Tuesday, November 14, 2023


"Oh, yes we got trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh yes we got trouble here, we got big, big trouble."

          Meredith Wilson, The Music Man, 1957

Introducing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an Independent candidate for President. He spells trouble. 

But for whom?

RFK, Jr. has a big storefront campaign office just off the main downtown street in Manchester, New Hampshire. Five staff members greeted me, had me stand in front of the giant photo of RFK, Jr., and then assured me that their candidate was misunderstood. He isn't a crazy conspiracy theory guy, they said. He is vaccinated. His children are vaccinated. RFK, Jr. recognizes that mercury in vaccines is the real problem, they said. Dentists and tuna eaters and everyone knows about mercury. He is totally normal, an environmental lawyer, a good guy liberal, they said. He supports taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. I told them I usually voted for Democrats. So do we, they said. 

The crew had just finished a long day coordinating volunteers to do signature gathering. The problem for an Independent candidate is getting one's name on state ballots. Every state has different rules, different timetables. To get on the ballot in California requires 200,000 signatures. To get on it in Tennessee requires only 275 signatures. His campaign communication director says he has a "robust ballot-access team" and will be on the ballot in every state.

RFK, Jr. explains his ballot access progress in this 90-second video. It gives viewers a chance to see and hear him.

YouTube: Click Here

RFK, Jr. sounds raspy and hoarse. He has been diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia. Spasmodic dysphonia is a chronic neurological voice disorder. A dysphonia website explains that it "it results in involuntary spasms of the muscles that open or close the vocal folds, causing a voice that presents with breaks and strained/strangled quality or breathy quality." It makes it harder for him to communicate emphasis, since it causes his voice to freeze up. 

RFK, Jr. is a serious candidate because his name gives him a brand, his environmental politics and Covid views give him a political home among some activists and donors. He can raise money. His PAC has been getting money from donors who have given in the past to both Democrats and Republicans. One donor, Tim Mellon, who normally donates to Republicans, gave $5 million. 

Consumers of mainstream and liberal media repeatedly hear RFK, Jr. introduced and framed as a crackpot. He considers Covid vaccination shots more dangerous than the disease.  (I happily choose to be vaccinated and boosted.) That issue became a defining issue for Democrats, but the issue is now fading into the rear view mirror. I observe many Democrats who had eagerly sought the vaccine when it was first available but now are casual and negligent about staying up to date with boosters. The issue may not continue to define RFK, Jr.

He has a heterodox set of views. Policy-compliant partisans will find things to dislike, indeed deal-killers. Others will like that he broke free of partisan dogma. He is neither left nor right. He is a scrambled mix. Examples:

Abortion. Right to abortion, yes, until three months. Then ban.
Guns. No more restrictions on purchases.
Same sex marriage. OK.
Require masks on public transportation. No, masks don't work.
Raise taxes on rich. Yes.
Raise minimum wage. Yes.
Support Israel. Yes.
Support Ukraine. No.
Photo ID to vote. Yes.
Racial sensitivity training. No.
Refuse service to people on religious grounds. Yes
Biden's student loan forgiveness. Support.
Police body cameras. Require them.
Fund Planned Parenthood. Yes.
Allow health insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Yes, because it is expensive for them.
Require vaccinations of children for preventable diseases. No.
Ban Muslim immigrants. No.
Decriminalize drug use. Yes.

As readers will see, there is something to like, something to dislike. 

Click here to see more of these short direct answers from the RFK, Jr. campaign. 

RFK, Jr. will not win any states, but he might swing the election in battleground states. On policy grounds, it is not clear to me whether Biden or Trump is most at risk of losing votes to RFK, Jr. His brand is "Democratic" and on economic grounds he sounds like one. But on Covid, guns, religion, maybe-abortion, and Ukraine, he sounds like a Republican. If voters want a shake-things-up candidate, but cannot stomach Trump, then RFK, Jr. might be an alternative way to cast a vote for change.

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Anonymous said...

Bobby Jr. surely would win if the election was a beauty contest. He is still extremely handsome. But his views and opinions are not attractive to most voters.

RFK Jr. also is a recovering heroin addict. Voters should factor in the risk of electing someone with a history of addiction to hard drugs.

I can't decide if Cheryl Hines, his talented celebrity 3rd wife ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), is lucky or made a really bad decision.

Mike Steely said...

RFK, Jr. is full of it. This AP news article spells it out pretty well:

"Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic because of his strident opposition to vaccines. Yet, he insists he’s not anti-vaccine. He has associated with influential people on the far right – including Tucker Carlson, Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn – to raise his profile. Yet, he portrays himself as a true Democrat inheriting the mantle of the Kennedy family. As he challenges President Joe Biden, the stories he tells on the campaign trail about himself, his life’s work and what he stands for are often the opposite of what his record actually shows."


Anonymous said...

Trouble with a capital T. And that rhymes with P. And that stands for Politics.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Nov. 1 found Biden with only a 1 point lead over Trump in a straight head-to-head race but with a 3 point edge when Kennedy was included.

Anonymous said...

In a statement posted on Instagram and signed by 3 of his other siblings, Rory Kennedy wrote: "The decision of our brother Bobby to run as a third party candidate against Joe Biden is dangerous to our country. Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment. Today's announcement is deeply saddening for us. We denounce his candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country." Also signed by Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Source: "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Siblings Denounce His Third Party Presidential Run," Town
and Country, published 10-10-2023 online

Diane Newell Meyer said...

I think that Biden has the most to lose here. Some of my extreme leftist facebook friends are going for him. If he makes it onto the ballots, he could do some damage.

Ed Cooper said...

Diane, as has almost always been true, "Perfect is the mortal enemy of Good Enough".

Anonymous said...

Article: "Biden 'Hugely Popular' Among Kennedy Relatives, Says Source, as RFK Jr. Launches 2024 Campaign"

The article states, "Many Kennedys have enjoyed a longtime friendship with the Bidens."

In addition to being Democrats, the article states the families have connected over their shared Catholic faith, family tragedies and political influence.

After JFK, Biden is only the second Irish Catholic U.S. president. In July 2022, President Biden appointed Caroline Kennedy U.S. Ambassador to Australia.

Source: People Magazine, published 4-7-2023 online

Mike said...

Kennedy’s crackpot anti-vax conspiracy theories are a matter of public record. But for those who don’t appreciate the clueless spreading disease along with their ignorance, there’s good news: The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal related to COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the workplace, dealing a blow to vaccine skeptics across the nation.

M2inFLA said...

I'm certainly not a Kennedy support; it takes more than name recognition to assure competency in a candidate's ability to do the job.

Too bad that all the candidates would be able to state their position so simply as Peter was able to do.

I'd encourage all the candidates to be able to summarize their platform so simply as a half page identifying the issues, and their position; an executive summary, followed up with more detail on each of those issues. Even better would be to additionally be able to recite that short answer whenever asked about the issue during campaign tours.

Much more informative than the media and pundits focusing on how bad each candidate is. Knowing answers to most of the issues of the day is a start.