{{show_title_date || "Matthews: The lesson on choosing our leaders we can learn from Kennedy, 10/25/12, 8:00 PM ET"}}

The lesson on choosing our leaders we can learn from Kennedy


Let me finish tonight with this.

Let’s talk about what happened 50 years ago, and what could happen five months from now.

Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles 90 miles from Florida. They were offensive weapons, some of them aimed at New York. As Nikita Khrushchev made clear, he fully intended to launch them if the U.S. tried to knock them out.

It was a frightening time. The only good news–the world-saving news–is that we had leaders determined not to let the frightening situation in Cuba escalate into a nuclear world war.

Jack Kennedy knew how things worked in the world. He knew from his reading of history that one step leads to another. One country takes one step it thinks it must take, the other country takes the next step, and suddenly they are at war.

He knew something else from reading history: countries that have weapons almost always end up using them. After all, we, the good guys, had used atomic weapons to end World War II in the Pacific.

So Kennedy decided that he would deal not just with those missiles in Cuba, but with what would happen if we acted to remove them. What would the Russians do? What would we do then? What would we be trapped into doing then?

Because he thought it out, because he knew his history, because he was not an ideologue, Jack Kennedy got us through.

When you vote for president, think about which of the candidates you trust to consider the consequences of what he does, because it is the consequences that we have to live through–or not live through.

One thing for sure: if Romney wins, he brings those crowds around Dubya–the Cheney crowd, the John Boltons, the whole hawkish crew of them–right back in with him.

The lesson on choosing our leaders we can learn from Kennedy