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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Murdered at an early age, cut off in his prime before the peak of his political career, younger brother of the assassinated president Kennedy, JFK's brother is the focus of a new film, 'JFK's Brother'.

But was the man who never grew up, who never became the great leader the World never had, who never became another great Kennedy, was he really like me?

Existing in the cut and thrust of politics because he was a cut and thrust kid, but also a slight and shy figure in a rich and powerful family, he was just like me at that age.

But was he like me?

When Bobby, as I called him affectionately, hit the road in the late 1950s, he was probably reading the same book as me On the Road by Jack Kerouac, or something else.

Senior aide and speech writer, Randy Mindhead:

'Boy, you gotta be joking. What's your name, son?'

Maybe it was because Kennedy's own story, which hadn't yet been told, was going to be like the book, full of drink, drugs, women, trumpets, gambling, drink, debts, roads, and the young.

With race riots going wrong, Martin Luther King, and student protests, Kennedy, like me, called for justice thus offering a youthful alternative.

But his murder, unlike mine, in LA in June 1968, a gnat's whisker from becoming the Democrats' candidate for president, unleashed a huge outpouring of public loss that I somehow felt was for me.

Nightmare speeches

So was he really like me? And what made us different?

Deganway Aberdeen was a radical activist whose work in politics I supported through reflected glory.

'You ain't no Bobby Kennedy,' she says, speaking from her home. 'Yo speech was a nightmare.'

But when Bobby spoke to me, it was his oratory, his willingness to say what he believed, recklessly disregarding the political consequences of being murdered. It sounded like a nightmare to me. Therefore, we were the same.

And I felt nothing glamorous or opportunistic about helping cotton pickers, but I stuck with them, organising car share.

'He was very sincere and direct,' she says. 'You ain't.'

Zappa politics

Kennedy's 68 campaign had Frank Zappered the scene. The rock-star treatment. The intense support. The most emotional adulation I've ever seen in politics.

This carpe diem fatalism reflected Kennedy's mood, says Professor Mindhead, who is now studying poetry at Harlem University.

'Like Frank, he knew he might die at any time.'

Now I knew why I thought we were the same. It was all a Purple Haze.

Big man syndrome

Why was Robert Kennedy as committed as I was?

Mr Mindhead, former secretary in Clinton's administration.

'You're small, small, small, small. Not getting your father's attention.'

While I tried to charm my way through the corridors of power, and the bedrooms, Bobby's was a very, very different temperament.

Robert Kennedy's biographer, Di ApBronwyn, also emphasises the differences between me and Bobby.

ApBronwyn shows that I wasn't a knight rider. I wasn't a tough, gritty fixer either.

Lost

Godfrey Fitzgerald, spokesman for the World Human Rights Trust, notes the gospel that I never delivered, never inspiring people to believe that political action could make a difference.

And that's what was lost: 'You never would have been, Feamus. You lost it,' says Mr. Mindhead.

But it's difficult to predict how such a youthful politician could have developed. I was only 2 years old during the Cuba missile crisis. By the time Bobby Kennedy was killed he was just 42, the boy who never grew up was just like me.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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