Monday, November 03, 2008


...if he wasn't at least the Last Great Hope, he was my Last Great Hope.

I was still incredulous that his brother had been murdered on a Dallas street 4½ years earlier and that no one had been brought to the bar of justice as the ensuing weeks grew into months and then years.

(There had been a strong suspicious since 1964 when the Warren Commission ordered certain documents sealed in the National Archives for 75 years, that they had compelling evidence that LBJ was up to his Texas twang in the whole thing!)

As outraged as I was at Hillary Clinton's bla­tant carpetbaggery in her Y2K Senate run from New York, I was just as willing to give Bobby a pass when he'd pulled the same stunt in 1964.

Where I really started getting as excited as I had been back in '60, was in March 1968 when Bobby declared for the Presidency.

It had, in my view, been a thoroughly unappe­tizing field of candidates to that time: LBJ, the startlingly resurrected Nixon, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, and the likable but bland Eugene McCarthy who had the stones to take on the President on the war in SouthEast Asia.

Hope shone anew... and brightly! Not just the hope for ending an unpopular war, but a hope for the Nation to return to the shimmering promise of "Camelot."

Only better... because it would be Bobby's vis­ion, not that of John's and Jackie's.

Although the JFK years seemed somewhat less substantive than stylish, one thing sticks in my mind: the Presidential Fitness Program featuring a 50-mile hike. The memorable part was that it was Bobby, not Jack, who under­took the march... and finished.

(Jack's own exercise program was more along the lines of noontime skinny-dipping in the White House pool with two young staffers who the Secret Service code-named1 "Fiddle" and "Faddle")

That Spring of '68, Bobby fought the good fight against the war and the White House, and re-energized those of us who'd felt so utterly disenfranchised after those seven seconds in Dealey Plaza.

So strong was his presence that the sitting President threw in the towel 15 days after Bobby declared.

When Bobby spoke, his words were heartfelt, his phrasing poetic, and his message infused with wonderful promise for the entire country.

In mid-May I became distracted by another great passion, the transplanted Dodgers and their ace Don Drysdale who started and main­tained a remarkable streak of consecutive scoreless innings and shutout victories.

For ten years Drysdale had been the work-horse of the Dodger, but for half that time, like Bobby, had been outshone by another, Sandy Koufax. Then, eerily, the great left-hander had his career ended early by arthritis, and Drys­dale had the Los Angeles spotlight to himself.

That spotlight started widening in the Spring of '68. After holding the Cubs, Astros (twice), Cardinals and Giants scoreless in complete games between May 14th and 31st, "Big D" had a lot of attention on him as he faced the Pirates June 4th at Dodgers Stadium and looked to set two major league records.

That Tuesday was also Primary Day in Califor­nia, and Bobby's campaign had hit a bump in Oregon the week before, losing that primary to McCarthy, 44% to 38%, so much interest was focused on Los Angeles that evening: less on the pitching mound at Chavez Ravine than on the Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Room.

There was no ESPN or WFAN 40 years ago, and the dozen channels available over LICATV2 as the evening went on clearly had no interest in anything to do with baseball, so all I could do is watch the Primary coverage on my 17-inch black-and-white set, and hope for some news.

A little after 3:00 am Bobby stepped to the podium and in his familiar faltering speech pattern, uttered the words which immediately answered the biggest question in my mind throughout the evening:

"I want to express my high regard to Don Drysdale who pitched his sixth straight shutout tonight...."

I propelled myself from the sofa in jubilation, turned off the TV set and went to bed, delight­ed that Drysdale had the two records, and excited that Bobby's run for the White House was back on track.

I never heard Bobby say "Now it's on to Chicago and let's win there."

A 'phone call from my mother awoke me five hours later, and I groggily tried to make sense of her words. When their meaning became clear, I uttered an awful word for her to hear, hung up, and spent the next 21 hours in front of the TV as the world sat death watch.

As Bobby lay dying in the Hospital of the Good Samaritan, I had a palpable sense that every­thing was over, that there was no one left to whom Hope could be attached.

Forty years later, nothing has happened and no one has appeared to change that feeling.

I get that most of the immediate universe is furious with the Bush-Cheney Administration for the past two terms... they've been as bad, if not worse, than Carter was 30 years ago.

Still and without enthusiasm, I'd pull the lever for Bush over Gore or Kerry solely on the basis of my own political litmus test... I'm as much about choice in respect to firearms as my wife and my daughter are about their own bodies.

What I don't get is the glassy-eyed adulation for Obama... it's not bad enough that my wife is actively campaigning for him, but my former shooting partner3 Cruthers, a man well to the Right of Cardinal Richelieu, thinks Obama is the only rational choice.

I think I'm most turned away by his Messianic "We are the One!" pronouncements, but then I also fear for our taxes and the specter of Nancy Pelosi amok with unbridled power.

More than any time in the previous 32 years4, I have no Presidential candidate for whom I can even hold my nose and cast a ballot this year. Anyone I found even remotely appealing in any party fell by the wayside early in the primary process.

I guess that many young people feel that Bar­ack Obama holds the same promise for them that Bobby did for me 40 years ago.

Damn'd if the older ones shouldn't know better!

  1. Identified in John F. Kennedy by author Michael O'Brien as Priscilla Wear and Jill Cowen.
  2. Long Island Community Antenna TV, the wretched forerunner of Cablevision.
  3. From the days of Natural Springs Sport­man's Association, 1978-1989.
  4. I mean, Ford? Carter? C'mon!


1. Hampton West said...

Probably the best thought provoking thing you've written on this blog, "Waldo."

I look back upon 11/22/1963 as the end of innocence, the world truly changed that day and a certain cynical way began to permeate life.
(I don't beleive all the conspiracy theories but there are aspects and issues that remain secret from us, perhaps the CIA and LHO relationship). Bobby's assassination, perhaps the first terrorist act against America (as I recall the assassin stated Kennedy's support of Israel contributed to his actions), merely sealed that cynical movement.(don't forget MLK).

It continues today. I am bothered by the cult of personality that surrounds Obama, from the stadium filled acceptance speech of the nomination to the planned Grant Park party in Chicago (should he win). He has expressed some substance to his plans of late but I get this sense of him winning and then turning to his handlers like Robert Redford did in "The Candidiate" and say, "What do we do now?" Yet I guess I will vote for him as the lesser of two evils - some choice! Maybe that cynical feeling is part of it of my thoughts - perhaps Obama is capable of changing it. We'll see (assuming he wins).

For my part, I cannot do "the lesser of two evils" ballot any longer.

Nor can I with extreme cynicism flip the lever for that lumpy-faced little psychotic on the faint possibility that he might not finish his term, and that Mrs. Palin would ascend to the Oval Office... she's the only face on a national ticket who seems fresh and genuine, so genuine that the Huffington loonies have been filled with fear and uncertainty since she was first selected.

Ron Paul probably isn't to be found on ballot this year, so Bob Barr may get this vote.
– Dean

2. Hampton West said...


There is a photo of Jill Cowen on the web - there's a Kennedy assassination site call the "Mary Ferrell Files" - apparently she worked for Ted Sorenson. Couldn't find Priscilla Wear. Seems that Jackie knew about Ms. Wear as she supposedly mentioned it to a French reporter who was visiting the White House.

Yeah, well....

And we thought Bill Clinton had a bad problem!

3. William Rodney said...

What about Bob Morgan?

I'll bite... what about Hizzoner, Robert W. Morgan Jr., 15th and almost final Mayor of Westhampton Beach?

4. The Quiogue Kid said...

For the last 6 months I have had a bumper sticker on my car that reads "Brian Wilson for President." I originally thought it very funny to supposedly back the idiot savant leader of the Beach Boys, but with the other choices out there... is it that bad an idea????

Yeah, it's that bad an idea! He'd want to bring the ghost of Eugene Landy with him.

5. BettyBoo said...

I'm writing in Warren Buffett.

Well, that's a lot more rational than Brian Wilson!

6. Shepard M. Scheinberg said...

Dean, two asides.

I believe that the wretched forerunner of Cablevision was Long Island Cablevision, not Long Island Community Antenna TV. I represented LIC in establishing their towers in Riverhead and in East Quogue. Phil Kenter was President of the company.

Secondly, one of Bobby's side kicks was a man by the name of Earle Graves, Jr. If Bobby had become President, Mr. Graves, would have no doubtedly become one of the first prominent black persons of that time. Mr. Graves went on to found Essence Magazine and today is prominent in the publishing world. He and his family have homes in Sag Harbor. I met him in 1966 or 1967 during my Army National Guard days while doing my summer duty at Camp Smith. He was a Captain and a CO of a company. I was a Sgt. First Class (E-7) assigned to him as his Company Clerk. It was obvious to me that he would accomplish many things.

Here in Naples, Florida, which has been a Republican stronghold, the Democrats are working very hard to get out the vote. We have early voting in Florida and Linda and I cast our votes last week. At a lecture last night where there were about 800 attendees, 85% had already voted. Of the 800 persons there, about 700 were over the age of 65.

Hi, Shep...

Thanks for the note.

I remember that you represented LIC back then... I think I still have one of your letters from that period. But I recall the earliest iteration of what is now Cablevision as being LICATV. Where else would I have gotten that from?

7. Shepard M. Scheinberg said...

I'll contact Phil Kenter and will get back to you.

8. Carl Vail said...

Dear Dean: Your comments about Tom DeMayo were less than compassionate.

You have an excellent writing style although I sometimes feel we are watching The History Channel.

I am glad to read that your spouse and daughter are living in the present. Please join us there.

A shot, a shot! I do declare it!

As your complaint related to Justice DeMayo is attached to a entry which makes no reference to the man, your reference is a little murky.

Thank you for your compliment, however. In respect to The History Channel, do you not learn from it? I certainly do.

So, the women in my life, believing in the right of choice for their own bodies, live in the present? Yet, my own wish to choose whether to be armed or not, means that I am not living in the present?

I'll have to reject that as specious, and suggest that you read a little more carefully before making glib assumptions.

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