"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."
For those who are not familiar with their history, Senator Biden was referring to how Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev treated President John F. Kennedy during the initial months of Kennedy's administration. Two major crises: the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missle Crisis arose following a disasterous (for Kennedy) summit meeting in June 1961 in Vienna. As this article published in the New York Times in May of this year pointed out, Kruschev correctly perceived Kennedy as weak and used that to his advantage:
Kennedy’s aides convinced the press at the time that behind closed doors the president was performing well, but American diplomats in attendance, including the ambassador to the Soviet Union, later said they were shocked that Kennedy had taken so much abuse. Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense, said the meeting was “just a disaster.” Khrushchev’s aide, after the first day, said the American president seemed “very inexperienced, even immature.” Khrushchev agreed, noting that the youthful Kennedy was “too intelligent and too weak.” The Soviet leader left Vienna elated — and with a very low opinion of the leader of the free world.
Kennedy’s assessment of his own performance was no less severe. Only a few minutes after parting with Khrushchev, Kennedy, a World War II veteran, told
James Reston of The New York Times that the summit meeting had been the roughest thing in my life.” Kennedy went on: “He just beat the hell out of me. I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”
A little more than two months later, Khrushchev gave the go-ahead to begin erecting what would become the Berlin Wall. Kennedy had resigned himself to it, telling his aides in private that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The following spring, Khrushchev made plans to “throw a hedgehog at Uncle Sam’s pants”: nuclear missiles in Cuba. And while there were many factors that led to the missile crisis, it is no exaggeration to say that the impression Khrushchev formed at Vienna — of Kennedy as ineffective — was among them.
The article also goes on to note that Kennedy went forward with the Vienna summit without first setting out preconditions for negotiations over the objections of his aides and his own Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
Senator Biden, who has boasted that he has "forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know" has made a revealing admission by making the comparison to Kennedy: Barack Obama is not equipped to be President of the United States.
I'd be willing to wager that if Putin, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, or Castro were to sit down at a summit across the table from a President Obama they are likely to come away with the same impression that Kruschev had of Kennedy: too intelligent and too weak.
We live in dangerous times and we face numerous threats as a nation. The Democratic presidential ticket has told us that if we elect them we are inviting more attacks from those who are bent on destroying us. That is a risk that America can't afford to take.