Anatomy of a Smear

IN THE LATE 1930S A HARVARD STUDENT TRAVELED TO Europe to see its brutal dictatorships firsthand. He visited Mussolini's Italy, Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany. Writing in his diary, the young man confided that he had come "to the decision that Facism ((sic)) is the thing for Germany and Italy, Communism for Russia and Democracy for America and England." But when he ran for President in 1960, John F. Kennedy never had to explain that isolationist view. Nor would raising the issue have made much sense, because the mature Kennedy had long since outgrown the jottings of his impressionable youth.

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