In a pure instance of time-travel, mind-wise anyway, and I did not remember this at all until close-to-right-now — 47 years ago earlier today, Bobby Kennedy was gunned down in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
He’d just grabbed victory in the California Democratic primary, a crucial step on the way to the White House.
Cruelty of reality.
One of those flashpoints of history, which not only came in one of America’s most-chaotic, tumultuous years, but of itself really, really bent the narration out of whack.
Bobby ‘would‘ have made the Oval Office…
(Illustration: Original 1968 campaign poster found here).
Long, long ago, and even further away.
What brought the Kennedy assassination to my attention was this really good piece by Kenneth T. Walsh at US News and World Report, which I’d casually-spied on my regular afternoon online ‘news surf,’ and I went, like, whoa!
Bobby’s killing killed my then-way-naive political thought patterns — as a direct-result most-likely, and influenced by the US military, I voted for Richard Nixon in 1972. (An action I deeply, deeply regretted just a couple of weeks later).
Read the whole US News piece, as there’s more detail of the anniversary tucked inside the crazy-assed year of 1968, but Bobby’s presidency could have rested on this particular note:
Kennedy said “the national soul of the United States” was at stake in the 1968 presidential election, and he preached conciliation and tolerance.
“We confront our fellow citizens across impossible barriers of hostility and mistrust,” he said, and argued that this was no longer acceptable.
He called for massive efforts to end poverty, racial prejudice, hatred, violence and the Vietnam War.
His mantra was, “We can do better.”
What a difference — Dick Nixon, or Bobby Kennedy?
Ironically, in maybe one of the greatest political off-the-cuff, emotional speeches ever was Bobby’s brief words shortly after learning of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1968, and in a most-similar tone:
For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling.
I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
Ultimate-related from NPR: ‘Many other American cities burned after King was killed. But there was no fire in Indianapolis, which heard the words of Robert Kennedy.’
Forty-seven years ago this morning, I heard about Kennedy’s death on a car radio. I was 19, and on my way to work, which then was washing cars for Avis-Rent-A-Car — in the company’s ‘We’re No. 2, we try harder‘ bullshit period — and the news kind of kicked me, but not all that hard.
However, when I relayed the news to the franchise owner, who hadn’t heard, and was also a longtime neighbor, I still remember him looking a little pale — thought the guy might do something like cry. He was probably my dad’s age, had two incredibly-beautiful daughters, older than me, never paid me the slightest notice.
Anyway, Bobby’s death stirred up reaction.
Not only was 1968 a crazy-ass year for the US of A, but for me, too. If you like, you can read about my experience with it here — a ‘Watershed Year,’ and so it was…