The Post – Bobby Kennedy and the Two Thurstons

In the course of reading the June 2008 Vanity Fair article about Robert F. Kennedy, “The Last Good Campaign,” I came across two Thurstons.

The first is the author of the book excerpted in that magazine article, Thurston Clarke.

The book is:
The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America.

A few quotes from the book, give a good sample of the flavor of the book and the man:

1) RFK asked a friend if she thought he was crazy to run for president. He told her “my brother thinks I’m crazy. He doesn’t like this….but then we’re two different people. We don’t hear the same music.” He told another friend: “I can’t be a hypocrite anymore.”

2) “The only kind of sense that Kennedy’s decision made was moral sense. By charging that the tactics being employed by the Johnson administration in Vietnam were immoral, and that the war had inflicted grave wounds on the national soul, he had made it impossible for himself to support Johnson while maintaining his honor. Forced to choose, Kennedy chose honor.”

3) “He would run on issues his brother had seldom raised and in a manner his brother would have found undignified.”

4) And lastly- when a group of Kennedy press corps members were having a meal in the Kansas City airport, reporter Jimmy Breslin asked them if Kennedy has the stuff to go all the way.

The prophetic reply by John J. Lindsay:

“Yes, of course he has the stuff to go all the way…But he’s not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it. Just as sure as we’re sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He’s out there now waiting for him…And, please God, I don’t think we’ll have a country, after it.”

In some ways, I think that comment was right. Something changed in 1968. To me, it’s never felt right since. Maybe it was the people who came to power after that. I often felt that the word “power” was their motivator. Honor, maybe not. Except for Jimmy Carter. A skewered presidency, an honorable man. I often wondered if the behind-the-scenes powers at the top of our government didn’t set that man up to fail…. For 40 years I’ve watched government with a sense of despair, cynicism, distrust, and dread. Until now. Perhaps now, 40 years later, in another vibrant young candidate who speaks to a similar hope for something better in this country, there is chance for a fundamental change?

The second Thurston is Jack Thurston, who’s blog provided the link for the Sir David Frost interview with Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 that I wrote about in my May 8th blog entry: If You Want to Hear a Thoughtful Politician. He will be offering an interesting comparison to that “thoughtful approach” by RFK, something to contrast it with. His comment elaborates:

“I’m glad you found that interview interesting, and inspiring too.

Given the sheer heat of the public debate in 1968 it’s all the more amazing that Kennedy was so thoughtful and considered.

Strangely enough just a few days ago and in the very same local secondhand record store here in London I came across a record of Spiro Agnew, VP to Nixon. Listening to the anger and bitterness of Agnew makes Kennedy’s approach seem all the more impressive.

I’ll transfer the LP to digital and post later on this week.”

So if this is of interest, later this week, a taste of anger and bitterness in a politician.

A bit of info on Jack Thurston, from his blog:

“I am a London-based policy analyst, writer and broadcaster. Most of my policy work these days relates to food, farming and international trade….I think that two of the world’s greatest inventions are the radio and the bicycle. I combine passions for both in The Bike Show, a radio programme about cycling on cycling that I present most weeks on London’s experimental art radio station Resonance 104.4 fm.”

So, just some interesting quirks of names intertwining with the soul of history……

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