Thursday, November 30, 2006

Politi-flicks: Robert

There's a video of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) campaigning in 1968 that popped up on web this week (reportedly from Bob Kennedy: L'homme qui voulait changer l'Amerique, a film by Patrick Jeudy). He was in his 43rd year at the time.

Maybe it's Emilio Estevez' drama, Bobby, currently in theaters, that's bringing back the ghost. Maybe it's Barak Obama's flirtation with a Presidential campaign. Maybe it's this Democratic Spring, with the hope Pelosi and Reid are bringing to lead the charge back into enlightenment.

It's hard to compare anyone in politics today with his whirlwind string of accomplishments: Campaign Manager for his brother John's successful Senate campaign at 27, counsel work in the Senate when the Dems went from minority to majority, Campaign Manager for his brother's successful 1960 Presidential election, appointed crusading Attorney General (went up against corrupt Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa and the universally intimidating FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover), elected to U.S. Senate at 39.

Likely Democratic nominee. Likely about to be the second Kennedy brother to deny Richard Nixon the Presidency.

Leaving aside how the morbidity of Kennedy's demise makes him look anachronistically vulnerable out in the open so unprotected, the videoclip shows a series of crowd responses so big, so adoring, so heartfelt that one is hard-pressed to imagine any current politician would ever experience this real thing.

I was reminded that Kennedy was the key backer of the civil rights struggle within the White House, pushing his brother to make bold moves as President, including support of the Voting Rights Act, which for the first time in U.S. history removed the myriad local and state restrictions on African-American participation at the polls.

First Dr. Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy, two of the Americans most directly responsible for the great leap forward in civil rights for our country were shot to death by assassins. So what is our last best hope going out there unprotected -- no armed bodyguards, no Secret Service?

Contrast with our current Presidente and his pre-screened devotees, most of whom seemed more concerned with abridging the rights of their fellow citizens rather than expanding them.

Here's Robert on TV with Jack Parr, responding with incredible poise and inspiring thoughtfulness on his now murdered brother's greatest contribution to America: confidence in the value of being an American at home and in the world, American ideals and attitudes, confidence in themselves.

Here he is, being fearless.

Political assassination is, of course, as old as politics itself, sudden, violent redirections in the great stream of history. A gust of hope. A bullet. The '70's.

Here's Part 1 of the last speech of his life, the night he won the California Primary.

Here's Part 2 including (offscreen, audible) his assassination.

Is it any wonder we've ended up with the leadership we have?

As always, Politi-flicks is cross-posted to The Daily Reel.

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