Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is running for president. Having read about his conspiracy-laden book attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, I shook my head. What America does not need is another president who embraces bizarre theories in support of questionable ideas. In the case of RFK, Jr., he authored a book suggesting Anthony Fauci promoted vaccination as a response to the COVID pandemic in pursuit of riches. He also suggests that Fauci’s career has included inhumane testing of vaccines on children and other abuses.
Sound bizarre? Pick up a copy of The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. Catchy title, don’t you think?
After learning the news of RFK’s presidential bid, I was disgusted. I do not like family political dynasties of either party, and I like conspiracy theorists even less. The impudence of Kennedy, who has never won elective office previously, running for president also rubbed me the wrong way. I thought: Maybe Joe Biden should not be the 2024 Democratic nominee, but RFK, Jr. could get me to vote Republican, unless, of course, Trump or Trump-wanna-be DeSantis, gets that troubled party’s nod.
I started to write a column that I envisioned would include three or four quotes from Kennedy’s despicable book. I also thought I would review the rest of his personal history and highlight a few negatives, things like his heroin use as a youth or the fact that Steve Bannon, Trump’s political strategist, encouraged him to run.
My research led me to change my mind. I still do not want RFK, Jr. anywhere near the White House, but I found myself regretting that somehow, he had bought into ludicrous anti-vaxxer theories which he documented in a book. I wonder about the sanity of Mr. Kennedy. What if he were elected president, bought into more conspiracy theories on a multitude of subjects and took the country into left field?
My regrets about Kennedy’s disqualifying attempt to become the nation’s leading anti-vaxxer came after I read about his work on the environment. He served as a senior environmental attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He founded the Waterkeeper Alliance. He has championed environmental justice and human rights. In short, there is a lot to like in Kennedy’s background, especially if you live in an environmentally fragile area like the Eastern Shore.
It is not likely that Mr. Kennedy’s presidential aspirations will go far. He has too much baggage. The Kennedy political dynasty is dead. Whatever benefit RFK Jr. will get from his famous name and looking a lot like his tragically assassinated father will be offset by the public reading about his attack on Dr. Fauci. (I say reading about his attacks on Fauci rather than reading the book because the fewer copies of The Real Dr. Fauci that make it into circulation, the better.)
I dream of a young, honest, Democrat emerging to take the baton from Joe Biden and carrying out his work on the environment, social justice, and a lot more. Ideally, someone will emerge who has had a career in environmental law similar to RFK, Jr’s. With that background, the new leader of the party may be able to put the fight against climate change where it should be—at the top of our national priorities.
I despair of such a candidate coming forward. Remember the presidential campaign of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee? He thought he could build a campaign on a foundation of fighting climate change. Even progressive Democrats walked away, preferring candidates highlighting “more immediate” policy proposals, like free college or just getting Donald Trump out of the White House.
I will follow Kennedy’s campaign once he formally announces he is in the race later this month. I hope he will highlight his work on the environment rather than his work in attacking a man who, by promoting vaccines, may have saved my life. Maybe he can get other 2024 candidates to start taking climate change more seriously.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, birds, and other subjects.