Tag Archives: RFK

Nation needs this kind of wisdom

The United States of America is in crisis. We have been through this before, in other contexts. However, we are lacking the kind of wisdom that comes from the top of our political leadership that we have heard during previous crises.

The Dallas Morning News today published an editorial calling for such wisdom as we grapple with issues relating to police brutality and racial injustice. The newspaper cited a speech given by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, at that moment a candidate for president, in the hours after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was felled by an assassin.

RFK said this:

“In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization — black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

“Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

“For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: ‘In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’

“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

“So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

“We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

“But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

Sen. Kennedy spoke those words to a crowd of African-Americans gathered for a political rally in Indianapolis, Ind. While many cities in the land erupted in violence that evening, Indianapolis remained calm. Why? Because citizens were somehow assured that at least one political leader was listening to them and he cared about them.

A gunman would still RFK’s voice forever just two months later.

We are made poorer as a result. We need that kind of wisdom in this moment of grief.

Barr joins the cabal of disagrace

I had harbored some hope that William Barr would bring some integrity to the Donald Trump administration when he accepted the president’s nomination to lead the Department of Justice.

After all, he had served as attorney general in the early 1990s near the end of President George H.W. Bush’s term in office. He served then with honor and dignity.

I was terribly and tragically wrong. The attorney general’s latest recommendation that former national security adviser Michael Flynn avoid prosecution for lying to the FBI and to Vice President Mike Pence about the Russia attack on our electoral system in 2016.

Flynn has pleaded guilty twice to committing perjury. Now we hear Barr suggest that his lying wasn’t “material” to the investigation into whether Russia interfered in our election.

Here, though, comes a stunner: Nearly 2,000 former DOJ staffers have demanded Barr’s resignation. It reminds me of something a former editor of mine used to say: If someone calls you an ass, blow it off; if others call you an ass, then you need to shop for a saddle.

So now the AG has a couple thousand former DOJ lawyers and others calling him an ass.

As NBC News reports: The letter urges the judge who is in charge of the Flynn case, Emmet Sullivan, to “take a long, hard look at the government’s explanation and the evidence.” Barr is using the Justice Department to further President Donald Trump’s personal and political interests, it says, and “has undermined any claim to the deference that courts usually apply to the department’s decisions about whether or not to prosecute a case.”

The good news is that the judge to whom Flynn entered the guilty pleas must sign off on Barr’s request. Judge Sullivan is known to be an independent thinker, which of course gets to the beauty of the federal judicial system; these judges are appointed for life and, thus, are ostensibly removed from partisan considerations.

As for Barr, the letter signed by those thousands of DOJ staffers asks Congress to censure the AG. Just think, too, that many of those who signed the letter worked in Justice Departments under Democratic and Republican administrations.

Lastly, take a good look at the picture attached to this blog post. Barr is standing in front of a bust of the man after whom the Justice Department building is named: Robert F. Kennedy, the AG from 1961 to 1964. I can say with absolute certainty that RFK would be aghast and appalled at where William Barr has taken the Department of Justice.

Bloomberg trying to buy Democratic presidential nomination

Michael Bloomberg has put a price on the Democratic Party presidential nomination he is seeking to buy.

Whatever it is, he can afford it. As the former New York mayor throws millions of bucks at TV ads, though, he is annoying the daylights out of this voter … that would be me.

I am troubled by the idea of this megazillionaire forgoing the early primary states to blanket the airwaves with TV ads that proclaim that he can parlay his business acumen into the presidency of the United States.

We had another rich guy do the same thing, in 2016. Donald Trump sold millions of Americans a bill of goods about his business success. We’ve all since learned that Trump’s success was, well, a bit of a mirage. He’s still rich, or says he is rich. He lives large with those glitzy resorts where he retreats from his duties as president.

But back to Bloomberg.

I recall the 1968 presidential primary campaign. Sen. Eugene McCarthy surprised President Johnson with a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire. Then came Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into the battle. RFK and Clean Gene fought state to state in primary battles. Kennedy won most of those fights; he lost the Oregon primary in May, then ventured to California, where he won that state’s primary.

On the Fifth of June, a gunman rewrote history. Sen. Kennedy died the next day.

Meanwhile, Vice President Hubert Humphrey had skipped the primary fights. He spent his time gathering up delegates more or less off the grid.

There’s a certain similarity to what we’re seeing today, except that VP Humphrey wasn’t pouring millions of his own dollars into the fight, chiefly because he didn’t have the money stashed away. Bloomberg is seeking to self-finance his campaign.

This whole exercise turns me off. I want him to face his opponents on a stage, answering questions about his change of heart. You’ll recall how he declared with what we now assume was a faux sincerity that he wouldn’t run for president in 2020. Now he’s in. What gives?

I prefer presidential candidates to get scuffed up along the way. All the rest of ’em this year have suffered their share of nicks, cuts and bruises. Michael Bloomberg’s vast wealth shouldn’t exempt him from the same kind of treatment.

‘AOC’ now becomes a political brand? Who knew?

I never really saw this one coming. I still find it strange.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become known the way JFK, LBJ, RFK, MLK have become known. Yep, she’s now referred to by her initials.

Here’s what I do not quite get: She is a freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, coming from New York City. She knocked off a long-time member of the House, Joseph Crowley, to become the Democratic Party nominee in 2018; given the district’s strong Democratic leanings, her election was a shoo-in later that year.

She has become a ubiquitous presence throughout the media. Newspapers give her plenty of space on their pages; cable and broadcast TV news outlets rush to get her to appear on their programs; I guess Fox News is the exception, given that the network doesn’t much cotton to her political leaning, nor does she to Fox’s leaning.

I’ll acknowledge, too, that this blog now refers to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez occasionally as “AOC.” Why? It’s easier for my rickety old fingers to type her initials than her entire name.

Man, the political calculus has changed. There once was a time when politicians needed years worth of seasoning to attain this kind of star status. By that I refer to the use of initials to ID them.

I get that there’s a certain form of musicality to the sound of some initials as you say them. The examples I cited at the top of this blog post symbolize to what I am referring. I suppose “AOC” does as well.

It’s not that necessarily believe Ocasio-Cortez is always wrong when she makes her public pronouncements. I just want her to grow a little bit more into the job she won before she becomes such a media force of nature.

Call me old-school. Or fuddy-duddy. Maybe even a grumpy old man.

I don’t care. I just prefer politicians to earn their way into this form of colloquial status.

Beto’s big announcement is the real thing

I guess Beto O’Rourke’s “big announcement” is going to be what everyone in America suspected it would be.

The former West Texas congressman is going to run for president of the United States of America. He is going to make the announcement on Thursday.

OK. Now what? How am I supposed to feel about this? I’ll be candid: I am not sure yet how I feel about a President O’Rourke.

I can explain this a couple of ways. Compared to the man who’s currently in the office, I feel better about Beto and I do about Donald, as in Trump.

Beto O’Rourke is No. 13 among the Democrats who have declared their intention to seek their party’s presidential nomination in 2020. More will be jump into the moat. There will be at least one more major candidate to announce: former Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

Beto captured many Texans’ imagination when he nearly beat Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. That he was able to finish just a couple of percentage points behind the Cruz Missile in heavily GOP Texas still has state Democrats salivating.

Now he’s going to enter the huge field of Democrats.

I sense a certain sort of Bobby Kennedy freneticism in Beto’s candidacy. Just as RFK scrambled to assemble a presidential campaign in 1968 and ran a frenzied race for 85 days before tragedy struck, I sense that Beto might be modeling his 2020 after Robert F. Kennedy.

As an aside, I should note that the late New York senator’s name was Robert Francis Kennedy; Beto’s proper name is Robert Francis O’Rourke. Karma, anyone?

I’ll need to hold my breath for Beto’s entry. I wanted him to defeat Sen. Cruz. I am not yet convinced he is ready for the Big Chair in the Big Office.

However, I can be persuaded.

Run, Gov. Weld, run!

Wouldn’t it be just a kick in the backside if William Weld re-creates a Eugene McCarthy moment in the 2020 race for the presidency of the United States?

Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether to mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump. Weld said many other Republicans “exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captor.”

Weld ran for vice president in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. The ticket didn’t do too well, gathering just 4.5 million votes, or about 3 percent of the total.

He wants back into the fight, this time as a Republican.

The McCarthy moment? In 1968, the Vietnam War was raging and Sen. McCarthy, a Minnesota Democrat, mounted a Democratic Party primary challenge against President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy — a vehement anti-war candidate — took his campaign to the nation’s first primary state, New Hampshire.

He then finished a very strong second to President Johnson, sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party establishment. McCarthy’s strong showing brought Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into the race. Then on March 31, 1968, LBJ spoke to the nation to announce an end to the bombing campaign against North Vietnam — and then said he would not seek or accept the Democratic nomination “for another term as your president.”

History does have a way of repeating itself. If only Gov. Weld can mount any sort of serious challenge to the wack job serving as president of the United States.

One’s hope must spring eternal. Mine does.

AOC has joined FDR, LBJ, JFK, MLK and RFK

I once thought references to political and civic leaders’ by their initials denoted a recognition of their greatness, of their longstanding contribution to American discourse, debate and our way of life.

Social media now have cheapened that designation. A 29-year-old freshman member of the U.S. House of Representatives, one of 435 members, now has been “elevated” to this iconic status.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now known as AOC.

AOC says this, AOC does that, AOC proclaims such and such, AOC makes her presence felt. 

I keep hearing and reading this kind of reference in mainstream media. I’ll be candid: It annoys me.

I’m an old-school kind of guy. I prefer to require political figures to earn their spurs before they become media darlings. Members of Congress do not always deserve the recognition that has been bestowed to the rookie Democratic lawmaker from New York City. Thus, neither does Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

This is likely to be the last comment I’ll make on this particular irksome notion. So I’ll just get it off my chest now and then be done with it. I won’t tune out what this young woman has to say. I’ll comment from time to time. I am going to resist using the initials while referring to her.

She hasn’t earned her spurs. At least not yet. Maybe she will over time. For the foreseeable future, I’ll refer to her by her full name and remind readers of this blog that she’s an untested freshman lawmaker who — it is becoming evident to me — looks as though she intends to seek higher political offices.

‘AOC’ makes an immediate impression

There once was a time when rookie members of Congress languished in the shadows. They weren’t to be taken seriously by their colleagues. They weren’t to be held up for praise by their friends or condemnation by their critics.

They needed to learn the location of the restrooms on Capitol Hill. Then they could be taken seriously, or so it used to go.

Then came social media. Rookie members of Congress are able to become immediate superstars.

One of them has rocketed to the top of the public relations totem pole. Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly minted Democrat from New York City.

She is so famous, in fact, that she now is being referred to as “AOC.” Yep, she’s up there with JFK, RFK, MLK, LBJ, FDR. This young woman, all of 29 years of age, has held public office for less than one whole month.

Here she is. She is the talk of D.C. She is in huge demand on TV and radio talk shows. She is a self-proclaimed socialist. She wants to tax the wealthy, redistribute wealth around the country; she favors Medicare for All and single-payer health insurance.

Why do you suppose she commands all the attention? Forgive me for mentioning this, but AOC is, shall we say, quite “telegenic,” which is a politically correct way of alluding to her physical attractiveness. Yes, she is well-educated and speaks well, too.

I am inclined — given my own political leaning — to listen to what she has to say. However, I am in serious head-scratching mode about AOC. How in the name of political seniority does a rookie member of Congress such as this one command everyone’s attention?

She has angered not just Republicans but also “establishment” Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thought to be miffed that she occasionally challenges the elders within the Democratic Party.

Her faces shows up as a social media meme. I get these posts on my Facebook news feed from conservative friends who delight in ridiculing her occasional misstatements.

She is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives. I don’t believe she represents a serious threat to establishment politicians of both parties . . . at least not yet. She needs some serious seasoning. AOC needs to get a firmer grasp on how the system works on Capitol Hill.

I am just puzzled at how this young politician has thrust herself onto the center of a large and crowded political stage.

Still miss the wisdom that RFK brought

I cannot help but feel wistful — and sad to this day — when I watch videos of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Indeed, it is the coarseness of today’s debate that makes wish we had another RFK on the horizon, waiting to grab our attention, speak to our better angels, prod us to think beyond our own self-interest.

This video comes from a 1967 interview that Bobby Kennedy had with “Face the Nation” questioners. His answers were full, complete and yes, a bit wordy at times. He spoke about the Vietnam War, which was Topic No. 1 on all the TV news talk shows in that era.

RFK waffled during this interview about whether he would be a candidate for president in 1968. He straddled the fence until the moment in the New Hampshire Democratic primary when Sen. Eugene McCarthy came shockingly close to upsetting President Johnson.

In came Bobby Kennedy. His campaign launched and in March 1968, LBJ shocked the nation by declaring he would “not seek” nor would he “accept my party’s nomination for another term as your president.”

I want to hear RFK’s wisdom again. Today’s political debate has devolved into insults, innuendo and an utter lack of compassion, particularly when it comes from the White House. I always have thought we are better than that. We deserve better than what we’re hearing in this era.

Then I look back at 1968, a terrible year for this country. The Vietnam War was killing hundreds of Americans each week. RFK sought an end to a conflict in which he — as attorney general during his brother’s administration — was a key architect.

RFK spoke to us at a level we haven’t heard since his death in June 1968 at the hands of an assassin. He told us stark, brutal truth about the bitterness and division that tore at our nation.

RFK had the “it” factor that is difficult to define. It is missing throughout the ranks of those who might seek to become the next president. It most certainly is nowhere to be found anywhere near the individual who currently holds that office.

It’s been more than 50 years since Robert Kennedy left this good Earth. I miss him every day. I miss him especially when I have to swallow today’s toxic mess that comprises political debate.

Is U.N. ambassadorship a training position?

Welcome to the real big leagues, Heather Nauert.

Donald Trump wants the former Fox News correspondent and morning talk-show co-host to lead the U.S. diplomatic effort in the United Nations. I am left to wonder if the president values the U.N. as much as his national security adviser, John Bolton, does. It was Bolton who (in)famously said you could remove the top 10 floors from the U.N. Building in New York and not lose a thing. Then he became the U.S. ambassador to the world body.

Nauert brings far less foreign policy experience to this most delicate of posts. She did serve as State Department spokeswoman for a year after leaving Fox News.

You know, I actually thought that Nauert wasn’t the first rookie to take this job. My thoughts turned to the late John Scali, the former ABC News correspondent who was U.N. ambassador from 1973 to 1975. However, a quick check of Scali’s record showed something quite revealing.

He helped mediate an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 while working for ABC, carrying messages from President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy to the Soviet embassy, warning them of the dire peril they were putting the world in by installing offensive missiles in Cuba. Scali then left ABC to work for the Nixon administration as a foreign policy adviser before becoming U.N. ambassador in 1973.

Thus, Scali had experience.

Nauert does not. In a way, though, she more or less mirrors the experience level of the man who nominated her. Donald Trump brought zero government or public service experience to the presidency when he got elected.

And it shows.

I fear the absence of any foreign policy chops is going to show itself yet again at the United Nations. Heaven help us.