Sure, I was only 16 in 1980 but for me that summer, it could have been 1960 all over again.
Because Camelot took one dying gasp of air, to have me believe that maybe the ghost of Lancer could still be felt in the White House once more, if only…
So I watched the ENTIRE 4 days of the Democratic National Convention - who was schmoozing with whom, across what aisle, watching the Kennedy campers scurry around for every last delegate vote.
And the floor was awash in Kennedy placards.
I felt sure Ted would get the nomination and I was so excited to be alive to see the Kennedy name on the score boards behind all the talking heads that week.
I mean, who in their right mind, if they were a Democrat, would vote for a Georgian Peanut Farmer, who only managed to win 6 states, over Massachusetts Royalty, right?
It looked like a shoe-in, in the early hours, it sure did!
But, someone crossed some aisles when I wasn’t paying attention, and in the last vote, Camelot’s dying breath was felt over the entire convention floor, the sour, dank odour of a dying hope that pervaded all who were there to sense it and all who were glued to their TVs that day to feel it.
It was a train wreck yet no one could take their eyes away from the wreckage.
Or maybe a better analogy would be a car wreck, a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 bobbing in the waters of the old Chappy (Chappaquiddick), and we all were the drowning female in the passenger seat this time, while Teddy swam to shore.
Teddy’s loss of the nomination that final day in New York was the death knell for any Camelot I could experience, as I was 2 months shy of birth when Lancer was hit with Oswald’s MC bullet.
That day, when all the votes were tallied, and the delegates took the easy way out and voted for a sitting President, we all were hit with the cold water from the Chappy, like a slap in the face, the shock of which still resonates even today, after Teddy’s death.
It’s odd really, how I hate people who don’t really know Ted Kennedy, who call him Teddy, as I am doing right now. But somehow, maybe, we all felt as if we knew him, that we all had had drinks with this guy sometime in our lives, sitting side by side in high-back leather seats, in low lit bars around Washington DC. Maybe strangers and friends alike just call him Teddy because he always seemed that accessible to us all.
And eleven years is a long time to hold a grudge, right?
Or maybe, eleven years isn’t long enough when someone climbs out of a submerged sedan, giving no thought to the girl by your side.
Maybe some acts are just that reprehensible.
I’m a lifeguard from way back in my childhood days spent on Ontario lakes, and the thought of gaining a breath at the expense of another seems impossible to me. Yes, you come up for air, but then you dive back down to free the passenger, don’t you?
Teddy wasn’t a life guard.
Isn’t eleven years enough punishment for the acts of a reckless Kennedy?
Then again, maybe there are some acts that are never acceptable when your name is on the ballot for President of the United States.
Maybe Democrats will never be allowed to forget Chappaquiddick just like the Republicans will never get over Watergate.
But that evening in New York 29 years ago, the dream still lived and the hope never died, until August 26, 2009, when Teddy did.
He now lies near his two brothers in Arlington, set against the slow-moving Potomac river, miles away from the Chappy and a lifetime away from Camelot’s re-birth.
But on August 12, 1980, we silently kept the faith that all who have done wrong could be redeemed, and idealism, however misconstrued, could reign once more.
Obama’s camp tried to have us believe that Camelot was re-born yet again last year, but we who kept the faith decades earlier knew different.
If there are squires gathered at a round table, they sit quietly in the night at Arlington now, in the glow of John’s flame, dreaming the dream which has died for us all now, as the last of three brothers are bade farewell.
Maybe men in green tights, with bows and arrows, who steal from the rich to feed the poor, is a kind of maudlin, antiquated thought now anyways….