When JFK Was No Adlai Stevenson


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July 28, 1960, Vol. V, No. 40

Kennedy and the Intellectuals

“Let us have your top-of-the-head response toward Kennedy’s nomination. What do you think of the man?”

The Voice queried 10 people in the creative professions on their attitude toward the Democratic Presidential nominee. The question elicited a wide spectrum of reactions, from reasonably enthusiastic to violently antagonistic. On balance, the replies seemed to indicate a significant reserve toward him…

JULES FEIFFER,, cartoonist: “Unlike the liberal anxiety expressed by the New York Post, I was all for the Kennedy nomination. The only trouble with Adlai Stevenson is that every once in a while his supporters, seeing him on television, must see how the image of him is totally contradicted by the reality. An interesting point about the civil-rights plank is that it was written, for whatever reasons, by Kennedy men, and supported, for whatever reasons, by Kennedy; while Stevenson in a televised interview after its adoption declined to come out for or against it.”

LORRAINE HANSBERRY, playwright: “I don’t think that when you read the substance of what Kennedy says it distinguishes him from other elements in politics I overtly fear.”

DAVID AMRAM, composer: “Well, I watched the Convention on television, and I was impressed very much by Stevenson’s speech which presented Kennedy, more than I was by Kennedy’s speech. However, I think it’s a very good thing that such a young man, who obviously doesn’t have the backing of the professional Democrats, the Mafia, the professional liberals, or the Deep South, is running for the Presidency…I think it’s time that our nation has some inspired leadership. I hope that Mr. Kennedy doesn’t succumb to the safe path of trying to please everyone.”

MAYA DEREN, cinematographer: “I think that Stevenson should have got it. He is the only man of sufficiently high calibre intellectually to deal with the kind of problems we have. As for Kennedy, he’ll be all right if he lets Stevenson think for him. If he’s really smart, he will let Stevenson think for him.

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