John Kennedy, young senator, was a populist candidate for president with very little experience.
Hmmm... anyone else see any similarities in modern day players?
Of course, in 1959 a woman couldn't have made a serious campaign for president; it was groundbreaking that Eleanor was appointed as representative to the UN. In 2008 a woman could be a contender - but perhaps only if she had the public profile and political machine that comes from being related to a powerful man (just as FDR was Eleanor's ticket to power). And historians may judge that even in 2008 a woman couldn't make a serious run for president - that inherent sexism made it impossible, ultimately, for her to be taken seriously. "Divisive" has become code for "not the male, paternalistic model we're used to."
Something that Eleanor Roosevelt said during the 1950s really resonates with me today. Speaking about the cold war, she said that racism in the US was so bad that there were two categories of citizen with two sets of rights, and that when the rest of the world saw that situation they couldn't take the US alternative seriously and would be more inclined to look to communism.
The treatment of African-Americans in 1959 was far worse than the treatment of women in 2008, and in making the comparison I don't want to suggest otherwise. But one of the connections is this: in an international community where women are strong, with female heads of state even in Islamic countries, the US drive for democracy and human rights seems empty and hypocritical.