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The RFK Department Of Justice?
November 19, 2001 8:49 AM   Subscribe

The RFK Department Of Justice? That's what the news is. President Bush will name the Justice Department after Robert F. Kennedy citing his contributions to fighting organized crime and the logical links to today's war on terrorism. The book, Robert Kennedy: His Life, has great stories on how RFK took on the mafia. But don't you think Bush is pulling a fast one to get liberals to forget how much the current AG John Ashcroft is rolling back civil liberties?
posted by flip (24 comments total)

 
According to the article, he's naming the Justice Department headquarters after RFK, not the department itself. I think that's a significant distinction.

Presumably, when they decide to append names to cabinet departments, they'll hold out for a big corporate sponsor. Maybe the Microsoft Department of Justice.
posted by anapestic at 8:59 AM on November 19, 2001


::snort::
posted by y2karl at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2001


Both parties have been trying to coopt the other's heroes for quite a while now. Clinton did it when he decided to name our next carrier the USS Ronald Reagan. I can't say I'm surprised about this, either.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2001


I've got to think that if RFK would be horrified at the goings-on at the Justice Department as of late.

But, should we really be surprised? I mean after all, the government was only too eager to rename Washington National Airport after Reagan. The same Reagan of fire-all-the-air-traffic-controllers fame...
posted by warhol at 9:39 AM on November 19, 2001


Where's Lloyd Bentsen when you need him.
posted by victors at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2001


Let's nor forget that RFK also served on Joe McCarthy's HUAC. What a deft, ironic stroke by the Bush Administration!
posted by Ty Webb at 10:03 AM on November 19, 2001


A pet peeve of mine is naming things (buildings, bridges, etc.) after the living. I just know one day I'm going to open the paper and see that Famous Person X (who has Structure X named after them) was caught in bed with a dead underage prostitute. The dead usually do not cause as much embarrassment.

But here in South Carolina, we have Strom Thurmond, so maybe I'm wrong. Hmmm.
posted by ebarker at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2001


Sure, John Ashcroft is rolling back civil liberties, but check the polls -- people overwhelmingly support it. We are a democracy, after all.
posted by jragon at 10:33 AM on November 19, 2001


Are we expecting Ronald Reagan to be caught in bed with a dead underage prostitute?
posted by UnReality at 10:34 AM on November 19, 2001


J. Edgar Hoover has a big-ass building named after him (the FBI headquarters, Washington, DC).
That's one of the reasons why I don't have any problems with the Justice building being named after RFK -- I can't seem to think of any former Attorney Generals more deserving of that honor. I mean, John Mitchell, come on...
DC's international airport (in Virginia, actually) has been named after John Foster Dulles, probably not the best Secretary of State ever.
Many people still admire Bobby Kennedy to this day.
posted by matteo at 10:36 AM on November 19, 2001


former Attorney Generals

isn't Attorneys General preferable?


Many people still admire Bobby Kennedy to this day

excellent criterion. many people still admire that German fellow who's brain in now living in a glass jar in Argentina.
posted by tolkhan at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2001


former Attorney Generals
isn't Attorneys General preferable?

I dunno, you're probably right, English is my fifth language, so please allow me a little mistake here and there.

many people still admire that German fellow who's brain in now living in a glass jar in Argentina.
"who's brain" looks pretty wrong to me, man. isn't it "whose" or stuff like that?
posted by matteo at 10:55 AM on November 19, 2001


Sure, John Ashcroft is rolling back civil liberties, but check the polls -- people overwhelmingly support it. We are a democracy, after all.

Non sequitor. We are a *representative* democracy. We elect people who our system charges specifically with moderating popular will. God help us if majority popular support for anything is enough by itself to make it law.
posted by luser at 10:58 AM on November 19, 2001


A New Twist on Editing History: Conservatives Are Now Touting R.F.K. from TomPaine.com, by Joseph A. Palermo, American historian and author of In His Own Right: The Political Odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. I read the book recently and confirmed my memory of RFK: there was a "bad" Bobby and a "good" Bobby. Unlike most politicians, he grew up as he grew older.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2001


There's an Amazon affiliate ID in the second link of the first post. Isn't that using MeFi to earn commissions?
</side issue>
posted by mcwetboy at 11:28 AM on November 19, 2001


I can't seem to think of any former Attorney Generals more deserving of that honor.

Matteo, while I don't disagree that RFK was a fine AG, I have to wonder if he would have gained the post on his own merits. It helps when your brother is POTUS.

As for others who might be considered: Edmund Randolph (1st AG), Charles Lee (yes, those Virginia Lees), John Breckenridge, William Pinkney (commanded troops in the War of 1812 during his term as AG), Caesar Rodney (signature value), John Crittenden (served twice - 9 years apart), Harlan Stone, Tom Clark. If we were considering them just for great name value: Felix Grundy, Philander Knox, and Ebenezer Hoar (my favorite -- The Hoar Building).
posted by joaquim at 11:35 AM on November 19, 2001


There's an Amazon affiliate ID in the second link of the first post. Isn't that using MeFi to earn commissions?

Oh, ick. Yeah, that's bad.

flip, if you are reading this, email me. I tried to email you about the problems I have with this post a couple hours ago and got a bounce from your usa.net email account. You won't be able to post again until you contact me.
posted by mathowie at 11:44 AM on November 19, 2001


matteo, i wasn't criticizing, but even if i was, i don't think you should worry. english is my native language and i still screw it up, as i so adeptly pointed out in my previous post.
posted by tolkhan at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2001


It helps when your brother is POTUS.
It really does, there's even a law now about that, the president's relatives cannot serve in the cabinet anymore. It's a fact of life: if your daddy is rich/senator/POTUS/you name it, your career will obviously be easier. But if you suck at your job, there's no excuse -- so we'd better try to judge the performance. I don't care if W. would still be president if his daddy's fornmer job wasn't POTUS. I care about Bush jr's performance on the job. Same for RFK.
RFK's performance as AG, when it comes to civil rights and the fight against organized crime is pretty good.
People who still love him probably have in mind the anti-war senator. but RFK's Justice record looks pretty good too.
Of course RFK as young McCarthyite is a less pleasant character: that's why historians will probably discuss the "Good Bobby/Bad Bobby" thing for many years to come.
posted by matteo at 1:21 PM on November 19, 2001


There's the little, insignificant matter of Bobby approving the use of wiretaps on Martin Luther King's phone, but who remembers that?
posted by clevershark at 5:27 PM on November 19, 2001


if your daddy is rich/senator/POTUS/you name it, your career will obviously be easier.

And if your mommy is a cheap prostitute, that makes your life even easier. Or it makes you an aborted baby.
posted by fuq at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2001


I don't care who buys the name, it's still Mile High Stadium.
posted by whuppy at 8:21 AM on November 20, 2001


Screw that, it'll always be Bears Stadium to me.
posted by kindall at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2001


RFK's Daughter Questions Police Powers. Robert F. Kennedy's daughter criticized the Bush administration for giving broad new powers to police and prosecutors to fight terrorism, saying her father would not have approved of such moves because they undermine civil liberties. Kerry Kennedy Cuomo made the comments hours before President Bush was to name the Justice Department headquarters for her late father, who was attorney general from 1961-64.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:29 PM on November 20, 2001


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