FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bobby Kennedy Was No Hero

by DAVID MACARAY

It’s a mystery why John F. Kennedy is still regarded as the family moderate?cautious, pragmatic, shrewd and calculating?while brother Bobby gets to be portrayed as the impetuous, left-leaning, idealistic humanitarian.  It’s a mystery because even a cursory examination of history reveals that that wasn’t Bobby.

For openers, Bobby Kennedy was about as “leftist” as Douglas MacArthur.  In truth, he, like his brother John, was a shrieking anti-Communist.  The Kennedys were not only Cold Warriors, they were fairly paranoid about it?confusing progressivism with Bolshevism?which is why they believed, ludicrously, that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Communist, and is why they (John as president and Bobby as Attorney General) had King’s telephone tapped.

How much of an anti-Communist was Bobby Kennedy?  Consider:  During the early 1950s Bobby served as an aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Yes, that Joseph McCarthy.  His witch-hunting senate committee ruined the careers of scores of Americans through the use of smears and innuendo.  It’s a fact.  Bobby (“Don’t get mad?.get even”) Kennedy was Joe McCarthy’s boy.

It was only after family patriarch, Joe Kennedy, advised his son to jump off the McCarthy bandwagon (alas, “Tail-Gunner Joe” had become an embarrassment, having degenerated into a clownish, alcoholic demagogue) that Bobby sought a new vocation.  It was only after Papa Joe urged him to abandon Commie-hunting and focus on another bogy man that Bobby Kennedy decided to make America’s labor unions his next victim.

Obviously, there were many corruption targets to choose from.  He could have gone after Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, insurance companies, defense fraud, payola in the record industry, etc., but because Joe Kennedy had no ties, no loyalties, no connections of any kind to the working class?indeed, he held the common working man in contempt?organized labor became Bobby’s new whipping boy.  Best to leave those well-groomed gentlemen in the three-piece suits alone, and go after the guys in the watchmen’s caps and mackinaws.

As for Bobby’s celebrated social conscience, that’s another exaggeration.  In his award-winning history of the CIA (“Legacy of Ashes”), Tim Weiner reports that it was Bobby himself who spearheaded the plan to murder Fidel Castro.  It was Bobby Kennedy who not only initiated the assassination plot, but who?following one ignominious failure after another?flogged the hare-brained operation to keep it going.  After all, he was the president’s brother.  Who was going to tell him to back off?

All those conspiracies?the exploding cigars, the LSD-laced coffee, the chemical additives to cause Fidel’s beard to fall out (!), bribing trusted Castro associates to poison him, hiring out-of-town Mafia hitmen to murder him outright?those were all sanctioned by Bobby.

Based on documents released via FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), as well as material gleaned from numerous first-person interviews (“Legacy of Ashes” has 150 pages of notes), Weiner made the case that Bobby Kennedy was obsessed with killing Fidel Castro, that he ate, drank and breathed Castro assassination fantasies.

It’s also been documented that Bobby Kennedy bullied Lyndon Johnson into continuing the Vietnam war.  According to  Doris Kearns Goodwin (in “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream”), Bobby insisted to LBJ that President Kennedy would have done everything in his power to keep Southeast Asia from falling to the Communists, and that it was therefore incumbent upon Johnson to honor his dead brother’s legacy by not abandoning the war.  He pressured LBJ to remain in Vietnam, arguing that pulling out would be the act of a coward and traitor.

It was only after the Vietnam war had become toxically unpopular and been deemed unwinnable that Bobby, who was now seeking the 1968 presidential nomination, reversed his position and declared himself America’s “peace candidate,” harshly criticizing Johnson for his hawkishness.  So much for Bobby’s principles?.and so much for Brother John’s “legacy.”

While Bobby Kennedy obviously had some good qualities, it’s a mistake to regard him as heroic?as a combination of Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez and Che Guevara.  Bobby was no hero.  He was a hardboiled player.  If we insist on making comparisons, he was a combination of Lee Atwater, John Gotti and Henry Kissinger.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of “It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail