Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Camelot Finally Ends With the Death of R. Sargent Shriver

Camelot, the great musical, premiered on Broadway in 1960. Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected President in 1960. “Camelot” characterized the new Kennedy Administration. The charismatic President Kennedy and his glamorous, classy First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, were a spirited contrast to the staid Eisenhower Administration and the 1950’s. Camelot and Kennedy uplifted America. Magic was in the air.

Politicians claim to have been inspired to become politicians because of JFK.

Optimism, American greatness and exceptionalism, belief in the goodness of man, and in the government , Governors Pat Brown and Nelson Rockefeller, civil rights progress, patriotism, of motherhood, apple pie, and the American flag, $.39 gasoline and $.19 heating oil, nickel beer, Broadway, downtown, California, Notre Dame football, the Great Books, Chevy, Ford and Plymouth, infrastructure, plastics as the future, Ozzie and Harriett, The Beach Boys, Folk Music, and Berkeley as the greatest university in the world, marked Camelot. Everything was possible.

President Kennedy embraced the compassionate, idealistic American spirit by creating the Peace Corps, with his brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver as its first director.

President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas, but Camelot, the mystique and myth, survived.

Sargent Shriver died on Monday. The last of the inner circle is gone. Camelot is over.

The death of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009 and more recently the consigliore Ted Sorenson essentially signaled the end of Camelot. Others, Stephen Smith, Lem Billings, and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. the family historian and biographer preceded them. Richard Goodwin and Ben Bradlee remain, but Camelot is over.

The retirement of Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D. R.I.) is the first time in 63 years that a Kennedy is not serving in an elective position in Congress or the Presidency. Indeed, only one Kennedy serves in elective office today, Robert Sargent “Bobby” Shriver III, the Mayor of Santa Monica.

The Massachusetts Kennedy Senate Seat is held by a Republican, Scott Brown.

Camelot is a Kennedy, not a Brown.

Perhaps one of America’s great political dynasties is over. Camelot is.

President Kennedy was a Cold War warrior, who cut taxes. His politics do not fit into the modern Democratic Party. The political Camelot died with Vietnam.

JFK's great line from his inaugural speech 50 years ago: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Today's Democratic Party is "We will give to all we can, and take taxes from the rest."

Early on in the Obama Administration, the media attempted to create a new Camelot with Michelle as Jackie. It didn’t work because Michelle is Michelle and Jackie Jackie. Both are unique personas in their own right, but Camelot is confined to the Kennedys.

The Kennedy Center, JFK Airport, JFK Parkway, the Kennedy School of Government, the Kennedy Space Center, the Kennedy Library, numerous Kennedy Schools, remain, but Camelot is metaphysical - not physical.

The image of the young, vigorous Kennedys is eternal, but Camelot is no more. It was but a dream.

Kennedy legalized the unionization of the federal work force, planting many seeds of today's budgetary problems.

"Camelot! Camelot!" The lyrics ring in my ears, but "Those were the days, my friends, those were the days."

The musical is periodically revised, but our Camelot is history.

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