Brooklyn BookBeat: Author To Speak in Park Slope
By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
John F. Kennedy has long been revered in liberal circles. But on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, author Ira Stoll, a former Brooklynite, suggests that JFK was not the liberal hero that many envision; rather, his tax cuts, domestic spending restraint, military buildup and emphasis on free trade all demonstrate his conservative ideals.
Stoll, who recently lived in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope for several years, will discuss his new book “JFK, Conservative” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) at Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim on Nov. 18. In his book, Stoll makes the compelling case that judging by both current principles and those prevalent during JFK’s presidency, JFK was a conservative politician.
JFK certainly had a liberal appeal; he inspired Lyndon B. Johnson to push for momentous civil rights laws and his “New Frontier” program promised new spending on education and medical care for the elderly. His supporters maintain that he would have gone on to make great liberal strides had he not been assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.
But Stoll, examining JFK’s politics from a retrospective angle, brings to light many conservative ideas that the president championed. Among his chief priorities were anti-communism and economic growth. He implemented tax cuts that his more liberal advisers had adamantly argued against, he fought against unions, and fought for free trade and a strong dollar. Moreover, he encouraged military buildup and sought to disseminate fiercely anti-communist sentiment around the world.
While the majority of Republicans may not idolize Kennedy, Stoll convincingly argues that the president – despite his iconic status among liberals – had more in common with Republicans of the Reagan era.
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The Nov. 18 event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Congregation Beth Elohim is located at 274 Garfield Place in Park Slope. $10 suggested donation / Free for CBE members