Editor's note

For generations, Americans tended to prefer sober-minded politicians for the country’s highest office. That all changed with JFK. Ever since his short-lived presidency, Americans have been drawn to charismatic candidates with celebrity appeal, nominees who were camera-friendly and quick on their feet. With Kennedy’s centennial approaching, historian Steven Watts explains why JFK can be thought of as the nation’s first modern president – with many of his successors mimicking his style.

JFK’s immediate successor, Lyndon Johnson, banked his presidency on building a Great Society and creating social programs to help the poor and aged. Policy expert Simon Haeder of West Virginia University writes how the current president’s budget and a Republican health care law could would hollow out America’s safety net, which has evolved since the New Deal and the Great Society.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer for many Americans. Consider observing it by picking up a new bottle of sunscreen. UC Riverside chemist Kerry Hanson explains how the sun’s rays affect our skin – and how the chemicals in the sunscreen you should be slathering on protect you from skin damage and cancers.

Can a video game change your mind, or even influence your actions in real life after you’re done playing it? Lindsay Grace, head of the Game Lab at the American University School of Communications, answers the question and introduces a new game telling truth from fiction.

Nick Lehr

Editor, Arts and Culture

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President John F. Kennedy watches as planes conduct anti-sub operations during maneuvers off the North Carolina coast in April 1962. Associated Press

When image trumps ideology: How JFK created the template for the modern presidency

Steven Watts, University of Missouri-Columbia

Reagan, Clinton, Obama and Trump would all pull from the Kennedy playbook, from mastering the media to exuding masculine vitality.

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