Monday, January 28, 2008

January 28, 2008

     I don't think endorsements matter much.  Maybe a trade union's, if it can turn out its members.  Or a governor's, if he has a good organization in his state.  But mostly not.  But when three Kennedys endorsed Barack Obama Monday, that may have been special, the exception that proves the rule.
     Why?  Because it was emotional, more than political.  Because three people who remember the Kennedy legend--the kid brother, his son, the murdered president's daughter--all compared Obama to JFK.  They said Obama reminded them of Kennedy, of those hopes, those times, the belief that a political movement really could change the country and the world for the better.
     The hand-held signs the packed crowd waved didn't say Obama, they said "Change."  And the crowd didn't chant Obama's name--well,once or twice, maybe--they chanted things like "Yes, we can."  Edward Kennedy was young back then;  he's the white-haired, liberal lion of the Senate now, needing to wear glasses for his speech, but he reminded the mostly young crowd--the event was at a university--of the spirit of the sixties, the hopes of change.  And change,of course, did happen.  The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act passed.  Legal segregation vanished.  End of racism?  Of course not, but change for the better, for sure.
     And when Obama spoke, he talked of change.  He didn't promise it;  he told the crowd, and the other crowd watching on TV, that if they joined him, all of them together could make change, transform the country, maybe light up the world.  And listening--he gives a very good speech indeed--listening, you could believe.
     I don't know if he'll win the nomination;  I don't know if he'll win the presidency.  But listening, you could believe.  And if you think, as I do, that American politics has been shabby and unpleasant in recent years, that belief was a welcome shock.
     Robert Kennedy used to end his stump speech in 1968 with a quote from George Bernard Show: "Most men see things as they are and ask why.  But I dream things that never were, and ask why not."  Listening to Obama, you could dream again.  A fine feeling, for a change. 

No comments: