The End of History: Two Quotes

Your Season Has Come

1. Dave Hickey: “I date the end of history to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968. When they shot JFK everybody said “Oh God, it’s so terrible it’s the end of the world.” When they shot Bobby, everybody said: “Oh no, not again.” And the end of history is pretty much marked by: “Oh no, not again.” The problem is that even though history may be over—time keeps on going.” (Frieze Keynote address, October 2007)

2. Roger Angell: “Baseball will stick it to you; it means to break your heart … old fans do understand that it’s losing, in all its variety, that makes winning so sweet.” (“Comment, So Long Joe,” New Yorker, November 5, 2007)

Baseball and JFK are so simply American (quintessentially American, I’d say if I were on TV) that I feel the syllogism connecting the two is too easy to have to spell out.

I keep thinking in these circumstances about Barack Obama and the historical inevitability of his campaign, when it was first rumored and then announced, and his much commented upon JFK’ness—a reincarnation of talent, charm, and leadership.

Now that his lag behind Hillary Clinton appears final, it may be time to reconsider his exemplar. Obama may embody The American Myth, but that myth is not Camelot, it’s the Ambassador Hotel. Obama is not our JFK. He’s our RFK.

Obama RFK

American destiny is not the promise of the future, the triumphant return of the JFK’s Arthurian hero. It’s an eternal recurrence of failure, of the hero felled just after we have been duped into hoping yet again. Obama is not here to win, he is here to remind us what we have lost. If RFK had only won … if Al Gore had only won…. But of course they didn’t, which is the new American archetype.

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