On wanting the ghost of RFK to visit Obama like Jacob Marley visited Scrooge

I was just lamenting to my friend Pete yesterday that we didn’t have any leaders today like Robert Kennedy. Apparently others are thinking along the same lines. The following clip comes from an opinion piece by former Senate staffer Brent Budowsky:

…I believe there is now an economically unpatriotic wing of the GOP. They express partisan joy with every new job loss. They oppose new jobs programs with an obstructionism reminiscent of segregationist senators during the dark days of the antebellum South. Their politics is a cult of unpatriotism in which some Americans die for their country while the wealthiest Americans are not asked to pay taxes equal to those of their receptionist, and the wealthiest companies are not asked to pay any taxes at all.

We miss one of the most revered presidents in American history, who lifted our sights and our standards: John F. Kennedy. We miss that passionate protagonist who united the races behind shared economic interests: Robert Kennedy. We miss the Lion of the Senate who would be roaring today for more programs to create jobs, as he roared in 2008 to elect President Obama: Edward Kennedy.

If God would grant me one political wish, it would be that Barack Obama would fully understand the greatness of Robert Kennedy.

RFK did not criticize the base of the great political party he wanted to lead the nation. RFK did not believe in the false notion that the way to appeal to political independents is to demean, distance himself or triangulate against the heart and soul of this party. This is an insult to the Democratic heritage, an insult to political independents, and the way to lose elections as Democrats lost in 2010.

JFK fought for a rising tide that would lift all boats. RFK carried that torch with honor. He spoke passionately for the poor and profoundly about the dignity of work. The result (are you listening, Mr. President?) is that many white working-class voters who ultimately voted for the racist George Wallace in 1968 stood with RFK as their first choice because they knew he was fighting for them.

What voters want today (are you listening, Mr. President?) are leaders who fight for them as Robert Kennedy fought for them against greedy powers that cheat them, and impersonal forces that crush them, and depress them, and keep them down, and tell them they must quietly acquiesce to their fate of long-term suffering and pain…

My discussion with Pete, if you didn’t catch it in Saturday’s Shadow Art Fair post, can be seen here.

And, for those who are interested, I’ve added the book The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America to the MM.com Amazon store.

As for the ghost of RFK, I’m hoping that he comes soon, before Obama gives everything away to the monied elite in our country. As much as I dislike the thought that Obama may slash the Head Start budget, maybe it would be a good thing, if it brought back an angry RFK. (Kennedy started Head Start as Attorney General.)

update: Today I learned that, the day after I was born in Lexington, Kentucky, Robert Kennedy arrived there, to begin his poverty tour of Appalachia.

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  1. Wilma and Betty
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    Yet they accused JFK of being afraid of alienating his southern base and sitting on his hands and not doing anything about Civil Rights.
    Or was that in the Texas history textbook I read?

  2. james
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    The question “Why can’t Obama act like Democratic politicians acted before the fallout from the civil rights act of 1964 resulted in permanently losing the south (and thus the Democratic congressional majority) to the Republican party?” kind of answers itself.

  3. Edward
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    As I recall, things didn’t work out so well for RFK when he pursued this strategy.

    Likewise, it’s when MLK started focusing on poverty and class, instead of race, that he was killed.

    I’m just saying.

  4. Tommy
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    All of the progressives of the time were taken care of. Obama’s overlords have him in his place. If Wall Street still needs him, he will get re-elected. If not, someone from the otherside will.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    It is a revolutionary world we live in. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments.

    For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked for us.

    The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American society.

    -Robert F. Kennedy-

    I cannot imagine Obama ever saying those words.


  6. Gene
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I cannot listen to him speak anymore, too irritating. I thought Dubya was bad, but at least he spoke from the heart, made up words or not. Oboring sounds smart, but i have NO idea what he stands for, none. Bachmann is the new Dubya, she’s batshit crazy, but she speaks her mind (ha!). She is a joke, but i do think she could beat him. If it’s Romney, may the best boring win.

  7. Glen S.
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    James Howard Kunstler, this morning, ruminating on the debt-ceiling “crisis” as a metaphor for our broken political system:

    “It’s conceivable to me that Barack Obama may be the last president – for a while. He was a decent fellow but, in the end, ineffectual, and of course he got no help from the legislative branch, including especially colleagues in his own party, a most remarkable class of maundering chickenshits and grifters. Our money problems will not go away and after a while this land will not be governable by familiar means. In case you haven’t noticed, the rule of law is already AWOL in many sectors of our national life, most particularly money matters, but before long on every street-corner, every highway strip, plus every GMO cornfield, and brownfield. The two parties are unreformable and the Tea Party is the stooge of one of the two parties, and there is no other party of earnest, decisive, and sane individuals anywhere near the horizon. So some kind of convulsion is in the cards and it will be the unfortunate duty of some dutiful officer to step in and set an agenda based on something other than bluster, fakery, and pocket pool.
    While there’s a good chance the US debt ceiling will be extended, it seems to me that meanwhile we have crossed an invisible line into a place where untoward things happen.”

  8. Oliva
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    The really fine John Nichols yesterday re. Elizabeth Warren and how things could go:

    Four years in the Senate could well make Elizabeth Warren a serious contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination—and rightly so. As a senator, she would serve in the independent progressive Wellstone-Feingold style. And that’s almost certainly what Democrats—and Americans—will be looking for after the eight years of Obama or four years of Rombachperrycain.

    But even if Warren never goes presidential, she (and those who have been enthusiastic about her potential as a national leader) should consider the Senate. Her election to the chamber would be in the tradition of former Alaska Senator Ernest Gruening, former Oregon Senator Wayne Morse and former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, scholars and presidential appointees whose presence elevated the stature of the Senate and the general quality of the debate in Washington.

    It would also be in the tradition of Wellstone, who recognized long ago that Elizabeth Warren would make a exceptional senator.


    Heard Eric Alterman on a panel discussion on C-SPAN2 and want to read his latest book, Kabuki Democracy. It’s impossible to see one clear big picture at this point, the “shitstem” (a la Peter Tosh) is so tainted, complex, rigged, and willfully impure. But I appreciate Alterman’s ability to stay jovial and clear-eyed, despite everything, while seeking to glean bigger pictures.

  9. Oliva
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    “If Warren runs and beats Brown next year, I wonder how much Senate Republicans will come to regret the decision to block her CFPB prospects?” –Steve Benen


  10. Bob
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    His wholesale embrace of the military industrial complex with the defense spending and troop escalation is what most troubles me. I didn’t expect a maverick on finance, he was elected by Wall Street and insurance companies as much as anything.

  11. Mr. X
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to have your voice back on the site, Oliva. You were missed.

    And it’s funny that you should mention Kunstler, Glen. It just occurred to me at lunch that I should check his site and see what he thought of this debt limit debate.

  12. Posted July 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Edward, MLK didn’t start focusing on poverty and class late in his activism. He did however begin to link those issues to the war in Viet Nam, and in fact it was on a very specific date that he did this. It was April 4th, 1967 when he gave his speech at the UN titled “Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence” which was a very open and obvious breaking of his own silence on the issue.

    Investigations in the many years since have uncovered an operation which was initiated shortly after this speech and which targeted MLK for elimination. As this operation developed and proceeded it was likely that April 4th was set as the “go” date for the purpose of sending the message to the civil rights community to stay away from the issue MLK began addressing publicly that day.

  13. Robert
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    You can listen to the speech here:


    MLK agonized for a long time before he finally made the decision to give this speech. Many of his friends, loved ones and advisers asked him not to open up this new line in the civil rights movement. They were rightly concerned it was going to be the move which would do him in. There is little doubt it IS precisely what got him killed.

  14. Robert
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I should clarify that the first place MLK gave the anti-war speech was at Riverside Church, New York City, on April 4, 1967. He later gave a similar but much more rousing version of the speech at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. I believe it was this speech which made it clear to everyone that MLK was going to make a very public issue of the Viet Nam war and it’s obvious connections to civil rights issues.

  15. Posted July 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see you back on here, Oliva :)

  16. Glen S.
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Likewise, nice to have you back, Olivia.

    Also, fun to see you (LOTP) being interviewed at the Shadow Art Fair, along with Peter Larson, and Andy C.

    p.s. – Shadow Art Fair 2011 was a blast. Thanks to Mark and all for making it happen!

  17. Posted July 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Being interviewed was so much fun! I absolutely cannot watch myself on film or listen to myself on tape…you really don’t know what you look like and when I see that I’m like, “Oh God. Seriously?!?” Thanks for watching :)

  18. dragon
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    If all these other douche bags didn’t already greet you I would have.

    Oliva :)

  19. Oliva
    Posted July 19, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Oh, you guys are so swell. Thank you!

  20. Glen S.
    Posted August 7, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    A brilliant analysis of the Obama Presidency (so far), by Drew Westen, in today’s New York Times:


  21. Posted August 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I noticed that earlier, and was planning to share it tonight…. Assuming my head stops throbbing.

  22. Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    My brother suggested I may like this website. He was totally
    right. This publish truly made my day. You cann’t believe just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

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