The Kennedys, part 2

May 24, 2008 by susan
Bobby Kennedy in crowd

Can we be mad at Hillary for saying what we've all been thinking? Yes we can, not because she thought it, but in the context that she used the thought -- to justify her refusal to drop out with grace. The "I need to stay in the race because you never know, Barack might get shot." justification.
This coming on top of the sad news of Ted Kennedy's brain tumor is surely a gaff she regrets. This may just be her "bitter and cling" moment, something said while short on sleep, a sort of thinking out loud deal, but because her campaign has been so full of these subtle digs and racial jabs, it doesn't feel like a simple misstatement, as she now claims. It feels like one more desperate grab by someone who cannot believe that she is, indeed, drowning, that the shore is slipping farther away.
Read on.

Bob Herbert writes today in the NYTimes about what the Kennedys meant to those of of us of a certain age. "People joined the Peace Corps in droves. We went to the moon. And Bobby and Ted, carrying the torch, never failed to implore voters to make the effort to touch the best in ourselves. The Kennedy brothers helped bolster our capacity to believe."

I know you childern out there are tired of hearing us lament the loss of those inspired leaders and the collective good will of that era, but the data backs us up. Young people today do not feel the hope that we felt. Or didn't, until Barack Obama stirred it up.

Each day I hope to read of Hillary's graceful exit, not because I hate her, or even because I think she's pulling Barack down with her. I don't think she is anymore, because this has become her own sad last dance. Watching her is like watching someone who dances on drunkenly into the night, tugging at the hands of the few last guests who once found her charming, not knowing that the party is over, that her brilliance has turned to bathos.

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Comments

barbara says (not verified) | May 24, 2008 - 2:34pm

What she said.

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susan | May 24, 2008 - 6:06pm

Did I mean pathos? Bathos? Or maybe neither one is quite right. Anyone want to help me out here?

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barbara says (not verified) | May 24, 2008 - 7:37pm

barbara votes "bathos."

a. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect.
b. An anticlimax.

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barbara says (not verified) | May 25, 2008 - 9:42am

That said, it may surprise you to know that I feel a little bit sorry for HRC. That I don't believe she is inherently evil. In fact, I suspect that she may have started her long road to May 2008 as a decent human being with some of the same idealistic hopes many of us have harbored over the decades.

Remember how much we worried about the people our kiddos chose for their personal posse? "Please, creator, let it not be the druggies, the winos, the scofflaws, the dangerous risk-takers, okay?" Some variation of that seems appropriate for our candidates.

Once they're in the clutches of their "expert" handlers, some kind of bizarre overlay emerges. Think Al Gore. Think John Kerry (major league example). Think Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has adopted multiple personae in the past few months.

It would be disingenuous to blame all her woes and gaffes on brilliant but often off-track Bill, Mark Penn, James Carville, Geraldine Ferraro, etc., etc., etc. Ya runnin' for president? Then buck stops with you.

Even so, I can see a scenario where good judgment gives way to exhaustion, fueled by no small measure of desperation. Who among us has not seen a life dream slipping from our grasp? Smaller scale, but no less painful. Promising company goes bankrupt. Marriage unravels. Someone beloved dies. Crazy-making stuff.

Not my job to justify HRC's behavior. Just trying to figure out how a basically well-intentioned woman got into the mess she's in. Gotta be a cautionary tale here somewhere.

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