Monthly Archives: November 2007

Clinton Endorsement: Shock and Awe

SHOCK AND AWE

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton seems to be drawing more ire than fire from longtime Kennedy loyalists, who expressed their extreme displeasure with his choice for president all over the blogosphere this week.

While his endorsement of Senator Clinton’s campaign is no doubt a smooth strategic move (especially if he has his eye on her Senate seat), the announcement didn’t exactly seem to stir the hearts of Hillary’s supporters. Their reaction, even on the candidate’s own website, was fairly lukewarm by comparison:

 Posted by: To the Hill Top

“We can be very proud of a party that produces public servants like the Kennedys and Clintons. Both families have given their all to our nation and are respected by our friends, allies and even some of our adversaries. That Robert Jr. would endorse Sen. Clinton is hardly surprising.”

by Lunabella

“RFK JR is a leader for environmental causes and obviously recognizes that senator Clinton holds the issue of global warming as one of her top concerns. He has chosen his candidate wisely. GO HILLARY GO! “

by Veronica

“Robert Kennedy , Jr. is a strong environmentalist. His endorsement will enhance Hillary’s standing with environmentalists. Of course, Hillary has an excellent record on the environment, an issue that is very important to me, but it certainly helps to have someone like Kennedy to come out in support of Hillary.”

While Hillary’s fans seem to be happy to hear the news, this is hardly the expected outpouring of passionate enthusiasm for having the likes of RFK Jr. join their team.

Elsewhere, the Democratic party rank-and-file greeted the news with a polite golf clap and a bit of a collective yawn. This is likely because the party faithful are still breathlessly awaiting Senator Ted Kennedy to give Hillary his endorsement. To many, he’s still the only Kennedy endorsement that matters.

We’ve culled together some of the most interesting comments regarding this latest development from around the web, both positive and negative. (Although we had to look pretty hard to find genuine enthusiasm for RFK’s Clinton endorsement.)

What we did find was a good deal of indifference — sort of a collective “so what?” — and a great deal of cynicism, mistrust of his motives, and outright anger amongst Kennedy’s progressive base. Many are puzzled. Others feel betrayed. Some say the man has sold out.

Either way you slice it, the response has been by far more negative than positive. Even some of the comments posted to RFK Jr.’s own blog at the Huffington Post had a surprisingly nasty snarl to them. The discussion soon sidetracked from the subject of so-called “clean coal” to the Clinton endorsement: 

“Obviously Robert has been bought off by the Hillary forces. Why would someone who has devoted his life to environmental causes endorse someone who has never spared a thought for the environment, unless it was entirely expedient for her to do so. Hillary has nothing to add on the two biggest issues of the day: the war and global warming. She is not the right candidate for LEADING us away from the precipice where we are perched.

When I heard about his endorsement, I groaned out loud. Did she just promise him a Cabinet post outright? Are the Kennedys and Clintons so enmeshed? Why couldn’t he at least withhold it until after she’s been anointed by the Iowa and New Hampshire party bosses and their sheeple? I wonder why Robert thinks we are supposed to take seriously his devotion to the environment when he supports a presidential candidate who has never been exerted by the enormous threat of global warming.

It is simply too discouraging for words. The elite is all in cahoots, and it would be idiotic to think an elite would lead us away from this state of affairs.

— posted by IowaGirl 

You simpleton, Kennedy doesn’t need the money so your fallacy about being bought is plain dumb.
It’s about the environment. Clinton has supported clean environments and this is just another.

— posted by drumz

I am saddened that you would endorse Hillary. What do you know that we dont.
Or have you been promised a White House spot.
Please say it isnt so.
I listen to Ring of Fire and cant believe you would sell out to big business.
Please tell us why.

— posted by snowbird42

And from the New York Times:

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for president today, and headed out to campaign for her in Iowa — a state where he once told residents, “large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.”

According to news accounts at the time, in April 2002, in the Des Moines Register and the New York Post, Mr. Kennedy made the comparison during a Waterkeeper rally in Iowa on hog farm issues. The group has long raised concerns about the environmental fall-out from large-scale animal raising enterprises.A Register editorial denounced his comments as “idiotic” and “ridiculous,” and the paper’s leading political columnist, David Yepsen — who Mrs. Clinton and other candidates now eagerly court — said that Mr. Kennedy’s comments were “one of the crudest things ever said in Iowa politics.”

A Clinton campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said yesterday, “We aren’t going to agree with everything that every one of our supporters has said.”

COMMENTS AT NY TIMES:

This is a puzzeling endors
ement. She hasn’t exactly been running a green campaign. I thought that Kennedy was a person of true beliefs. Edwards would have been more in line with his views.

— Posted by cliff jones

I’m sure that if we cornered Kennedy, he’d tell us that we should all vote for Hillary and forget about third party candidates because she is the most likely to win and because she comes closer to our views than the GOP, but you don’t vote for someone because you think they’re gonna win. You vote and support someone because they are closest to your views. The Green Party doesn’t support the war. The Green Party doesn’t support the private ownership of land. The Green Party wants an end to the corpocracy that is running Washington. The Green Party wants an end to the destruction which agricultural conglomerates and cattle ranching have caused to the environment.Robert Kennedy should be a member of the Green Party, not the party of “let’s see if we can get our one or two issues addressed.”

— Posted by John Feier

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is not the visionary his father was. Robert F. Kennedy would be stirred by the dreams of Barack Obama and John Edwards, who are the natural successors to the man who showed America the abject poverty millions of our own citizens live in to this day. Robert F. Kennedy toured Appalachia and the deep south to reveal homes with no running water, no heat or electricity, children dressed in rags with no shoes on their feet. Schools that were little more than tumble-down shacks.Robert F. Kennedy would find kindred spirits in Obama and Edwards who have worked hard for those with the least. Bobby Kennedy was ready to challenge the status quo and fought for goals that did not end with personal success, but with aid and comfort for those who needed it. He personified the quotation which has come to identify him best: Man’s reach should always exceed his grasp.Hillary Clinton brings to mind none of those ideals. She holds no special place for the impoverished, but seeks instead to enrich herself and family. The White House is not a place where Hillary sees she can do good for all, just do good for herself and close friends. Her goals is not to change the world, just be elected president, as if it is merely another entry on her paltry resume. How telling that Robert F. Kennedy, brother of the martyred President, ran not on his brother’s record but his own. How different from Hillary who wraps herself tightly the resume of her husband, assumes roles and titles held by others, inflates her unelected job into something unrecognizable, and — being generous here — fibs about her accomplishments. Barack Obama and John Edwards will do just fine without the endorsements of the son, but the father must feel some disappointment that someone so shallow and self-centered received from the keeper of his legacy, the bearer of his name, the endorsement which should have rightly gone to others far more deserving.

— Posted by jade7243

And of course this has nothing to do with RFK Jr.’s reported interest in running for the US Senate seat that President Hillary would have to vacate should she be elected. To think they used call his daddy the ruthless one!

— Posted by Capital Cat

The endorsement is useless. Most dems don’t know who this Kennedy is except he hates hog farmers especially Iowa hog farmers. — Posted by DIckie

Congratulations to Hillary on her myriad of utterly useless endorsements…keep them coming.

— Posted by Chima

It’s interesting when people keep trying to compare Robert Kennedy to Barack and John Edwards as if they are his successors and RFK jr must be missing something that his father had. If you read and know about Robert Kennedy you would know that he clearly had more common with Hillary Clinton than Barack and John ever did or ever will. Gender aside (probably the only thing they don’t have in common), Hillary and Bobby are very similar. ‘She’s not the beautiful-loser idealist, or the person who’s ambivalent about politics. She loves politics. Just as Bobby Kennedy loved politics. Bobby Kennedy could deal with Cesar Chavez and Mayor Daley. That’s what you need in America.’

— Posted by Cord

To jade, corinne and chima:It must feel good to shoot down every significant or noble person who endorses the enemy. What if Gore or Powell or any of your proclaimed heroes decide to come out for Hillary?Will you then malign their good name and cease your worship of them pronto? And will you start amassing an arsenal of vitriol directed at these notables whom you formerly embraced?And when Hillary wins the nom, will you then bow out gracefully from these pages, or will you go out kicking and screaming?

— Posted by Cat’s Eyes

Some of these celebrities like the Kennedy just endorse Hillary Clinton for the sole reason that Hillary is another celebrity. The views of little Kennedy does not carry muh weight in America. His father’s voice had some value. Not the little Kennedy. In fact his trashing words about Iowa hog farmers will only help divert some votes away from the person he is endorsing. Very few people have even heard of what he does. Isn’t he the one who flunked the bar exam? For the Kennedys, they feel comfortable in turning America into an aristocracy. So supporting the Clintons, or even another Bush is like keeping the country under an aristocratic regime. — Posted by Mary McFarlane

Cord: She’s not the beautiful “loser-idealist”?The sheer cynical apologism inherent in that statement should give everyone a whole bunch of pause. First, we are to believe that idealists are losers. That’s good to know. I suppose Lincoln was a loser-idealist? How about Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, hmm? JFK, what with all the loser-idealism contained within his speeches about global peace? That’s a lot of loser-idealism there.It is one thing to be a irrational idealist(which the aforementioned presidents, along with Barack Obama and John Edwards, were not). It is a whole other insanity to be a cynical pessimist. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy asks us to turn back time and go back to the 90’s as if they were these halocyn glory days. If anything, that is clearly irrational to anybody who was actually alive during the 90’s and paying attention.A failure of ambition is as dangerous to us as a failure of judgement. Time and time again, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated both. While she lamely asks her supporters to “turn up the heat” she seems completely blind to the fact that such partison blowtorching is the precise reason why America is melting.

— Posted by Abe

For shame!

— Posted by Tom Goldkuhle Two “has beens” this week endorsing Clinton. At least it’s consistent as if RFK, Jr. hadn’t had the Kennedy family, he’d be another “nobody”. Oink, oink as Iowa’s gonna clobber him. Hillary you’ve got to do better that this.— Posted by Pigs in the Blanket

I am going to go out on a limb and state that Kennedy’s words did not go over well with Iowans. It is difficult to say how they will take Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I know what Kennedy meant, but for many people in Iowa, large-scale hog producing is work. This endorsement may backfire.

— Posted by Jeremy McNamara

And how is the endorsement going over in Iowa, where RFK Jr. is campaigning for Clinton this week? From the Des Moines Register:

markot wrote:
So what!!
 

Hawki wrote:
Who cares… are we supposed to think this endorsement carries weight because his name is Kennedy?

spasticjack wrote:
Betcha he is gonna hate that decision when he sobers up.
SunDog wrote:
Kennedy just wants HRC’s senate seat if, heaven forbid, she gets to the White House.

Yep, at this point, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of folks aren’t taking the news very well…

We want to know your thoughts. Since this is a gathering place on the web for RFK Jr.’s supporters, this seems an appropriate time for any and all of you who dare to stand up and defend Mr. Kennedy’s endorsement. Tell us why you think he’s done the right thing — for his party, for his family, and for his country — by joining forces with Hillary.

Or, if you find his choice indefensible, tell us why you think he’s wrong. Has his endorsement of Clinton changed the way you feel about him? Do you still trust that he has America’s best interests at heart? Has he compromised his progressive principles for the sake of political ambition? And most importantly, would you still give him your vote if he ran for public office?

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Kennedy Campaigns for Clinton

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

IT’S OFFICIAL

As reported in this blog a couple of months ago, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he stands behind Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in her bid for the Democratic party nomination.

Today, he went even further, giving Clinton his formal endorsement:

“Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to bring the war in Iraq to an end and reverse the potentially devastating effects of global warming,” Kennedy said in a statement released by Clinton’s campaign.

“I watched proudly as Hillary won over New Yorkers across the state in her race for the Senate seat my father once held,” he said. “Since then, she’s been re-elected in a landslide victory and proven that she is ready to lead this nation from her first day in office. Hillary will inspire the real change America needs.”

Clinton said she was honored to have his support and counsel.”Bobby has worked tirelessly to protect our environment and raise awareness about the dangers of global warming and pollution,” she said in a statement.

Bobby certainly wasted no time in hitting the campaign trail to help Hillary in Iowa, according to QuadCities Online:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., kicked off his first official day of stumping for presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday. Mr. Kennedy shared his reasons for why he’s supporting the New York junior senator and met with volunteers at the Davenport Field Office for Hillary Clinton for President.

He called the 2008 election the most critical presidential election of his lifetime and pointed to Sen. Clinton as the Democrat needed to turn it all around.

Mr. Kennedy said he was inspired to back Sen. Clinton because of her strong performance in New York, where she was first elected senator in 2000 and again in 2006 in a landslide victory against Republican candidate John Spencer. “I would hope my experience combined with my personal relationship and knowledge of her record in New York state be one of the things that will help persuade people who may be on the fence that shes’ a candidate worth voting for,” he said.

Prior to officially endorsing her, Mr. Kennedy said he has helped out the campaign in about 20 states through a speaking tour he does. He said now was the time to formally endorse a candidate as the Iowa Caucuses are only five weeks away.

“The largest issues facing our country today are energy and the environment and Hillary’s got the strongest plans for dealing with those things,” said Mr. Kennedy, a 25-year environmental advocate himself. Mr. Kennedy pointed to Sen. Clinton’s goals of getting Americans off all oil – not just foreign oil – and rescuing them from “our carbon addiction.”

From his Davenport stop, Mr. Kennedy headed to Dubuque to continue his series of appearances in eastern Iowa for Sen. Clinton. Although the environmental platform and advocacy sometimes seems contrary to the demands of blazing the campaign trail, Mr. Kennedy said this is not the case.

“You can go out and buy a Prius but its not going to change the world,” he said. “What’s going to change the world is if we have a law that you can’t build a car or sell a car unless its gets 40 miles per gallon.”

Mr. Kennedy said criticizing politicians touting environmental concerns like Al Gore on how they heat their homes, fly in private jets or what type of car they drive, is simply a distraction used by the industry. “(Al Gore) may have burned a lot of fuel, but he changed a lot of minds and he’s now changed the political system, the political framework and dialogue in our country,” he said. “At some point because of him all of us are going to be driving more efficient cars, because of the fuel he used to get from place to place, every American is going to be driving more fuel efficient cars and living more efficiently,” he said. “So I’d say that it was that fuel that was probably the best spent fuel that we could possibly have.”  

Well, guess I’d better stop there, as I just noticed the word count was exactly 666 words. Hmmm…coincidence or an omen? Frankly, I’m too spooked to continue.

Better to just throw the floor open to your comments at this point, my fellow Kennedy supporters. What do you think? Is the RFK/Clinton alliance a match made in heaven? Or has he just made a deal with the devil?

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RFK Jr. Profiles an American Hero in New Book

RFK Jr. on the Today Show, Nov. 19, 2007

(PHOTO CAPTION: RFK Jr. on The Today Show, Nov. 19, 2007)

KENNEDY WRITES A PROFILE IN COURAGE

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s latest book is a biography of Joshua Chamberlain — musician, linguist, professor, farmer, husband, father, soldier, and American patriot.

He’s currently making the rounds of talk shows to promote American Heroes: Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War, appearing on NBC’s Today last week (see video link at the bottom of this article).

Kennedy also talked about the new book at some length on his weekly Air America broadcast, explaining why he felt so drawn to the story of Joshua Chamberlain’s life and what compelled him to write this book at this point in our nation’s history. Listen to the interview here. ( Bobby’s segment is in the first hour, about 40 minutes into the program.)

This book is Kennedy’s second in a series of books written for children. (His first was 2005’s St. Francis of Assisi – A Life of Joy) The inspiration for the initial American Heroes book is also rooted close to home, drawn from his childhood memories as well as his role as a father. From an early age, Kennedy was well-versed in war lore, in large part due to his family’s military service and their keen interest in the nation’s struggles to establish the freedoms we enjoy today.

“My Uncle Jack was fascinated with these ideals, particularly courage,” Kennedy told Publisher’s Weekly. “He was a war hero, as was my Uncle Joe. My father also served in World War II, though it was at the end. But he was a great military historian. Nearly every night at dinner he’d tell us of the great battles that changed history. Those stories absolutely entranced me as a child.” 

The tradition of sharing these stories, though perhaps in a different manner, is now being passed to Kennedy’s own children. “I have six kids,” he noted. “We read every night and the thing that seems to grab my kids’ interest the most is history—stories of historical figures. There is no story that you could invent that would be as exciting as the real-life adventures of Joshua Chamberlain.”

Kennedy’s son Conor discovered this first hand when he began researching the Civil War hero for a fifth-grade research paper. “As I watched Conor’s fascination, it occurred to me that Chamberlain’s story would make a great children’s book,” Kennedy said. “Chamberlain was acting totally on principle. He was vehemently opposed to slavery and he walked away from a family he loved and a job he loved to defend the highest ideals of our country.”

Via these illustrated biographies, aimed at readers age 8-up, Kennedy hopes that kids will get excited about history as well as inform families of where history has brought us thus far. “A parent’s objective is to fill their children’s minds with noble thoughts,” he said. “The best way to do that is through stories of real people acting heroically. It’s important for Americans to remind ourselves of the ideals that made our country great.”

And so, with that in mind, we hope you will enjoy the following excerpt from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s new book, American Heroes: Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War:

FOREWORD


Sometimes the fate of a nation rests upon the shoulders of a single courageous soul.

One day in July 1863, a young college professor named Joshua Chamberlain and a handful of gallant boys from Maine risked — and in some cases, gave — their lives to hold a few acres of rough, rocky soil on a Pennsylvania hilltop. Their heroic deeds saved our country from destruction. Their legacy is the United States of America, and the courage, character and goodness that make our country a great nation.

Had Chamberlain or his men faltered, even momentarily, during the fight for the Round Tops, our nation would have died at Gettysburg. After that battle, Chamberlain and the men of the 20th Maine buried their dead, side by side, in a single long grave. They memorialized each of their fallen comrades with a plank torn from an ammunition box and inscribed with the soldier’s name. As he completed this grim task, Chamberlain wistfully hoped that generations of Americans who “know us not” would come from afar, “to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them.”

I wrote this book in the hope that our children will put a higher value on America and its freedoms if they understand the high price at which these things were purchased by an earlier generation of our countrymen. The recitation of a glorious history and heroic deeds has the power to imbue us with noble thoughts and summons us to the ideals and courage that make America great.

In their efforts to improve our minds and elevate our souls, my parents encouraged their 11 children to read history and learn about the great heroes of the past. My father, an avid military historian, told us, over dinner, the stories of important battles like Bunker Hill, the Cowpens, and Bull Run. Our family visited the decisive battlefields of the Revolution and the Civil War. On one of these trips, to Gettysburg, we heard the story of the citizen soldier Joshua Chamberlain.

Chamberlain epitomized the best qualities of the American character. He was a hardworking farmer; a poet and a musician; a linguist, writer and theologian. He was educated and idealistic. He was self-reliant, kind, fair and decent. He had character, integrity and manners. He loved America and was willing to sacrifice his life and fortune for our country. His astounding feats of daring in the nation’s time of greatest peril compare with epic deeds of the warriors of ancient times and legend.

The extraordinary thing is how common these virtues were in so many of those who fought in the Civil War, on both sides. Indeed, the Civil War is the story of millions of acts of heartbreaking gallantry. Chamberlain and his contemporaries faced crises far more dire than any known to this generation. More than 620,000 American soldiers died in that conflict, a catastrophe equivalent to the loss of 5.7 million Americans relative to the country’s population today. Our nation faced imminent destruction. Whole cities were besieged and ruined; our countryside was immolated; railroads and roads destroyed. Yet, the Americans fighting for the Union cause did not compromise their principles or their commitment to justice. They never dismissed their vision of a noble and just America as if it were a luxury that we could no longer afford. Their dauntlessness transformed the Civil War from America’s gravest and most tragic episode into our country’s finest hour. Its successful prosecution required great national sacrifice, the guidance of Providence, and extraordinary heroics by thousands of citizens, from President Lincoln to the lowest infantryman. Their efforts saved the Union and abolished slavery, which had torn the moral fiber of our young republic. They helped confirm America as the generous, principled nation we became in our own eyes — and in the eyes of the world. When he spoke of the war, Chamberlain referred to it, in the common parlance of the day, as “the noble cause.” Chamberlain and his soldiers fought the war to preserve not just the solidarity but the virtues of our nation — our idealism, faith, optimism, decency and commitment to justice. The most conspicuous quality of these men was courage.

In the view of earlier American generations, courage was practically synonymous with freedom; fear, after all, was the instrument of tyrants. As Franklin Roosevelt later put it, the greatest enemy of our treasured freedom is “fear itself.” Every once in a while, we Americans need to remind ourselves that we are the land of the free precisely because we are the home of the brave! A nation of great ideals can  be preserved only by sacrifice and courage. I grew up thinking of Americans as the bravest people on earth. Americans, our civics instructors taught us, were guided by principle and willing to sacrifice all to preserve our rights and liberty.

It is the fantastic bravery of a long line of stalwarts like Joshua Chamberlain, and their love of principle, their commitment to ideals, and their willingness to sacrifice, which has defined our people and guided our nation’s destiny. It’s worth considering today how grievously we would dishonor the memory of these gallant heroes if we should ever let America become a nation governed by fear, or if we willingly compromised the rights they gave so much to guarantee.

—Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

 

CONTINUED: Chapter 1: “JUST DO IT!”

Read more from the new book and watch the Today Show interview with RFK Jr. on MSNBC

Buy the book at Amazon.com

Here at RFKin2008.com, we are trying to draft Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lead a new army of American patriots in a peaceful revolution. But first, we’ve got to put him in the White House where he belongs. Please SIGN THE PETITION to draft Kennedy for President and tell your friends!

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver Hospitalized

CNN and the Associated Press report that Bobby’s aunt Eunice was hospitalized in Boston over the Thanksgiving holiday. See full story below: 

(CNN) Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of former President John F. Kennedy and founder of the Special Olympics, is in the hospital, said a spokesman for her daughter, California first lady Maria Shriver.

art.shriver.gi.jpg

(PHOTO FROM GETTY IMAGES/CNN: Eunice Kennedy Shriver attends a Special Olympics Torch Run Ceremony at the White House July 26.)

“She has had many health challenges in the past several months, and in every case she has bounced back,” Daniel Zingale said. “I hope and expect it will be the same in this case.”

He would not elaborate on Shriver’s status, saying, “the family’s privacy must be respected.”

However, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts General Hospital said Shriver was in fair condition, according to The Associated Press.

She was admitted on November 18, the AP reported.

Shriver, 86, is also the sister of Senator Edward Kennedy and the late Robert F. Kennedy.

She founded the Special Olympics in 1968 and has received numerous awards for her work with children.

She was hospitalized in October 2005 after suffering a minor stroke and hip fracture.

President John F. Kennedy with his sister Eunice

President John F. Kennedy with his sister Eunice.

 

All of us here at RFKin2008.com wish Eunice Kennedy Shriver a speedy and full recovery. At 86, she is the oldest living Kennedy — and we need her around to keep on fighting the good fight. Get well soon, Eunice!

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday, Bob

Robert F. Kennedy at BYU, March 1968

PHOTO CAPTION: Senator Robert F. Kennedy at BYU, March 1968

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB

Had he lived, Robert F. Kennedy would be 82 years old today. We thought it might be interesting to honor him this year not with a few selected quotations by him, but rather quotations about him.

How was Bobby Kennedy described by the people who knew him best?

Their opinions were not always kind, to say the least. Lyndon Johnson called Bobby “that little shitass” and “a grandstanding little runt.” (Kennedy, who cherished his very own LBJ voodoo doll, called Johnson “mean, bitter, and vicious–an animal in many ways.”)

Joe McCarthy’s chief aide (and longtime RFK nemesis) Roy Cohn referred to Robert Kennedy as a “rich bitch,” saying: “he always had that little smirk on his face, designed to get under my skin, and it did.”

Apparently the feeling was mutual, as the two men once nearly came to blows in the Senate hearing room during the Army-McCarthy hearings.

Jimmy Hoffa, who thought Kennedy “a damn spoiled jerk,” described his first meeting with him in 1957: “I can tell by how he shakes hands what kind of fellow I got. I said to myself, `Here’s a fella thinks he’s doing me a favor by talking to me.'” Hoffa later bragged that during the Rackets Committee hearings, “I used to love to bug the little bastard.”

As Bobby himself once said, we are not here “to curse the past or to praise it,” so we thought it appropriate to include the bad with the good when selecting quotes from others on what they thought of Robert Kennedy. Opinions varied, at times so wildly, you’d almost never believe that all of these people are talking about the same man.

The full truth about RFK, as ever, lies somewhere in the middle of these extremes.

I think that’s why he still fascinates us. Even after all these years, the real RFK is (to borrow from Churchill) “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” He’s a puzzle, difficult to solve, and yet we never seem to want to stop trying.

AS THEY REMEMBER BOBBY

“The major difference between Bobby and his brothers is that Bobby always had to fight for everything.”

— Bobby’s wife, Ethel Skakel Kennedy

“He was the smallest and thinnest, and we feared he might grow up puny and girlish. We soon realized there was no chance of that.”

— Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy (mother)

“Jack is too soft and forgiving. You can trample all over him and the next day he’ll be waiting for you with open arms. But when Bobby hates you, you stay hated.”

— Joseph P. Kennedy (father)

“Bobby was the most generous little boy.”

Jack Kennedy’s lifelong best friend, Lem Billings. (To which Joseph Kennedy Sr. gruffly replied: “I don’t know where he got that!”)

“All this business about Jack and Bobby being blood brothers has been exaggerated.”

Bobby’s sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

“Kennedy was not arrogant, but he had a sarcasm that could be biting.”

Frank Hurley, Bobby’s classmate at Portsmouth Priory

“How would you like looking forward to that high whining voice blasting into your ear for the next six months?”

Jack Kennedy, on hiring his younger brother Bobby to manage the 1960 campaign.

“Jack thought Bobby was too serious, a severe figure, and tried to lighten him up. At the same time, he thought Bobby was…the sacred one. He felt protective about him.”

 — Chuck Spalding, longtime friend to both JFK and RFK.

“I don’t know what Bobby does, but it always seems to turn out right.”

–President-elect John F. Kennedy, shortly after winning the 1960 presidential election

“Up until the Bay of Pigs, Jack had more or less dismissed the reasons his father had given for wanting Bobby in the cabinet as more of that tribal Irish thing. But now he realized how right the old man had been. When the crunch came, family members were the only ones you could count on. Bobby was the only person he could rely on to be absolutely dedicated. Jack would never have admitted it, but from that moment on, the Kennedy presidency became a sort of collaboration between them.”

— Lem Billings, lifelong friend to the Kennedy brothers

“Everybody bitches about Bobby, and I’m getting sick and Goddamn tired of it. He’s the only one who doesn’t stick knives in my back, the only one I can count on when it comes down to it.”

— President John F. Kennedy

“You knew that, if you were in trouble, he’d always be there.”

— Former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis on RFK

“He had a better sense of what was important, and what was not, than anyone I ever met. Once he realized something was significant, he became the most deliberate, most thoughtful, most intense man.”

— John Nolan, Kennedy’s administrative assistant at the Justice Department.

“His most tenaciously maintained secret was a tenderness so rawly exposed, so vulnerable to painful abrasion, that it could only be shielded by angry compassion to human misery, manifest itself in love and loyalty toward those close to him, or through a revelatory humor.”

 — Richard Goodwin, speechwriter, longtime friend and advisor to JFK, RFK, and LBJ

 “I always say—don’t try to psychoanalyze Bob. Look at what he said and look at what he did. He meant what he said, and what he did was incredible.”

 — Ed Guthman, Robert Kennedy’s special assistant for public information in the Department of Justice and his first senatorial press secretary.

Robert F. Kennedy

I remember once John F. Kennedy talking about his younger brother. He was talking about the time when they were both a lot younger, and Bobby was small and jumping off the family sailboat. JFK said, and I quote, “It showed either a lot of guts or no sense at all, depending on how you look at it.” I think you can say that about Bobby’s entry into the 1968 presidential race. It either showed no sense at all, or a lot of guts. I think there were some of both of those factors present.” — Ted Sorensen, policy advisor, legal counsel and speechwriter for President Kennedy.

“In every presidential election since 1968, we continue to listen for echoes of Robert Kennedy’s speeches which urged us to turn away from war, embrace peace, share the wealth and the resources of the land with the less fortunate, embrace the ideal of social justice for all, and put aside the divisions of race, age, wealth, militarism and the narrow partisanship that have come to divide us– and divide us still.I believe we will look at what he was about, what his politics and policies were about, what his motivations and commitments were about, thereby enhancing the record of his life and times for those who will come to this place to continue the quest. Today, we remember the man, who for many of us changed our lives, the man who changed the country and, had he lived, would have changed it again and again.” — Bobby’s trusted friend and advisor John Seigenthaler

“The reason we should revive Robert Kennedy as a hero for our times, for the 21st century, is because he presents us with a flawed, complicated hero of great compassion, and leadership. His was not a leadership that sought to merely bear witness to the truth but rather one that sought results and shaped them in the anvil of action.I think that there’s nothing our politics needs today more than the image, the model, the example, and the inspiration of Robert Kennedy’s life.

Throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis Robert Kennedy did what he had done as a young man. He asked moral questions: is it right or is it wrong? When I first met him, I didn’t like his answers. He was more of a Cold Warrior with a Joe McCarthy view of the world, than I was. What changed in Robert Kennedy, in my opinion, was that his view of the world became broader and deeper. The child that was compassionate, the child that was religious, the child that asked moral questions, was the man who in the Cuban Missile Crisis had the courage to ask the moral question, “Could we have a first strike and live with our conscience if we did?” In the face of the geo-politicians in that room, he asked those questions. That was not easy to do, and he did it.

…And then lastly, in this election right now, the clear, important message from a country divided down the middle is that we want the next President of the United States to find common ground in the way that Robert Kennedy did. He attempted to reach out to left and to right, and beyond all ideological barriers to find a common ground, to get things done.I would recommend to the next President of the United States that he immerse himself in the story of Robert Kennedy. I would say begin with Maxwell Kennedy’s beautiful book and then go on to Ed Guthman’s collection of speeches. Can we revive in our time some of what we had? …”a transcendent yearning for the possibility of redemptive change?” We all, I think, have that yearning. I think the American people have it. And the story of Robert Kennedy can drive us to try to realize that possibility.”— Harris Wofford, special assistant to President Kennedy, chair of the sub-cabinet group on civil rights.

Although Mr. Wofford is speaking above about the 2000 election, it’s still damn good advice for candidates in 2008, most especially the man best qualified to revive his father’s legacy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. We can only hope he is listening…and perhaps willing to try.

bobbyjrfamily.jpg

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and family

SIGN THE PETITION TO DRAFT ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. INTO THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL RACE

 

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RFK Jr. Talks Turkey In Texas

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Edinburg, TX Nov. 14, 2007

PHOTO CAPTION: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks on the campus of the University of Texas Pan-American, Nov. 14, 2007.

RFK AT UTPA

Down here in Texas, the phrase “talking turkey” is often thrown into our conversations, and the natives just seem to instinctively know what we’re talking about. If you don’t speak Texan, however, a translation may be required.

Broadly defined, someone “talks turkey” when they speak frankly, openly, truthfully. And that’s just what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did during his Texas trip. His last scheduled speech before the Thanksgiving holiday brought him to the Rio Grande Valley as the keynote speaker for International Week on the UTPA campus, whose theme this year is “Earth Matters.”

RFK Jr. spoke to a packed auditorium at the University of Texas-Pan American Wednesday night as part of their Distinguished Speakers Series. (Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev was the featured speaker on campus last month.)

Now when I say the place was packed, I do mean jam-packed. Doors opened at 7 p.m. to UTPA students and faculty, but by the time the general public was admitted at 7:20 p.m., there were hardly any available seats remaining. Before his speech even began at 7:30, the doors of the Fine Arts Auditorium had to be locked and a couple hundred more people were turned away. (Luckily, these dejected souls were at least able to watch his speech in the nearby student union over closed circuit television.)

Myself and a small group of volunteers from the RFKin2008.com website made the 6-hour drive to Edinburg for the event. Of course, we brought with us a few new converts who were about to witness their very first RFK Jr. speech. I don’t think they were quite prepared for his intensity onstage and rapid-fire delivery; they hung on his every word, really just trying to keep pace with him.

Barely stopping to take a breath, Kennedy ran the gamut from global warming to religion, from corporate corruption of our government to why we must impeach President Bush. He often surprised the audience by quoting Republican presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, declaring that today’s NeoCons have dishonored everything these great American leaders stood for. “They’ve torn the conserve out of conservatism,” he said.

RFK always supports his positions with a mind-boggling array of memorized facts and figures, and somehow manages to tie it all together into a message of bipartisan cooperation and hope by the end of the speech. While much of what he has to say is the sobering truth, it’s not all doom and gloom. One never leaves one of his talks feeling powerless; quite the opposite, actually. I might liken it to the kind of spiritual “charge” felt by the congregation after a particularly rousing Sunday morning revival.

 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in Texas, Nov. 14, 2007

“NATURE ULTIMATELY CONNECTS US TO GOD” 

At times looking and sounding more like an evangelist than an environmentalist, Kennedy characterized protecting our natural environment as a service to God and thus, ourselves. “The reason we protect these natural things,” said Kennedy, “is for our own sakes. Nature is part of our infrastructure. It enriches us aesthetically and spiritually.

“We will not fulfill our destiny in the eyes of our Creator if we let these things be destroyed. Nature ultimately connects us to God; it is the way God talks to us most forcefully. We know God through His creation, and when we destroy these things, it has to be a sin. God wants us to use His bounty for ourselves and for others, but we can’t use it up. We can’t treat the planet as if it were a corporation in liquidation.”

Although his speech was seamless and well-rehearsed as always, Kennedy was at his best when he digressed from the usual script and allowed himself to be a bit spontaneous. At one point, he started telling the audience about his recent six-week court battle against DuPont who “wantonly, willfully, and recklessly” poisoned the residents of a small West Virigina town with pollution from a nearby zinc-smelting plant. The jury agreed, awarding nearly $400 million in damages to the plaintiffs. (Not surprisingly, DuPont plans to appeal.)

Kennedy said that DuPont corporation repeatedly misled the public with many “little lies” intended to save the company money on testings and cleanups. “They were being cagey. They were being dodgy. They were being coy. They were being clever,” he explained. “That is who DuPont is. They have lost touch with their moral bearings.” 

DuPont, the nation’s third largest chemical company, was found negligent in creating a 112-acre waste site, putting area residents at a higher-than-normal risk of diseases including cancer, cognitive problems, cardiac disease, even lead poisoning – and that’s just the short list.

Talking at length about these low-income families who suffered the toxic health effects inflicted by DuPont for decades, Kennedy’s voice began to crack with genuine emotion. “These were people who could not believe that other human beings were able to treat them this way, but this was a company that is willing to treat all of these people as if they were commodities,” he said. “They looked over the green landscape of West Virginia and they saw a commodity. They saw cash.”

RFK Jr., Edinburg, TX, 2007

“WE ARE LIVING IN A SCIENCE-FICTION NIGHTMARE”

“This is the worst environmental White House that we have had in history,” Kennedy said bluntly. He pointed out numerous cases in which lobbyists and other industry representatives were given key positions in federal environmental programs and used their authority to help industries subvert the law. Their actions have harmed the public, especially the poor, but it’s the people who end up paying for their misdeeds, he said.

Kennedy listed numerous statistics, including how four out of five toxic waste sites are near poor minority communities and how more than 600,000 children born every year were exposed to dangerous mercury levels in their mothers’ wombs for the simple reason that most freshwater fish is now unsafe to eat. “This is true all over the country because of industrial waste released into our waterways,” Kennedy said.

High levels of mercury have been linked to numerous birth defects, including autism and mental retardation. He pointed out that scientists have proven high mercury levels in women contribute greatly to a drop in children’s IQ, as much as 10 points or more, he said.

“We’re living today in a science fiction nightmare … because somebody gave money to a politician.” Kennedy would return to that theme more than once in his speech.

And while he said he loathed partisanship and said the worst thing that could happen to environmentalism would be for it to become the province of one political party, Kennedy fired a few more zingers at the Republicans. The one that drew the most laughter was in reference to a study done by the University of Maryland after the 2004 presidential election showing how misinformation affected the way people voted.

“Eighty percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. in Texas, Nov. 14, 2007

THE ONE QUESTION EVERYBODY WANTED TO ASK

At the conclusion of his hour-long speech, Kennedy opened the floor to questions.

He was quizzed about where he stood on the issue of building a border fence to curb illegal immigration, a very hot issue in the Rio Grande Valley. RFK Jr. told the crowd (90% or more of whom were Hispanic) that “this whole crisis was brought on by the breakdown of the labor unions in America. The key to solving this problem is the revival of labor unions. I don’t think building a border wall is the answer. If you build a wall 40 feet tall, somebody will build a 41-foot ladder.”

Kennedy was also asked if he supports the legalization of hemp (he does) and one brave soul even dared to ask him his thoughts on Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (our U.S. representative from the 14th District in South Texas). “You know, I really like a lot of what he has to say,” RFK Jr. replied, “and I respect his stance on issues like the war, but…” his voice trailed off, his face broke into a grin…”he says a lot of really crazy stuff, too.”

Which led us to the one question that was on everybody’s mind. The question we drove 6 hours just to ask. The proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the living room. But before any of the RFKin2008.com volunteers could get to the microphone, some of the locals beat us to the punch:

Kennedy was asked if he plans to run for public office anytime soon. He gave a vague,  anecdotal answer, telling the assembled crowd how he had thought of running back in 2000, but then dropped the idea upon learning his wife was pregnant. “Under the circumstances, I think she wanted me around the house a little more,” he quipped.

This got a laugh, but it didn’t answer the question. When the microphone was passed to the next person in line, that man followed up with a more specifically-worded query for RFK Jr.:  Sir, will you run for President?

“If an office opened up where I felt I could do some good, yes, I’d be interested in running.”

An audible gasp could be heard throughout the house as people inched up to the edges of their seats. The whisper went `round: Did he just say what it sounds like he said?

Breaking the tension with a dash of humor, Kennedy chuckled, “In New York, I mean…”

Bobby Kennedy Jr. in Texas, Nov. 14, 2007

Photos and text copyright by RFKin2008.com. All rights reserved.

Video excerpt below from the UTPA Today Show (in 3 parts, available on YouTube)

 

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The Declaration of Independents

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENTS:

WHY DISGUSTED DEMS AND REPULSED REPUBS ARE FLEEING THEIR PARTIES IN DROVES

At this moment in our history, something amazing is happening in America. And as usual, our elected representatives, those overpaid political pundits, the mainstream media and most of the presidential candidates fail to see it coming.

Or perhaps they are simply shielding their eyes from an inconvenient truth. A truth so powerful it challenges all their conventional wisdom and long-accepted notions of political reality. I’m talking about the emergence of a growing independent populist movement which will prove to be a major deciding factor in the 2008 election.

Loyal lifetime Democrats have grown increasingly disgusted with our party’s lack of action on the most important issues, while more and more Republicans are repulsed by the policies of the Bush administration and can no longer support their own president in good faith. Members of both parties feel completely alienated. They think that their core political values are being ignored; that the people elected to represent them are miserably corrupt, even contemptible. In a word, they feel betrayed.

“WE’RE AS MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

One year before Americans go to the polls and choose a new president, many already believe that the proverbial “fix” is in. The party nominees have already been chosen for us months before the primaries even begin. Some would even go so far as to say the next president has already been selected. Therefore, input from the people will hardly be necessary. If that is indeed the case, why do we even bother having elections anymore?

If we are going to continue passing the gauntlet back and forth between the Bush and Clinton royal families, then why don’t we just choose one family or the other to be our sovereign and be done with it? Are we prepared to say that America is no longer a representative republic, but a limited monarchy?

Are we willing to admit that our elections are not free and fair, that the top-tier candidates they offer us are false choices, specially selected to do the unquestioned bidding of their powerful corporate controllers? That we are not a country of, by, and for the people, but in fact a fascist state?

Are we ready to accept that? I think not!

So, what are we going to do about it? Sure, we could just stay home on election day. (What if they threw an election and nobody came?) We could easily convince ourselves that our vote doesn’t matter anyway, so why even participate in the process? We can complain endlessly about the multitude of phony choices we are being offered. We can bemoan the fact that the only honest presidential candidates in both parties are long-shots at best who have no chance of winning..and so on and so forth.

We could just roll over and go back to sleep, asking anyone who still gives a shit to wake us when it’s all over next November.

On the other hand, we could surrender to the inevitable, walk into the voting booth holding our noses, push a few buttons, walk out after casting our votes and vomit. We can be angry with ourselves for continuing to elect the same dirty rotten scoundrels over and over again, for we really only have ourselves to blame if we do.

Or we can finally get pissed off enough to get off the bench and into the game. We can reject this hopelessly corrupt two-party system entirely and vote with our feet.

That is exactly what many of us are doing. We are leaving our former parties in droves, refusing to support “business as usual” candidates with our precious volunteer hours and financial contributions. We are changing our voter registration status in numbers that will make people take notice. Call it a “Declaration of Independents.”

WE WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN

The growing Independent Populist movement is a curious mix of strange bedfellows; traditional conservatives and libertarians who want to see Ron Paul leave the Republicans behind and run as an Independent after the primaries. Liberals and progressives who would love nothing more than to see Ralph Nader or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. enter the race as Independents and “teach the Democrats a lesson.”

These two normally opposing factions now find themselves allied in a common cause for the simple reason that they love their country too much to sell it out. They are willing to set aside differences over smaller issues to fight for the bigger ones such as saving our Constitution and Bill of Rights. They know that in order to do this, partisan bickering must be set aside for the greater good. They realize that real change cannot happen until we all learn to work together. Only then can America be truly great again.

The Unity `08 party is a fascinating example of this new mindset. Although whether Unity `08 can gather enough momentum to make a difference in the general election remains to be seen, the very notion of crafting a presidential ticket of one Democrat and one Republican is more than a mere novelty. To many, it’s a damned appealing idea and will no doubt be an unparalleled experiment in the American political landscape over the next year.

As the number of former Democrats and Republicans who are willing to vote for third-party and independent candidates continues to rise swiftly, the only thing missing is a candidate.

WHERE IS THAT MAN ON HORSEBACK?

Will independent voters choose to mobilize their considerable strength behind Bloomberg? Nader? Ron Paul? Dennis Kucinich? Al Gore? Fred Thompson? Lou Dobbs? Is there a potential candidate that both conservatives and liberals could actually agree on? Or will we wind up splitting the independent vote along partisan lines, as we have done in the past by pitting Greens and Libertarians against each other? And has this gotten us anywhere?

But the bigger question is: where is that man (or woman) who will ride in on a white horse and represent us? Why hasn’t anyone interesting thrown their hat into the ring? The time is right and the fruit is ripe, so who’s it gonna be?

Many of Bobby Kennedy’s supporters have suggested that he run in 2008 as an independent candidate for president. In fact, nearly a quarter (24%) of registered voters who have signed the draft petition want to see him run independent. Not an insignificant number!

By contrast, only 3.4% of petition signers want him to run as a Green Party candidate (rather surprising given RFK Jr.’s green cred). 3% say he should run on a Unity `08 ticket, and 2% would like to see Bobby Kennedy Jr. run as a Libertarian.

Here at the Draft Kennedy website, we want to know what you think. Please post your thoughts in the comments box below (no registration is required to post comments), and please indicate your party preference when you sign the petition. Your feedback is greatly appreciated, so let us hear from you.

How important is party affiliation to you when choosing a presidential candidate? If RFK Jr. ran as an Independent in 2008, would you give him your vote? And if Mr. Kennedy chooses not to run, which candidate are you most likely to support for president?

You’ve got the bullhorn, America. We’re listening…so SPEAK YOUR MIND!

Copyright RFKin2008.com. All rights reserved.

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