Bobby the K: Robert Kennedy Comes to New York

“Throughout the 1960s, the Village Voice, like much of the American media, was fascinated by the Kennedy family. In a sense, the paper’s coverage of Robert F. Kennedy began with an endorsement of his brother John for president, in 1960: ‘The somnolent 1950’s will come to an end next week. We slept through them almost to the point of the Big Sleep, and when we were not dormant we frittered away our energies and let others steal our liberties in the most mirthless decade of them all. We assume that the election of John F. Kennedy, whom we support without reservation, will bring the decade to an end.… It never seemed credible to us, even from the beginning, that [Richard] Nixon, the Abominable No Man of our generation, could attain the Presidency.’ Norman Mailer, one of the founders of the Voice, had angrily quit writing for the paper some four years earlier, after his phrase ‘the nuances of growth’ had been mistakenly changed to ‘the nuisances of growth.’ The novelist, already upset with previous ‘grievous’ typesetting errors, used some ‘fairly sharp words’ with his editors: ‘Certain things were said which can hardly be unsaid.’  However, he retained an ownership stake in the paper, and one can imagine the evocative imagery of the endorsement (below) coming at least in part from his pen. In any case, Mailer would in future years write about both Kennedy brothers for the Voice. John Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, and Robert, his attorney general, soon after left that office to run for U.S. senator from the state of New York. ‘There are more of us than there is trouble,’ the ever optimistic RFK told a reporter in 1964, upon hearing that his brother Ted had survived a plane crash. ‘The Kennedys intend to stay in public life. Good luck is something you make, and bad luck is something you endure.’ But more than his accent betrayed RFK’s Boston origins, and there were plenty of folks who labeled him a calculating carpetbagger. Voice writer Nat Hentoff wasn’t particularly concerned with Bobby’s out-of-state roots, and in an essay that, judging by its headline, ‘Bobby the K,’ might have been written about a gangster, granted that as the nation’s top lawman, RFK ‘did curb some of the more mindlessly zealous viciousness of the Immigration authorities.’ But the jazz critic and social-political commentator wasn’t enthusiastic about either Kennedy or the Republican incumbent, Kenneth Keating. …”

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in 1968 DNC, John Kennedy, Lyn. Johnson, MLKJr., Nixon, Rob. Kennedy, Vietnam War and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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