A 'Kennedy' in name only takes conspiracy theories to a new level

Berl Falbaum

In the more than six decades that I have been writing about politics, I have come across all kinds of reasons why people and organizations endorse politicians.

Some are true believers in the policies of their chosen ones. Others hope to reap benefits as a result of their support. Still others select a favorite simply because they are the lesser of two evils.

But never, in all the years, have I encountered someone endorse a political candidate whose policies they detest and whom they believe is a “crank.”

That is until I read a piece recently by none other than Bret Stephens, the conservative political columnist at the venerable New York Times.

Discussing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s challenge to Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, Stephens wrote:

“…I find myself in the weird position of cheering a candidate whose politics I detest and whose grip of reality I question...Kennedy is a crank.”

Yep, he wants a man to be president whose polices he just doesn’t differ with but detests, who is a weirdo and does not have all his marbles.

For this kind of incisive political commentary, Stephens gets paid, according to a couple of Internet sites, some $250,000 a year. I need to have a talk with my editors.

I literally reread Stephens’s endorsement several times to assure myself that I fully understood Stephens’s embrace of a man he detests, who has lost a grip on reality and who is a crank.

To make sure readers understand the total “crankiness” of RFK Jr., Stephens cites some of his beliefs, including the following:

Kennedy believes that the CIA killed his uncle (JFK) and possibly his father, Bobby; George Bush stole the 2004 election (from John Kerry) and COVID vaccines are a self-enrichment scheme perpetrated by Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci.

While posturing himself as an ardent defender of the First Amendment, Kennedy also believes that corporations who deny climate change should be subject to the death penalty. (The New Yorker magazine called his beliefs “nutball theories” and Newsweek columnist Robert B. Reich who served in the Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama administrations labeled him a right-wing nut case.)

In an “exclusive” interview with us, Kennedy reportedly was ecstatic about the Stephens column, never imagining he would win an endorsement from anyone at The Times.  He gave us following statement:

“I want to thank Mr. Stephens for his support. I am very grateful. I do not take this endorsement lightly or for granted. I promise Mr. Stephens that should I win, I will govern with policies that he will truly hate. They will be so detestable that the hate he feels now for my politics will feel like love. Mr. Stephens will be able to write a column that I am one politician who keeps his promises. So, I don’t lose his support, I will never advocate a policy with which he agrees.”

Then he added, “I also want to mention another cranky position I have which Mr. Stephens should know about. I don’t believe John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln. An actor, Booth jumped on the stage to protest not getting a part in the play.

“It was all a plot by the CIA and FBI. People don’t believe these agencies existed at the time. They did. That was how good they were. Even the president, did not know about them.

“Finally, I want to assure Mr. Stephens that I will appoint only cranks to my administration. I may even run potential appointees by him for approval. If he has a suggestion for a running mate, I ask him to send those to me. I will consider them even if he only dislikes their politics and are removed just slightly from reality.”

We contacted The Times, which obviously approved publication of Stephens’s insights, and in a press release, the paper stated:

“We are very proud of Bret Stephens. He has struck a blow for broad-mindedness. People who have problems recognizing reality and are cranks or weirdos are important constituencies. They deserve representation from one of their own and have their day on our editorial pages.

“Moreover, we applaud our columnists for opening their hearts and minds. We commend their courage. Even candidates with “reality” problems deserve a seat at the political table. (We do agree that, should these candidates win, the man carrying the football with the nuclear codes needs a heads up).

“We also want to take the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to bringing you nothing but the best political journalism and thinking in the country.”


Berl Falbaum is a veteran political columnist and author of 12 books.