Elections '08 National Politics Presidential Race

The Young Show Up 4 Barack and Ted


My good friend and longtime Middle East expert Mark Bruzonsky attended the event today at American University in Washington, D.C. where Ted Kennedy formally announced his support of Barack Obama. This is Mark’s first very quick report on the mood outside the event:


“I’m 26 and I’ve never seen
anything like this.”

That was the first comment from a smartly dressed fellow
as he walked by this scene a few minutes ago.

More like a rock concert, or an iPhone first-day, the line snaked for blocks and blocks throughout the residential streets near American University in Washington where today Barack Obama got Ted Kennedy’s endorsement for the Presidency of the United States of America.

Rumor began spreading that everything was totally full, so others who had parked blocks away strolled back to their cars disappointed.

As to what went on inside the AU event, The Boston Globe has the full text of Kennedy’s speech. But here’s a big clip:

Now, with Barack Obama, there is a new national leader who has given America a different kind of campaign—a campaign not just about himself, but about all of us. A campaign about the country we will become, if we can rise above the old politics that parses us into separate groups and puts us at odds with one another.

I remember another such time, in the 1960s
, when I came to the Senate at the age of 30. We had a new president who inspired the nation, especially the young, to seek a new frontier. Those inspired young people marched, sat in at lunch counters, protested the war in Vietnam and served honorably in that war even when they opposed it.

They realized that when they asked what they could do for their country, they could change the world.

It was the young who led the first Earth Day and issued a clarion call to protect the environment; the young who enlisted in the cause of civil rights and equality for women; the young who joined the Peace Corps and showed the world the hopeful face of America.

At the fifth anniversary celebration of the Peace Corps,
I asked one of those young Americans why they had volunteered.

And I will never forget the answer: “It was the first time someone asked me to do something for my country.”

This is another such time.

I sense the same kind of yearning today
, the same kind of hunger to move on and move America forward. I see it not just in young people, but in all our people.

Yeah. Me too. I see it in my son who, at 22, is a fanatically enthusiastic voter but has never had the experience of voting for someone he didn’t view as just more of the same. I see it in my 30-year-old nephew who, until this month, didn’t bother to register because he didn’t think his vote made any damned difference.

I saw it in my wonderfully intellectual writer colleagues at Bennington College who robed themselves in cynicism and wanted to ignore the election altogether as something that was mostly painful—until Obama’s Iowa win, after which cynicism melted curiously away and a frail kind of hope became visible.

I see it in my friends in Boyle Heights
many of whom have felt marginalized in fundamental ways nearly all their lives, but now glimpse a different kind of possibility.

I see it in myself.


  • And I also see it in the 80+ year old black women who keep me on the phone far longer than most when I’m making precinct calls, explaining that this is “once in a lifetime”, that they’ve already mailed in their absentee ballots (of course) and they’re praying for Barack…

  • Something amazing is going on here. I am not that big a fan of the JFK Presidency – truth is his legislative program was stalled by the summer of ’63 and it took LBJ and the shock of the assaination to get the logjam brokem. And there is Vietnam. But is is absolutely true that he inspired a whole generation to consider public service (how many times we saw the shot of a 16 year old Bill Clinton at Boy’s Nations with stars in his eyes shaking John’s hand). And all we got from Reagan and the Bushes was “Greed is Good!” and “Go for it!” We felt soiled!

    I really liked RFK. Funny cause I was active in the McCarthy Movement and resented Bobby as a “usurper” (Yes, Reg and Celeste, I’m a sucker for lost causes – still am) but I felt then and still do that the shot in the Ambassador Ballroom killed a whole generation and denied us another Kennedy Administration. What a waste!

    Is Obama Genuine? I don’t know. But he has a lot of young people convinced – including, apparantly Caroline’s kids, which may be why she has broken a lifetime of silence to commit to a candidate early. Let us just hope he doesn’t blow it!

  • Mark Bruzonsky: “I’m 26 and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

    LOL! Imagine that! Someone is all of 26 years old and hasn’t seen everything and doesn’t know everything.

  • Well Woody I’m 61 and I saw this before in the sixties. And there hasn’t been anything like it since!

  • Just for the record, Mark was quoting a 26-year-old, he is not one himself. Although he too has been amazed by the enthusiasm and, like many of us, he’s extremely jumpy about being too hopeful.

  • “the shot in the Ambassador Ballroom killed a whole generation and denied us another Kennedy Administration. What a waste!”

    That moment, coming just months after the killing of MLK, was the real “Altamont” for ’60s politics. Turned everything sour and sent “the left” off into the wilderness.

  • “he’s extremely jumpy about being too hopeful”

    Most of us serious cynics are idealists and romantics who have been mugged once too often by “reality”, but with no certainty of winning and knowing (from Barack’s own cautionary words) that electing a “decent man” or even a very skilled and talented man president doesn’t guarantee anything more than the possibility of change IF and ONLY IF the rest of us do our part (i.e. revitalizing social movements, working to heighten public awareness, gettiing involved in communties and civic society, and helping to send others to Washington who can shift the center in the Congress and Senate) I can’t help but see that the “risk” of getting involved and extending at least a little of one’s heart along with one’s hands is well worth it.

  • Not to dwell too much on the past, but Bobby Kennedy spoke a good game but less qualified to be President than was his older brother, who left a lot to be desired. It’s pretty bad when you’re given your first big job as the Attorney General of the U.S. because you need some experience.

    Likewise, it’s going to be important for Obama to speak of substance beyond stirring up enthusiasm.

  • And rlc, you’re absolutely right that in policy terms the JFK administration sucked, but it was nonetheless “transformational” in raising expectations, catching the social and generational “wave” and helping to instill a sense of purpose and idealism in those coming of age. (Everything doesn’t always make sense…)

  • Here’s the story about Obama in Birmingham yesterday….

    LINK: Obama at UAB

    Sen. Barack Obama exhorted an overflow crowd of 11,000-plus emotional supporters Sunday afternoon to change America, delivering a message of hope, unity and change in an event that was part rock concert and part old time church revival.

    “There is nothing we cannot do if the American people decide it is time,” Obama told the cheering crowd at UAB’s Bartow Arena. “There is a moment in the life of every generation, if it is to make its mark on history, its spirit has to come through. This is our moment.”

    Then in the soaring rhetoric that has marked so many of his speeches over the past month, Obama brought the crowd to its feet….as the crowd filled the arena with shattering applause and shouts of, “Obama, Obama, Obama!”

    One of the thousands pushing in around Obama as he worked the rope line after his speech was Chris DeHaven, 62, of Hoover. A lifelong Republican, DeHaven said he has finally found someone to vote for, and not against.

    Why? “Because he wants to bring us together. He will bring us together,” DeHaven said. “He speaks from the heart, and he speaks the truth in a way I have not heard since Ronald Reagan and Robert Kennedy 40 years ago.”

    rlc came along the same time as this guy and has the same outlook, even if separated by differences in cultures.

  • Re: The Young Show Up 4 Barack and Ted

    Of course they do. They don’t know anything.

    Sources point to Obama as a possible starting point to the domino affect that lead to the housing crises we are now facing. Check the provided links and judge for yourself.

    “In a 1995 case known as Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank, Obama and his fellow attorneys charged that Citibank was making too few loans to black applicants, “victimized” by home mortgage lenders, and won the case. As one commentator noted in May 2008, legal “successes” such as this were probably responsible for the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007 AND 2008. That is, banks were not loaning to blacks whose credit was poor. When the law forced them to lend money anyway, the inevitable collapse occurred.”

    Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank

    Obama’s Early Legal Career: Heavy on Advocacy for Blacks

    A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon we’re talking about real money

    Obama had a part in the lawsuit that started the government on a course of forcing lenders to give more loans to those who had poor credit. Lending companies were forced to come up with imaginative ways of fulfilling the quota that was required. Sub-prime lending was born as a result. The mortgage crises was forecast by many who were able to look beyond the quota.

    This New York Times article (.pdf) clearly forecast the mortgage meltdown.

    In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders, … under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration.

    “Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 19902 by reducing ddown payment requirements,” said Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

    Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 percent of loans in the conventional loan market.

    In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry of the 1980s.

    “From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out, the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

    Sources and links here:


  • Beckwith,

    You’re saying that the mortgage collapse was due to Obama’s efforts to increase loans to blacks and the poor?!? I guess you don’t realize that most people who’ve foreclosed are white and aren’t necessarily poor! Most people who’ve foreclosed did so because of SECOND mortgages- which blacks and poor get less often! Most people who can’t afford the houses they live in are in the middle-to-upper-middle class, which blacks and poor aren’t typically apart of.

    Try getting a little bit of fact behind your argument, especially when you’re making a total ass of yourself!


  • Darren,
    Beckwith’s post is absolutely correct, but he mistakenly brings race into the story. The real issue is forcing banks to grant credit to those who are not credit worthy (regardless of race).

    I think you’re right with regard to the percentage of foreclosures involving second mortgages. But the basic problem has the same roots – if banks are forced to lend to people who can’t afford payments on their first, second, or third house, foreclosure is the result.

    “Community organizers” and leftist politicians force banks to make risky loans, ostensibly to help the poor. Freddy and Fanny (the taxpayer, really) back those loans. Greedy bankers, home buyers, and investment bankers move in on the new reality mandated by the politicians, trying to make money off of it. The system collapses, taking down tremendous REAL wealth with it. Plenty of blame, but it all starts with “do-gooders” on the left.

  • Not to mention that literally hundreds of thousands of people in this country ILLEGALLY were able to secure loans from financial institutions WITHOUT having to prove that they were in our United States with permission. Lenders weren’t even interested in enfocing citizenship litmus tests!

    As the value of real estate plummeted causing the value of their property to submerge and take their loans “underwater”, in addition to higher unemployment rates in fields like construction, roofing, remodeling and the like that MANY, MANY illegal aliens gain their employment in, huge numbers of the illegal population defaulted and simply walked away from their mortgages because they really didn’t have anything to lose by doing so.

    A certain recipe for financial meltdown in the housing market. Smart people saw this coming a mile away and shorted the U.S. real estate and mortgage markets. This is where the initial $350,000,000,000,(half of the first $7 billion TARP), went. It went to pay off the derivitive traders and credit default swap market players who, wisely, I might add, bet against this bubble and their gamble paid off IN A BIG WAY.

    Henry Paulson LIED to Congress AND to us Americans when he said that the TARP funds would immediately be used to inject liquidity to the credit market. He and others, including Tim Geithner, who had attended a big world economic “summit” as far back as 2003’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland knew this freight train was coming WAY BACK THEN!

    Many of our politicians were all too aware of this as well and they are also aware that these contracts had to be honored, even by LYING to us about where the initial TARP funds were headed. Anybody who followed the easing of credit terms could see that this bubble was bound to burst IN A BIG WAY sooner or later and it sure did.

    Now it is left, tragically, for millions of American taxpayers, their children AND their grandchildren to shoulder the economic burden via future inflation, higher taxes, higher fees, higher tolls, stricter regulations, stricter restrictions, more gov’t mandates, et al.

    Sadly, the next THREE generations of American WILL NOT experience the same type of economic freedoms that past generations of Americans have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to earn.

    There’s the REALITY folks, y’all better get used to it and, please…please, don’t tell me I didn’t tell ya so.

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