NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Bobby Kennedy Tye copy


FRESH AIR: Robert F. Kennedy is often remembered as a liberal icon who worked to heal racial strife, decrease poverty and end the war in Vietnam. But biographer Larry Tye says the New York senator was actually a political operative whose views changed over time. “Throughout his life, [Kennedy] paid attention to what went right and wrong,” Tye tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “He grew by actually seeing things up close; he took things to heart in ways that few politicians do.” Tye chronicles Kennedy’s political turnaround in his new book, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. Early in Kennedy’s career, Tye notes, he was a hard-edged anti-communist who worked for Red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy, authorized the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. and supported American intervention in Vietnam. It was only later that Kennedy shifted from “a Cold Warrior to America’s most hot-blooded liberal,” Tye says. “Today we would dismiss [Kennedy’s transformation] maybe as a flip-flop, because we’re cynical,” Tye says. “I think it was a really deep change, a real change.” Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, the night of the California Democratic primary. MORE