Let me end tonight on Bobby Kennedy, the hero we lost 45 years ago tonight.
I heard the news early in the morning on the radio in a Montreal hotel. At first, like others, I thought it was a re-dramatization of Dallas five years earlier. I had tuned in to find out who had won the California Democratic primary between Gene McCarthy and Kennedy. Only after listening for several minutes did I realize this was all happening live. Bobby Kennedy had been shot!
People don’t remember all this. He was shot by a Palestinian angry at Kennedy’s pro-Israeli campaign appeal. Sirhan Sirhan was, if you think about it, an early case of Mideast terrorism directed at the United States. He shot Bobby Kennedy because of what the New York senator stood for in foreign policy.
To most Americans, Bobby stood for something altogether different. He was a tribune for the people who needed one: A victim himself because of his beloved brother’s assassination, he came across to people of color and people who were denied a real chance in this country as a fellow soul, someone who knew what it meant to be hurt by the system.
I think people loved this guy for something else. He was a liberal who didn’t believe in the BS sometimes and too often associated with it. He believed in giving people who needed it a break and he saw the unfairness of life but he also believed in people playing by the rules. You broke the law and you were a criminal in Bobby’s eyes, whether you were a big shot or not. He was a law-an-order liberal, a liberal who never stopped being an Irish cop.
That’s how I like to remember him because that’s the kind of person I want to see in politics, the kind of person I want very much to be myself.