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A Political Quip, in Front of the Kids

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

How old is old enough for political banter? At a Politics and Prose bookstore chat for his new kids' book on Monday, Robert Kennedy Jr. got a little partisan with some grade-schoolers.

Discussing the Civil War -- his book is about slave-turned-war-hero Robert Smalls -- the lawyer-activist asked the assembled kids if they knew Lincoln's party. Republican, they answered.

"You're right," he said. "That's when the Republicans used to be the good guys."

The joke annoyed Susan Sylvester, the chaperoning mom of a Murch Elementary fourth-grader who considers herself an independent. "I'm tired of people making these blanket generalizations," and hurting the feelings of those from GOP families, she said. "How do you know how a child processes that?" (Otherwise, she liked his talk -- and bought the book.)

Kennedy told us he had no qualms about the quip "since those children struck me as exceptionally bright and capable of making their own political determination." He said his grandfather made sure his children were exposed to a wide array of opinions from early on. If it were up to him, he'd give fifth-graders the right to vote: "Their sense of right and wrong is at least as precise as most adults'."

By The Reliable Source  |  October 23, 2008; 12:02 AM ET
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Mr. Kennedy,

If you really studied history, you would realize that the Republicans were also "the good guys" during the civil rights movement.

Dr. Martin Luther King was a republican.

Posted by: Don in TX | October 23, 2008 1:36 AM | Report abuse

Actually, it was his daddy, then U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy who authorized wire taps and surveilance (including the subject’s many sexual conquests) on, you guessed it: Martin Luther King.

But he’d never tell the kids THAT, now would he?

And while the kids really have no idea who EITHER of those bozo Kennedys are, they do know through public school indoctrination who Martin Luther King was (as my first grader daughter has been taught to sing, “Martin Luther King was a very great man!”).

Posted by: J. Edgar Hoover | October 23, 2008 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Black Leaders Support McCain
By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin

Blacks are expected to vote for Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in overwhelming numbers, likely to exceed 95 percent. But there are some who are going against the tide.

The Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Ariz. has garnered the support of some leaders in the black community.

Freedom's Journal magazine has released a video called "Faith, Race, and Politics, How Should Black Christians Vote." It was made after the "values debate" in September. 

Among others, the video features syndicated columnist Star Parker and Bishop Harry R. Jackson, president of High Impact Leadership Coalition. But the most recognizable name is Dr. Alveda King, director of African-American Outreach, Gospel of Life Ministries, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King. 

"I am very excited about the McCain-Palin ticket, simply because they support the values that mean the most to me," Ms. King said. "It is a plus to me that Sarah Palin is a woman because I've been elected to office as a wife and mother. I've been appointed to office as a woman and at the time I was a mother and became a grandmother." 

Ms. King said her experience taught her she could both be a good mother and still serve the public. This is something she has in common with Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, McCain's running mate.

However, the most important reason she is backing the McCain-Palin ticket is its commitment to the pro-life cause.

About three dozen black pastors who also support Mr. McCain. Among them are Bishop Robert Smith, pastor, of the Word of Outreach Christian Center Little Rock, Ark., who endorsed Mr. McCain after his Oct. 5 sermon and Rev. Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.

Not only do many black leaders support Mr. McCain, they are also outraged by what they perceive is the hypocrisy of Democrats who were silent when people like Harry Bellefonte and Rev. Al Sharpton said former Secretary of State Colin Powell was an Uncle Tom - but now adore Mr. Powell. 

In an October 2002 interview with a San Diego radio station Mr. Bellefonte said:
"There's an old saying in the days of slavery, there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master ... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him." 
Mr. Bellefonte went on to clarify that the master in this instance was President George W. Bush.

Frances Rice, president of the National Black Republican Association, wonders what has changed.

"Democrats now love Gen. Colin Powell, but spewed out the most vile, racist attacks on Powell before he endorsed Obama," she said in an Oct. 20 press release.

Michael P. Tremoglie can be reached at

Posted by: The Ghost of Martin Luther King | October 23, 2008 1:59 AM | Report abuse

Who has spewed out vile comments about Gen Colin Powell ? I believe that most Americans of both parties respected this man during the first Gulf War and have continued to respect him in spite of the mistake he owns and for which he takes responsibility. Why must it always be partisan just because someone makes a decision that is obviously well thought out and sincerely expressed. We need to allow for more individual opinions based upon one's own conscience instead of always taking the attack route when someone does not stay precisely on the party line. It is this disregard and at times outright punishment for expressing a different opinion than those of the present administration that has lead us to this all or nothing mentality that goes against the foundation that those who worked so hard to establish this country were all about. It is called freedom and free speech. Isn't anyone allowed to have that anymore or must we all think the same way in order to be deemed true patriots and Americans?

Posted by: Anne Owens | October 23, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse

After the chat, good guy Kennedy downed a bottle of Chivas, hopped in his Jaguar, and sped away to pick up his mistress.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2008 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Did any Republican "bad guys" run their car into a pond, sneak away and let a young girl drown? Did any rape a girl in West Palm Beach, Fl and have "uncle" Ted help get them off? Did any of them beat a girl to death with a golf club? I'll put my stock in the rebublican "bad guys" rather than the Kennedy "good" guys.

Posted by: Don Budlong | October 23, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Can we expect Acorn to start signing up fourth graders?

Posted by: Don Budlong | October 23, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

What an idiot - from a family of chronic enablers of irresponsible behavior. And - he probably didn't want to get into the fact that the Dems are responsible for our current economic mess, due to a whole culture of self-serving so-called public servants like himself. More indoctrination of the kids... Parents, stay alert and take FULL responsibility for educating your children - because the public school has a very different agenda.

Posted by: gael | October 23, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

R. Kennedy, Jr., is also on a YouTube video circulating around the internet claiming that Republicans are the ones who have "always" stolen elections, cheated to win, etc. It's too bizarre to explain, other than the phenomenon of transference: You accuse your enemies of behaving exactly as you have. Sometimes it's honest. You can't believe anybody is any different from you.

Posted by: FriendlyTxn | October 23, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is: what a moron. It's crap like that that makes me never want to identify with either party.

Anonymous 8:11am - HAHAHAHA!!!

Posted by: liz | October 23, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm the "bad guy" Republican registered aunt who is flying out this week-end to go trick or treating with my nephew. This "bad guy" aunt sends reading and math books through the mail, this "bad guy" aunt hosts summer camp in Iowa for her nephew, this "bad guy" aunt nephew-sits when Mom and Dad take a week-end away, this "bad guy" aunt wrote and passed legislation in Iowa for families of kids with disabilities with a group of "bad guy" parents and Democratic parents with a "bad guy" governor, a Democratic house, and a "bad guy" Senate.
After hearing Mr. Kennedy's comment, is my nephew to think I'm one of the bad guys?

"bad guy" Aunt

P.S. Giving the fifth graders the right to vote??? My nephew has trouble deciding which cereal to eat in the a matter of fact, he mixes his cereal.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Forget the 'good guy' comment, the most important thing in this short piece is the statement that RFK, Jr. would extend the franchise to younger citizens. I am all in favor of this and often challenge people to come up with reasons to deny 12 year olds the vote that weren't used to deny the right to vote by women or minorities. Children pay a variety of taxes now and elected officials are spending money that they will have to pay for in the future. They therefore suffer from the same lament as our founders who rightly declared, "No taxation without representation".

Posted by: Theorist1 | October 23, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Isn't that picture of Cherie Blair? Why is it captioned Robert F. Kennedy Jr.?

Posted by: FRON8 | October 23, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but does everyone of them have to be nasty and demeaning?

Can't we comment on the issue, or in this case on the statement without attacking the person and their family and still make the point we want to make?

Our society has gotten so mean spirited that it will make it hard for us to ever come together and deal with the very big issues we need to face, now and in the future.

Those who are unwilling to put their names to these snippets really should think twice about submitting them.

Posted by: RobertKesten | October 23, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"Those who are unwilling to put their names to these snippets really should think twice about submitting them."

Posted by: RobertKesten

Well, RobertKesten, if that is your real name, my name is Nicholas Thimmesch and you can reach me via e-mail at and you are welcome to spew to me more of your Rodney King line anytime:

"Can't we comment on the issue, or in this case on the statement without attacking the person and their family and still make the point we want to make?"

Just be ready to defend yourself.

Posted by: nickthimmeschearthlinknet | October 23, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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