Missing more than just the man...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bfgrn, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Bfgrn
    Offline

    Bfgrn Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Messages:
    16,829
    Thanks Received:
    2,480
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Ratings:
    +3,060
    RFK's Voice...

    [​IMG]

    There is a major failing in today's political discourse. What is too often missing in our national debates is the moral dimension. Although, as a candidate, Barack Obama showed signs of changing the framework of Presidential politics, the last American political figure who insistently and credibly injected morality into politics was Robert F. Kennedy. In the more than forty years since his voice was stilled, no national leader has truly challenged us to apply the test of moral values to our search for solutions to domestic and global problems.

    I had the opportunity to work for Robert Kennedy in his Senate office in New York.
    ---
    His office attracted pleas for help from the most vulnerable of New Yorkers. I vividly remember hearing from single mothers in Harlem, whose nights were regularly spent protecting their children from being attacked by rats, to elderly residents of Queens, whose doctors were refusing to accept Medicare's payments in full. (Indeed today, increasing numbers of physicians are repeating this reluctance to treat Medicare patients.) I would regularly call landlords, physicians, and others on behalf of Senator Kennedy asking what they were going to do to make life a bit more bearable for those who were suffering. Invariably, I would hear the words: "You mean to tell me that Robert Kennedy cares about this?" I would get notes from him in tiny scrawled writing asking how we had helped each writer or caller. We seldom failed to get action on each individual situation, and then preserved the patterns of evidence for potential systematic solutions in a Kennedy Administration.

    To me, working for him proved that appeals to morality, backed by the power of a political legacy and a future Presidency, could make a real difference in people's anguished lives.

    In so many areas, Robert Kennedy based his political positions on a simple, fundamental, and passionate appeal to what was the right thing to do. The moral value system that under-lied his politics emphasized that each of us had a responsibility to each other. In the age-old tug of war between individual freedom and social justice, he pressed for the latter. He confronted college students about the scandal of those without a higher education having to serve in the military. He scolded medical students about their indifference to the needs of the minority poor. He pressured corporate executives to create jobs in inner city communities like Bedford Stuyvesant. He raised uncomfortable questions, like "suppose God is black?" And he dared to accuse a Democratic Administration of appealing to the darker impulses of the American spirit by playing God in waging a destructive war in a tiny Far East nation.

    One of his favorite quotes was Dante's that "the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality." Today, I believe he would say that we have neutralized morality.

    When was the last time an American political leader framed a policy issue in terms of our social conscience? Discussions about health care, the future of retirement, the education of our children, and the distribution of wealth, inequality, and poverty seem devoid of moral idealism. We talk instead about the accommodation of interests, as though each has an equal claim and as though the paramount standard must be economic self-interest. As a result, we are still shamefully far from what RFK defined as the essence of the American ideal: "a social order shaped to the needs of all our people."

    Whole article...
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  2. dilloduck
    Offline

    dilloduck Diamond Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2004
    Messages:
    53,240
    Thanks Received:
    5,552
    Trophy Points:
    1,850
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Ratings:
    +6,403
    I assume he was speaking of voluntary socialism with the threat of legislating morality to back it up ?
     
  3. JW Frogen
    Offline

    JW Frogen Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Messages:
    6,165
    Thanks Received:
    1,167
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Ratings:
    +1,206
    Robert Kennedy was more a mythical moralist than true idealist.

    He was known in his brother’s administration as a ruthless cut throat, the enforcer.

    They had the greatest legislator in human history sitting as their VP, LBJ, and Robert vetoed using him to get stalled civil rights legislation through Congress time and time again because of personal animosity to LBJ and class prejudice. LBJ eventually did what the Kennedy’s could not and got it passed in a tour de force of legislative genius.

    Vietnam: Robert did not voice one word of concern to LBJ about that war, he only became a dove when the war started tanking and McCarthy proved that an anti war stance could take the Democratic nomination during the 68 New Hampshire primary.

    When looking at any Kennedy’s motivation or idealism, always, always read the find print.
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 2
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  4. Barb
    Offline

    Barb Carpe Scrotum

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Messages:
    5,717
    Thanks Received:
    1,568
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Location:
    in a house.
    Ratings:
    +1,586
    It was after his brother's death that Bobby found his idealism. It was just before his own that JFK started to develop truly human principles and policies. It was a theft from society that these men were torn from us when they had just started moving beyond the shade of the political ideology of their father's day.
     
  5. dilloduck
    Offline

    dilloduck Diamond Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2004
    Messages:
    53,240
    Thanks Received:
    5,552
    Trophy Points:
    1,850
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Ratings:
    +6,403
    Banging Marilyn wasn't exactly the behavior of an idealist.
     
  6. JW Frogen
    Offline

    JW Frogen Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Messages:
    6,165
    Thanks Received:
    1,167
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Ratings:
    +1,206
    I don't think JFK had any real personal idealism at all, I think he died never truely understanding the concept. For JKF it was about power, simply being President. That was what he was groomed to be after the death of Joe.

    Though he could change policy to do things he thought needed to be done, and voice idealism in vague terms that moved people, he would take no big risks for it.

    Certainly Robert suffered after his brother's death but that did not manifest itself in any true form of idealism that exacts political cost.

    LBJ was doing more for Civil Rights then Roberts caring PR visits to any ghetto.

    As for Vietnam, if Robert had said in 64, 65, 66, 67, my brother and I got this tragically wrong he might have had some credibility but he did not post his conviction to that wagon until he was sure the war was lost and the Democratic convention could be won by opposing that war.
     
  7. JW Frogen
    Offline

    JW Frogen Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Messages:
    6,165
    Thanks Received:
    1,167
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Ratings:
    +1,206
    Joe Dimaggio had flowers delivered to Marilyn's grave for decades.

    I don't Robert gave that grave much thought.
     
  8. Bfgrn
    Offline

    Bfgrn Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    Messages:
    16,829
    Thanks Received:
    2,480
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Ratings:
    +3,060
    When pontificating about morals, always, always be able to differentiate between a political cut throat and 'the greatest legislator in human history' who used that ability to push through a resolution that actually led TO cut throats and the extinction 60,000 Americans.

    When pontificating about politics always, always be able to comprehend how legislation actually proceeds (committees, amendments etc) and always, always be cognitive enough not to undermine your party's very competent Majority leader.

    JFK made his civil rights address to the nation in June of '63, which led to writing of the legislation that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In November of '63, JFK was no longer president. We will never know how Kennedy would have proceeded to get that bill passed or if he would have gotten it passed. The irony is, that legislation may never have passed without the use OF Kennedy's cut throat in Dallas.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM3uaXp8DAk]YouTube - Cronkite Interview of JFK[/ame]
     
  9. JW Frogen
    Offline

    JW Frogen Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2009
    Messages:
    6,165
    Thanks Received:
    1,167
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Ratings:
    +1,206
    Civil Rights legislation was dead on arrival, the Southern Democratic block would not have it and the Northern Republican block did not want to give JFK a victory.

    JFK had previously, in the first three years of his Presidency shown no great record of legislative achievement on major social issues, not like LBJ subsequently did.

    Now, you are presenting Civil Rights legislation that will be very controversial in the South and you have the former most successful Senate Leader of that century sitting as your VP, one who had previously crucial in passing smaller civil rights legislation in the 50s and it does not occur to you to send him down to the Congress day after day and use him to get it through?

    They did not use him effectively because Robert had an enormous amount of animosity for LBJ and JFK was largely indifferent to the legislative process.

    If you look at the work that LBJ subsequently put in to passing that legislation, (and it was not really done in committee, that is not where it really moved, it moved through private deals and threats mostly made from the Oval Office phone directly by LBJ), if you look at how difficult it was and what a master he was at playing all the different factions no objective observer could or would say JFK had either the skill or interest in doing that. (It is hard to get major legislation passed when you are spending so much time playing little fishes in the White House pool. Nixon had the pool filled in because he feared he would need penicillin shots to swim in it after the JFK Presidency.)

    As to sexual morals, I usually do not judge, even Presidents.

    I am rather emancipated in that direction, but very few people would defend the way the Kennedy's treated Marylyn Monroe. It is one thing to have a consensual affair, it is another to pass around and use and then cut off emotionally unstable woman.

    Indeed JFKs womanizing became so serial that it could have posed a security threat, he had one affair with a former Mafia mistress.

    And let's not even get started on Ted and Chapaquitic.

    I mean I may sleep with you, but I can promise you I will not leave you to drown in a car no matter how drunk I am.

    This family did do many good things, in particular for the poor, but they are hardly the exemplars of great political moral leadership that their legend subsequently voiced.
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 2
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  10. midcan5
    Offline

    midcan5 liberal / progressive

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2007
    Messages:
    10,774
    Thanks Received:
    2,361
    Trophy Points:
    245
    Location:
    Philly, PA
    Ratings:
    +3,284
    Interesting thread. I saw a documentary on Robert some time back and he seemed sincere in a way politicians rarely are. Shame we never found out. Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights

    Morality (in politics) today is the insipid attempt to present all points of view and dependent on your affiliation, to defend the outcome of your side as if there were a universal law guiding it. Even Madoff is honored in jail, but unhappy that those he helped aren't more appreciative. Imagine that!


    Edge: IT SEEMS BIOLOGY (NOT RELIGION) EQUALS MORALITY by Marc D. Hauser

    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Glory-Dream-Narrative-History-1932-1972/dp/0553345893/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8]Amazon.com: The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of…[/ame]
     

Share This Page