It's been fifty years since JFK’s assassination and nearly twenty since Ronald Reagan disappeared from public life. While they never ran head-to-head, they developed their legacies in competing ways and those legacies battle each other even today. The story of one illuminates the other, and explains our expectations for the presidency and whom we elect. Even though one is the model Democrat and the other the model Republican, their appeal is now bipartisan. Republicans quote Kennedy to justify tax cuts or aggressive national defense; Democrats use Reagan’s pragmatism to shame Republicans into supporting tax increases and compromise.
Partly a "comparative biography" that explores John F. Kennedy’s and Ronald Reagan’s contemporaneous lives from birth until 1960, Scott Farris's follow-up to his widely praised Almost President shows how the experiences, attitudes, and skills developed by each man later impacted his presidency. Farris also tackles the key issues--civil rights, foreign affairs, etc.--that impacted each man’s time in office. How did previous life experiences form their views on these issues, and how do their dealings around each issue compare and contrast? Bookended by an examination of their standing in public opinion and how that has influenced subsequent politicians, plus an exploration of how the assassination of Kennedy and attempted assassination of Reagan colored our memories, this book also shows how aides, friends and families of each man have burnished their reputations long after their presidencies ended.
Scott Farris, a former bureau chief for United Press International and a political columnist, has interviewed most of the men and women who have sought the presidency over the past thirty years, and has managed several political campaigns. He appeared on the 2011 C-SPAN television series The Contenders, and has appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “Melissa Harris-Perry.” His work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.