Bobby Kennedy
December 11, 2006
by William P. Meyers

I saw the film Bobby last night. It was an enjoyable, well-made film. Too many well-known stars for my taste: its hard to think of someone as a character when they are so recognizable as an actor. A few more up-and coming players would have been nice. But the basic idea worked well for me: take a political event and follow the regular people who just happened to be there. What you saw is a basic reality of the United States of America: we are not a political people. From the Latino busboys who cared more about baseball to the sleazy hotel manager focusing on getting laid to the young campaign workers who took the day off, the feel was real-life.

So see the film. But beware that, if you do care a little bit about public policy and politics, there are a lot of questions that could be asked about Robert Francis Kennedy and the rest of the 1968 election cycle. I was 13 at the time and not political yet; I don't know as much about that year as I would like, but I know enough to ask some questions.

Why was Eugene McCarthy sidelined? He was against the Vietnam war. He was the one who punctured the myth of Lyndon Johnson's invulnerability in the New Hampshire primary. I suspect that he was considered dangerous by the mainstream Democratic Party establishment. He might have actually pulled our troops out of Vietnam.

Did Bobby Kennedy enter the race to do an FDR? Was he chosen by the ruling class, which he clearly was a member of, to get at the head of the mob, with the design of leading the war protesters and the civil rights activists to gentler, safer-for-capitalism pastures? I don't know. We know Bobby Kennedy had a huge ego. With Lyndon Johnson out of the race he may have just said "it's now or I have to wait 8 years to be President." To hell with Eugene McCarthy, let that Kennedy magic to its work.

Was Bobby really as liberal as the film made out? You can argue it either way. We know he was a right-wing McCarthyite thug in the 1950s; we know his father was a predatory capitalist of the first degree. But maybe Bobby, like so many people in the 1960s, actually went through a learning curve. Maybe he had come around to peace love and understanding.

Don't forget that the eventual Republican nominee was Richard Nixon. Tricky Dick had a much better record on civil rights than the Kennedy brothers had. It was Richard Nixon who talked Eisenhower into sending troops to integrate southern public schools; it was Democratic Party governors who were defying both law and ordinary human decency. Richard Nixon said he would get us out of Vietnam, but he was lying. We can't be sure that Bobby Kennedy was telling the truth.

Eventually the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey, Johnson's Vice-president. Hubert had entered the race too late to be in any primaries, but the hacks controlled enough votes to put him in anyway. Humphrey was an anti-communist cold warrior who also pretended to be against the Vietnam war, but not in time to turn his campaign around and beat Nixon. Again, the mainstream Democratic Party establishment wanted to ice out Eugene McCarthy. With Bobby dead Hubert would have to do.

Another thing Bobby left out was that the assassin was a Palestinian. Bobby Kennedy died because of his support for the State of Israel's ethnic cleansing policies. Being anti-Palestinian is no longer cool for the Hollywood liberals, so that aspect of the event was conveniently avoided.

How real was the movie? A quick check at Wikipedia showed that the characters in the movie who were wounded do not match up with the actual people who were shot.

Bobby the movie's cast included Elijah Wood, Laurence Fishburne, Lindsay Lohan, William H. Macy, Nick Cannon, Antony Hopkins, Emilio Estevez, Harry Belafonte, Heather Graham, Demi Moore, Joshua Jackson, Sharron Stone, Freddy Rodriguez, Helen Hunt, Christian Slater, Martin Sheen, Shia LaBeouf, Jacob Vargas, Joy Bryant, David Krumholtz, and Svetlana Metkina.