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Question: Was JFK considered a great president during his tenure? 

Ted Sorsensen: Well I think so. The people loved him. Even those who were suspicious of him at the start because he was a Catholic found that he was not trying to advance the Catholic Church hierarchy’s agenda. He wasn’t trying to put public money into church schools the way that Bush’s so-called Faith Based Initiatives have done. He wasn’t sending an ambassador to the Vatican as though it were a state. He was not blocking reproductive freedom for women. In fact he was the first president . . . Ironic as the first Catholic president, he was the first president to support United Nations world population limitation programs. So people got over those early suspicions, and they found that in one program after another – whether it was the Peace Corps, or the space program aiming to go to the moon, or his peaceful resolution of the crisis in Berlin, and above all his ability to persuade the Soviets to withdraw their nuclear missiles from Cuba without the United States firing a shot – yes, I think people realized that was an unusual presidency, and Kennedy was an unusual man.



More from the Big Idea for Friday, November 22 2013

The Rules of Power

"Martyrdom's blood and tears can wash away grievous sins -- the martyr's and our own." That is the case of John F. Kennedy's legacy, writes Larry J. Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half-Century: ... Read More…


Ted Sorensen on JFK's Legacy

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