I sat mesmerized as I watched Caroline and Ted Kennedy symbolically pass the torch of Camelot and all it represents to the loyal opposition, Barak Obama, the other day. I started out as a good Republican would, by looking for ways to blow holes in all of this. Here’s a guy, Obama, trying to get us to look forward by embracing 1962, I thought. Didn’t Reagan do a good job of deconstructing that?
And there was the Ambien-addled third generation scion, Patches, sitting behind the new standard bearer who was assuming what would rightfully had been his, if Patches wasn’t such an inveterate screw up to begin with.
But I couldn’t start blowing holes. I thought back to 1980 working a campaign in Pennsylvania where I would bump into Kennedy staffers. I recalled them telling me the reason why the networks insisted on each having two camera crews following Senator Kennedy around was to be able to have several angles covered in the event of an assassination attempt. How does one seek to serve a country when their life might be on the line? You can’t help but empathize with that.
And, for all of his faults, our Senator has been an active surrogate father in the lives of his many nieces and nephews, those whose fathers’ call to service ended in tragedy. How much was Caroline’s preemptive endorsement a factor in Ted’s decision to get off the fence and enter the fray? Caroline lost her dad at 6.
I lost my dad at 8, and I didn’t have a Zapruder film to haunt me about it. For her to say this man reminds her most of her father must have a profound meaning to her
So there was all that treacly drama of a political movement brutally dashed through assassinations. There was the fatherless child of the movement founder standing beside the aging surrogate, now hunched over and stiff from a bad back ravaged further still by a less than healthy lifestyle, to be kind. He essentially admitted his time had passed with considerable grace and dignity.
And then came Obama. Man-oh-man can that guy give a speech. It was totally devoid of substance, which is OK. Obama understands our national hunger for a new approach to politics. The Rove/Carville strategy has been to divide and conquer. Depress voter turnout by turning off the middle and hope your tin foil clad zealots rule the day. We as a nation are sick of this, and Obama knows how to push that button. I would dearly love to see more bipartisan cooperation. At the very least, let’s get past the bickering.
The speeches had thinly veiled shots at the Bickersons, i.e. Bill and Hillary, which did not go unanswered for very long. Minutes after the speeches had ended Andrea Mitchell broke in to state the Clinton campaign had just issued a press release announcing increased investments in their Rapid Response Teams in all the states holding primaries on Super Tuesday. Clinton/Carville made the term famous in 1992 when they would inundate media outlets with counter charges to Bush utterances claiming they had to do it to not be “Willie Hortoned” by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Defense against perceived unfair attacks enables the Clinton operation to justify virtually any tactic. General Sherman had more scruples.
Conspiracy has morphed through the Main Stream Media (MSM) and spread all the way over to Teddy Kennedy, A/K/A the Liberal Lion. When your opposition covers virtually every hue of the political spectrum it would appear that personal introspection might be in order.
But there is no introspection for the Clinton Camp. The answer to what likely will be looked back upon as an historic moment in democratic party history with a passing of the torch and a call for a more civil political discourse was answered by a thinly veiled warning that the Clinton camp had gone on high alert to go on the political attack. They’re ready to be Slim Pickens riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove. In short they re-enforced that which Kennedy and Obama dramatically sought to repudiate to great applause from the audience.
It’s a bunker mentality reminiscent of Berlin in April of 1945, and the Clintons are not cast in the role of the liberators.
An old adage about “going out with a bang” says “Do not go gracefully into the good night.” The Clinton co-presidents have proven again their gracelessness, and it’s up to democratic primary voters to put their lights out. It will make the Republican Party challenge all that much more difficult against an exceptionally gifted speaker such as Barak Obama, and that’s fine by this Republican.
The country will be far better served by candidates daring one another to reach for greatness rather than daring one another to stoop ever lower.
Mr. Woollacott is founder of Renaissance Group International, Inc, an Ashby, Masschusetts-based market research and consulting firm focused on the High Technology community. He is a political junkie who got his start working on a Republican presidential campaign in 1980. Becoming smitten with a liberal democrat forced Mr. Woollacott to the political sidelines, where he has occupied himself with creating and raising four children while also dabbling in local politics.