I sat mesmerized as I watched Caroline and Ted Kennedy symbolically pass the torch of Camelot, and all it represents to the loyal opposition, to Barack Obama the other day. I started out as a good Republican would, by looking for ways to blow holes in it. Here’s a guy, Obama, trying to get us to look forward by forgetting 1992 by embracing 1962, I thought. Didn’t Reagan do a good job deconstructing that?
And there was the Ambien-addled third generation scion, Patches, sitting behind the new standard bearer assuming what was rightfully his, if he wasn’t such an inveterate screw-up.
But I couldn’t do it. I thought back to 1980, working a campaign in Pennsylvania where I would bang into Kennedy staffers and recalled them telling me the reason why the networks insisted on each having two camera crews following Sen. Kennedy around was to be able to have several angles covered in the event of an assassination attempt. How does one seek to serve a country when their life might be on the line like that? You can’t help but empathize with that.
And, for all of his faults, our senator has been an active surrogate father in the lives of his many nieces and nephews whose father’s call to service ended their lives. How much was Caroline’s pre-emptive endorsement a factor in Ted’s decision to get off the fence and enter the fray?
She lost her dad at 6. I lost my dad at 8, and I didn’t have a Zapruder film to haunt me about it. For her to say this man reminds her most of her father must have a profound meaning to her.
So there was all that treacly drama of a political movement brutally dashed through assassinations. There was the fatherless child of the movement founder, standing beside the aging surrogate now hunched over and stiff from a bad back ravaged further still by a less-than-healthy lifestyle, to be kind. He essentially admitted his time had passed, with considerable grace and dignity.
And then came Obama. Man oh man, can that guy give a speech! It was totally devoid of substance, which is OK. He understands our national hunger for a new approach to politics. The Rove/Carville strategy has been to divide and conquer; depress voter turnout by turning off the middle and hope your tinfoil-clad zealots rule the day. We as a nation are sick of this, and Obama knows how to push that button. I would dearly love to see more bipartisan cooperation. At the very least, let’s get past the bickering.
And the speeches had thinly veiled shots at the Bickersons, Bill and Hillary, which did not go unanswered for very long. Minutes after the speeches had ended Andrea Mitchell broke in to state the Clinton campaign had just issued a press release announcing increased investments in their Rapid Response Teams in all the states holding primaries on Super Tuesday. Clinton/Carville made the term famous in 1992, when they would inundate media outlets with counter charges to Bush utterances claiming they had to do it to not be “Willie Hortoned” by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Defense against perceived unfair attacks enables the Clinton operation to justify virtually any tactic. General Sherman had more scruples.
Well, that Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has morphed through the Main Stream Media (MSM) and spread all the way over to Teddy Kennedy, aka the Liberal Lion. When your opposition covers virtually every hue of the political spectrum, it would appear that personal introspection might be in order.
But not the Clinton camp. The answer to what likely will be looked back upon as a historic moment in Democratic Party history, with a passing of the torch and a call for a more civil political discourse, was answered by a thinly veiled warning that the Clinton camp had gone on high alert to go on the political attack. They’re ready to be Slim Pickens, riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove. In short, they reinforced that which Kennedy and Obama dramatically sought to repudiate, to great applause from the audience.
It’s a bunker mentality, reminiscent of Berlin in April 1945, and the Clintons are not cast in the role of the liberators.
The old adage about “going out with a bang” says, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” The Clinton co-presidents have proven again their gracelessness, and it’s up to Democratic primary voters to put their lights out. It will make the Republican Party challenge all that much more difficult against an exceptionally gifted speaker such as Barack Obama, and that’s fine by this Republican. The country will be far better served by candidates daring one another to reach for greatness rather than daring one another to stoop ever lower.