Frthom's Blog

Robert F. Kennedy-What Might Have Been

Posted in Politics by frthom on June 5, 2016

Back in June of 1968, in a small New York Avenue storefront close to the “Soundtracks” music store, was the Huntington, Long Island headquarters for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign. There was a collective surge of excitement among the campaign volunteers on the night of June 5th. Their candidate was going to win another primary, this one in California and, even better, the volunteers were scheduled to meet Kennedy and his wife Ethel during a fund-raising appearance at a home in Lloyd Harbor the following week-end.

That night, as he was taking his leave from the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after his victory speech, Robert Kennedy was wounded by an assassin, and hours later on June 6th died of his wounds, in the eyes of some, the victim of a terrorist attack.

There were many sides to Robert Kennedy. He may be remembered as a young attorney in the 1950’s supporting a delusional Senator Joseph McCarthy. He may be remembered as a self-righteous attorney general who hounded organized crime despite or because of his father’s underworld roots. He may also be remembered as the ruthless alter-ego, the political pit bull for his brother John.

But Robert Kennedy should primarily be remembered for having gone through a pronounced political–perhaps spiritual–metamorphosis during his later years as the U.S. Senator from New York. He had been humbled by his brother’s death as he spoke out passionately and convincingly during his aborted presidential campaign in support of the impoverished, the disenfranchised, the oppressed.

Robert Kennedy often quoted the Greek tragedian Aeschylus, who said that politics was a “noble” profession. During the nearly fifty years since Robert Kennedy’s death and his short-circuited attempts to transform the American conscience, there have been few signs of anything “noble” at any level in American politics.

Since June 1968, there have been occasional flashes of Kennedy’s political vision, but moreover there has been a pervading culture of death and cynicism since an assassin’s bullet took away a leader who seemed truly capable of the fulfilling the words, “…I dream things that never were and ask why not?”

Robert Kennedy-What Might Have Been

Posted in Uncategorized by frthom on June 5, 2016

 

“I like to quote Aesceles who said that politics is a noble profession.”  Robert F. Kennedy.

Back in June of 1968,  in a small New York Avenue storefront close to where the  “Soundtracks” music store  stood for so many years,  was the Huntington headquarters for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign.  Glenn, now a local businessman, remembers working in that office during the days just prior to Kennedy’s assassination.  A young man, fresh out of college, Glenn remembers the electrical excitement felt by all the campaign volunteers the night of the California primary.  Their candidate was going to win and, what was ever better was that he and his wife Ethel were due to make a fund-raising appearance at a home in Lloyd Harbor that week-end.  It was everyone’s expectation that they would soon be meeting the late-coming favorite in race for the White House.

Bobby Kennedy was shot that night and died the next day of his wounds. The United States has never been the same, seemingly suffering from the desensitizing process  that comes after one too many losses.

There were many sides to Bobby Kennedy.  He may be remembered as a young attorney in the 1950’s supporting as a Senator Joe McCarthy as a Red-baiter.  He may be remembered as a righteous hypocrite who pounded organized crime despite his father’s roots as a boot-legger.  He may be remembered as  the ruthless alter-ego, political hatchet-man for his brother John.

But Bobby Kennedy may also be remembered for having gone through a pronounced metamorphosis during his last years on this planet.  He went through a born-again phase reminiscent of Thomas Merton and future saints Francesco di Bernardone and Aurelius Augustinus the latter who, during a debauched youth, is said to have asked God to “Make me holy, Lord, but not yet.”  Kennedy made that sort of transformation during his 1968 foreshortened campaign for President as he spoke out passionately and convincingly in support of the impoverished, the disenfranchised, the oppressed.  He was humbled by his brother’s death an seemingly became a proponent of liberation theology which suggests that the poor may be blessed but do not have tolerate injustice.

It was during a television interview with David Frost that he first said that “politics is a noble profession.”  Within a few months of the interview, within a a few minutes of winning the 1968 California Presidential Primary he was assassinated.

During the nearly thirty years that have gone by since Robert Kennedy’s statement  there has been little sign of anything noble at any level of politics in America.  Watergate, Abscam, Iran-Contra,  Whitewater, are just a few of the obvious headline grabbers over the past quarter century.  Rarely  can you pick up a newspaper or listen to a newscast without hearing about some public official being investigated, fired, or indicated.  Noble indeed…

Ode to the Man From Hickory Hill (an excerpt)

“On to Chicago and let’s win there!”

Those words so empty now.

Oh no, it can’t be true, tell me why, tell me how.

But wait, I’ve seen the killers before,  I can call them each by name.

They are envy, ignorance, fear, and hate

We only have ourselves to blame.