TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Man of Hope

Yes, a tall, skinny guy with a funny name is running for president of the United States.

Yes, he appeals to loyal blacks, Latinos, idealistic youth, liberals, progressives, committed
unions, and thinking independents. And, yes, when he speaks, those within earshot of him begin to clap hands, stump their feet and chant to the top of their lungs. And, when the tall skinny kid begins to weave a tale of patriotism, hard work, hopes and dreams, when his voice rises to a crescendo like a Lucian Pavarotti aria ending in the high C's, young girls in pretty dresses jump out of their seats and begin to dance deliriously, spinning like couples at a Saturday night hoedown in rural Tennessee.

"We can hope once we realize we have more in common than we have apart. We can change once we know that we have the true power: that power comes not from the top but from the ground up. We can take back White House and take back the country once we know that true power comes from us. When you say, "Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!"


But back in the day, another young US senator ran for president of the United States. No, he wasn't especially tall, and he didn't have a funny name. But, like the skinny kid, he had above-average intelligence, a calming effect upon everyone he met, and an absolutely disarming smile. He was the charmer

Like the tall, skinny kid, the charmer believed in change-- change in terms of getting out of a war into which we never should have gotten involved in the first place, and change in developing a mindset where we only go to war as a last resort. Whereas the skinny kid wants to get out of Iraq, the charmer wanted to end our invasion and occupation of Vietnam. Like the skinny kid, the charmer wanted to take funding used to purchase planes and guns and to burn down villages and redirect those monies toward rebuilding America: improving education, putting Americans back to work, improving its neglected infrastructure...healing its racial and moral wounds.

The charmer viewed our propensity for war as going far beyond politics or greed. On Face the Nation, November 26, 1967, he clearly framed our illegal occupation in Vietnam as a moral issue:

"Do we have the right here in the United States to say that we’re going to kill tens of thousands, make millions of people, as we have, refugees, kill women and children, as we have? I very seriously question whether we have that right...When we use napalm, when a village is destroyed and civilians are killed, this is a moral obligation and a moral responsibility for us here in the United States." (
The Last Good Campaign, by Thurston Clarke).

Like the tall skinny kid, the charmer saw past religion, race, gender and class to a promising and prosperous future for America.

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.

In his own way, the young charmer was agreeing with the skinny kid: "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

But they say all good things must come to an end. The charmer was assassinated in 1968. Still, if the charmer were around today, he would say to the tall skinny kid the same thing that his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy, said: "Well done, my son. Well done."



6 comments:

SagaciousHillbilly said...

"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."

That just deserved repeating.

Danielle said...

Beautiful and something we all need to be reminded of. We can change as a people and as a nation if we really want to.

There are long hard days in front of us, but we are worth it.

MacDaddy said...

sagacious: Yes. It's interesting to go back and weigh the message of a memorable, positive politician like Bobby Kennedy against those of someone like Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton. Whereas Obama's message compares quite favorably, obviously Sen. Clinton's does not. But don't you think that, if anyone had just cause to by cynical or negative about the America or Americans, Bobby did? Look at what they did to President Kenney and his brother, murdering him and then whitewashing it through a commission? I'm not so sure I would have been as forgiving as he.

Danielle: Yes, we should be reminded of men and women like Bobby Kennedy. I read a biography of John Kennedy a while back. I remember that, at the time he was assassinated, he had already begun to withdraw American soldiers from Vietnam. I believe he had withdrawn about 5,000 or some such number. The author of the book The Last Good Campaign said that Bobby's chief motivation in running for president was to finish the job his brother started: Ending the Vietnam war, making progress on US poverty. He seemed especially committed to ending poverty. Like you say, we're worth it.

Patti T said...

It felt good to read this piece about Bobby Kennedy and the connections you make to Senator Obama. I think people looked to Bobby Kennedy as the one who would take the hands of all of us in his and move us forward as a nation. His idealism was so powerful and his ability to relate to so many was immense. I can see how so many people today feel that way about Barack Obama. I hope that he has the opportunity that Bobby Kennedy never had to make that difference. I have been hesitant, almost resistent, to jump on Senator Obama's bandwagon...though as you know, when I first heard him speak at the Democratic Convention, I said to everyone around me who would listen "that man will be president some day"...I think I felt then that it would be more in the future and that his time would come. And I know that everyone is down on Hilary and noting all the horrible, racist, divisive things she has done and how the Democratic Party will never recover because of it...but frankly I don't think this campaign has been any worse than others -- there is always garbage and bad behavior, and mistruths or misrepresentations that happen...it's called campaign season. I frankly think the liberal/alternative media has done as much harm as others--they keep widening the divide. I'd like to hold up what Bobby Kennedy strived for and gave up his life for and hope that we will come together as Democratics/Liberals/non-rightwing conservatives and support the final candidate and pull everyone under the big tent together.

MacDaddy said...

Patti: You may be right. This campaign may very well be no worse than others. But I have to say that I find Hillary and Bill playing the race card in South Carolina and suggesting that "the hard working, white American voter won't support Obama was particularly painful for me to stomach. Actually, I used to defend her against sexist statements by men and Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky affair. But like you, I hope the democrats can pull it together for the general. I don't know if I can stand another Republican president. Thanks, Patti.

Anonymous said...

dear mac,
i worked for bobby....spent the early summer canvassing for him in Dubuque, Iowa.....that was interesting...the town was 80 per cent catholic and loved rfk....i never met him, tho....when i went to Germany the next fall his asssassination was a hot topic...it was very hard to talk to people about it because i couldn't say all that was in my heart in German....i improved over the year i was there...thank god for english-German/German-English dictionary!
PEACE, LOVE AND JOY!