Forty years ago this evening, Bobby Kennedy, who was on the campaign trail, addressed a mostly black crowd in a poorer neighborhood in
He told the crowd that Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated, and he improvised a remarkable 6 minute eulogy before entreating the crowd to return to their homes and pray.
Whether it was due to Kennedy’s influence that
What’s plain, is that just like MLK, Kennedy was a man of extraordinary empathy and intelligence. In his attempt to console the anger and wild grief of his audience, he quotes his favorite poet – Aeschylus! He quotes Aeschylus - some ancient Greek dude in a chiton and sandals who wrote about the Trojan War and died 500 years before the birth of Christ - to an angry black urban crowd! Tell me, was there ever a politician who so persistently refused to speak down to people, who refused to play to the lowest common denominator?
Here’s what he quoted off the top of his head, a rather rough translation of a bit of a speech from the play Agamemnon:
In our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Fast forward to 2008, when, during his moronic and ridiculously macho-monikered show Hardball, Chris Matthews asks his guest if Obama can appeal to regular people, or just blacks and college graduates?
Well, since Mr. Matthews has just called me out for being non-regular, I would like to know when the media’s worship of stupid white people is going to end once and for all. Surely the fall of George W., the ultimate stupid white dude, is a signal that it is time to take our collective fingers off the pulse off the NASCAR set and put them back on those who actually fucking think about things.
Alas, I fear that the blind, the halt, and the lame as the go-to arbiters of national priorities will continue until it is proven that a smartypants in the White House can actually be a good thing. Al Gore couldn’t inspire the media to give him a lick of credit in 2000, and then we all had to sit around as every single prediction he made about the disasterous war in
If only we had listened to a smart person. If only we had ignored the god-awful judgment of the willfully ignorant, and their insistence that the most important quality in a leader is his ability to not act high-falutin’.
Look, I have a lot of relatives in red states, and I understand that they get very upset when they feel like a politician is getting a little too big for his or her britches. But here’s the deal: THEY HAVE TO GET OVER IT.
This penchant that the “regular” voter has for thinking with his beer hand is not something to be admired and worshipped by the likes of Matthews. It is a deplorable state we have found ourselves in, when candidates must pretend to be ignorant or indifferent in order to be accepted. It is the electoral version of the cool kids in school, and it’s literally killing us.
But how can we hope to reverse this kind of thinking, when we must wake up to letters like this in the
“You wrote that living in a
Yes, the breezy hatred of the letter is rather shocking, but perhaps worse is the opening sentence of the columnist’s response, in which she says “I can understand your skepticism.”
Stunning. She later goes on to attribute the effect to the high number of Catholics in
What is it that these people think we are? Do they think we want to make over the country in the image of the Woodstock Festival, or the Haight, or downtown
Perhaps, now that Matthews’s hard-on for our flight-suited Commander-in-Chief is waning, he and our other media leaders can adopt a more realistic approach toward those who wish to guide the direction of this country. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Kennedy, in that short speech many years ago, said to the crowd “Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”
If Kennedy were running for president today, Matthews would no doubt not be impressed, and would rather dedicate his show to a discussion of Kennedy’s bowling prowess.