What one has written about Kennedy was not reverent. Now, in the wake of the President’s assassination, a sense of real woe intrudes itself. For it may be that John F. Kennedy’s best claim to greatness was that he made an atmosphere possible in which one could be critical of him, biting, whimsical, disrespectful, imaginative, even out of line. It was the first time in America’s history that one could mock the Presidency on so high a level, and we may have to live for half a century before such a witty and promising atmosphere exists again. So most of what one had to say, intended to have the life of contemporary criticism, becomes abruptly a document which speaks from the far cliff of a divide, from a time which is past, from history. What a sense of the abyss that the man is no longer with us, not there to be attacked, not there to be conversed with in the privacy of one’s mind.

This Issue

December 26, 1963