Opinions of John F. Kennedy differ but it is commonly agreed that he was an impatient man and easily bored (though when he was laid up lengthily in a hospital bed, which happened not infrequently, his stoicism and patience were nothing short of astonishing). It stands to reason, then, that one of the things that bored him in the 1950s was the cold war, by then solidified into a dogmatic and rigid system.1 It is the ideological nature of that boredom, or discomfort, its dilemmas and limits, that interest me here. My double wager is that if one pursues Kennedy's idiosyncrasies on this score without reading him backwards from the unflinching coldwar policies he actually launched, apparently, in his presidency, then one will learn something both about the cold war at the time and about Kennedy himself.
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