Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bill Maher, Barack Obama, and the 60's

Tom Brokaw was a guest on Bill Maher Friday evening. Brokaw, because of his book Boom!: Voices of the Sixties has become an "expert" on the subject of the 60's. I haven't read the book, but was a bit disappointed with his discussion with Maher about the idealism of the '60's and its ultimate failure to materialize as social change in the ensuing decades.

I was one of those political idealists who knows what happened. "They" killed Jack Kennedy in 1963. "They" killed Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, then beat the crap out of those of us who turned out at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Then "they" finished off any idealistic illusions remaining on Monday, May 4, 1970, by putting armed troops on a college campus - Kent State - and shooting "us."

Yes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved and the Viet Nam War ended in 1975. But neither process included much idealism. Hilary Clinton is correct - without Lyndon Johnson's congressional leadership experience and willingness to roll over the Southern Democrats by getting the support of Republicans, there would have been no Civil Rights Act of 1964. And without Walter Kronkite editorializing about the Vietnam War in 1968, "they" likely would never have pulled out of Vietnam seven years later, because the doubt the Kronkite sowed in the minds of "their" middle American political base would never have existed.

"They" easily recruited the South and the Middle American "America - Love It or Leave It" working class into "their" camp and regained "their" equilibrium by 1980 and elected Ronald Reagan.

By 2000, "they" could have the Supreme Court appoint a President and create a war designed to make "them" rich.

It may seem simplistic to some because the terms "they" and "us" are vague. But it is the gist of what happened to the 1960's idealism.

I certainly hope that none of the things that happened to the 1960's idealists happen to the Obama idealists.

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