Both John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were elected to Congress in 46, a year in which the New Deal took a serious beating as the Republicans regained control of Congress on the slogan “Had Enough?” Nixon of course, had campaigned against incumbent Jerry Voorhis on an anti-New Deal platform, but it’s often forgotten that when JFK first ran for the House in 1946, he differentiated himself from his Democratic primary opposition by describing himself as a “fighting conservative.” In private, Kennedy’s antipathy to the traditional FDR New Deal was even more extensive. When Kennedy and Nixon were sworn in on the same day, both were already outspoken on the subject of the emerging Cold War. While running for office in 1946, Kennedy proudly told a radio audience of how he had lashed out against a left-wing group of Young Democrats for being naive on the subject of the Soviet Union, and how he had also attacked the emerging radical faction headed by Henry Wallace. Thus, when Kennedy entered the House, he was anything but “progressive” in his views of either domestic or foreign policy. It didn’t take long for these two to form a friendship. Both were Navy men who had served in the South Pacific, and both saw themselves as occupying the vital center of their parties. Just as JFK lashed out against the New Deal and the radical wing of the Democratic party, so too did Richard Nixon distance himself from the right-wing of the Republican party. Nixon’s support of Harry Truman’s creation of NATO and the aid packages to Greece and Turkey meant rejecting the old guard isolationist bent of the conservative wing that had been embodied in “Mr. Republican” Senator Robert Taft. Indeed, when it came time for Nixon to back a nominee in 1948, his support went to the more centrist Thomas E. Dewey, and not to the conservative Taft. Kennedy decided to go into politics mainly because of the influence of his father. Joe Kennedy, Jr. had been kil…
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