11/24/2013 10:01 am ET Updated Jan 24, 2014

Media Should Hold Politicians to JFK's 'Better to Light a Candle Than Curse the Darkness' Legacy

Else another light might go out.--"The Winter of our Discontent", John Steinbeck

Fifty years ago a light went out.

It took 45 years for a leader who similarly embodied in his very persona the hope and change the country and world desperately needed.

JFK broke the 'no catholics need apply' rule, just as President Obama broke the color barrier to the White House. Unlike President Kennedy's catholicism, however, President Obama's skin color is visible, daily, in-your-face, to whatever fraction of his opposition is based on bigotry. So potent is bigotry, that the only catholic mass they dared hold at the White House was the one after President Kennedy's assassination.

The two presidents also championed expanded civil rights, each after delaying for political purposes, but each, once committed, without reservation. Equal rights for both groups, blacks and gay people, were perceived by opponents as posing existential threats to their ways of life, fires further fanned by demagogues.

Both presidents suffered difficult childhoods. For all his family's wealth, JFK was chronically ill for most of it. Robert Kennedy used to say that about half of his brother's childhood days were spent in substantial physical pain. President Obama suffered an absent father and, at varying times, economic deprivation, not to mention growing up black in America.

Both presidents, however, had basically sunny natures. Both strongly believe in lighting candles not in cursing the darkness. There are those, myself included, that think President Obama has gone overboard, allowing those such as former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who has openly admitted to authorizing acts that violate the Geneva Conventions that are part of U.S. law, to go unpunished, asserting he wanted to "look forward, not backward".

When will the media take it upon themselves to do more than just publish press releases from either side? Should not the minimal definition of "serious" require a cogent proposed alternative to whatever one opposes?

So far as I can tell, Republicans offer nothing: allowing job growth to languish, the infrastructure to crumble, health needs to go unmet, the environment to be despoiled, people to go hungry, wages to be inadequate, banks to risk another systemic meltdown.....and all this, and more, they call "freedom".

The media would truly honor JFK's legacy by not providing free publicity to those who only curse the darkness.