That Morning 40 Years Ago

November 5, 2008

Trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings this morning. They keep going back to that morning in 1968, when I walked back up Demptster Street in Evanston after playing tennis with my wife, and turned on the TV to hear that Robert Kennedy had been assassinated. After Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated. After JFK had been assassinated.

It’s like there’s some strong connection in me—or is it in the world?—between that morning and 11:00 pm last night. It’s like something that has lain dormant for 40 years has been revived. It’s like something that left the world 40 years ago has orbited back. Is it too strong to say that something died that morning and has come back to life now? A nexus between that morning and now.

It’s not that I was aware of what that morning meant to me. I was aware that I felt how terrible it was. But I was also resigned, I think. VietNam. Richard Nixon. Watergate. It would go on and on. The world was not going well, but what could one expect? Best not to invest too much in it.

My wife says that she “signed out” from politics after McGovern lost in 1972. I don’t think I ever “signed out,” but neither was I ever fully there. I did not take the McGovern loss—or the Humphrey loss, or the Carter loss, or the Mondale loss, or the Kerry loss—as hard as I would have taken an Obama loss last night. Nor did I respond to Carter’s and Clinton’s wins, pleasing as they were, the way I’m responding to Obama.

It has something to do with that morning 40 years ago.

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