One of the defining characteristics of the Kennedy clan, which stood at or near the center of national politics for more than four decades, has been a sense of loyalty to their own flesh and blood. From President John F. Kennedy to Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy and their various offspring who have sought political office, the Kennedys always closed ranks around family members from successive generations during election season. Until now, that is. The heir to the martyred Robert F. Kennedy has put his family in an almost impossible position – while leaving the Democratic Party dazed and confused – by announcing on Wednesday his campaign to take on incumbent Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.
“My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign, and throughout my presidency, will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism on our country,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. proclaimed to a jam-packed, standing-room-only audience before a presidential-looking backdrop in Boston, famously ground zero for the Kennedy family.
While fringe candidate Marianne Williamson has also entered the race, Biden until now had gone effectively unchallenged for his presumed renomination. Once California Governor Gavin Newsom recently confirmed his decision to stay out of the race, it seemed the field was clear for the 46th president. But now Biden will be forced to deal with RFK Jr. by either trying to ignore him – hard to do with that name and a striking resemblance to his father – or by actually talking down a member of the most famous Democrat family of the last century.
Does Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. pose a serious threat to Biden?
If there is one thing incumbent presidents don’t appreciate, it is being challenged from within their own ranks. And for good reason. The last four sitting presidents to face a serious primary challenge either withdrew from the race, in the case of Lyndon Johnson, or went down to defeat in November – including George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, who was opposed by none other than RFK Jr.’s uncle, Ted Kennedy.
The consequences of Robert F. Kennedy the Younger’s entrance into the fray are numerous for both the Kennedys and Democrats writ large. First and foremost is the question of just how serious a threat he actually poses to Mr. Biden. Most long-shot, first-time political candidates running for president lack the most crucial asset for any politician, name recognition, and are easily dismissed for lack of experience. But RFK Jr. starts with public recognition as high as any candidate not named Trump or Biden. Already, according to polling by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, 14% of Democrats support RFK Jr. at this time.
As overpowering as his name may be, RFK Jr.’s unorthodox beliefs stand to be just as threatening to vaccine-friendly Democrats. Indeed, while he carries the legacy of his father, the liberal darling who was felled by an assassin’s bullet 55 years ago, he is not exactly an apple falling close to his paternal tree. Quite the contrary.
He first established himself in the 1990s as an assistant District Attorney in New York and an environmental lawyer. He became a crusader on potential links between vaccines and autism – which have been consistently discredited by mainstream scientific institutions. But the onset of the pandemic led RFK Jr. in a direction that would, incredibly, endear him to the likes of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, as he became one of the nation’s most high-profile critics of the coronavirus vaccine. “I’m not anti-vaccine, although I’m kind of the poster child for the anti-vax movement,” he told a friendly conservative audience at Hillsdale College recently. And it is not hard to understand why. He authored a book, one of ten he has written or edited, entitled The Real Anthony Fauci, a highly critical work asserting that Fauci is in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry. He has also criticized Biden’s blood-stained withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling it one of Biden’s “bad decisions.”
Elite corporate media doing Biden’s bidding have begun the drumbeat of attacks on RFK Jr., depicting him as an extremist. The granddaddy of them all, The New York Times, didn’t wait for their actual story explaining the reasons for their marginalization of the man, turning opinion into fact in the subtitle of their article by claiming he is “spreading misinformation [on vaccines] by twisting facts out of context.” Meanwhile, the Kennedy family knows not what to do. “They’re angry to be put in this position – because they always want to support the family, but they’re being put in a position that makes that impossible,” one person who has spoken to several members of a family told CNN. RFK Jr.’s brother, Rory Kennedy, said that “due to a wide range of Bobby’s positions, I’m supporting President Biden.” And former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said simply: “I prefer not to talk.”
He may be called a fly in the ointment, a skunk at the garden party, or a wildcard in the deck. But for a Democratic Party seeking to march in lockstep behind Joe Biden, while Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. may not pose a menacing threat, he is certainly more than a mere nuisance.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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