AJ Valliant Arbitrarily ranks: Greatest Men; “Will daddy love me now”,JFK
April 18, 2007
Let me tell you something kids: bad parenting has spawned more wars, financial empires, and medical advancement then Allah, Pussy, and bad poetry combined. More specificly: Egotistical old men bent on achieving vicarious acclaim through their sons; big picture hockey dads railroading their promising youths in tragic greatness at any cost. In this next set of “AJ Valliant Arbitrarily ranks: The Greatest Men in history” I will be examining these prodigal sons, and the price paid for an old mans hubris. (well, several old men).
JOHN FITZGERALD KENNEDY
Handsome Jack. O’l Chowdah Pants. JF muthafuckin K. A pretty boy rich kid with a knack for fast talk, loose women, and getting shot in the dome. He was the last president anyone gave a damn about (you still can’t swing a sweaty Nixon without hitting a public school/post office/airport named after him), and the first to perfect the celebrity as merit formula. JFK was proof positive how far you can get with a little hard work, ample charisma, and a psychotic highly connected multi millionaire father willing to crush anyone who stood in the path of his family’s divine destiny to rule the United States of America.
His death was the groping uncle to Americans waning days of innocence; his life a heroic fiction of pop culture appeasement and backroom spin doctoring. JFK was thee president of the 20th century, maybe thee person of the 20th century: with all the flash, grandeur and decay that implies.
The Camelot comparison always struck me as particularly apt: A fantasy kingdom of imagined virtue torn apart by infidelity, disreputable children, and murder. Jack learned the paradox of prestige at an early age: his family’s wealth and social position were bought with bootlegging and bloody backroom dealing. Virtue was a matter of public record, and quite independent from ones actions. This cognitive loophole allowed jack to be whoremaster, diseased cripple, and mobbed up playboy…while simultaneously presenting the face of a war hero, vital family man, and lauded academic.
For all his sleazy douche baggery the dude did have flashes of character and tremendous personal style. When he crashed his PT boat into a Japanese warship he at least had the decency to drag his men to shore…and effect a rescue from an isolated pacific isle using nothing but a spare coconut and gullible native workforce. Sure he ran around on his smoking hot wife; but he had the balls to do it with the most famous women in world… and the generosity to let his brother tag in when his official duties became too pressing. And then they had her killed. Bad form Jack. (and one of many unfortunate dealings between the Kennedy clan and ladyfolk)
SHORT TERM IMPACT/LONG TERM IMPACT: 7/10
This is a deceptive one, as Kennedy was a surprisingly ineffective president; yet had a massive and long lasting cultural impact. He started, or participated in several landmark initiatives: civil rights legislation (though it was Bobby who drafted it), anti organized crime measures (again Bobby), and the space program, but died before most of them reached fruition. Ironically it was his death that gave him the posthumous political capital to push the landmark legislation through.
In death he became one of the new gods of the 20th century; eternally young and largely untarnished by indiscretion. His public execution made him the first and last Catholic Saint canonized by public id; and the conspiracy surrounding the assassination dispelled the paternal trust the government had previously held. (It also gave birth to a generation of savvy conspiracy theorists, bravely ferreting out black ops and shadow government dealings from the murky depths of their parents basement.)
COULD I DO THE SAME THING IF SUFFICIENTLY MOTIVATED: 9
Joe Kennedy force fed his sons into Presidential pursuit with the vigor of a WWI trench commander: “damn the loses boys, we’ll take that ridge by sundown come hell or high water”. Regardless of my wishes and suitability I’m sure JK and his illuminati buddies would have shoe horned me into the public awareness, then bribed, bullied and blackmailed who ever they had to, facilitate some sort of official office. Once there my inherent charming trustabilty, chiseled features, and oratorial flare would have had housewives dropping babies from passing zeppelins on the off chance I’d favor their greasy unfused skulls with a pre presidential kiss.
The real question is would I be willing to consign myself to the unavoidable Icarian tragedy that would surely befall me, were I to enter the public sphere. Not a lot of people know this: Joe Kennedy drank the blood of an entire family of gypsies to empower his business and political acumen. The curse that resulted from that atrocity ensures only that only the fat, homely, and relatively unsuccessful Kennedy’s can survive any length of time(The Baldwins have inverse curse in effect). I’m fairly sure my head would spontaneously detonate during my oath of office.
DID THEY EVER KILL A MAN: 9
Man, who didn’t Kennedy kill? Even when you filter out all the prostitutes, private school enemies, and family members who’s deaths he had a hand in, you are still left with a body count that would shame a Korean exchange student. Figure at least three from his WWII solider days, another four for each Democratic convention….and tens of thousands for vastly escalating the Vietnam War. If he hadn’t handled the Cuban missile crisis so slickly we could’ve been talking about the all time champ here.
QUALITY OF POP CULTURE HOMAGE TO THEM: 8
The Zapruder film alone is enough to warrant a seven. The sight of a president getting Sonny Corleone’d in front of tens of thousands of people has been blasted into the psyche of every generation since the deal went down. I’ve lost track of how many movies, TV series, comics, ad campaigns, and puppets shows have borrowed the sequence of events for dramatic purposes and conspiracy jerkoffery.
Aside from that cinematic cherry most of the JFK inspired media has been fairly standard docudrama crap, with the odd gem like Clone High pulling up the average.
The high point of modern American political polemic occurred in a 1968 in debate on the Vietnam war, between Gore Vidal and William Buckley. Vidal was explaining how the supporters of the Wars escalation were “pro or Crypto Nazis” then stated that Buckley himself was a Crypto Nazi. Buckley took offence, and in his bizarrely urbane accent replied “Now listen, you Queer…if you call me a Crypto Nazi again I’ll sock you in your god damn face and you’ll stay plastered”. Ah, for the days when men of consequence debated matters of import with class and erudition.
(Admittedly the Queer part was a little juvenile, but informing a known booze hound you will strike him such blow he will remain forever inebriated… that my friends is rhetorical gold.)
What does this have to do with Kennedy? Very little. I just think it’s awesome, and somewhat the same era…so I crammed it in here. I’m still giving Kennedy six bonus points since I think he knew these guys…and if he hadn’t escalated the Viet Nam war that exchange likely never would have happened.
TOTAL SCORE AND ASSESSMENT: 57
To quote the last Billy Joel song made before his talent was sucked away by his supermodel wife (I assume to prolong her unnatural life): “JFK, Blown away, what else do I have to say”. A solid president who had the good/bad fortune to reign over the most tumultuous time in the 20th century, and get clipped in the most dramatic fashion possible. I suspect if given the choice he would have rather been a journalist playboy enjoying a life of leisure. Nice one Joe. You prick.