In any case, the meaning surely is not that the United States is in anarchy, or that the world has gone mad. This is the stuff of public comment forced upon leading figures while they are still in shock. The wisest among them will think better of it. And they must, for a nation perilously close to hysteria cannot deal rationally with a crisis of crime and violence which cries out for reason and restraint....
[I]f the tragedy in Los Angeles should be the cause, in whatever degree, of a great national awakening to the evils of extremism and violence on the campus or on the street, of a national resolution to plumb the depth of this problem and to deal with it, so much the better. For there can be no denying that there is abroad in this land a nameless virulence which feeds upon itself.
In this sense the crime in Los Angeles and the lawlessness that afflicts the whole Nation are of a piece. But only in a sense. For the tragedy in Los Angeles does not tell us anything we did not know about the wider malady. It tells us once again to act. But the Nation's first response also warns us not to be too quick to lacerate ourselves with cries of anarchy or too ready to delude ourselves with empty promises of law and order at any cost. Senator Kennedy would scorn such easy answers. Still less would he draw the simpler lesson that he should have somehow been more careful for he has ever been the zestful warrior, and a fatalist....
Robert Francis Kennedy
June 7, 1968
He was John F. Kennedy's kid brother and maybe that was where it began and why, in a special sense, this man who hated so to lose, and almost never did, also found it hard to win. Even after he became an able Attorney General and then a Senator and finally a serious candidate for President, he was still brother Bobby to those who did not know him and did not wish him well. The clichés came quickly and stuck fast -- ruthless, abrasive, power-hungry, opportunistic. And while some of them had some foundation not one of them was right.
For the first thing about Senator Robert Kennedy is that he was much too intricate and many-faceted a man to be captured in a cliché. He was tough-kind, considerate-thoughtless, gay-brooding, witty-blunt. Above all he was driven, and while the forces that drove him cannot all be measured, they were nothing so simple or sordid as a hunger for power or personal gain. The latter he did not need.