IOWA AIN’T THE ONLY PLACE THAT’S GETTIN’ COLD
The good news is: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has recieved more ink in the past week for his endorsement of Hillary Clinton than in the five months since his headline-hogging speech at LIVE EARTH.
The bad news is, much of the ink was thrown on him. From the New York Times to the Des Moines Register to the blogosphere, this was everybody’s week to hurl a few tomatoes at RFK Jr. And while smears from the likes of Dick Morris and Sean Hannity always come with the dinner, this time the liberal and progressive left got into the act as well.
Now Kennedy’s taking a beating from the very base of supporters he will have to count on if/when he decides to run for public office someday. He’s been called everything from “traitor” to “sellout” by the same people who up until recently thought of him as a saint.
All things considered, it’s been a rough week for Bobby, with slings and arrows coming from every direction, perhaps even some unforeseen.
While stumping for Hillary in Iowa, things got even uglier. Mother Nature, perhaps as unmoved by this horserace as we are, decided a massive winter storm might spice up the proceedings a bit. Letting loose a barrage of ice and snow which forced the closure of airports and the cancellation of campaign rallies across the state, she surely must have watched the candidates’ mad scramble with some measure of amusement.
Rather than focusing on Kennedy’s endorsement of Clinton, most media outlets chose instead to dredge up some controversial remarks RFK Jr. made in Iowa five years ago as the angle of their coverage. (For those who may not remember, he had told an Iowa crowd that “large-scale hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and U.S. democracy than Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.”)
Snark York Times was probably the worst offender, managing to work the old hog farm fracas into both the headline and the lede paragraph of what should have been an article about Kennedy endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. (“Will Kennedy’s Remarks Hog The Attention In Iowa?” NYT, Nov. 29, 2007) And of course, the paper was quick to remind readers that RFK Jr.’s comments were once denounced as “idiotic,” “ridiculous,” and “one of the crudest things ever said in Iowa politics.” Ouch.
After a week like that, have we any positive words to offer him? What counsel would we give RFK Jr., who dipped one toe tentatively into these troubled political waters only to get it scalded? Is there anything we can say that might buck the guy up a little and encourage him to not abandon the idea of a future candidacy?
All the usual advice sounds cliche’: “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Keep fighting the good fight.” “Stay focused on the big picture,” etc…and so forth…just doesn’t cut it. It’s a struggle to find the right words.
But if I had the chance to offer Mr. Kennedy a bit of my own high-priced advice (which is always dispensed here free of charge with a money-back guarantee if not completely satisfied) — were he to consult me as his own personal Oracle, Swami, and Magic 8-Ball all rolled into one and ask, “O Merlin, how do I extract the sword from this f%*&in’ stone?” — I would tell him:
Somewhere in the world is a tree that has been struck by lightning in such a way that the scorch marks show your initials. Find that tree.
Somewhere in this world, there is a treasure that has no value to anyone but you, and a secret that is meaningless to everyone except you, and a frontier that possesses a revelation only you know how to exploit. Go in search of those things.
Somewhere in this world, there is a person who could ask you the precise question you need to hear in order to catalyze the next phase of your evolution. Do what’s necessary to run into that person.
And if all of the above just sounds like a load of pagan New Age claptrap to you, well… maybe it is. Let me rephrase this cosmic message in more earthly terms:
Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, who was the supreme commander of U.S. troops in Iraq from June 2003 to July 2004, thinks his government has made tragic mistakes. Citing “a catastrophically flawed war plan,” he said, “There has been a glaring display of incompetent strategic leadership from our national leaders.”
Think of Sanchez as your role model for the coming year ahead, Bobby. I hope he inspires you to do the following things: (1) raise a critique of a group or institution you’ve been an instrumental part of; (2) rebel against the faulty execution of an idea you support; (3) put your service to moral truth above blind loyalty.
I think you’ll easily catch the not-so-hidden meaning in this metaphor.
Do what’s inside you, not what others expect of you. Stay true to yourself and you can’t lose!
But the best advice I can think of comes from one of your Uncle Jack’s favorite poems. Written during his first year in Congress, he took these words to heart and would quote them for the rest of his life:
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.
— Robert Frost, “Choose Something Like A Star” (1947)