Sad Movies – and remembering Bobby – make me cry


By John R. Stiles


It was a movie I probably wouldnÕt have gone to see if IÕd known who made it. But IÕm actually quite impressed with the Emilio Estevez cinematic offering ŌBobby.Ķ

Now I donÕt like admitting this, but IÕm a real sucker for sad movies. And believe it or not this one was one of the saddest IÕd seen in quite some time. In fact, during a collection of campaign trail scenes – actual 1968 footage was spliced in throughout the flick – I found myself crying like a baby.

For anybody who was over the age of 10 on June 4, 1968, this movie will undoubtedly stir up a lot of old memories. I doubt that too many of those younger than about 45 or so will be affected in quite the same way.

Maybe it was the fact that as the entire day unwinds – its primary election day in the state of California – I couldnÕt help the sinking feeling of knowing just how it was going to end. ItÕs probably a lot like the feeling some people get watching a movie like ŌTitanic.Ķ

But thatÕs not really why this particular movie brought me to tears.

It is my considered opinion that the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, at the time a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, was the exact point at which this society of ours finally lost its soul.

Oh, donÕt get me wrong. It could be successfully argued that the murder of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963 and/or the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a mere eight weeks before BobbyÕs shooting, were monumental historical mile posts for our nation.

But I firmly believe that until a lonely Palestinian immigrant stepped out of a crowded kitchen pantry at The Ambassador Hotel in the first few moments of June 5, 1968, in Los Angeles, we still had a way back from the precipice.

You know, watching clips of Bobby walking dirt roads and into poverty stricken front rooms in West Virginia, or campaigning in minority neighborhoods and talking about things like healing the divisions of race, economic disparity and putting an end to war was almost like watching a work of political fiction.

It was something that made a terrific story but you just knew it could have never really happened.

I for the life of me canÕt remember the last time a candidate for any office, let alone president of the United States said anything remotely like what we were being told in that spring of 1968.

The Vietnam War had just cost Lyndon Baines Johnson his damaged presidency, as he refused to seek re-election. And later that year the presidency of Richard Nixon would climb over the backs of the racial hatreds engendered by the politics of divide and conquer.

And weÕve been living under that shadow ever since.

Now itÕs not enough to tell us what youÕre going to do for us or even what we all together can do for ourselves, it has to be a contest of convincing us what the opposition will do to us if we mistakenly give them the opportunity with our votes.

ItÕs the life and death struggle against the homosexual agenda, reverse discrimination, the Godless war on Christmas, radical Islam and the unholy defense of a womanÕs reproductive rights.

If you can correctly discern the fears and hatreds of the voting populous and get them to the polls afraid enough of the future embodied in your opponent, then you are almost assured of electoral success.

ŌI do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies.

Ō I run to seek new policies – policies to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, policies to close the gaps that now exist between black and white, between rich and poor, between young and old, in this country and around the rest of the world.Ķ

WhenÕs the last time you heard a candidate for any office in this land express anything resembling the content or eloquence of Sen. KennedyÕs presidential intentions in 1968?

To begin with, such ideas would not fit neatly into television sound bites. And in a world of conspicuous consumerism where the concept of selfishness and greed are not only accepted but admired, such a speaker couldnÕt get the time of day from the media.

And the sad thing is, here we are more than 38 years later and except for the substitution of the word Iraq for Vietnam we find ourselves not one single step farther along the road in the history of this country.

But, even back then the words of a Bobby Kennedy did not fit neatly into 15-second sound bites packaged for the nightly news. His points took far too long to paint on the verbal canvas of the political stump.

You had to have been there.

And, as luck would have it, we, none of us will ever be there again.