“You’ve got yourself an unconfirmable nominee”

The buzz about a possible seat in the Cabinet for hothead scion and anti-vaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. continues with a second article in Politico, this time shifting the speculation to the Environmental Protection Agency and citing “Democratic officials” who claim Obama is “strongly considering” RFK, Jr. for that post (Mike Allen, “Obama considers stars for Cabinet”, Nov. 5; earlier). Tim Noah at Slate shouts a timely “don’t”:

Environmental Protection Agency or Interior Department. Do not hire Robert Kennedy Jr. He’s too partisan and kind of a nut when it comes to policy. Check out this dangerously alarmist 2005 Rolling Stone piece about the purported link between autism and childhood vaccines. (To learn why Kennedy’s piece was alarmist, see “Sticking Up for Thimerosal” by Arthur Allen in Slate, August 2005.) Throw in Kennedy’s 1983 heroin bust, and you’ve got yourself an unconfirmable nominee.

(“The Uncabinet”, Nov. 5). Jonathan Adler @ Volokh, frequent vaccine-blogger Orac/Respectful Insolence, Jason Zengerle at the New Republic, and Hans Bader @ CEI are all on the case as well. Even David Roberts at GristMill is very far from enthusiastic, to say the least. I said exactly what I thought of Kennedy’s book Crimes Against Nature in a New York Post review, and our tagged posts here provide a lot of background on the celebrity environmentalist.

More: Orac returns with a lengthy, devastating and link-rich second post; Mike Dunford/Questionable Authority (“The politicization of science is bad no matter who does it. It wasn’t just bad when the Republicans were involved. It will be just as bad if it’s a Democrat doing it.”); Eric Berlin (“hope it’s someone’s idea of a bad joke”). And Michael Moynihan, Reason “Hit and Run” (“nutty” pro-Hugo-Chavez rants).


  • Obama might appoint a psychotic blowhard totalitarian thug like RFK Jr?

    It is going to be a very, very long 4 to 8 years.

  • “I inserted the needle but I never injected. I have no idea how all that China-White got in to my luggage…honest officer, after all, I’m a Kennedy.”

  • It’s not quite thirty-six hours after the tv people called the election and already I’ve heard the talking heads all over the political spectrum lay out the details of the next eight years. Might I suggest we wait until he actual does something like that before we have apoplexy?


  • “Might I suggest we wait until he actual does something like that before we have apoplexy?”

    Where’s the fun in that?

    Besides, that type of rational thinking would bankrupt the prophets of doom and the last thing we need is more unemployment.

  • Oh, great, Orac has lots of links! I wonder how many of them are based on the original rumor?

    That’s confirmation, all right, quoting someone who is quoting you without attribution.


  • >Oh, great, Orac has lots of links! I wonder how many of them are based on the original rumor?

    Well, you could try reading his post and seeing. You would find that most of his links are to idiocies committed by RFK Jr. well before election day, and thus could not be based on the rumor. But in any case what’s wrong with documenting, as Orac does, that the new cabinet rumors are provoking jubilation in some leading quarters of anti-vaccine crankery? That’s a data point some might wish to consider.

  • Sigh. A reasonable reply, Walter, but after the election I am exhausted and prefer to see what President-elect Obama does, rather than pay much attention to what the talking heads say he will do.


  • Bob, for all we know the Obamaites are floating the Junior rumors to surface opposition so they don’t have to nominate him for anything.

  • […] Obama aides have suggested Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for Secretary of Interior.  But legal commentator Walter Olson calls him “America’s most irresponsible public figure” for scaring parents into not getting their children vaccinated for diseases, and labeling those who disagree with him as traitors.  Even the liberal publication Slate describes Kennedy as “too partisan and kind of a nut.” […]

  • OTOH serious ‘net discussions about potential candidates for Obama’s minions, their failings and positives, might attract more mainstream coverage and could result in a person being added or left off the final list. Vetting is an art not a science, and thanks to the first amendment we can all still be critics, at least for now, until Pelosi has her way with it.

    The only battle you can’t win is the one you didn’t fight. There’s still a war going on out there. And I’m not talking about Iraq.

  • Obama may not nominate RFK. And there is no issue.

    But if he is nominated there is no reason to think he can’t be confirmed. The GOP can fume or convulse but the Democrats have the power.

    Politics is complex. RFK might be nominated as a sacrifice with Obama intending that confirmation fail.

    Or Obams might nominate him as a signal that the Democrats will do exactly as they wish.

  • > Or Obams might nominate him as a signal that the Democrats will do exactly as they wish.

    If Obama does do that, then any damage to his administration caused by RFK, Jr. will be his fault and his alone.

  • […] I’ve got a new opinion column just out at Forbes.com on the reports that president-elect Obama may be considering America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure®, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier this week I posted on the topic here and here. […]

  • […] Walter Olson also discusses the possible appointment of RFK, Jr., to be EPA Administrator or Interior Secretary, despite having espoused crackpot theories about autism being caused by vaccines, and calling his critics traitors, and being described even by liberal journalists as “kind of a nut.” […]