CNN-YouTube Debate: “Who’s Missing From This Picture?”

CNN YouTube Debate in South Carolina, July 24, 2007


RFK Jr. supporters who follow this blog surely feel my anguish when I say that last night’s CNN/YouTube Democratic debate was at times painful to watch.

Although many of the homemade videos submitted through YouTube were just plain silly, some of the evening’s most important questions – the Iraq war, global climate change, election integrity, healthcare, the current culture of corruption in Washington – were left for the most part sufficiently unanswered by the mainstream Democratic candidates.

These just happen to be the issues that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is most passionate about. He could speak honestly and specifically to the issues and propose real solutions, as he often does in his magazine articles, editorials, interviews, and speeches. And it’s a damn shame he wasn’t up there on that podium last night, because he most likely would have stolen the show.

As reflected in the candidate’s placement onstage (and in the above photo), CNN’s coverage predictably gave the most airtime to the frontrunners, effectively squelching dissenting voices like Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska senator Mike Gravel. These two maverick crusaders were relegated to the outside edges of the stage, seemingly by design, to make them appear as “fringe” candidates, tinfoil hats barely worth listening to.

And yet, Kucinich and Gravel were about the only two candidates who gave us the straight talk we crave in last night’s debate. The sad news for their supporters is that they don’t seem to stand a chance of winning the party’s nomination. Or so the number-crunchers keep telling us.

If the convention were tomorrow, Democrats would likely choose Hillary Clinton as their nominee. Maybe a Hillary/Edwards ticket. Or a Hillary/Obama ticket, as many pundits now predict.

(Yawns)…But a lot of us just aren’t feeling that excitement for the old tried-and-true ticket this time around. Another Clinton (or Clinton/Gore?) administration after 8 years of King George II’s reign feels like going backwards. We’re not ready for a 90s nostalgia craze just yet, at least not when it comes to our politics.

Surveying the rest of the candidates upon that stage last night, we saw two former senators, four current senators, one governor, and one congressman. Each a representative of this country’s power structure. These are the people who run our government, supposedly the best and the brightest we have to offer. If that’s so, why are the American people so dissatisfied with them?

And why should we vote for them again when it is clear that most of them aren’t currently doing the job we elected them to do in the first place? Why should we be asked to believe that old dogs can learn new tricks, leopards can change their spots, and pigs can fly? When will we demand better choices and expect more from our presidential candidates?


There are many who say that maybe RFK Jr. should run for the Senate seat in New York when/if Hillary vacates it, that he should have a few years of Congressional experience under his belt before running for President.

This has long been the conventional wisdom for aspiring candidates, but I think the times we live in require us to think outside the box. Voters want to see some honesty back in the oval office — and the *last* place we look for honesty these days is Capitol Hill. We tend to distrust Washington insiders, and often for good reason. They haven’t done much to inspire our confidence.

Recent approval ratings for Congress are lower than they have ever been in our nation’s history. I’m not so certain that being a member of Congress is such a big plus in the eyes of voters anymore. The fact that RFK Jr. is not a professional politician may actually turn out to be his greatest selling point to so many voters who are at wits end with business as usual.

Not that he wouldn’t make a great Senator from New York (guess his supporters would all just have to move to NY!), but in that case, only one state of the union gets to benefit from his leadership. The whole country needs a man like him now.

2012 or 2016 may be too late. America is on such a perilous course. There is no time to waste, our country’s future is too important. The old approaches, names and familiar faces just aren’t serving us well anymore. After sitting through the entire excruciating CNN/YouTube debate last night, it was more clear to me than ever that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s time is now.

* Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.



Filed under climate change, election 2008, environment, global warming, hillary clinton, media, politics, religion, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., Uncategorized

4 responses to “CNN-YouTube Debate: “Who’s Missing From This Picture?”

  1. William Benge

    I am a moderate democrat. Scholarly work connects my American heritage to George Washington. I wonder what my famous, wise ancestor would have to say to the state of this nation now and recently. Would his message rebuke or flatter those holding to the order of the power elite, to the status quo? I believe he would be chagrined, to say the least. We need a means to turn our country around swiftly, someone to take the helm who has vision not just ambition. Not just a party agenda.

    As a moderate, what is important to me are concerns that once were almost exclusively espoused by my more liberal contemporaries. New energy technologies and infrastructures are critical, for instance. Social services and healthcare need to be revamped. Other concerns also.

    We need a modern Theodore Roosevelt, long story short. Yes, its true that he was a Republican by name. But he was a Democrat in spirit and policy. He was energized, informed, bold, willing to confront the whole of an issue, the whole of the problem, the whole of the people and explain the entirety of the solution cogently, enthusiastically and meaningfully. Without awareness, confrontation and meaningful expression being made, no betterment can be attained. Only RFK Jr has the potential to effectively match this criteria today, in my estimate.

    William Benge, Seattle

  2. Barbara

    I agree with you. I would love to see a Kennedy/Obama ticket. But, I fear for their lives. What say you about this? Whenever we have had truly great leaders come forward, speaking of truth and equality in this country, they’ve been assasinated. Obama is so brave. He doesn’t have the “Kennedy Curse”. Maybe he carries some kind of protection. Can we ask RFK to put his head on the chopping block, after what happened to his father and uncle? This is why I favor Obama so much in the current field. He brings people together. He’s smart. He’s from outside the power structure. He can do it, and then bring in everybody, all the best and the brightest, like RFK Jr., to work together to bring our resources together to solve these problems. And just pray for him, and make sure he’s protected and let whoever stands for the people come forward to bring us back to balance. But these militant guys are so violent. And they just kill everyone. It’s scary. Sorry to be so negative. I’m not really. I just feel we need to pray and protect these guys, if by miracle they were to be elected.

  3. rfkin2008

    The road to a career in public life is always dangerous, even more so, it seems, if your last name is Kennedy.

    But there’s a certain something I like to call “Kennedy courage.” It’s that one special gene in the family that makes them dash headfirst towards a challenge many of us would run away from. It is a mindset that always places honor and country above personal interest.

    And yet, any time in the past 40 years when a Kennedy seeks political office, all of us can’t help but worry about their safety. After all, “they shoot Kennedys, don’t they?”

    Not knowing him personally, we dare not speculate as to how Bobby Kennedy Jr. feels about this. How much of a factor would it be in his decision to run or not to run – ah, that is the question, my dear Hamlet.

    Perhaps we can glean some insight by examining his father’s words on the subject. Did he and his brother Jack constantly live in fear of losing their lives?

    “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” (RFK)

    “I thought they’d get one of us, but Jack, after all he’s been through, never worried about it. I thought it would be me.” (RFK)

    So it seems his father knew and expected he may be assassinated all along. Then why did he stick his neck out there and run for President?

    “I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and I have such strong feelings about what must be done. And I feel obliged to do all that I can.” (RFK)

    If RFK believed that he was going to be killed, what was the point of running at all?

    “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” (RFK)

    And what about Jack? His thoughts on courage:

    “A man does what he must-in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures-and that is the basis of all human morality.”

    In my mind, this is why both JFK and RFK died a hero’s death. Both knew the potential consequences of pushing the envelope, of challenging the powers that be, but they did it anyway. For the greater good. In hopes that these sacrifices would force change.

    I’d like to see more politicians who exhibit that kind of courage today.

  4. Jackie D

    I have been a fan of RFK Jr. for a long time. He is the Kennedy legacy of great public service. I remember his father well. I still live in Los Angeles. We need someone creative and honest. Trust is missing in the leadership of this country. When he spoke at Live Earth, the passion was there. I would support a RFK JR presidency. I have been waiting for Al Gore, but I would change if RFK Jr. decides to run.

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