This has been a lump in the throat week, first with Barack Obama winning the nomination and then with the remembrances of Robert Kennedy. Obama moves me when he speaks. I haven’t heard someone with his eloquence since John F. Kennedy. I can still remember Kennedy’s trip to Berlin and his famous I am a Berliner speech, the words said in German. Berlin had a wall, which was part of a division called the Iron Curtain, through its city’s heart, and his words electrified the crowd and electrified those watching him on TV, like me. Obama brings up a sense of hope in me; he calls upon the angels of our better natures, words another eloquent man, Abraham Lincoln, first used.
So there are always tears at the back of my eyes when Obama is at his best. And those tears slipped over this week watching the tributes to Robert Kennedy. Kennedy wasn’t as eloquent as his brother, but he was intense. You knew he cared. You knew he was stirred. And you knew he was a fighter. You knew that he represented something different, something the status quo had better be afraid of because the times were achanging, and he said it, felt it, lived it, campaigned it. I still remember waking up to my alarm going off, news radio shouting that Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. My lumbering up to run to a TV to find out more. It couldn’t be possible, I thought. Not after the blow that was Martin Luther King’s assassination. But it was possible. 1968 was a year of wrenching kills, as if men who dared reach out to the stars must be destroyed by our barbaric heart. It was the year we all grew cynical.