Friday, 19 November 2010

JFK and the Art of Politics

Andrew Marr has written an article and will be presenting a programme on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy's successful presidential campaign. Kennedy has become iconic because of his youth, great speeches and tragic early death. Marr argues that if you study his campaign closely, the truth is rather more murky. Kennedy's political team (which included Ted Sorensen, who died recently) pulled every trick they could in order to secure victory. "It is a tale of soaring and risk-taking rhetoric..." writes Marr, "but also big money, smears, bribes, wire-pulling and bottomless cynicism." Marr believes this set the template for the modern political campaign, linked very clearly to the rapidly- developing world of advertising and PR as seen in "Mad Men". The most well known aspect of the campaign was the television debates (which we have blogged about before). One interesting fact was that Kennedy asked for a "comfort break" with a minute to go before transmission, and only reappeared with seconds to go. This clearly unsettled his opponent, Richard Nixon, who went on to deliver a rather flustered and unsteady performance. Let us know what you think of the programme.

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