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While at home last week, I saw the FX channel's movie R.F.K. To be frank, I didn't think it was very good; I encourage you, if you get the chance to see it (and the True Stories cable network occasionally shows it), to see the quite remarkable 1985 television mini-series on Kennedy's life entitled Robert Kennedy and His Times.

Both the 1985 and 2002 movies ended with a montage of Kennedy's funeral train travelling from New York City to Washington with voice-overs of the actors who played Kennedy reading from his most famous speeches. The 1985 version read out-loud his 1966 South Africa speech (actually written by Richard Goodwin of Quiz Show fame) where he waxed eloquently for future collegiate .sig files about individual acts of kindness overcoming the mightiest walls of oppression.

The 2002 show ended with Kennedy's speech at Lawrence, Kansas's Phog Allen Field House (if you read Kennedy's collected speeches, the editors get its name wrong). It's quite a remarkable speech. Here is the excerpt FX included:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence
and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross
national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution
and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It
counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It
counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in
chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored
cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's
knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality
of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry
or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of
our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor
our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything,
in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America
except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Yeah, it's heavy stuff. Integrity of our public officials... intelligence of our public debate... poetry... strength of marriages. It's stuff, quite sadly, we hear precious little of today.

If you can, actually, I recommend you see either, or both, of the Robert Kennedy shows. It'll remind you that, even though the rhetoric and actions from our current administration don't relect it, there are reasons why this country is remarkable other than our GNP and making rich people even richer.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 4, 2002 5:11 PM.

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