as one of our better presidents simply because he handled it so well.

Now if the CMC hadn’t happened, who can say? I don’t particularly find him anything more than charismatic nor do I recall any long lasting policies from his administration. But maybe there’s something I’m missing.


A few years ago American Heritage magazine polled a large group of historians and asked 'em to rate the presidents.
JFK got lower marks for the simple reason that he was not around long enough. It was not a criticism of the man, just his limited time-frame.

Before JFK’s tax cut, income tax took 90% of everything over $100,000.00. That’s not as great as Lincoln or FDR, but it remains one of those unrecognized accomplishments, like how Nixon signed more social service legislation than even LBJ.

Hey, what about Vietnam? He sent a lot of guys over there, it basically started up under his watch.

As for the Cuban missiles. they were put there as a reply to NATO missile put in Turkey. Don’t think the US didn’t have a say in puttting in the Turkish missiles - or NATO pulling them before the Russians pulled the Cubans. NATO started it all.

Kennedy was inexperienced and militaristic. He gave Khruschev the impression that he was a pushover and this led to his putting missiles into Cuba. He surrounded himself with ambitious and inexperienced people like McNamara who led us into Vietnam. Having his brother as attorney general was inappropriate. His heart was not in civil rights legislation and it took LBJ to get it through.

After almost getting us into nuclear war, he was at his best during the Cuban missile crisis, but it should never have occurred in the first place.

Would Nixon have been a better choice in '60 - probably not.
I liked Estes Kefauver myself, but he lost to JFK in the primary.

Admittedly, he had the looks of a movie star and a lot of wit, but does this make a good president? He was actually about average as a president. Reagan, Truman, Roosevelt and many others were much better.

He provided a lot of inspiration to a generation of young people as far as asking what they could do to help their fellow man. He challenged America to put a man on the moon within 10 years, and we did. Not bad, for starters.

Belittling the fellow, saying “he wasn’t all that” and a warmonger or, worst of all, (as some lamer is bound to do in this thread) regurgitating all the tired old exaggerations and allegations over sex etc. is, 99% of the time, sour grapes from jealous Republicans who seek to diminish the man’s legacy. Republicans are bitter over JFK because “the people” loved him so, and love from “the people” continues to elude the GOP.

Many historians consider JFK overrated. He gets a plus for the Cuban missile crisis and the way he got people involved in government. More often overlooked was that he had troubles getting his programs through Congress (LBJ did that later). Vietnam was problematic – he supported South Vietnam and was happy to send in advisors (though I think Eisenhower had the original committment) and a lot of mythology about JFK and the issue has sprung up over the years (though most historians agree he was most likely to do pretty much what LBJ did).

Because of his death, people put him up on a pedestal, but the actual accomplishments of his administration are relatively meager.

Chuck - I think Ike sent a number of “advisors” and trainers, but JFK sent the first real combat troops.