It’s another fall before a Presidential election, and once again we have an outsider with some radical views declaring his intention to run for the office of President of the United States. This time, thankfully, no “golden escalator” was in sight. All I saw in the background of yesterday’s annoucement from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that he is now intending to seek that office as an independent candidate was Independence Mall. Which is a noticeable improvement than the lobby of Trump Tower.
I’ll confess, I grew up in a family that loved and revered the Kennedys. My spinster aunt collected every magazine that featured John or Jackie and/or their children on their covers–the oversized picture-heavy weeklies Life and Look, especially. After the assassination the outporing of memorials and unreleased candids were also in her collection.
When RFK Sr. was himself assassinated during what at the time was seeming to be a credible run at his own presidency, we watched the somber coverage of his body’s final journey down what is now known as the Amtrak/Acela Corridor between Penn Station New York City and Union Station Washington, D.C. We watched as many of the train stations I have subsequently ridden as a commuter were filled with disbelieving grievers.
So yes, I’m likely one that was predisposed to giving him a bit more credibility than perhaps many believe he’s worthy of having. Certainly, a whole bunch of leaders of the party his uncle once headed and his father was well on the way to. And, apparently, at least four of his siblings.
And, it would appear, even a lot of Internet trolls who took gleeful pride in his apparent difficulty to deal with minor technical issues, as DEADLINE’s Tom Tapp reported (Why DEADLINE, you ask? Well, his wife is a former regular on an enduring HBO series, no?):
Cheryl Hines made her first big public campaign appearance for husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr. today. The Curb Your Enthusiasm actress introduced the Kennedy scion as he announced his bid as an Independent candidate for the presidency of the United States in Philadelphia.
Hines gave a fairly standard spousal introduction that cast her husband as an independent-minded crusader for the everyman who can bring Americans of different stripes together.
“One day you’re going to look back on this day and say, ‘I was there when something really special happened,'” she promised attendees optimistically.
The candidate himself had a little more difficulty with his speech.
As the camera swept across the crowd to RFK Jr. at the podium, he seemed to be searching through his coat pockets before making an aggravated noise and turning toward stage left, saying, “I need my speech.”
Kennedy, who was wearing a mic, pointed to the teleprompter then walked off camera and, amid shuffling sounds, was heard saying, “You can’t read anything.”
He then walked back out with his speech in hand, turned before he got to the podium, went back to stage left and said to someone off camera, “It’s upside down.” That phrase was repeated several times before he returned.
The scene was reminiscent of candidate Ron DeSantis’ announcement on Twitter, which was plagued with technical difficulties. Or, to a lesser extent, Joe Biden’s glitch-plagued virtual campaign rally during the pandemic.
The internet being the internet, people quickly began sharing an edit of RFK Jr.’s speech SNAFU with the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song laid over it.
In the words of Cheryl’s TV husband (let’s not forget how much he personally has contributed to the Democratic party), that wasn’t even a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good joke.
Look, this is not about how Kennedy feels about vaccines. I just got my third booster, even though I’ve never had COVID (thank G-d) , and I acknowledge I’m in a smaller percentage of those who have received it than ever. So please, spare me any lecture about his views.
And for the family that castigates him for it–hmmm…both your dad and uncle apparently took turns adultering with Arthur Miller’s wife, your other uncle thought he could drive a secretary he was banging safely home drunk while crossing a narrow bridge, and your nephew thought he could pilot a small plane through zero visbility. What’s that old saying about having your own house in order?
What captured me the most about yesterday was Kennedy’s declaration out of sheer frustration that, unlike both Trump and Biden, unlike just about every other Kennedy in politics, including the unrelated senator from Louisiana who regaled us with his interpretative read of ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE, he has not yet been given the chance for his statements to be adequately heard.
As THE ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Ali Swenson reported:
Speaking Monday from Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, where America’s founding documents were adopted, Kennedy made it clear he didn’t want to be affiliated with either party. He referenced a “rising tide of discontent” in the country. He said he wants to make a “new declaration of independence” — from corporations, the media and the two major political parties.
And Laura F. Nelson, from of all outlets the Left Angeles TIMES, added:
Kennedy’s announcement caps months of friction with the Democratic National Committee, which has not scheduled any primary debates where Kennedy or self-help author Marianne Williamson, another presidential hopeful, could reach a wider audience.
Polling released after Kennedy launched his campaign in April showed support from as many as 1 in 5 Democratic voters, though those numbers later sagged. Some Democrats still fear that Kennedy’s candidacy, and the allure of his family name, could cloud Biden’s path to reelection.
Kennedy’s popularity remains higher with Republicans than with Democrats, according to recent polls, sparking concern among some Republican operatives that he could also be a “spoiler” for President Trump.
“The truth is, they’re both right,” Kennedy said on Monday. “My intention is to spoil it for both of them.”
And that’s where my sweet spot is. I’m not sure I fit any particular category like the ones that Swenson described were in the crowd, besides the citizen journalists looking for a future CURB episode to write:
Hundreds of supporters who gathered for Kennedy’s remarks, holding signs that read “Declare your independence” and at times chanting “RFK, all the way!” were upbeat about his decision. An eclectic mix of disillusioned Democrats, Trump voters looking for a change, and political outsiders who say their ideas don’t square with any one party, they insisted that Kennedy could unify them all.
OK, maybe I’m actually a Venn diagram of all of them.
But if he’s so radical, so dismissable, so unqualified, then why, pray tell, is the party so reluctant to even schedule some formal debates for Kennedy, and even Marianne Williamson, to have their five minutes? Are either of them truly worse or more of a threat than, say, Vivek Ramaswamy?
Shouldn’t Kennedy have the same opportunity to publicly mock his party’s relicitrant leadership as, say, Chris Christie has? Who calls the current leader for his party’s nomination Donald Duck?
Here’s a unsolicited suggestion for Kennedy: Try Joe Hidin’.
Test it, in fact. As I’m certain the braintrust at the DNC probably tested you. Remember Mark Penn runs the research company that has controlled much of the DNC strategy since the Obama adminstration.
Perhaps they might be aware of the kind of folks that Nelson wrote about that turned up to see Kennedy speak this past summer:
That mix of voters was on display at a Kennedy campaign event in August at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, where elderly women in turquoise jewelry and tie-dyed T-shirts mingled with middle-aged men in tailored blazers and 20-somethings in Bitcoin T-shirts. They’d come to hear Kennedy debut a brief documentary about his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Yuma, Ariz.
Though border security was the topic of the day, most of the crowd was there for other reasons.
Los Angeles resident Carlene Brown, an 82-year-old practitioner of holistic medicine, said she had admired Kennedy for years because of his work with Children’s Health Defense and his vocal advocacy for holistic doctors and other anti-establishment healthcare professionals who have been “censored and silenced.”
Brown said she was raised as an evangelical Christian but left the church as an adult because she thought religion was bleeding too much into the American public school system. She still doesn’t agree with evangelical churches on much, but she allied herself with them again during the COVID-19 pandemic because “they were the ones that stood against the vaccine mandates.”
That’s just one example, Brown said, of how Kennedy “is bringing people together.”
Nope, Carlene Brown doesn’t sound like Steve Bannon. Or, for that matter, Rory Kennedy.
She sounds like someone I’d love to have some herbal tea with sometime.
I think she and I would both like to hear Kennedy talk more about how he’d handle the international crises in Israel and the Ukraine. How he’d personally deal with the chaos on Capitol Hill. How he’d bring down the price of gas. How he’d deal with election deniers. His definition of abortion. Trans rights.
On the off chance he actually could win, of course.
Perhaps he might be revealed to be as limited as his harshest critics allege him to be, focused almost maniacally on conspiracy theories regarding vaccine mandates and health issues.
Perhaps if Biden were to actually step onto a stage to give Kennedy a chance to be heard, he could pin him down on some of these issues, and maybe channel something like the words that Lloyd Bentsen used in a previous debate.
Heck, he’d probably have access to CURB’s writers to provide him something better than that.
I mean, look where Cheryl Hines is now without them.
Maybe listening to someone else besides African-American lesbians might make the Democratic party a tad more inclusive than they might like to think they are? Do the math. There’s more disillusioned Democrats, Trump voters looking for a change, and political outsiders who say their ideas don’t square with any one party than there are those that are cheering the appointment of a Kamala Harris toady to finish out the term of Dianne Feinstein.
Why is President Biden as reluctant to debate one competitor as the man he so abhors is doing to an entire slate of wannabes?
Again, why is Joe Hidin’?
Is he that afraid that Kennedy might say something insightful or impactful? Are his handlers?
So no, I’m not saying Kennedy has my vote. But right now, neither does any other candidate. And as someone who is fighting every waking moment for a chance to be considered in his world, I’ll defend with every last breath the right for anyone else to have the same chance to be heard. Or screw up trying.
Until next time…