I loved Bobby Kennedy because although he was a ruthless son of a bitch who was on the wrong side of things early in his career, he was able to escape the comfort of wealth and power and see the world as it was and what it could be. He then became a ruthless son of a bitch on behalf of peace, justice and equality.
When I was a college newspaper editor, I was thrilled that Eugene McCarthy was able to force Lyndon Johnson out of running for re-election, but I then endorsed racist George Wallace on the basis that his presidency would foment the Revolution that would clear things up once and for all. Then, when Bobby announced for president, the sun shone, because it was clear that he alone could unite black and white, redneck and professoriate, blues and bluegrass. The Restoration would be at hand.
Although I had a name on my campus, I did not think I was known beyond. But someone from the Kennedy coterie phoned me at home (my parent’s house as I recall on a Friday evening ) and said if I – as a sympathetic campus editor – could get to New York by the next morning I could ride on the funeral train back to DC. Logistically it was not to be, but nothing remains in my fading memory so much as the television coverage of ordinary people lining every inch of those 212 miles of track, sometimes 10 or 20 deep, to pay tribute to the great leader this country never had.
So I knew I would see the movie “Bobby,” which I just did. My first reaction was the wrong guy got shot at the end. It should have been the writer.
The director was okay, but since the writer and director were both named Emilio Estevez, the movie fell far short of what it might have been – just as the country did when Sirhan Sirhan became the first of many Palestinians to wreak havoc on civilization.
But I do heartily recommend the movie for its brilliant cast – which probably in deference to Bobby’s memory allowed itself to be demeaned by reading the garbage Estevez put in their mouths. Among the celebrity cast is Martin Sheen, the writer-director’s father and an actor who previously played Bobby, JFK and President Josiah Bartlett.
And most of all it a must-see for the documentary footage and sound track that will make you wish for things that never were – and that a better movie had been made.