Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Still mourning heroes


Watching the American Experience RFK bio on PBS last night, I heard so many of the same kinds of comments and decisions made by President Johnson about Vietnam that the current administration made about Iraq. History revisited and nothing learned.

Cried my eyes out, too.

It struck me hard that there is and has been an enormous difference between the expectations of Americans of the two major parties, borne in part of the men who were our Democratic leaders before us. These Kennedys, both John and Bobby, were larger than life, remain larger than life; in spite of their humanity, the public looked to and expected more of them than the average pol.

This legacy remains to this day, and is in no small part why every damned thing Dems are and do is picked apart and pecked to death by the right.

They — the right-wing and the average American — expect Democratic leaders to be heroes.

They expect us to be larger than life in order to lead, truly heroic on a scale of ancient legend, where as the heroes of the right-wing only have to be ruthless, take apart goverment and cut taxes to be their leaders.

Unfortunately, because of the mess we are left after they are done wreaking havoc on the government and the nation, we have no choice but to seek a larger-than-life hero from amongst us to rectify the wrongs. Larger-than-life means larger target, in so many ways.

Late in the program, Bobby Kennedy, in an old tape from a debate, questions the morality of killing innocents in Vietnam, fighting them there so we don’t fight them here…painful echoes reverberating.

At the end of American Experience on PBS, bio of RFK…Bobby is laid to rest, in a tomb upon which is enscribed a quote by Aeschylus that Bobby could recite from heart:

He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

Good God, what I would give for a president that would read, recite Aeschylus and apply what he learned from the same. We are going to need someone of that caliber to lead us in the difficult time ahead.


[Photo source: George Silk/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images]


Comments:
It is interesting that we recognized, in their lifetimes, JKF and RFK as statesmen and heroes. Jim Webb's Navy Cross certainly qualifies him as a hero (story in Wikipedia). Webb recently refused to get friendly with the chimp at a reception for new senators. Somehow Webb doesn't fill those shoes. Does Gore qualify? I think he's getting there. He has a wonderful sense of humor. That SNL appearance really got to me.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/05/14.html#a8280

The Kennedys were young - shorter track records, less time for dirt to accumulate. Ted K. has some of that nobility, but has been tarnished badly from early on.

I greatly admire Jimmy Carter for many things (Habitat for Humanity - hands-on work, election monitoring, speaking out on Iraq, no retirement in sight).

I don't understand this dynamic - Reagan never appealed to me, though he clearly was greatly admired and respected. I have no idea, no trace of an idea, how GWB could appeal to anyone. Maybe he's "someone who tells us what people who aren't thinking - are thinking" (Jon Stewart)

If Democrats are expected to be heroes - what is expected of Republicans? What WAS expected of Bush 43?


BTW, I started out to leave a comment on an FDL thread.

Rayne says:
November 29th, 2006 at 6:39 am *

"Why do people leave their home country"

"Why do people become terorists"

http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/11/29/a-holiday-present-dont/

You have cut two (seemingly unrelated) problems to the quick in an extraordinary way. Please expand a bit on this.

I am spouse to hotflash. Search for hpschd Toronto
 
Howdy, clavbar! Yeah, in spite of their apparent youth, both Jack and Bobby were extremely wise and capable. They did so much more in the brief time they had than most American leaders ever do. But even the Dems that followed them have done so much; Carter has become so much more than he ever was as a president, and Clinton is really only starting, but is making an enormous impact with his work through the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.

Gore has had all the potential, but I honestly believe he's been held back, by the baggage of the Clinton presidency at first, by absolutely horrible consultants more recently. He's broken out of those handicaps with his work on the environment, particularly his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I would walk through fire to help this man become president; while we have some stellar folks in the queue, this man has what it takes to become the hero we need.

On the matter of why people leave/why terrorism -- maybe I will work on this for my next blog post.
 
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