John F Kennedy is arguably the most iconic president of all time. However, his actual time in office is overshadowed by his assassination; the actual thing that most people remember him by. Was John F Kennedy really a good president? Just three months after his inauguration, the Bay of Pigs invasion embarrassed Kennedy’s administration almost before it had even begun its work. The Cuban armed forces, trained and equipped largely by the USSR, defeated the invaders, consisting of CIA trained Cubans in the USA, in just three days. It was a disaster. The invasion, if anything, increased support for the Cuban communist movement which was still relatively new at the time. More importantly, it was catastrophic for Kennedy and his government and decreased support for him so soon after his election.
The following year, Kennedy faced a second communist crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis. This was the closest that the Cold War came to forming a nuclear conflict. Following American intelligence finding that the USSR had set up short-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade that was searching all incoming ships for offensive weapons but allowing through other shipments. The way in which he negotiated with Khrushchev made Kennedy very popular at the time. He bargained with the USSR, offering to dismantle nuclear sites in Turkey if they dismantled their nuclear sites in Cuba. The clever bit is that Kennedy ordered the dismantling of nuclear sites in Turkey towards the beginning of his presidency. This showed Kennedy to be very shrewd, and a good negotiator, and was ultimately credited with preventing a nuclear war. This incident more than made up for the disastrous incident at the Bay of Pigs, and in fact, made Kennedy popular.
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Another positive factor for Kennedy was his use of “gesture politics.” With this policy, he managed to improve civil rights with acts that, while showing support to for example the black community, didn’t offend either side too much. One example of this is his appointment of five black people as Federal judges. This showed him to be very clever in a subtle way, and by pleasing everyone he showed himself to be a great president. Finally, Kennedy had a clear trait: he had great insight. In 1963, for example, he put forward the original Civil Rights Bill that was perhaps deemed to be too radical at the time for Congress, but was accepted by the following president, Lyndon Johnson, in 1964 (albeit slightly altered, it was a key piece of American legislation).
This, perhaps, showed him to be ahead of his time in a way, and although some would argue that he lacked the ability to get these bills passed, he would have presumed he had more time in his term in the presidency to try again (which was, of course, denied by his assassination that people tend to remember Kennedy for) and he did think of the original bills anyway. Overall, it is clear through the course of his presidency that Kennedy was a very shrewd, intelligent president. While he did have some flaws and experience some disasters in his time as president such as the Bay of Pigs invasion (actually, this was originally a plan of the previous president, Dwight D Eisenhower) he was overall a very good president for America in my opinion; if not a great president.