June 6, 2008

"Senator Robert Francis Kennedy died at 1:44 A.M. today, June 6, 1968."

That was the announcement, 40 years ago, made at 1:59 a.m., the last entry in the transcripts of statements made by Bobby Kennedy's press secretary from the hospital. The first statement is from 2:30 a.m on June 5th. It is agonizing to read through the transcript and remember the ordeal. At 2:30, surgery was about to begin:
... His breathing is good and unassisted. His heart is good. He's unconscious and the doctors describe his condition as very critical. ...
The next announcement is at 4:45 a.m. on the 5th:
The surgery will take another hour or perhaps two. But Senator Kennedy's life signs remain good — respiration, pulse, blood pressure. And that's all they say...
At 7:20 a.m., the surgery is over and his condition is "extremely critical."
All but one fragment of the bullet have been removed from the head injury. There is still one bullet apparently somewhere in the back of his neck, although this has not been regarded as a major problem....
There is talk of the blood loss to the "midbrain" which controls "certain of the vital signs... although not directly the thinking processes." Everyone was talking about what would be left of him if he survived, so this reference to "the thinking processes" must have stirred some hopes. We were told "the next 12 to 36 hours will be a very critical period."

There's nothing more until a "very short bulletin" at 5:30 on the evening of June 5th. The doctors were "concerned over his continuing failure to show improvement."

The next we heard was the 1:59 announcement of his death, which ends: "He was 42 years old."

I was 17 when this happened, and of all the assassinations of the 1960s, this is the one that had the deepest effect on me. I wrote this a while ago:
When Bobby's coffin was on public view in St. Patrick's Cathedral, [my friends and I] got in my car and drove in to New York City (from Wayne, New Jersey) and waited in the long line to file past. I remember the feeling of being around the other mourners and how extremely kind I thought it was when office workers brought us cups of water from inside their building. In the end, we teenagers started worrying that our parents would get upset, wondering where we were, and we left the line we'd waited in for hours.
When I was in New York this past year, I happened to walk by a rather ordinary high wall next to a sidewalk and recognized it as the wall over which the office workers handed those cups of water. It was something about their concern for us that made me think that our parents worrying was more important than getting to the coffin. But I have often regretted that we didn't stay there in that line. We'd come so far.

Now, I'm looking at some more of the articles in the NYT from 40 years ago. (My links will get you to PDFs of the articles, but you may have to pay to see them.)

Here is the article describing the shooting:
The Shooting: A Victory Celebration That Ended With Shots, Screams and Curses; SUSPECT IS SEIZED WITH GUN IN HAND Men Wrestle Him to Table as Kennedy, Bleeding, Lies in a Corridor

A thin, intense man stood on the platform in the glare of television lights. He had come to share victory with those who had helped him win it....

Another article:
"Hysteria" in West Is Feared by Arabs

Amman, Jordan. Palestinians here voiced fears today that "a wave of anti-Arab hysteria"... might follow allegations that a Palestinian Arab had shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

"Jewish propaganda" was one Palestinian Arab's reaction to reports that Sirhan Bishara Sirhan had been charged in the case.

"It's outrageous!" declared Amman's semi-official newspaper, Ad Destour. "What Arab in his right mind would do a thing like this? The only people to benefit from such actions are the Jews."

Some Palestinians expressed the belief that Sirhan was a "hired killer" and part of a Zionist plot to discredit Arabs."
In his column, Tom Wicker quotes Gene McCarthy:
"It is not enough, in my judgment," he said, "to say that this was the act of one deranged man, if that is the case. The nation, I think, bears too great a burden of guilt, really for the kind of neglect that has allowed the disposition to grow here in one's own land, in part a reflection of violence which we had visited upon the rest of the world."
Wicker also quotes Representative Gerald Ford:
"Surely there can be no further quibbling about the urgent need for tougher law enforcement legislation."

It remains to be seen whether those who agree with this will be willing to include some practical limitation on the purchase and possession o the kind of handgun with which Robert Kennedy was assassinated, or the cheap rifle that killed his brother.
Here is a piece on Sirhan Sirhan's father:
"This news made me sick when I heard it. If my son has done this dirty thing, then let them hang him."...

"I'm deeply sorry for both of them, for my son and for Mr. Kennedy. I admire the Kennedy family very much. I prayed that Robert Kennedy would be elected President so he could do many of the good things for the world that his brother did."...

"Please tell the Kennedy family that I am very, very sorry... I don't know how he could have done such a thing," he said. "Ours is a deeply religious family... We hate this sort of thing, this violence and death. It is not our way."
The family was Greek Orthodox, and Sirhan, as a child, had studied at a school run by the Lutheran Church of the Savior.

Here's a piece called "Tragedy Stalks Kennedy Family In a Long Series of Misfortunes."

Experts were consulted to explain it:
Experts Link Attack on Kennedy To a Strain of Violence in U.S.

A strain of violence in the American psychological make-up, going back even earlier than frontier days, was suggested yesterday by some experts as the cause of increased crime, rioting in the streets and acts of individual violence such as the shooting of Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Dr. David Abrahamsen, a psychiatrist..., said here that Americans condone violence.

"We love it," he said. "We love to fight. The frontier days made the gun manly.

"We feel we can have anything we want. We have a unique society — so affluent... In France, they can riot for three weeks and only two people are killed. Can you imagine how many would have been killed here?..."
Abrahamsen asserted that our affluence makes us think "we can have what we want," and we become frustrated and violent when we don't get it. He calls "frustration" the "wet nurse of violence" and says that public figures symbolize America, and "authority figures... have to be killed by those who feel frustrated by authority." The article also quotes a psychiatry professor, Dr. John P. Spiegel, who said: "The population as a whole is conditioned to expect violence... Behind this is America's gun fetish and the notion that a gun can be used to solve conflict. There is an emotional addiction, as strong as any any other addiction, such as drugs, to guns."

82 comments:

vbspurs said...

I was 17 when this happened, and of all the assassinations of the 1960s, this is the one that had the deepest effect on me.

When I didn't see an RFK post first thing on checking your blog, I knew you were composing one with care, for later.

This is the best blogpost on RFK's anniversary I've read so far on the Blogosphere.

I think what clinched it was visual of a young girl and her friends together in a queue, perhaps still stunned at what happened to make sense of their feelings, but being young enough to marvel at the extremes of humanity -- from the deadly hatred that killed a man, to the random kindness of perfect strangers.

That you went home was perhaps the most humanising part of the story.

Today, the kids would've used their cellphones, if the thought of upsetting their parents by their prolonged absence even entered their heads.

And the remembrance would've been the lesser for it.

RIP RFK. You are still missed.

Cheers,
Victoria

Tibore said...

"What Arab in his right mind would do a thing like this? The only people to benefit from such actions are the Jews."

Some Palestinians expressed the belief that Sirhan was a "hired killer" and part of a Zionist plot to discredit Arabs."


Good Lord... paranoid then, paranoid now. I see distant echos of the excuses passed after 9/11 in those statements.

Roger J. said...

While RFKs assassination was indeed tragic, let us also remember that over 20,000 American servicemen died on the beaches of Normandy on this day in order to liberate Europe. Readers may make their own comparison of the two events.

madawaskan said...

This is one of the first memories I have...

We were flying across the Pacific coming back from Green Heights-Tokyo where my dad had been stationed while he did some ought rotations to Vietnam. Come home for a weekend and then he'd go right back to what ever he was doing.

Anyways-we were taking the cross ocean flight and finally returning to America-with all the rotations to 'Nam my mom let me and my brother go off to Japanese pre-school with the babysitter she had hired.

Going back to "America"-was a big unknown.

Mid-flight-the pilot announced what was happening to Bobby Kennedy-I seem to remember-

the silence.

This was back in the day when you dressed up to fly and more than that the military-

wore the uniform.

We landed in California either LAX or San Fran and my dad was accousted-spit on I don't know what all.

I do remember he ran away from us so that we would not see it., and I remember chasing after him for the umpteenth time with my younger brother in tow...

I remember my dad driving up and down the highway that night swearing about how the hell to get us back-

"home"...

America was no longer it.

{I'm off to the airport for the thousandth time}

George said...

A terrible loss and a terrible tragedy.

We're going to have to negotiate, we're going to have to make compromises, we're going to have to negotiate with the National Liberation Front. But people can argue, "That's unfortunate that we have to negotiate with the National Liberation Front," but that is a fact of life. We have three choices: We can either pull out of South Vietnam unilaterally and raise the white flag, I think that's unacceptable.

Second, we can continue to escalate, we can continue to send more men there, until we have millions and millions of more men and we can continue to bomb North Vietnam, and in my judgment we will be no nearer success, we will be no nearer victory than we are now in February of 1968.

And the third step that we can take is to go to the negotiating table. We can go to the negotiating table and not achieve everything that we wish. One of the things that we're going to have to accept as American people, but the other, the other alternative is so unacceptable. One of the things that we're going to have to accept as American people and that the United States government must accept, is that the National Liberation Front is going to play a role in the future political process of South Vietnam.

RFK, 3/18/68

Article on the NLF (the Vietcong). It was what today we would call a terrorist organization not unlike a Communist version of Hezbollah or al-Qaeda It murdered and kidnapped civilians, placed roadside bombs, shelled refugee camps, and tortured people. It murdered 36,000 civilians, 80% of whom were civilians, according to the Defense Department.

AllenS said...

I was still in Viet Nam, and almost ready to go back to the world when I heard the news. Like Roger J, I equate all June 6th's as the rememberance of D Day, and the sacrifice and courage it must have took to partake in that event. I've never liked the Kennedys. I doubt if they'd ever cared about people like me.

vbspurs said...

I've never liked the Kennedys. I doubt if they'd ever cared about people like me.

I know many people who don't like them either (in fact, most people of many backgrounds tell me they really don't like them).

And though I dislike the generation that came after JFK/RFK, with peppered exceptions, I think those two would've cared about a young guy serving his country out in a godforsaken land.

Why not? They did.

Cheers,
Victoria

LutherM said...

I regarded Lyndon Johnson as a God Damned Phony Texas politician who was responsible for too many dead Americans. Bobby was the only Democrat I ever signed up to work for - because I hoped - I BELIEVED he'd be an answer. I heard the speeches, and believed he meant what he said.

"As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport." King Lear Act IV scene 1 line 36 William Shakespeare

What a very different country we would have, but for the assassin.

Palladian said...

"Amman, Jordan. Palestinians here voiced fears today that "a wave of anti-Arab hysteria"... might follow allegations that a Palestinian Arab had shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

"Jewish propaganda" was one Palestinian Arab's reaction to reports that Sirhan Bishara Sirhan had been charged in the case.

"It's outrageous!" declared Amman's semi-official newspaper, Ad Destour. "What Arab in his right mind would do a thing like this? The only people to benefit from such actions are the Jews."

Some Palestinians expressed the belief that Sirhan was a "hired killer" and part of a Zionist plot to discredit Arabs."


Man, the more things change. One only needs to replace a few words and the Times could have run that anytime over the past 7 years.

Toby said...

I was born in 1975, so RFK's assassination holds no emotional relevance for me. It doesn't even hold much symbolic relevance, frankly. I’ve never really thought much about it.

A couple of years back I read an article on how RFK has lost some of his luster. This, the article said, is not because he was unimportant or unimpressive, but because as a symbol, his brother is the more powerful example of lost promise. I think that's exactly right for people of my generation.

Still, seeing the blogosphere’s reaction to RFK’s assassination, I’m gaining a better understanding (I think) of his significance to people who were around at the time. It strikes me that his assassination was very much the absolute last gasp of innocence for many people, especially after the murders of JFK & MLK--that he was viewed by many people as the last, best hope, and that he was gunned down on the verge of fulfilling that hope.

Thanks for the post, Ann.

AJ Lynch said...

I was just 15 and remember my mother screaming "they killed another one, those bastards". That is how my family woke up on the morning of June 5th on the East Coast.

I don't view RFK as a big world-changing hero unless you claim he set the bar for wiretapping as attorney general. I do think his being assassinated made his memory much bigger than life in many ways.

And like AllenS, I don't agree with Ann that everyone was anti-war back then.

Baby boomers amuse me. They act and think like the 60's and 70's were so poignant and earth-shattering. Get over yourself I say. It was just your early years and everyone is young once.

Revenant said...

Buck Compton, the man who prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan -- and, more importantly, earned a Silver Star on D-Day -- just published his memoirs (with forward by John McCain).

You may know him from Band of Brothers, as that was his unit during the war.

Beth said...

While RFKs assassination was indeed tragic, let us also remember that over 20,000 American servicemen died on the beaches of Normandy on this day in order to liberate Europe.

Roger, I'm glad you mentioned this, but I also have no problem meditating on both. No need to compare.

If anyone has reason to come to New Orleans on business or for pleasure, it's worth at least half a day to lay out $14 and spend a few hours at the National WWII Museum (formerly the D-Day Museum). The entire third floor is devoted to D-Day and Normandy. There are usually a few veterans either working as docents in the halls or gathering together as visitors to the museum, and it's nice to be able to pay one's respects to them.

bearbee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bearbee said...

...my dad was accousted-spit on I don't know what all.
I do remember he ran away from us so that we would not see it., and I remember chasing after him for the umpteenth time with my younger brother in tow...

I read this and felt a sudden emotional catch.

Beth said...

I was too young to mourn either Kennedy or MLK personally, but I was old enough to feel adrift and to perceive that something was very wrong when, over a short period, three American public figures were assassinated.

SteveR said...

I don't have any particular emotion about that day, rather as a young person, almost 11, I just remember all tbe various "bad" things that happened in those times. RFK, MLK, the riots, the protests and the loss of life in SE Asia.

This
sums up my feelings from then and now.

Jume 6, 1944 means more to me as a day to remember.

rhhardin said...

I don't remember it as anything. It was just some news story that TV watchers and mail girls were interested in.

I had more absorbing things to do at work.

Chip Ahoy said...

Wow. Just wow. I had no idea it was like that. Your blogging the past has made it all so real. I would have known Sirhan Sirhan as an answer to a crossword clue, or to provide a question for a Jeopardy! answer, but that's it. How terrible. You must have felt the world was ending.

dbp said...

"In his column, Tom Wicker quotes Gene McCarthy:

"It is not enough, in my judgment," he said, "to say that this was the act of one deranged man, if that is the case. The nation, I think, bears too great a burden of guilt, really for the kind of neglect that has allowed the disposition to grow here in one's own land, in part a reflection of violence which we had visited upon the rest of the world.""

What a load! It was in fact the work of one deranged man and says nothing about our country. Not the slightest thing. Maybe that RFK should have been given better security, but nothing beyond that.

vnjagvet said...

I was still in Viet Nam, and almost ready to go back to the world when I heard the news.

I had just returned to the world from RVN and was in a Howard Johnson motel in Clark, NJ while my wife was visiting some relatives in Cranford (one town over from Wayne,btw, Ann). I saw the assassination on live TV. It was gut-wrenching.

At that time, RFK and Nixon were, in general, saying the same thing about negotiation. McCarthy was generally for immediate withdrawal.

Most young folks at least trusted RFK. Perhaps things would have been different had he lived. I have often wondered.

What I do know is that most of the 55,000 plus combat deaths in VN occurred after Ralph and I came home.

vbspurs said...

"He was 42 years old."

To put it into context, Obama will be 47 in August.

Bob said...

Reading this makes me realize just how the more things change the more they remain the same. I was nine the RFK was killed and so it holds no great memory. I remember JFK's death more clearly because of my sense of my parents' shock. RFK's death didn't generate that level of shock.

For me the importance of June 6 is always D-Day. I have done a combat tour and seen death & injury. The scale of that operation and the KIA/WIAs on Omaha alone is just hard to comprehend now. The US alone averaged the same killed & wounded each week from D-Day to Japan's defeat as we have during all of the Iraq conflict. It is hard to fathom that level of sacrifice.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vnjagvet said...

bob:

Those that teach history do not emphasize that sacrifice when teaching WWII, I am afraid.

Normandy, Saipan,The Hedgerows, The Bulge, Iwo Jima, Okinawa are all just names. All occurred between June 6, 1944 and June, 1945. Yet more than 100,000 of our troops were killed in that one year.

And we won all of those battles.

Pogo said...

(1) When I think of that time, I mostly remember this magazine cover. The world seemed to be falling apart. MLK. Riots. Thwe the DNC in Chicago. More riots. Kent State.

I was seven, but had 5 teenage siblings. It seemed to me -even though I was too young to understand- that something truly awful was going on. I had a child's thought, but it was somewhat like growing up in wartime, alternating between oblivious and aware.
_________________________________
(2)In 1973 Yasser Arafat ordered and arranged the murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Cleo Noel Jr. and his charge d'affaires Curtis Moore. Committed by the Black September Organization, the gang of eight operatives stormed a party at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum and took Moore and two others hostage.

According to Powerline, "The Black September gang demanded the release of Sirhan Sirhan," a Palestinian nationalist and "the assassin of Robert Kennedy; the release of a Black September leader held in Jordan; and the release of several members of the Baader-Meinhof gang held in Germany. On March 2, President Nixon and representatives of the other two governments announced that they would not negotiate with terrorists for the release of the diplomats. That evening the Black September operatives marched Noel, Moore and Eid to the embassy basement and brutally murdered them."

RFK was a strong supporter of Israel.

His oldest daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, said, "He was killed by an Arab terrorist [Sirhan Sirhan] because of his
support for Israel."


Indeed. "Following his arrest Sirhan told one of the court-appointed psychiatrists, George Y. Abe, about his political philosophy. Sirhan told him he was solidly anti-Zionist and disgusted at the way Jews in America had such a strong influence within the American political system. Sirhan said he believed Robert Kennedy listened to the Jews and he saw the senator as having sold out to them."



And even then, the leftists blamed America first, instead of the actual perpetrator(s).

Jeremy said...

I'm 28. This day holds no significance for me in the same way that none of you regard September 14 as significant as the day of President McKinley died (he was shot September 5th). Just saying.

Seven Machos said...

I love John P. Siegel toward the end talking about drugs and guns.

Behind this is America's gun fetish and the notion that a gun can be used to solve conflict. There is an emotional addiction, as strong as any any other addiction, such as drugs, to guns.

A more wonderful example of the mindset of the totalitarian left would be hard to find. All we need to do is outlaw bad things and then bad things will stop and we can get on with the project of human perfection.

How'd that whole concept work out for you, John?

Pogo said...

Leon Czolgosz, who assassinated President McKinley, said he was an Anarchist. In the aftermath, other attempts were made against monarchs and state presidents. An Italian worker, Gennaro Rubino, tried to kill the King of Belgium.

It's always the barbarians versus civilization. The more things change...
Just sayin'.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm 28. This day holds no significance for me in the same way that none of you regard September 14 as significant as the day of President McKinley died (he was shot September 5th). Just saying.


The significance is that if we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Just saying.

Jeremy said...

We're doomed to repeat it regardless.

What lesson should we learn that would prevent a stray madman from killing an unarmed civilian?

Revenant said...

The significance is that if we don't learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Just saying.

I'm not sure how much of a lesson can be drawn from this. Wasn't "don't get shot by crazy people" already the accepted wisdom in 1968?

The Drill SGT said...

Victoria, I always imagined you as under 30 :)

Roger J, I dont think the dead on D-day were that high.

I think it was 2,500 dead total (Brit, Canuck, Ami) on D-day with around 10k total dead and wounded.

Revenant said...

At that time, RFK and Nixon were, in general, saying the same thing about negotiation

And Nixon did, in fact, negotiate.

The thing was, the negotiations were doomed from the beginning. The North's strategy was always to stall and wait for America to lose the will to fight (which by '68 we had begun to do). It worked.

J. Elton said...

From mourning RFK to fawning over John McCain.

You've come a long way, Althouse.

A long way down.

Ralph said...

Roger, your 20,000 dead on D-Day is much too high, I'm thinking 3-5 thousand (still less than a major Civil War battle). Wiki says 73,000 Americans landed, doesn't total casualties or deaths.

I was 7 when RFK was shot--I'd forgotten he'd lived a day. We were living in Charleston, SC, not exactly Kennedy country.
Victoria, RFK never went overseas during WWII, but he did serve on the destroyer named after Joe Jr for 3 months in 1946.

amba said...

Remembering this still makes me feel desperate and hopeless. I don't like thinking about it.

Ann Althouse said...

"From mourning RFK to fawning over John McCain."

Where do you see me fawning over John McCain? That's utter bullshit.

former law student said...

As JFK's attorney general, Bobby Kennedy had a hard-on for the Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa, and the Mafia -- even though his brother John was screwing Sam Giancana's girlfriend. I would suspect one of his enemies to have put out a hit rather than some Arab mope come up with it on his own.

The resulting Gun Control Act of 1968 have limited the freedoms of the non-assassins forever more. The history of gun control here and around the world follows a constant pattern:

1. Sickening tragedy.
2. Imposition of random gun controls whether they could have prevented the tragedy or not.
3. Upon those who had nothing to do with the tragedy, and never gave offense on their own.

former law student said...

"He was 42 years old."

To put it into context, Obama will be 47 in August.


And to put that into perspective, Bill Clinton was a year and two weeks younger than Obama would be on his first inauguration.

Palladian said...

J. Elton said...

Hey, Ann, it's our old friend "AJD" again! I thought he was finally in custody.

Revenant said...

From mourning RFK to fawning over John McCain.

As Ann already noted, she's not fawning over McCain.

But even if she was... where's the contradiction? Politically speaking, both Kennedys would be considered too right-wing for the modern Democratic Party; they'd be in the woodshed with Joe Lieberman.

Middle Class Guy said...

AllenS said...
I've never liked the Kennedys. I doubt if they'd ever cared about people like me.

The Kennedys never cared about people or the people period. They only cared about one group of people; the Kennedys.

History has shown the RFK was, to this day, the worst violator of civil rights. He literally trampled and shredded the Constitution to go after any enemies of the Kennedys. He had the family criminal enterprise to protect. What is amusing is no one was ever indicted for the massive civil rights violations he and J Edgar Hoover allowed to be comitted.

The man belonged in prison.

vbspurs said...

they'd be in the woodshed with Joe Lieberman.

JFK, without a doubt. Though a lot of people considered him THEN quite Lefty, that's just because he didn't consider emerging leaders around the post-colonial world to be Marxists.

(Remember JFK's famous photo, when he's receiving news of Patrice Lumumba's assassination?)

RFK of 1961-1963, also yes.

But RFK of 1965 (when he made his famous South American tour) to 1968, not so much.

He was filled with an unfathomable Weltschmerz after his brother's assassination, and started to question all his most ardently held beliefs (remember, he was the most Roman Catholic of his siblings, almost to the point of considering priesthood).

The later RFK is much closer to Obama than you might imagine.

Listen to him in 1967:

But suppose God is black? What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?

But then in 1968, after MLK was killed:

What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.

A man who can speak about evil BY NAME so wisely and clearly has no place in the Democratic Party of 2008.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Where do you see me fawning over John McCain? That's utter bullshit.

Yeah, I thought I had missed some pretty significant posts.

I think he suspects your not-entirely-100%-positive coverage of Obama & Clinton is prelude to an afternoon of fawning....

vbspurs said...


Where do you see me fawning over John McCain? That's utter bullshit.


Ann, I know you're not saying you don't get it, and just want to call BS on that.

But so long as you're the teeniest bit neutral towards McCain or even worse, Bush, you will ALWAYS be seen as right-wing.

For people who speak of nuances in foreign policy, none are allowed in domestic ones. To do so, is apostasy against the true Party.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

To Ann #2, a lesson in how to approach Senator Obama's candidacy, lest you be considered Righty again.

Via Insty, from the SF Chronicle:

Barack Obama isn't really one of us. Not in the normal way, anyway.

This is what I find myself offering up more and more in response to the whiners and the frowners and to those with broken or sadly dysfunctional karmic antennae - or no antennae at all - to all those who just don't understand and maybe even actively recoil against all this chatter about Obama's aura and feel and MLK/JFK-like vibe.

To them I say, all right, you want to know what it is? The appeal, the pull, the ethereal and magical thing that seems to enthrall millions of people from all over the world, that keeps opening up and firing into new channels of the culture normally completely unaffected by politics?

No, it's not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn't have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity.

Dismiss it all you like, but I've heard from far too many enormously smart, wise, spiritually attuned people who've been intuitively blown away by Obama's presence - not speeches, not policies, but sheer presence - to say it's just a clever marketing ploy, a slick gambit carefully orchestrated by hotshot campaign organizers who, once Obama gets into office, will suddenly turn from perky optimists to vile soul-sucking lobbyist whores, with Obama as their suddenly evil, cackling overlord.

Here's where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul.


So you know, get with the programme!

Sorry, I meant, get programmed.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ralph said...

That sounds like all those girls shreeking at the arrival of the Beatles. Are people still fainting at Obama rallies?

Simon Kenton said...

Blake wrote:

"prelude to an afternoon of fawning"

You get the award for this week.

Trooper York said...

Old Man: Can I give you two a piece of advice?
Old Man: Floss
(Prelude to a Kiss, 1992)

Cedarford said...

Middle Class Guy -

"History has shown the RFK was, to this day, the worst violator of civil rights."

Actually, he doesn't likely make top 10 of great American leaders who properly balanced "civil rights" against more important matters. Like Washington, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Sherman, TDR, Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Rudy, and Reagan.

"He literally trampled and shredded the Constitution to go after any enemies of the Kennedys."

That is exactly what the defenders of the Klan, the Mafia, and Jews loyal to the Soviet Union with the Rosenbergs, the ACLU, and surrounding MLK squealed as RFK went after all of them. "The Holy Parchment trumps the People's safety or Justice itself!!" No, the strong Presidents and others always balanced all the Rights of the People - they do not apply to simply just the felons prosecuted.

"He had the family criminal enterprise to protect."

Joe Sr. went straight long before RFK was an adult. He cut his deal with FDR, AG Jackson, Ickes, and Morgenthau.

"What is amusing is no one was ever indicted for the massive civil rights violations he and J Edgar Hoover allowed to be comitted. The man belonged in prison."

What is amusing is your belief that the racketeers, Soviet agents, and Klan RFK went after merit the least "give a shit" from the general public about their fucking "rights". We need a half dozen RFKs and Hoovers right now to deal with the massive corruption and organized crime of "the pay to play" Congress, certain governors and mayors, out of control street gangs, the Narco-Empire, illegal alien rackets, corrupting Ruling Elites and corporations. Plus men with the brains and courage of RFK and Hoover to target subversive NGOs like Code Pink, CAIR, the ACLU and others out to subvert and destroy America. Who will balance the rights of crooks and enemy agents against the rights the People have enumerated in the Preamble.

john said...

"... identify Obama as a Light worker". OK, a guy can't be everything, and perhaps he is a little lazy, but at least he can make change.

Palladian said...

"Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. "

Words fail. And, evidently, words failed the psychopath that wrote that paragraph. We are fucking doomed if these people get their way.

Palladian said...

Oh, it's Mark Morford, that carbuncle on the ass of the San Francisco Chronicle (which is really saying something). For a "taste" of Morford's earlier prose stylings, check out the douchebag in full-stream flush mode, leavened and made tolerable by Tim Blair's annotations.

Morford is the kind of writer who helps lose elections.

Seven Machos said...

Light worker seems to me to be the equivalent of Hegel's world historical figure. It's a silly, bullshit, yet very dangerous concept.

Donna B. said...

I was 15 when RFK was shot. Our family had been watching the campaign closely since my brother was working for him in NY.(No sense going to classes at Columbia that spring.)

If blogging had been around then, I'd have written about being glued to the TV set for a year. Ever since the Arab-Israeli war which was in June 1967, I was a news junkie.

Of course we only got one channel, so I would have ample time to blog :-)

Imagine CNN or FOX covering those events. In a way I'm glad they didn't. I don't remember much of an attempt to sensationalize the funeral train, coverage was pretty much a hushed voiceover of straight video of people getting on the train and its slow progress.

I don't remember any reporters shoving microphones in the mourners' faces asking them for a "sense" of what was happening on the train.

We have lost a certain respect and civility that was present then, even if we're not experiencing riots, protests, and burning cities. Odd that, isn't it?

Do you think we "burn out" our rage on the internet, thus there isn't as much left for actual action?

blake said...

Aw, you guys are over-reacting.

What could possibly go wrong with the concept of a--well, someone who is better than others, an ubermensch, if you will. Especially when everyone can see it, except the untermensches.

Wide Boy Agamemnon said...

"This is what I find myself offering up more and more in response to the whiners and the frowners and to those with broken or sadly dysfunctional karmic antennae..."

That's as far as I had to read before I knew it was Morford spewing his bullshit again.

Seven Machos said...

those with broken or sadly dysfunctional karmic antennae

At least Obama's loss won't be blamed on racism. But, really, who are the racists here? Clearly, it's the people who were born with functional karmic antennae. I have a dream that, one day, people won't be judged by the functionality of their karmic antennae, but by the content of their character.

vbspurs said...

Palladian wrote:

Words fail.

By the second paragraph, my mouth was hanging open like a rare clumber in heat.

Remember Althousian's recent chat about the leftist propensity to make a cult of personality out of their candidates? That's all I could think of.

Obama is JFK-MLK-Gandhi-The Toothfairy-Bhagwan Rashneesh-And That Really Cute Black Guy From "The Inkwell", all rolled into one. He's a walking tantric orgasm.

And, evidently, words failed the psychopath that wrote that paragraph. We are fucking doomed if these people get their way.

Now I don't know a chakra from a chukka, but I've spoken to Obama supporters who speak in these terms, complete with far-away dazed look of adoration when they speak of him.

On the positive side, I am creeped out by Ron Paulistas when they do the same, and I'm not by Obamessiah Freaks. I guess part of me is amused, and I'm not with the Paulies.

Suffice it to say, I have never, ever felt this way for any politician and have no need to.

Even Reagan, who I adored, would ever invoke this celestial rhetoric from me.

Like Obama, he was a man who put on one trouser leg at a time and whose farts stank. Get over yourselves.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Morford is the kind of writer who helps lose elections.

OH! That rang a bell. I know what you mean now. Once I wrote a blogpost about the Duggar Family, who are going on their 18th kid. They were on their 16th at the time, and this is what Momford saw fit to write about them:

God Does Not Want 16 Kids
Arkansas mom gives birth to a whole freakin' baseball team. How deeply should you cringe? [...] Michelle Duggar can pop out 16 kids and no one says, oh my freaking God, stop it, stop it now, you thoughtless, selfish, baby-drunk people.


He's warped, and I think you're right Palladian. I hope to God there are many Odes To Obama in the future, so we can blog the hell out of them and make people see the groupie package they're getting with Obama.

Revenant said...

Victoria,

The RFK quotes you cited would be at home in any politician's mouth today. Nobody -- outside the "white pride" fringe, at least -- says "God is white". Everybody speaks out against "extremism". Everybody agrees that black people deserve the same rights as white people. RFK's beliefs on race made him relatively liberal for his time, but the mainstream liberal racial beliefs of the 60s are the ubiquitous racial beliefs of today.

You have to dig deeper, to the areas where liberals and conservatives actually disagree. RFK, even by the late 60s, was still hawkish, anti-communist and pro-Israel. He favored big government "national greatness" types of programs, sure, but (sigh) so does McCain. He did NOT favor retreat from war and no-strings-attached negotiations with our enemies, as Obama does. Etc, etc.

Revenant said...

By the way, I'm not trying to claim the Kennedys for Republicans. I think JFK was a lousy President (basically a Dubya with communication skills) and his brother would have been even worse. But ideologically they weren't of the McGovernite left like Obama.

vbspurs said...

I think JFK was a lousy President (basically a Dubya with communication skills)

Republican that I am, I absolutely love JFK, but you know what? That's right.

A hot-headed (young) man who probably had a psychological need to right some wrongs his family made by strong, decisive action -- and who talked a good talk about being a Democrat, but his actions didn't always mesh with that accepted wisdom.

(Everyone thinks Bush 43 is the most über-conservative President America has had. Horsepuckey. No Child Left Behind. Fiscal looseness. His bizarre Harriet Miers pick, and his middle-of-the-road CJ Roberts one. His ideologically Wilsonian motives for staying in Iraq. Von Mises and Hayek would laugh if you called him über-conservative. Robert Taft, too)

and his brother would have been even worse. But ideologically they weren't of the McGovernite left like Obama.

Very true. Unfortunately, I think RFK was shaken to the core by his brother's death, and he could've been edging closer to that. We'll really never know.

Palladian said...

Morford's shtick is to act as the "Id" of the San Francisco Chronicle. Of course, we're talking about a city that's all Id, its Ego having burned itself out in about 1967 right after it strangled the Super-Ego with a distended condom it picked up on Powell Street.

reader_iam said...

To me, at least, it's fascinating to re-read certain analysis of the time ... and then reflect on time-lines. In a number of key, specific and relevant respects, specifically (and ironically) violence-as-statement, even -movement, became a certain type of badge LATER than what people, at least in certain quarters and mind-frames, tend to want to remember.

Revenant said...

His bizarre Harriet Miers pick, and his middle-of-the-road CJ Roberts one.

Yeah, for all that people talk about Bush's habit of appointing people based on personal connections rather than competence, at least he didn't nominate his 35-year-old brother to be Attorney General. Bobby Kennedy had less than a year of experience as a prosecutor.

Revenant said...

Of course, we're talking about a city that's all Id

Yeah, San Francisco is a great town to party in, but I sure as hell would never want to live there -- or, horror of horrors, try raising a family there. It isn't so much a city as it is an enormous college dorm.

vbspurs said...

Speaking of cities and Obama, guess who is predicting he'll be in his second term as US President in 2016 -- just in time to host the Chicago's Olympics?

He's beginning to believe in his own Cult of Obama.

Like that's hard with Morfords around...

bearbee said...

D-Day facts including total number casualties.

bearbee said...

Now I don't know a chakra from a chukka, but I've spoken to Obama supporters who speak in these terms, complete with far-away dazed look of adoration when they speak of him.

You have to seriously question what is lacking in the lives of the average American. What is it that we are desperate for, that we will ourselves to see a 'savior', that we need to see a 'savior'?

Americans live in the wealthiest nation in history. We have the most of everything yet we see our as victims, as needing rescue. Have we lost the instincts to survive, to be independent, to think rationally and to take care of ourselves?

knoxwhirled said...

What is it that we are desperate for

Well, seems to me an awful lot of democrats just want someone relatively young, good-looking, and most of all, very, very charismatic. A lot, if not all, of Obama's popularity can be attributed to this, and dare I say, the Kennedys' as well.

William said...

In some ways Reagan's greatest accomplishment was surviving his assasination attempt. All those damned murders in the sixties had left me with the sick sense that any jerk with a gun had veto power over all our best dreams. When I first heard about the Reagan assasination attempt, I thought God, not again. But Reagan survived with all his optimism intact. In no small way that was responsible for the different karma of the 80's.

former law student said...

the concept of a--well, someone who is better than others, an ubermensch, if you will

The word you're searching for is leadership. I realize that decades of mediocrity in the White House have made leadership unfamiliar to many. But this year, thanks to charism (a gift by the grace of God) we'll get a leader no matter which party wins.

leftist propensity to make a cult of personality out of their candidates

Uh, wouldn't a leftist candidate first have to HAVE a personality before its cult could be made? I mean beyond Bill's pick-up-artist persona. On the other hand, I hear that Rush's listeners (dittoheads slain in the spirit of rectitude) are petitioning Pope Benedict to beatify St. Ron. Not that any rightwingers would set up a cult of personality. I'm talkin' to you, Newt.

He did NOT favor retreat from war and no-strings-attached negotiations with our enemies

As george already posted upthread, Bobby Kennedy did favor negotiations with our enemies, but he did not propose any preconditions. Instead of "retreat" he favored "de-escalation." Words, just words?

We can -- as I have urged for two years, but as we have never done -- negotiate with the National Liberation Front. We can -- as we have never done -- assure the Front a genuine place in the political life of South Vietnam. We can -- as we are refusing to do today -- begin to deescalate the war, concentrate on protecting populated areas, and thus save American lives and slow down the destruction of the countryside. We can -- as we have never done -- insist that the government of South Vietnam broaden its base, institute real reforms, and seek an honorable settlement with their fellow countrymen.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rfk/filmmore/ps_ksu.html

Revenant said...

As george already posted upthread, Bobby Kennedy did favor negotiations with our enemies, but he did not propose any preconditions.

Not proposing preconditions isn't the same thing as proposing that there be no preconditions. RFK got shot before he got around to saying how he'd negotiate with the North Vietnamese, but he certainly didn't make the idiotic mistake Obama did, i.e. stating outright that he'd negotiate no matter what.

Instead of "retreat" he favored "de-escalation." Words, just words?

He, like Nixon, favored transitioning from having American forces doing the fighting to having US-backed Vietnamese forces doing the fighting. This is essentially the same plan the Bush Administration has had for Iraq (and which Democrats have been attacking for the last four years): move from a war footing to a position of support for the native Iraqi forces. The Obama plan is "screw the Iraqis -- retreat immediately". That's not a plan either JFK or RFK would have gotten behind. Like I said, they were much like Joe Lieberman in that they were liberal hawks.

We can -- as we have never done -- insist that the government of South Vietnam broaden its base, institute real reforms, and seek an honorable settlement with their fellow countrymen.

Kind of like how the Bush Administration has pushed for democracy in Iraq and insisted that the minority Kurds and Sunnis be included in the process, you mean? Fascinating. :)

John Stodder said...

Not proposing preconditions isn't the same thing as proposing that there be no preconditions.

Very Ted Sorensen-esque!

I was a McCarthy man, myself (at the advanced age of 12). I was heartbroken when Kennedy entered the race because I thought it was McCarthy who'd been brave enough to challenge the horrible LBJ, so he deserved the fruits of his labors. Now Kennedy, with his greater name ID and money (I knew even then that those things mattered) would swamp him, and that seemed unfair.

Had I not been 12, I probably would have seen through McCarthy as an intellectual snob and narcissistic prig and been joyful that RFK entered the race.

What I do recall vividly is Kennedy's campaign in California. His posing with Cesar Chavez. His old-fashioned whistlestop tour of the Central Valley (I got to go on one of those with Tom Bradley in 1986, even though it was already old-fashioned when Kennedy did it 18 years earlier). His tours through Watts and East Oakland. All the movie and TV stars surrounding him at events in West LA. I did get caught up in it, and by the time of election night, I was kind of wavering in my support of McCarthy, and was willing to say either nominee was fine, so long as it wasn't that LBJ stooge Hubert Humphrey (who was probably the most authentic liberal in the race, but it didn't look like that back then).

I went to bed before the shootings. I woke up in the middle of the night to check the results on my radio. That's when I heard he'd been shot. I sat up the whole rest of the night trying to monitor what was going on. I couldn't believe this could happen. I also knew McCarthy wouldn't benefit. It seemed clear to me that the next President was going to be Nixon, and that seemed almost as horrible as Kennedy's death.

Remember, I was 12.

knoxwhirled said...

A lot, if not all, of Obama's popularity can be attributed to this, and dare I say, the Kennedys' as well.

P.S. Another factor is that a lot of Catholics love the Kennedys just because they're the same relig. Sort of like the Huckabee phenomenon.

Bob said...

I think part of the appeal for both the Kennedys and for Obama is the amount of fawning press treatment. The press coverage colors a politician's image and tends to frame the narrative around them. And the US press builds up heros before tearing them down mercilessly. Both Kennedy's were killed while they were still in the mass media's graces and so became martyred heroes.

Carter was the Peanut Framer from Plains and before office that narrative meant decent, folksy, and for the common man. By the 1980 election the narrative meant naive, inept, and indecisive. Obama feels more and more like a biracial Carter and I purposely imply he will be bad for the country. In that sense Hillary, who feels like the modern day Nixon, would have been better for country but much more devisive.

John Stodder said...

Both Kennedy's were killed while they were still in the mass media's graces and so became martyred heroes.

Well, not quite. There were as many Kennedy skeptics in the media then as there are now. Kennedy was a popular president when he was killed, but he wasn't having a particularly good year. RFK certainly tugged at the hearts of many in the media, but there was a lot of skepticism about whether this formerly ruthless family hatchet man had truly changed into a bonafide liberal, or was just catching the prevailing breeze. He seemed in the middle of a transformation, and that made his death seem very tragic. That, and the fact that he left behind something like 11 children.

Another reason the Kennedy deaths inspired such emotion is the dismal politicians their deaths elevated: LBJ and Nixon. Their accomplishments aside, both were incredibly divisive, dishonest, disingenuous and unlikeable. Of course the Kennedys looked just fabulous compared to them.

Mr. Forward said...

How many Lightworkers does it take to change a Wright bulb?

Jack said...

We included this in the current edition of the Best of The Jewish/Israeli blogosphere.