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Family Influence on Kennedy and Clinton

Politicians are fond of allusion: stature by self-proclaimed association with the "great." The 1992 presidential elections found Republican Party candidate, President George Bush, throwing the mantle of Harry Truman around his shoulders in an attempt to draw parallels between his own struggling campaign and that of the classic "underdog" sitting president of 1948. Comparison with the presidential election of 1960 might have been more appropriate, however, at least for the Democratic Party candidate, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton (Schlesinger 53-54). From the safe position of post-election perspective, it is easy to see where the careers, campaigns, even personal lives of the successful presidents-elect, John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, follow a similar pattern of approach to the high-stakes game of national politics. This is not a coincidence: a close look at Bill Clinton's political style reveals a studied appreciation of John Kennedy the man - and politician.

This is not to deny elements beyond both men's control - formulative childhoods that influenced their approach to the body politic - but it is precisely in this area where the future actions of each man came to be determined. The specific influence on both Clinton and Kennedy appears to be that of the family unit figure - or lack of one.

John Kennedy's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a formidable figure. Successful, strong-willed, intelligence combined with a sensitivity to social needs that did not mitigate an innate ruthlessness, Joe Kennedy set standards and taught lessons in leadership on an everyday basis that initially left his second son pushed aside in favor of heir-apparent Joe, Jr. The lessons were learned nevertheless - with an added twist: young John Kennedy learned the art of in-family politics as an "outsider," succeeding in capturing his father's attention through the allied means of action and "political" alliance. His published 1940 thesis, Why...

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Family Influence on Kennedy and Clinton. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:53, June 24, 2019, from