Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Other Kennedy

D sent today's Brooks column to me five minutes after I read it. My first reaction was "YES!" My second was the anxiety I always feel when David Brooks seems to make sense and support my side: what's he up to? what card of irony or undermining is he playing this time? But D is the master of liberal realpolitik, so maybe it's OK?

I do have to wonder what kind of effect Ted Kennedy's endorsement has in the real world (as opposed to the media world). S shares Brooks' opinion that lots of Catholics will follow Kennedy's lead, but I have no idea.

Several decades ago, when I was young and political and had lots of time, I was working desperately and frantically on a campaign (desperate because truly we had no hope of winning, frantically because what else can you call fifteen hours a day in campaign headquarters). One day, a week or so before the election, we were notified that Kennedy was coming to town for our guy--in two days. There were advance people, posters, press, phone calls, even less sleep. I finally slipped out of the office, just as he arrived, and into a far corner of the venue.

This was back when our idea of Kennedys was still young and virile, but he looked terrible (he still looks terrible, but now we expect it, and back then he was fat as well as grizzled, so he looked even worse). He lumbered into a room filled with people seeking the smallest reason to hope--OK, so it was the faithful, but still--and he brought down the house. He was one of the most inspiring speakers I've ever experienced in person. When he finished talking, we were all ready to get out there and fight to the bitter end, knowing it was worth it. You could see in him what his brothers must have been, and you could only wish he hadn't misspent so much of his youth. Except that I think Brooks is right: being a senior senator and the eminence grise of the Democratic party suits him. He has accomplished an enormous amount on his own terms, not as the pale shadow of his brothers.

So maybe Kennedy getting out there and stirring up the faithful will help galvanize the not quite sure.

My god, do you think David Brooks is thinking of voting for Obama?!

[D's most recent email: "He may be a conservative, but he remains a Jew." Hmm, that's bracketing about 40 years of cultural and political history, but I'll take it.]

1 comment:

Libby said...

I'm not sure if I should admit how much of my political news & commentary I'm getting because you link to it, but there it is. And I, too, found myself nodding in agreement with Brooks, though (like you) I also wonder what he's up to.

On NPR of late he sounds a little like someone who's going to vote for Obama. Hmm.