weather icon Clear

SAUNDERS: RFK Jr. rejects ‘spoiler’ label, causes trembling inside beltway

WASHINGTON — At a time when Democrats dismiss MAGA voters as gullible and angry and Republicans see progressives as enemies of law and order, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called for comity. “We need to start listening to each other, even when it’s difficult,” Kennedy told supporters Tuesday.

“We need to sift through the anger,” Kennedy added.

The occasion was Kennedy’s announcement that his running mate would be Nicole Shanahan, a patent attorney and philanthropist who once was married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin. So she has deep pockets.

Kennedy, 70, boasted that he chose Shanahan, 38, because she breaks the mold. She is young. She has never run for office. She shares Kennedy’s skepticism about COVID lockdowns and vaccine mandates. Like Kennedy, she’s a surfer.

Both former Democrats claim that they didn’t leave the party, the Democratic Party left them.

The running-mate announcement was held in Oakland, where Kennedy lived shortly and Shanahan grew up. Her mother immigrated from China and her father dealt with mental health issues. She spoke about growing up poor and depending on food stamps.

Establishment Democrats tell everyone who will listen that Kennedy and Shanahan are “spoilers” — that their candidacy inevitably will throw support away from President Joe Biden and help former President Donald Trump.

If so, that’s what the party gets for pushing the most entrenched but least enticing Democrat in the game.

Shame on big-name Democrats who should have challenged Biden but chose not to. To his credit, Kennedy, who survived the assassinations of both his father and his uncle, stepped into the breach.

Even if you don’t subscribe to Kennedy’s skepticism on vaccines — and I do not — I very much appreciate his willingness to question authority and challenge groupthink on COVID.

Speaking at the Oakland event, Stanford School of Medicine professor Jay Bhattacharya recalled the pressure that was exerted upon epidemiologists who questioned the COVID orthodoxy in 2020, which he likened to the “Orwellian Ministry of Truth.”

An original co-signer of the Great Barrington Declaration, which warned about the unintended consequences of Draconian COVID lockdowns, Bhattacharya was on the receiving end of bureaucrats who leaned on social media platforms to muzzle alternative viewpoints.

Kennedy and Shanahan also believe in border enforcement. Like Biden 2024.

“To be a nation, we need secure borders,” Shanahan said.

Democrats like Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., counter that the Oakland ticket is “dangerous.” In case you missed it, the establishment left sees everyone not in the fold as an existential threat.

A recent statement released by RFK siblings Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and other Kennedys denounced RFK’s candidacy as dangerous as well. To the clan, RFK’s bid is bad news for Biden, but a gift for Trump.

“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,” their statement began.

My opinion of the late Robert F. Kennedy’s son just shot up. Imagine growing up in the kind of family where some of your own careerist sisters and brothers would publicly go after your candidacy because they prefer Biden. And they’re proud of it.

You know who’s probably secretly appalled? Joe Biden.

Contact Review-Journal Washington columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.