August 6, 2012
COURAGE AND POLITICS I
Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we begin our report on Senator John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Profiles In Courage.”
JFK’s book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
Among the Senators included in the book are John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton & Sam Houston.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
“Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs.”
And in the Preface, JFK gives credit to both his research associate, Theodore C. Sorensen & his wife, Jacqueline.
The title of Chapter I is “Courage & Politics”
JFK begins by saying that “This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues–courage.”
And he goes on to make reference to Ernest Hemingway’s definition of courage as “Grace under pressure.”
JFK writes of the many criticisms, past & present, of United States Senators.
He says, however, the he is convinced that the perceived decline in political courage….
“has been less in the Senate than in the public’s appreciation of the art of politics, of the nature & necessity for compromise & balance, & of the nature of the Senate as a legislative chamber.”
JFK talks about the pressures that Senators face.
The 1st is the desire to be liked or “the way to get along is to go along.”
A Senator must decide if it is better to compromise in order to get a fair or poor bill passed as opposed to resisting compromise but getting as a result “no bill at all.”
The 2nd pressure is the desire to be re-elected.
JFK argues that this is not totally self-centered because the conscientious Senator wants to continue to be around to fight for his cause.
The 3rd pressure is that of the Senator’s constituency which include “unreasonable letters & impossible requests.”