Two days, millions of words – and I don’t doubt Cooke was being literally accurate. How many more millions have been written on the subject since? But that most urbane and percipient broadcaster did have sensible and proper words to add – of course.
Among them was a comparison of the huge hopes that attended Kennedy’s election in 1960 with the actual disappointment of his three years in office.
“Many thoughtful men,” Cooke said, “were beginning to wonder if the president’s powers were not a mockery of his office, since he can be thwarted from getting any laws passed at all by the obstruction of a dozen chairmen of Congressional committees.”
The Obama administration followed much the same trajectory – minus, thankfully, the bullet in Dallas. Unrealistically high hopes, unfairly bitter disappointment.
And now we have the mirror image. No presidency of my lifetime has begun in such fear and disbelief as the present one. And all those people who spent eight years bemoaning that Obama seemed unable to get anything done are now thanking the deity of their choice that the same constraints apply to Trump.
So the president fails to scrap the health care provisions granted to his citizens by the Affordable Care Act (so-called Obamacare). Three Republican senators say No to the Donald and 22million ordinary Americans, many of them Trump voters, breathe a sigh of relief.
And here’s a statistic worth thinking about for a moment. There are an estimated 2,500 transgender personnel serving the US armed forces.
This demonstrates two things. That there are more transgender people out there than you might have thought. And that there are an awful lot of people – of all kinds except, presumably, pacifists – in the US military.
It’s probably not a statistic Trump knew when he issued his infamous tweet about not “accepting or allowing” transgender people to serve. He may know better now, unless his butterfly brain has merely flitted on to something else.
Like so many of the Twitterer-in-chief’s ill-thought-out tweets, this one certainly set the cat among the pigeons. But I don’t think the pigeons really need worry too much. This cat may miaow viciously but it has no real claws. A tweet may reveal the president’s bigotry but it doesn’t amount to policy.
A man with rather more gravitas than Trump is General Joseph Dunford. As chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, he is the highest ranking officer in the US forces and the chief military adviser to the White House.
And his official response to the infamous tweet included these words: “There will be no modification to the current policy… We will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect.”
I have, admittedly, taken out the words “until” and “in the meantime” from Dunford’s announcement. His role requires him to be diplomatic. But the direction of travel is still pretty clear.
This latest off-the-cuff twitch of the presidential forefinger is no more likely to become law than Kennedy’s abandoned tax reforms. Or JFK’s plan to provide care for the elderly, which had to wait 50 years for Obama to implement something like it.
The real danger of Trump may not really be in anything he says or tweets. It may be that the constant clown show draws attention away from whatever the real politicians in Washington are up to.