I think I’ve finally made the transition into becoming my dad. He lost his hearing at about my age. He stopped listening to music and started listening to talk radio. I thought he didn’t like music until a couple of years ago when he was going on about how much he liked Billy Joel and had us listen to his CD on a road trip.
I was listening to music on my drive home last night and I realise I am becoming tone deaf. Music I’ve been listening to for years (Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses) sounds a lot different to me than it used to and I have a really hard time singing along anymore. This is a sad day for me. Fortunately, like my dad I am becoming more interested in politics, but in the regular Bethene fashion, I am a few decades behind. I just finished reading “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” It is so good and so inspiring that I looked up Bobby Kennedy t-shirts on Amazon. Sure enough, “Bobby Kennedy for president” shirts actually exist. Don’t worry, I will resist my temptation to buy one. I have also dog-eared almost half of the book. I do this while reading so I can remember things I had thought of for blog posts (which I hardly ever end up writing about). Unfortunately if I wanted to write about the things that stood out for me while reading this, I would have to write a book of my own. Instead here is an example of the kind of man Bobby Kennedy was and the type of politician we are lacking in our world today:
“In April, Kennedy traveled with three other senators to Mississippi on a fact-finding mission. They’d come south to study the effects on a local policy requiring indigent families applying for food stamps to make cash payments. Reports had reached Washington that too many hungry families could not afford to buy them.
Once those hearings were concluded, Kennedy and Senator Joseph Clark decided to go on to visit the Mississippi Delta, in order to see for themselves the stark conditions they’d heard described. At a stop in one household, a young boy shocked Bobby by telling him his diet consisted only of molasses. “I’ve been to third-world countries,” The New York senator confided to an aide, “and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The next house at which they stopped belonged to a woman with seven children. Roaches were everywhere. A toddler, playing on the filthy floor, was covered in sores, his stomach distended. Bobby sat down and stroked the boy’s cheek. “My God, I didn’t know this kind of thing existed! How can a country like this allow it? Maybe they just don’t know.” When he talked to the child and couldn’t get him to respond, the grown man began to cry.
Returning to Hickory Hill, standing in the doorway of his family dining room, Bobby now saw through a different prism the familiar sight of his wife and children seated around the table. Ethel described his response to me. “He was so passionate…and he was shaking. Saying ‘Do you know how lucky you are?’ and he kept on repeating it.”
I could keep going, but you get the point. What impressed me while reading this is that the things he did while Attorney General, New York Senator, Campaign Manager for this brother and as he was running for the presidential nomination were all being done out of conscience and not for re-election, especially after his brother was killed. He had even expressed his knowledge that he himself was now in harms way. He felt it was a distinct possibility that he might meet his brother’s fate. It was important enough to him to do what he felt was right; getting the U.S. out of Vietnam (and had admitted to being wrong for aiding in getting us there), the civil rights movement, and poverty in general. This is the kind of candidate I have been searching for my entire life, but have been unable to find. I was born nearly 30 years too late.