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I caught up with the end of The Kennedy's last night, the double-whammy episode in which both Jack and Bobby are assassinated. I have to say I felt a bit emotional. I know it's only a TV program, but these are historical figures who still loom large in the consciousness of many people. Because they both died we are left with a legend of who they were and what might have been. Perhaps a lot of it is hyperbole, and perhaps they have been sanctified beyond all reasonable limits. I suspect that's true - but, the fact is they remain important figures in the western culture.
Leading up to the assassination of JFK in the episode last night I felt a kind of dread knowing what was coming up. For all his foibles I was genuinely fond of the figure portrayed on screen. I thought he was a genuinely good man, and in some ways a great man; and that Bobby, less charismatic, more doggedly idealistic, might even have been better.
I recall stories told of the moment when people heard that JFK had been murdered. It's one of the seminal moments of our society in the last 50 years, and watching last night I understood way. Jack and Bobby represented something good. They were real people who just so happened to be driven to do the right thing. They were easy to like, easy to admire, easy to believe in. In many ways and for many around the world they represented the hope for a better society.
With the death of one after another, bang, bang, much of that hope died with them. I'm not sure if it has ever returned. In place of it we have been left with a succession of leaders who could be called pragmatic at best. No wonder the Kennedy era is termed as Camelot, because it seems from afar to be wreathed in a fairy tale mist, a time of hope and idealism and the possibility of universal good, tragically dashed.
Afterwards a few questions through my head. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I'm unconvinced that Oswald killed JFK, and it's nothing to do with the grassy knoll. It's quite a shot to head-shoot a man travelling in the back of a moving car below where you're standing and at a distance, and over open sights. I used to be a hunter. I was a reasonable shot, but then I had a scope. I hit a kangaroo on the bounce one day, but I knew my limitations. Far as I know Oswald was no marksman. And the fact that he was murdered so soon after by Jack Ruby lends credence to the mystery as far as I'm concerned.
I wondered too at the terrible history of the Kennedy family. So many have died prematurely, much more than the odds would suggest. It's awful that one family should have been made to bear so much heartbreak.
Finally I wondered why so many politicians today choose to be mediocre, at best.