The LuLac Edition #406, January 28th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: LUZERNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER GREG SKREPENAK, HARRY S. TRUMAN, OUR 33rd PRESIDENT AND A YOUNG CAROLINE KENNEDY WITH HER FATHER, THE 35th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
CAMELOT COMES ALIVE
The recent endorsement of Barak Obama by Caroline Kennedy and subsequently Ted Kennedy is intriguing at best. First off, I cannot imagine growing up like Caroline Kennedy did with various people, friends of the family and perfect strangers telling you what your father was like. Having been robbed of the experience, there had to be a void. Add to that the fact that many, again friends and perfect strangers tell you what he meant personally has to be another trip altogether. Through the years, Caroline has been flying under the radar. She let the spotlight go to her younger sibling John, Junior while carving out a substantial life in academia, helping to manage some of the late President’s library holdings and of course, parenting. But the untimely and reckless death of JFK Junior thrust her into a limelight she fulfilled with dignity and dare I say, forced resignation. It was Caroline who awarded the Profiles In Courage award to the late Gerald Ford for his role in the Nixon pardon as well as making select appearances on behalf of her father’s institutional events.
In terms of politicking, Caroline never emerged as a spokesperson for any candidate. She spoke at the 2004 convention and endorsed John Kerry and at the 2000 event touting Al Gore. But she made it clear she was standing in for her late brother and her nod toward those standard bearers was perfunctory at best. Sunday’s New York Times changed all that. In the edition, Caroline endorsed Senator Obama. She embraced him as the embodiment of inspiration for Americans and compared his crusade to the feelings of inspiration her late father engendered in people. Fair enough, John F. Kennedy as a candidate got people moving. His charisma, and I was lucky enough to see it in person was a thing of beauty and awe. Kennedy talked about change in America, a "New Frontier," a move away from business as usual. People bought into it and became moved. And this was a surprise to the politician, motivator, JFK. The Peace Corps was an idea Kennedy floated out there, just adding space in a speech. Much to his surprise, he was presented with a petition by college students asking to be the first to sign up for the venture. Kennedy then moved on getting the program started. He talked about equal rights for all men but had to be cajoled into making the phone call that eased the mind of Coretta Scott King while her husband was jailed for 4 months hard labor for a traffic stop. He was a cold war warrior who invaded Cuba on the “say so” of holdovers from the previous administration he criticized. Kennedy was a politician, first and foremost and every calculation, right down to putting a fierce primary opponent on the ticket, Lyndon Johnson, was far from a Profile In Courage. All that said, Kennedy had three things going for him. He knew how to surround himself with good people, had a special grace born of confidence and education and a knack for knowing how to move a nation. His tragic death in 1963 kept those strengths frozen in time, never to be chiseled away by second guesses or scandal. Had John Kennedy lived and gone through a second term, would he be the revered figure he is now or regarded as just another politician? I ask these questions, not out of historical disrespect to John Kennedy but to the current candidacy of Mr. Obama. Inspiring people is one thing but governing is quite another. Can Obama govern as deftly as JFK or will he become another disappointment in our long line of Presidential hopes that were dashed? It is true that one must win an election, inspire the masses to get the chance to govern. But will Obama have that further gift JFK had, the smarts to pick good people who believed even more than he did in “the dream?”
It is refreshing to see the Kennedys endorse anyone this early. The clan that was openly contemptuous of Jimmy Carter and prevented Hubert Humphrey from picking R. Sargent Shriver as his Veep in 1968 because they wanted to keep the way clear for their own palace guard has finally let go of its death grip on the Oval Office. If Obama makes them feel a kinship to their late President, more power to them and to Mr. Obama for eliciting that feeling. The Democratic party has always revered and respected the Kennedy family and there are countless people in the party who will follow their lead. But unlike John Kennedy who was politically battle tested and vetted, Mr. Obama is brand new to the scene and you know there will be countless attempts to hold his character up to scrutiny. This early in the race, the Kennedy imprimatur is on Barak Obama. All Democrats hope, whatever the outcome of the 2008 race, he is worthy of it. No one wants to hear, especially Caroline and Ted, later on in the game lament, “Say it ain’t so, Barak”.
SKREP LIKE TRUMAN
The recent rehiring of Sam Hyder tells you on thing about Greg Skrepenak, Luzerne County Commissioner: he is loyal. He had the chance to throw Sam Hyde under the bus but did not. Tried to save Kathy Bozinski too. Harry S. Truman was once criticized for his loyalty to the corrupt Pendegrast political machine in Missouri. He even went to the funeral of the big boss when his friends in Washington told him it was not politically wise. Truman replied to be disloyal would cause him lack of sleep at night. Noble. Like Harry Truman did, sleep well tonight Mr. Skrepenak. In politics, loyalty is rare. Sam Hyder should thank his lucky stars!