I guess it’s time to talk about RFK, Jr.
I met Junior once, many years ago. He’d come to Indianapolis to speak at a dinner for an environmental group. At the time, he was known for his work to clean up the Hudson River. He sat at our table and played footsie with an attractive woman at the table. Given what we now know about JFK, I just assumed lechery ran in the family.
These days, his behaviors are far more bizarre, and his quixotic entry into the Presidential sweepstakes has elicited commentary from reporters who would otherwise ignore a crank candidate.
Allow me to share some of that recent coverage.
The New Republic reports that Junior is sharing the podium with Trump, DeSantis and Nikki Haley at an event sponsored by Moms for Liberty, a group known for book-banning, and attacks on teachers and LGBTQ citizens, among other things.
Maybe he’s running on the wrong ticket….
There have been multiple reports that his candidacy is being promoted by rich, white, conspiracy-pushing figures who have a media presence. Elon Musk, for example, is evidently using Twitter’s algorithms to advance Junior’s anti-vaccine agenda.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has pointed out that RFK Jr.’s “top backers are Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone. He’s a creation of the world of MAGA.”
I knew he was a big anti-vax guy. But seeing some of his recent stuff, I didn’t grasp how far off the trail he’s gone. He’s basically on board with all the conspiracy theories that animate MAGA. Vaccine denial is only one of them. For the moment he’s putting up decent primary support numbers, overwhelmingly because of the name.
The website Popular Information criticized the “pernicious elite preoccupation” with Junior, pointing to the number of lives likely to be lost by his spread of discredited, manipulated and cherry-picked vaccine disinformation.
If Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s name were Robert F. Smith Jr., he would be written off as an anti-vaccine nutjob. His pedigree is enough to make some Democrats give his presidential campaign a look — and they will find that he is indeed an anti-vaccine nutjob and that he often sounds a lot like a MAGA Republican.
This will come as a disappointment to the right-wing media outlets, unhinged conspiracy theorists and faux-libertarian billionaires who are doing their best to pretend Kennedy’s delusionary candidacy is a viable challenge to President Biden.
Robinson focuses largely on the lethal consequences of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. He quotes Junior’s siblings, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Joseph P. Kennedy II, who wrote in a 2019 Politico article that Junior’s anti-vaccine ravings are “dangerous misinformation” that endanger public health and put children at risk.
Robinson also notes that the crazy doesn’t stop there.
For a while, he crusaded against 5G internet technology, claiming it damages human DNA and is a secret tool of mass surveillance. He has accused Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates of working to develop an “injectable chip” that would allow, once again, mass surveillance. These are sentiments more commonly expressed on a street corner, at loud volume, while wearing a tinfoil hat.
Kennedy has said he believes that the CIA was behind the 1963 assassination of his uncle President John F. Kennedy and that there is “very convincing” evidence the CIA was also responsible for the assassination of his father, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. (Back here in the real world, JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald and RFK was killed by Sirhan Sirhan.) Asked by Rogan whether he, too, could be a target of CIA assassins, Kennedy said, “I gotta be careful. I’m aware of that, you know, I’m aware of that danger.” He added, “I take precautions.”
He also claims that “chemicals in the waters” cause transgenderism…
In the same vein, in a NYT column, Bret Stephens wrote
Kennedy is a crank…. He has said the C.I.A. killed his uncle and possibly his father, that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election, and that Covid vaccines are a Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci self-enrichment scheme. He repeats Kremlin propaganda points, like the notion that the war in Ukraine is actually “a U.S. war against Russia.” He has nice things to say about Tucker Carlson.
There is much, much more, but probably the most pertinent point is the one made by Eugene Robinson: if this guy’s name was Robert F. Smith, Jr., he would be ignored as just another lunatic. It is only because he comes from a famous family, only because he has a pedigree, that he is currently a “useful idiot” for the MAGA supporters desperate to peel away the votes of naive Americans who might vote for the Kennedy name.
Which he shames.Comments