Op-Ed:”This Endorsement Stinks”

1 12 2007

We present below a very provocative editorial from DailyKos and Op-Ed News regarding Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign this week.

While the author is clearly an RFK Jr. fan and takes care to choose his words carefully, he doesn’t mince them, either. After all, how much clearer than “this endorsement stinks” does one have to be in order to get the point across? Yikes!

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Disappoints

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

RFK, Jr. has disappointed millions of liberals, progressives and environmentalists by endorsing Hillary Clinton.RFK, Jr. once said: “the Republicans are 95 percent corrupt and the Democrats are 75 percent corrupt.”  This has been widely quoted because of its honest assessment of the corrupt two-party system.

He has also pointed out: “While communism is the control of business by government, fascism is the control of government by business.  …The biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power.  …our most visionary political leaders have warned the American public against the domination of government by corporate power. That warning is missing in the national debate right now. Because so much corporate money is going into politics, the Democratic Party itself has dropped the ball. They just quash discussion about the corrosive impact of excessive corporate power on American democracy.”

Those these statements were made some time ago, a few days ago on November 28 he talked about the impact of industry on environmental agencies: “It’s been a revolving door of plunder.”  Kennedy saved special scorn for “the negative and indolent press of this country,” which he said has become controlled by corporate interests in the last 20 years.  

“Americans have become the best-entertained, least-informed people on earth,” Kennedy said.  He also said five companies control 80 percent of newspapers and almost all radio, and those corporations are not in business to tell news thoroughly or fairly.  “The only ideology they represent is their own pockets,” Kennedy said.  So his criticism of the corporate plutocracy seems as strong as ever.

Such honest views of the sad state of America have made Kennedy the darling of many people – liberals, progressives and environmentalists. But the news yesterday was that this esteemed honest liberal has endorsed the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  

Now he says: “Hillary Clinton has the strength and experience to bring the war in Iraq to an end and reverse the potentially devastating effects of global warming.  …Hillary will inspire the real change America needs.”

Kennedy said he feels “very uncomfortable” about the amount of corporate money flowing into Clinton’s campaign, “But I also think you can’t come into this race with one arm tied behind your back.”  

How’s that for convenient rationalization?

In examining media coverage of Kennedy’s endorsement of Clinton I could find no references to his earlier critical remarks of Democrats. 

But people commenting on the New York Times article often were aghast at his endorsement, noting that it would have made much more sense for him to endorse Obama or Edwards.  Bloggers, so far, have also not been critical of the Kennedy endorsement.  The progressive community seems frozen by self-delusion.

Here is my take: Hillary Clinton represents the worst of the Democratic contenders.  She is totally committed to take all the corporate money she can get.  She really is a hawk when it comes to the Iraq war and even voted the wrong way recently when it comes to Iran.  She is incredibly dishonest and phony.  The reason why there are millions of Hillary haters is that she inspires distrust.  

A Hillary presidency would pursue corporate globalization and the terrible trade policies of her husband that has done so much to destroy America’s middle class.  Her views on universal health coverage do not seem focused on getting rid of all the insurance industry involvement.

Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary just shows how the status quo political establishment can rig the system to get what it wants.  What has Bobby been promised?  Head of the US EPA?  Support for replacing Hillary in the Senate?  Who knows?  But his endorsement stinks and puts a big blemish on his credibility and reputation. 

Authors Bio: Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government (www.delusionaldemocracy.com). His current political writings have been greatly influenced by working as a senior staffer for the U.S. Congress and for the National Governors Association. He advocates a Second American Revolution, beginning with an Article V Convention to propose constitutional amendments.

COMMENTS ON THIS STORY:

posted by MsTweetie
When Is The LameStream Media Going To Wake UP!

RFK, Jr. isn’t the only one who disappoints in their endorsements.  Are the Clinton’s so bought and paid for by huge neocon-run corporations that the teflon on them is hermetically sealed?  And why is it that every major news operation won’t dig into Clinton’s inappropriate fundraising tactics that go back to when she was running for Senator?!  I am livid that the politicians are not really “elected” anymore.  That was obvious during the last Presidential election (if not the one before that also. “

Richard Mynick     I totally agree with your assessment of RFK’s comments –ie, with how deeply disappointing they are, in view of his earlier track record for candor regarding the 2 parties, & the corporate plutocracy. His earlier comments, in fact, could be applied with perfect accuracy to a phony sellout like Hillary, on the take from the corporatocracy.When I saw the headline about his Hillary endorsement, I groaned aloud.”

Christie     So disappointed RFK Jr. that you have sold out.I am sure you have engraved on your heart the statement. “ I dream of things that never were and ask why not?” As you remember who said that inspiring statement, I wish that you would speak words of support for someone who also dreams of things that have never been, such as Kucinich, who talks about a  Department of Peace — something that has never been.You are aware, of course that he also speaks strongly against the Iraq war, certainly not someone who supports its indefinite continuance. You hopefully are aware that presidential candidate Christopher Dodd promises his first action as president would be to restore the Constitution. And I trust you realize that the Constitution has been shredded under Bush/Cheney. How can you endorse a presidential candidate who supports continuation of the war and refers not at all to the freedoms we have lost — to refresh your memory with a couple of big ones: habeus corpus and the Geneva Conventions. What has your endorsed candidate said about these things?More comments on the DailyKos article:

She got a tepid A from Grist – but the real tell that she is not good at all on the environment was during an environmental debate a couple weeks ago she was only willing to go for “incremental change.” That says she doesn’t get climate change at all – an inconvenient truth indeed.

Hillary is the establishment candidate.

by voltayre

Which is why I’m surprised.

I haven’t, though, changed my opinion of him.

by Terre

This apple fell miles from that particular tree.  RFK was no saint but his son here is kind of a nut sometimes.  And if the Democrats are 75 percent corrupt — not really much to pick from if the GOP is at 95 — why stay in the party?  Be a full-fledged green and tell us how there’s no difference. Better yet, tell it to the Iraq War dead.  

Hillary: the GOP’s Only Hope

Much like Gen. Wesley Clark, or Amb. Joe Wilson, RFKjr loses some credibility with me. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo at time we need bold leadership to undo the damage done by the Bushies. Corporations and lobbyists LOVE Hillary Clinton.

But, he has the right to endorse whomever he wants and even though all three of the above have lost some credibility, I can still respect what they all have done in the past.

by lams712

Sorry you’re disappointed but I think your assertion that he was somehow bribed by the Clinton campaign is over the line and extremely disrespectful.

by phoenixdreamz

RFK Jr is not an ambitious guy.  He could have run for major elective office and won at virtually any point in the last 25 years, but has chosen the vital and thankless task of progressive activism instead.

by Matisyahu

In Order to Be Disappointed, It is first necessary to have expectations.

The only expectations I have of any Kennedy are that they are likely to have a sense of entitlement, a substance abuse problem, a tendency toward promiscuity, and a need to be seen as having done well by doing good in public, along with a willingness to cut the most odious imaginable deals in private.

Those aren’t even necessarily bad things.

I don’t expect to take cues from any Kennedy as to how to deal with my own sense of entitlement, substance abuse problems, tendencies toward promiscuity, needs to be seen as having done well by doing good in public, or my willingness to cut the most odious imaginable deals in private. For one thing, they can afford better lawyers than I can, and that alone makes a great deal of difference.

by greenskeeper

I thought it was a great endorsement for Clinton II, but f*g bizarre by Jr.. I cannot describe how dumbfounded I was to read it, given his policy positions.

Clearly Obama suits his good government ideas.

Clearly Edwards suits his clearing out the corporatist agenda

Clearly Kucinich suits his healthcare position

I just don’t get it…

But good on Clinton II.

by CeeusBeeus

bizarre by Jr, I just don’t get it

Agreed. I’ve been listening to his Ring of fire broadcasts from Air America Radio every Saturday for years, and he’s always slamming “Corporate Toadies” and “Corporate Lap-dogs”, then he endorses one for president. Of course on the other hand, now that I look back on his interview with “His cousin Arnold” he had a few months back when he called him Arnold a Liberal, it all makes sense. I think I’m going to take what RFK Jr says with a grain of salt from now on.

by William Domingo

Disappointing but not surprising.

The insider’s guide to power in America: A few political families, the Bushes and Clintons and the vast power of big oil shares it. Democrats tend to ignore the fact that it was the Clinton administration that approved the Exxon/Mobil and BP/Amoco mergers.  Those vertically integrated monoliths have led us into national interest wars over their oil and their profits, paid for by the lives of too many and trillions in tax dollars. It is one thing to acknowlege the Halliburton/Cheney relationship.  It is another to sadly realize that a Democratic president paved the way. A two party system limits choices.  A two family system is just short of the end of our democratic process.  

by Wally in Miami

 

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12 responses

1 12 2007
The Political News You Need to Know » Op-Ed:”This Endorsement Stinks”

Added this to our blog also – thanks!

[…] Read the rest of this great post here […]

http://74.54.128.2/~rpreston/?p=34418

1 12 2007
Preston

What’s he angling for? The Senate seat? Sec’y of the interior? EPA head? Attorney general?

Or how about Clinton/Kennedy `08?

1 12 2007
Edward

Has Kennedy lost his mind?

I just don’t understand this endorsement. It’s totally bizarre.

1 12 2007
Chrisy

I think a lot of us are disappointed in Bobby’s endorsement of Clinton. I am not a mind reader and I can’t look into Bobby’s mind to understand the reasons which are valid to him. He has a right to support and endorse whoever he wants without harsh judgement from me. I have a right to support and vote for the person I want to vote for too. It is called a free society.

Saying this, Bobby’s endorsement will have no effect on how I vote. I do not vote for lesser of two evils. I will not be voting for Clinton period. No ands ifs and buts about it. I think she is the worst choice. I don’t think it is right to have just two families switch back and forth and I want new blood. I also think it is time for an outsider to come and take office that hasn’t forgotten what the reality is for American people. I also want a leader of this country who is not bought and paid for because they have taken so much PAC money. She has taken much more than the other Democratic Candidates. I like Edwards better than Hillary. Edwards won’t get the nomination so in the general I will be writing someone in.

In my heart I feel that Bobby is the best person to be at the helm of this country. He is who I am going to write in the general election.

1 12 2007
Bill

Looks like all the Hillary-haters now have someone new to hate on.

1 12 2007
Chrisy

Bill, I don’t think that is a true statement at all.

I don’t like Hilary, but I have defended Bobby’s right to endorse, support, campaign, and vote for who he likes without harsh judgement from anyone. I believe in a free society.

I have not bashed Bobby. Yes there are people who are unhappy with his choice, but I disagree with you that now they taking out their frustrations on Bobby for supporting Hilary.

1 12 2007
Iran Blog Archives

I agree with what the writer says in his piece about Hillary and why she is not well liked.

[…] Op-Ed:”She really is a hawk when it comes to the Iraq war and even voted the wrong way recently when it comes to Iran. She is incredibly dishonest and phony. The reason why there are millions of Hillary haters is that she inspires distrust.” […]

1 12 2007
JFKStillMatters

In politics, nothing is accidental. (Didn’t FDR say that?)

Speaking of FDR, readers of Kennedy family history will remember a situation similar to this happened in 1932, when Bobby’s grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy, campaigned for Roosevelt (and raised a LOT of money) in hopes of securing a cabinet position.

After his election victory, FDR dangled this carrot in front of Mr. Kennedy for two more years…but never gave him the promised cabinet post (Kennedy had wanted Sec’y of the Treasury) until finally, in 1934, FDR appointed JPK as chair of the newly-formed securities and Exchange Commission.

After the 1936 election, Kennedy became head of the maritime Commission and at last was given the Ambassadorship to Great Britain in 1937, a career move that proved disastrous as the US moved closer to war. Mr. Kennedy took an strong anti-war stance, resulting in his public downfall and crushing his hopes of a future run for the presidency himself.

Kennedy’s public image was ruined by rumours that he was a Nazi appeaser in the press. JPK always blamed FDR for planting these rumours on purpose to hurt his credibility when the 1940 election came around and many in the USA were trying to draft Kennedy to run against his “old friend” FDR. (It is important to note that in 1940, the majority of Americans were opposed to fighting in WWII, which they considered “europe’s war” — and they were looking for an anti-war candidate to challenge FDR.)

On the eve of the 1940 election, under pressure from the White House, Joseph Kennedy reversed his position and gave a landmark speech (broadcast coast-to-coast via radio) urging all Americans to give their votes to FDR. This sudden flip-flop enraged Kennedy’s supporters, who accused him of capitulating and compromising his principles. But the tactic worked – FDR was elected to a third term just 4 days later – and Kennedy’s speech was a major factor in swinging undecided voters over to the FDR column at the last minute. Although Kennedy did what he had to do for his party and his president, he later admitted that he deeply regretted making the speech (understandable after he lost one of his sons in the war and almost lost another) because, as he feared, America did enter WWII the following year.

Of course, there are other examples in the Kennedy family history which are more recent. Take for example, JFK bringing Lyndon Johnson onto the ticket as his running mate in 1960 – a smooth move politically (to bring in those much-needed Southern votes), but a provocative move which angered many of his staunchest supporters. JFK/LBJ were hardly a match made in heaven, more like the politicial equivalent of an arranged marriage. And we all know how that worked out.

After JFK’s murder, there was tremendous pressure on Bobby Kennedy to run for president and continue his brother’s work. In early 1964, despite his personal animosity for LBJ, RFK had tried to force Johnson to accept him as his running mate. Johnson eliminated this threat by announcing that none of his cabinet members would be considered for second place on the Democratic ticket. Johnson also became concerned that Kennedy might use his scheduled speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention to create a groundswell of emotion among the delegates to make him Johnson’s running mate; he prevented this by deliberately scheduling Kennedy’s speech on the last day of the convention, after his running mate had already been chosen.

I bring up these examples from the past to give us a bit of perspective on this latest Kennedy maneuver. I also think these examples illustrate the truth in two old sayings:

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

and

“Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it!”

1 12 2007
rfkin2008

Good post, JFKStillMatters! You’ve obviously done your homework!

I will submit one small correction: although the quote about “nothing in politics is accidental” has been attributed to FDR, it was Joseph P. Kennedy who actually coined the phrase, according to documents at the JFK Library.

Hope you don’t mind, but I cross-posted your insightful comments from our blog to a thread that is currently running on Democratic Underground regarding RFK Jr.’s endorsement of Clinton. The discussion got pretty interesting, thought you might like to read it:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132×3778356

1 12 2007
rfkin2008

Yes, the Kennedy/Roosevelt dynamic is fascinating. …once you start reading up on that twisted tale, you soon find that you can’t get enough of it! What a soap opera!

If you’re curious to learn more, I’d recommend a book called “Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy”, compiled by his granddaughter Amanda Smith. It gives an insight into the real Joe Kennedy through his letters, diplomatic dispatches, notes, diaries, and other materials which have never before been published.

The book certainly paints a very different picture of old Joe than what we’ve read in the newspapers…very different indeed. But then again, anyone who questioned the lead-up to war in those days was labeled as “pro-Nazi” or a Chamberlain-esque appeaser (incidentally, Kennedy and Neville Chamberlain were close friends and allies in the cause of peace) and got the “Lindbergh treatment” in the press.

Which rather reminds me of an event in recent history…shortly after 9/11, when our president told us to support the war on terror because, “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists.” Those who dared to speak out or question got the “Dixie Chicks treatment.”

The lesson we can take away from all this? In politics, sticking to your principles (no matter how much you believe in them) can cost you dear. As old Joe Kennedy and his sons (and grandsons) later learned the hard way, sticking steadfast to your principles can be political suicide. Sad but true. Welcome to Washington.

If RFK Jr. truly want to reach a spot in government where he can make a difference (be it senator, A.G., EPA head, or even president), it’s likely going to take a few backroom deals in order to get there. He may have to get out and stump for a candidate who he does not agree with on everything because he’s got his eye on a bigger prize. The question is -will his base understand and accept this as a political reality and continue to support him?

1 12 2007
JFKStillMatters

thanks for the recommendation – I’ve heard about that book before and it does sound interesting.

i didn’t know it was joe kennedy who said that “nothing in politics is accidental” although it doesnt really surprise me. he coined a lot of memorable phrases. i think he’s also credited with “when the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

i disagree with you somewhat in that while you seem to believe that compromise is a necessary evil in politics, and maybe you’re right, i’m more of the “never compromise” type, like Joe Kennedy was. I guess i’m an idealist, and i too hate to see RFK Jr. compromise his principles to curry political favor with the Clintons.

2 12 2007
rfkin2008

JFKStillMatters, you referenced in your post above the speech Kennedy gave in 1940 which exposed him to charges of “Selling out” among his supporters. Good comparison to make. Reminds me a bit of what’s happening now with the RFK/Clinton fallout.

Kennedy and Lindbergh staked their reputations on opposing America’s entry into WWII. They stood on principle, right or wrong. Both of them were publicly humiliated and scorned for this, and reversed their position after Pearl Harbor to help the war effort:

“In this time of great crisis all Americans are with you. Name the battle post. I am yours to command.”

— JPK telegram to President Roosevelt after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 1941

Still, Kennedy (a lifelong pacifist who also opposed U.S. entry into WWI) privately continued to hold onto his true belief – the belief that destroyed him politically – that America should not intervene in foreign wars unless we were directly attacked. Even when publicly endorsing FDR for a third term in that now-infamous radio speech, Kennedy again stated his reasons for opposing American involvement in the war:

“After all, my wife and I have given nine hostages to fortune. Our children and your children are more important than anything else in the world. The kind of America that they and their children will inherit is of grave concern to us all.”

— JPK Radio address of October 29, 1940.

(This controversial speech is something every student of history or political science should read – it is available at the JFK Library in Boston in Box 157 of the Joseph P. Kennedy Papers, and is also reprinted on page 482 of the Amanda Smith book, “Hostages to Fortune.” )

Watching his father’s fall from grace had a tremendous impact on young JFK, who learned well the lesson of compromise without sabotaging one’s self or core beliefs. JFK often called himself “an idealist without illusions,” (a very apt description) and a great deal of this philosophy no doubt comes from being Joe Kennedy’s son.

In later years, the former Ambassador gave a statement which is very telling as to how he rasied his children:

“The generation that follows me many have to stand for everything that I stood against – and I realize that includes my own sons. I made my choice among philosophies offered when I was young. Each of them will have to make his or her choice.”

— Quoted in Joseph F. Dineen, The Kennedy Family, 1959.

And so it appears that RFK Jr. has made his own choice.

If his grandfather were here today, he would probably disagree on principle, but Joe would respect Bobby Jr.’s choice and continue to love and support him as ever.

Perhaps once they recover from the shock of the Clinton endorsement, RFK Jr.’s supporters will come to that same conclusion. One hopes.

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