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Posted April 13, 2013
On a shady court house lawn in Brooklyn stands the statue of Robert F. Kennedy. People walk by. I wonder if they notice the statue or realize who he was.
Open Road Integrated Media has released as an e-book David Halberstam’s memoir of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 campaign for President.
Halberstam’s writing is delicious. The reporting is fresh. The book was written months after RFK’s assassination. It captures the spirit of the times and the excitement of Kennedy’s campaign, unfettered by historical analysis.
RFK was a political meteor. Moments after claiming his greatest victory—-the California Democratic primary—-his star was extinguished by an assassin.
JFK and RFK were generational figures.
JFK was the culmination of the rise of the World War II generation. RFK captured the spirit and the hopes of the youth culture. Alone among the candidates for president he connected with the Blacks, the poor and the Latinos. His campaign was not about the restoration of JFK, but about racial conciliation and social change.
After RFK was killed, the dull, establishment figure of Hubert Humphrey won the nomination, only to be defeated by Richard Nixon, who advocated benign neglect of our racial problems.
Today, we have a Black Democratic President. The most conservative member of the Supreme Court is a Black Republican. A conservative Mexican American Republican from Texas is pushing his way into the national spotlight.
I wonder how much easier we would have reached such markers had RFK finished his odyssey.