Robert F. Kennedy Jr. needs protection
What is happening with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign for the presidency? Well, he is running second behind President Biden, but I am counting on Bobby to make a race of it with the old boy.
Joe has plenty of name recognition thanks to his son Hunter and other unsavory members of his family, though he is not yet doing much campaigning. There is nothing new there. He rarely campaigned in 2020.
As for Bobby, he has plenty of name recognition on the campaign trail thanks to a raft of brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts. Even Bobby’s grandfather made a name for himself, and none of his relatives gained their name recognition by felony charges, though the youngest of his uncles came close in that automobile incident at Chappaquiddick.
If anything, Bobby has already beaten Joe with name recognition. Now Bobby has to get out the vote.
Do not be surprised if he does. He is an attractive candidate, and I find him politically smart. He is already creeping up on an issue that he should be able to monopolize: polarization. He ought to be able to appeal to both sides of the aisle or both ends of the political spectrum.
It is often forgotten that his father was appealing to both ends of the political spectrum back in 1968 before a coward ambushed him in what historians claim as the first act of terrorism against an American politician. I well remember a headline than ran in The New York Times on April 28, 1968: “Kennedy: Meet the Conservative.” The Times was not alone.
It is quite a coincidence that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. should be running for president in 2023. Back in 1968, his father gave me the title for my memoirs that have just been published. I will be talking about it for years. I carried the title with me for decades. That is what I call prescience.
The title is “How Do We Get Out of Here? Half a Century of Laughter and Mayhem at The American Spectator — From Bobby Kennedy to Donald J. Trump.” There is plenty of laughter and mayhem in my memoirs, though there is no laughter or mayhem in how Robert F. Kennedy Sr. gave me the title for this book.
In 1968, I was the only person standing behind the curtains at a speech he gave at the Indiana University auditorium. When he finished the speech, he burst through the curtains and, encountering me, he said, “How do we get out of here?”
I rose to the occasion and led the presidential candidate first to the right, then to the left, the right and then the left. Alas, I was hopelessly lost. Finally, we found his waiting car, whereupon I suffered an inspiration.
When he extended his hand to thank me, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a “Reagan for President” button. He looked down at it and laughed. I looked down at it and laughed. America had yet to become polarized.
The next time I saw Bobby Kennedy, only weeks later, he was lying on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He was bleeding to death. Polarization in America had begun.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. might bring us together. He has been campaigning vigorously. Yet he has some expenses others do not have. He has to hire his own security force because the Department of Homeland Security has denied him protection.
“I have determined that Secret Service protection for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not warranted at this time,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
The government, recalling the fate of Martin Luther King, provided security for then-Sen. Barack Obama when he ran for president. But what about the fates of John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby? Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has already made two failed requests for assistance with his security costs, which are reaching 30% of his campaign’s expenses.
I am told that the White House has received requests from members of the Kennedy family. So far, they have gotten no satisfactory reply.
People around the candidate think it is exigent for him to have Secret Service protection now. Time could be running out. Last week, there was a credible threat to his life. A armed man carrying a fake U.S. marshal badge showed up at one of Mr. Kennedy’s campaign appearances. What will happen if another crazed assailant with a gun is successful?
Will Mr. Mayorkas say, “Look, we saved the government of the United States millions of dollars”?
Glory to Ukraine!
• R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism,” published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His memoirs, “How Do We Get Out of Here: Half a Century of Laughter and Mayhem at The American Spectator — From Bobby Kennedy to Donald J. Trump,” have been published by Post Hill Press and can be ordered online from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.