Monday, November 03, 2008

Hopes vs. the Past - Obama/Kennedy - for Example

The day before election day I feel confident that Obama will win.   Thinking of expectations for his presidency makes me think back to previous elections.   Clearly no president since Kennedy, when I was growing up, has brought the level of hopes so high.

Much of what I know of Kennedy is from later on, reading of him after his death mostly as an adult.

Kennedy's sexual escapades and health issues and the like - are really not of great interest to me.

The Myth that Kennedy was this - Great President - Who Brought About Civil Rights - equality - through his gallant efforts and was otherwise a Great Leader bothers me greatly.

Kennedy was 100% politician!    His political power rested upon keeping the Southern Democrats (the last of that era) on his side.   We forget (or never knew) of a South - where all the senators were Democrats - who used the filibuster to prevent serious efforts at Civil Rights for Blacks - really until 1964, after Kennedy was dead.    Kennedy had no majority without them.  The successes of Civil Rights efforts during the Kennedy era - related largely to the "crazy" in a way efforts of Many, Many Black people - heroic efforts- and the killings in Birmingham and elsewhere that shocked the world - despite Kennedy's lack of leadership.

Kennedy was a Cold Warrior - who had some good moments, but also - hardly embraced the freedom sought by African colonies - yes colonies - from their European oppressors.   

Kennedy - had ties to mobsters - as well as a tough relationship with J Edgar Hoover - who kept him - in a "check position" - due to his sexual escapades, mob ties, etc. - and compromised him on Civil Rights.

Kennedy, despite all this, did a lot of good, but was hardly the hero he's made out to be today.


Barack Obama obviously lacks a lot of the ghosts of Kennedy and others!

At the same time - he is a politician.   He also is a "realistic politician".   He hasn't been the success that he is from being a "diehard liberal" or crusader.   He has been a realist.   His statements on Afghanistan (and really Israel) - may be "political ploys" - but if not are a little scary.   Afghanistan is not "winnable" most likely.   Osama Bin Laden - is hardly - "the threat" - that we face - and his death - won't help us that much.

Obama has a lot of strengths.   We can hope that he will prove his greatness - first in dealing with our current economic woes.   Later on perhaps he'll lead us towards healthcare reform and other important positive changes.

Let us hope!   Let us though not be totally naive in our hope.


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