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Quote of the day: Bobby Kennedy on Americans and political discourse

January 14, 2011 |  4:37 pm


Our political discourse isn't more poisonous than ever, writes Tim Rutten in his Saturday column; the ugliness goes in phases. But, he writes, "We live in an era saturated with communication of all sorts, and this has both radically democratized political speech and opinion and deprived it of any restraint or standard of responsibility." And though violent themes in our discourse don't equate to actual violence, it doesn't do much for our quality of life.

This echoes Bobby Kennedy's sentiments in a speech he gave during the 1968 presidential primary campaign.

"The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."

Read Tim Rutten's column: Political speech today -- it's not Bobby Kennedy's America


Jonah Goldberg: The exploitive rhetoric of tragedy

Meghan Daum: Rhetoric as comfort food: The mac-and-cheese instinct

Doyle McManus: Palin comes out swinging, and misses

Editorial: Vitriol and violence

Editorial: Shooting from the lip in reaction to Gabrielle Giffords tragedy

Op-Ed: Cause and effect and Tucson

Reviews for the president's speech: This is the Obama we fell in love with

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Robert F. Kennedy speaks at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in June 1968, shortly before he was assassinated.  Credit: Dick Strobel / AP

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