UNMATCHED, SO FAR. Becky and I watched "Bobby" last evening. Even though it was a rather lackluster movie (not even a star-studded cast could spring it into a box-office winner), the video clips of Bobby Kennedy and his speeches made me realize how much is presence and spirit is missed in current political debate and national leadership. No one since has come near matching his charisma or the groundswell of hope his candidacy represented.
TRANSITIONAL DAYS. Reading his biography a few years ago, I realize that he was neither stereotypically Kennedy nor a run-of-the-mill Democrat. I was only nine years old in 1968, when he and Martin Luther King, Jr. were killed. At the time, I had little idea how significant those events or those years were. Their transitional nature has been coming into sharp relief ever since. We have, since then, been measuring against those political and leadership standards.
REPEAT PERFORMANCE? Thus far, no political hopeful or elected official has come close to captivating the American imagination. It is not likely a Republican will, since the vast majority of Republicans serve such a shallow interest--that being the conservation and acquisition of wealth among a relative few--and garner a large enough of a following for occasional majorities by illusionist tactics and playing up the obvious pitfalls of Democrats. Neither is it likely a machine-bred Democrat will, since the organization's vision for America and the world has withered or shriveled for lack of courage, imagination, and skill over the past forty years.
NEXT PHASE AND POSSIBILITY. I think Barack Obama presents an interesting new phase for Democrats and the possibility, for the first time, of eclipsing the Bobby mystique. It's a long time before the Democratic National Convention in Denver in the summer of 2008, and there are too many unknown variables to count out any other candidate, but I will be surprised if Barack Obama does not emerge as the Democratic Party's preferred candidate.