Bobby Kennedy, Still a Politician With a Difference

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bobby Kennedy -- Jedi knight? Had to wonder, hearing the feats of persuasion and (possible!) prescience attributed to him at a documentary screening and discussion at the Newseum on Monday.

Former RFK press secretary Frank Mankiewicz-- who sat on a panel with AFI director George Stevens Jr . and others discussing the late Charles Guggenheim's1968 Oscar-winning doc, "Robert Kennedy Remembered" -- described one example of a particularly shrewd mind game the New York senator liked to play. During an appearance on a Sunday morning interview show, the anchor started by asking, "Senator Kennedy, do you think President Johnson is doing all he can do to end the war in Vietnam?"

RFK's response: "No."

Dead air.

"There was an embarrassed silence," Mankiewicz recalled. "TV journalists are not accustomed to short answers. They want the longer, rambling answer while they can think of the next question." But Kennedy "wasn't fearful of silence at all. I think it's unusual for adults, and almost unknown for politicians. . . . Usually, people come up with something to say to fill the silence -- 'Hey, how about the Redskins.' But he never would."

Before the screening, Rep. Patrick Kennedy told the audience that his uncle once predicted that there would be a black president "in the next 45 years," a declaration that so offended some listeners "they walked out of the room." More proof of How Things Have Changed: Guggenheim's old TV campaign ads -- leisurely, lingering one-scene shots of the candidate talking to voters, with no quick cuts, no music, no sinister grainy images of Hubert Humphrey. And would they ever hire a Brit to narrate a remembrance of an American politician today? Probably not, but it was nice to hear Richard Burton 's voice-over just the same.

Scarlett and Barack: Not Quite BFF

No Scarlett letters for Barack Obama! Turns out the candidate doesn't really trade personal e-mails with Scarlett Johansson. The movie star, a big supporter of his campaign, recently marveled that the senator had taken time to respond to her online notes. But our colleague Shailagh Murray reports that's not quite true: Obama told reporters on his campaign plane yesterday that the actress didn't even have his personal e-mail address. "She sent one e-mail to Reggie [Obama's personal assistant, Reggie Love], who forwarded it to me," said Obama. "I write saying, 'Thank you, Scarlett, for doing what you do,' and suddenly we have this e-mail relationship." Glad we cleared that up.

This Just In . . .

· Shawn King, wife of CNN host Larry King, has entered rehab for an addiction to painkillers, reports the New York Post. King, 48, is seeking help for medication related to a "chronic migraine problem." CNN declined to comment.

· Heather Locklear has entered treatment for anxiety and depression. The 46-year-old actress went to an Arizona medical facility for an in-depth evaluation of her meds, her publicist told People magazine.

· Boy George has been denied a visa to enter the United States, according to the Associated Press. The 47-year-old singer (real name George O'Dowd) is scheduled to begin a U.S. summer tour next month in Las Vegas, but has been rebuffed by the State Department because he's facing trial in Britain for allegedly imprisoning a man at his London home, his managers said in a statement. The State Department cannot comment because visa records are confidential.

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

· Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder at Caribou Coffee at 15th and M streets yesterday. The two members of Barack Obama's veep search team (Kennedy in khaki dress and ballet flats, Holder in a dark suit) were spotted at a table outside, where they were less likely to be overheard. Darn.

· Rob Reiner on the field at Nationals Park Monday night. The director, touring ballparks with 17-year-old son Jake, hung out with the players during batting practice and opened the game with the traditional "Washington, play ball!" -- then settled in a seat behind home plate.


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