Monday :: Feb 4, 2008

Interesting insight on the Kennedy endorsement

by Turkana

It has been presumed that Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Senator Obama was an angered reaction to the Clinton campaign's ostensible race-baiting. The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers suggests that's not the case. If she's right, it was an angered reaction, but it had nothing to do with race. It was personal.

Sources say Kennedy was privately furious at Clinton for her praise of President Lyndon Baines Johnson for getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act accomplished. Jealously guarding the legacy of the Kennedy family dynasty, Senator Kennedy felt Clinton's LBJ comments were an implicit slight of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who first proposed the landmark civil rights initiative in a famous televised civil rights address in June 1963.

One anonymous source described Kennedy as having a "meltdown" in reaction to Clinton's comments. Another source close to the Kennedy family says Senator Kennedy was upset about two instances that occurred on a single day of campaigning in New Hampshire on Jan. 7, a day before the state's primary.

The first was at an event in Dover, N.H., at which Clinton supporter Francine Torge introduced the former first lady saying, "Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated. And Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who actually" signed the civil rights bill into law.

The Kennedy insider says Senator Kennedy was deeply offended that Clinton remained silent and "sat passively by" rather than correcting the record on his slain brother's civil rights record.

That's a touching and fascinating insight, and it appears that the racial angle didn't even register, for Senator Kennedy. It wasn't that he felt Senator Clinton had denigrated the role of Dr. Martin Luther King (a charge that has been challenged, even by Clinton critics), and it may not even have had anything to do with politics or policies. Which goes to show that a clumsily worded comment can be misinterpreted in more than one damaging way.

I hope we can all agree that while Dr. King was the man whose courage, leadership and morality made civil rights inevitable, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson were also both true civil rights heroes.

Turkana :: 12:01 PM :: Comments (37) :: Digg It!