(The) Atmosphere in Dallas

Three people had set a card table last week, on the sidewalk outside the Bank of America in Keene. They posted signs with a photo of a “tyrant” with a little Hitler mustache. Anyone walking by was invited to sign a petition in support of an effort to Impeach President Obama.  Lots of people have likened Obama to Hitler. A few weeks ago, a member of the state legislature Arizona referred to President Obama as “De Fuhrer”.



So I was curious as to why our president should be impeached. “Under what charge? “, I asked.

“He’s forced the government takeover of health care!” one answered.

Well, he’s done no such thing. Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Clinton all proposed a chance for everyone to better access to health care and purchase insurance. Clinton won the Presidency in part because he championed health care reform. Of course, once in office, his ideas (and the recommendations’ proposed by the committee run by Hillary Clinton) were rejected by Congress.  Barack Obama proposed the Affordable Health Care Act. It was presented to and voted on by Congress and deemed Constitutional and the Law of the Land by the Supreme Court. That’s not tyranny, that’s democracy.

Fifty years ago, the United States and Soviet Union agreed to a Nuclear Test ban Treaty, banning experimental atmospheric nuclear detonations. Essentially, it said no more testing nuclear weapons by dropping bombs in remote locations. JFK critics claimed he was manipulated by Moscow, become soft on Communism and finally, of being a traitor to American values.


Dallas was a politically conservative city. The reception in San Antonio and Houston had been effusive but with the Stevenson incident a fresh wound, the reception in Dallas for the President was unpredictable. Opponents of the United Nations and people who feared communist Cuba as a threat to the United States were sure to demonstrate.

Evangelical radio preacher Billy James Hargis and his Christian Crusade had a loyal following in Dallas. The anti-communist John Birch Society and National Indignation Committee each had a significant following in Dallas. Dallas was also home to retired U.S. Army Major General Edwin Walker. In conduct unbecoming his office, Walker publicly accused Eleanor Roosevelt and former President Harry Truman of communist sympathies. Walker eventually resigned his commission after attempting to influence votes of soldiers  under his command. Influential billionaire oilman H.L. Hunt agreed with General Walker and talked Walker up to become Governor of Texas.

On the day the President visited Dallas; the National Indignation Conference distributed mock “Wanted for Treason” handbills with JFK’s photo. An advertisement with a series of pointed questions directed at the President by the American Fact Finding Commission carrying the name Bernard Weisman appeared in the Dallas Morning News.


 Weisman’s ad sarcastically greeted the President and asked 12 rhetorical questions, each starting with “WHY” in bold capital letters, including:

WHY has Gus Hall, head of the U.S. Communist Party praised almost every one of your policies and announced that the party will endorse and support your re-election?”

WHY have you scrapped the Monroe Doctrine in favor of the ‘Spirit of Moscow?”

When JFK saw the ad in that morning’s paper, he showed it to his wife and said “We’re in nut country now.”

Lee Harvey Oswald hadn’t seen the ad, he had his own agenda.


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