The June issue of Vanity Fair has an excerpt from an upcoming book about Robert F. Kennedy's campaign for president, which ended with his assassination 40 years ago Thursday. It's a must-read (you can find it here) that details RFK's depression after his brother's death, trepidation about challenging a sitting president (he feared people would view it as a mere extension of the Kennedy/ Johnson feud), and ultimate peace in himself and his decision to run.
The sense of unabashed possibility brought by RFK's candidacy walked alongside looming tragedy during his 82- day campaign; it was a palpable unease that Bobby could meet the same fate as his brother. When Kennedy announced in March, the country was simmering. By year's end, after his assassination and that of Martin Luther King, the Tet Offensive and massive race riots, it was at full boil.
Ultimately, Bobby was enveloped and destroyed by the madness of the times. It was an outcome some saw coming:
"Before returning to the Kansas City airport, the Kennedy press corps stopped for a quick restaurant meal. Jimmy Breslin [of the NY Post] asked a table of reporters, 'Do you think this guy has the stuff to go all the way?'
'Yes, of course he has the stuff to go all the way,' John L. Lindsay replied. 'But he's not going to go all the way, and the reason is that someone is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it, just as sure as we're sitting here somebody is going to shoot him. He's out there now, waiting for him... And, please God, I don't know if we'll have a country after it.'
There was a stunned silence. Then, one by one, the other reporters agreed, but none asked the most heartbreaking question: Did Kennedy himself know it?"