JFK: eine neue Betrachtungsweise

CAMBRIDGE – Am 22. November jährt sich die Ermordung von Präsident John F. Kennedy zum 50. Mal. Für diejenigen, die damals schon lebten, war es eines jener Ereignisse, die so schockierend sind, dass man sich erinnert, wo man war, als man die Nachricht hörte. Ich stieg gerade aus einem Zug in Nairobi, als ich die dramatische Schlagzeile las.

Kennedy war erst 46, als er in Dallas von Lee Harvey Oswald ermordet wurde, einem frustrierten ehemaligen Marinesoldaten, der zur Sowjetunion übergelaufen war. Obwohl Kennedy zu Lebzeiten von Krankheiten geplagt war, wirkte er jugendlich und vital, was das Drama und die Eindringlichkeit seines Todes noch verstärkte.

Wegen seines Märtyrertods erheben viele Amerikaner Kennedy in den Rang der großen Präsidenten wie George Washington und Abraham Lincoln; doch sind Historiker zurückhaltender in ihren Bewertungen. Kritiker weisen auf sein manchmal rücksichtsloses Sexualverhalten hin, auf seine geringen legislativen Erfolge und auf sein Versäumnis, auf Worte Taten folgen zu lassen. Zwar sprach Kennedy von Bürgerrechten, Steuersenkungen und der Verringerung der Armut, aber erst sein Nachfolger Lyndon Johnson nutzte Kennedys Märtyrertod und seine eigenen weit eindrucksvolleren politischen Fähigkeiten, um in diesen Bereichen historische Gesetze zu erlassen.

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