A Kennedy in the Cabinet?

Politico reports that President-elect Barack Obama is considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the post of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. A prior report suggested RFK was an early candidate for Secretary of the Interior. Tapping RFK Jr. for either post would be a profound mistake, and would almost certainly provoke a bitter confirmation fight.

RFK Jr. became something of a spokesperson for the environmental movement with his celebrity name and strident attacks on the Bush Administration's environmental policies. While some of the criticism was warranted, RFK's assaults were factually challenged, and only got worse over time. In 2002 he charged factory farms were a greater threat to the nation than Osama bin Laden, and in 2004 said of the media, "They should all drink poison Kool-Aid and restore integrity to their profession." He's also embraced unscientific allegations of a vaccine-autism link and charges the GOP stole the 2004 election.

President-elect Obama is certainly entitled to a cabinet that will support his policy agenda. When it comes to EPA and Interior, Obama can do much better than RFK Jr.

UPDATE: RFK Jr. also makes Tim Noah's preliminary list of "key appointments Obama should resist."

SECOND UPDATE: RFK Jr.'s a Chavista too.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Is RFK Jr. Just "Too Controversial"?
  2. A Kennedy in the Cabinet?
Rod Blaine (mail):
Wel,, yes, if you're thinking policy and competence. But... a Kennedy! Linking Obamalot to Camelot! The symbolism, Jonathan, the symbolism! No contest.
11.5.2008 11:42pm
If he wants a Kennedy, or the next best thing, how about the husband of Teddy's niece Maria? He has some political experience, and would be perfect for Secretary of Defense.
11.5.2008 11:49pm
Rod Blaine (mail):
"Not McCain, But McBain!"
11.5.2008 11:56pm
Lots of reports pointing to Robert Sussman, also.
11.5.2008 11:57pm
At least we can look forward to the "Heckuva job, Bobby" line sometime in the next four years.

The guy is not real stable.

On the other hand, Obama's buddy dedicated a book to the guy who killed his dad. Maybe he's owed one.
11.6.2008 12:07am
Paul Milligan (mail):
He's going to bring in the Chicago machine ( Ram Emanuel et al ), Jesse Jr's going to the Senate to replace him, hell, he'll probably have Rev Wright giving opening bendictions in the Senate. Or Pfleger. Or Otis Moss.

He's going to bring every left-wing radical nut-job he can. Ogiltree at Justice, etc etc. And the Dems in the Senate will push them through.

We're screwed.
11.6.2008 12:07am
Jeff Boghosian (mail):
Is this what he said about factory farming?

"Factory farms are more dangerous for our lifestyle and democracy than Osama bin Laden and global terrorism"

Still doesn't make sense...neither are a threat to the democracy and neither have any great effect on our lifestyle. So it may not mean that he thinks factory farming it will kill more people than bin Laden, but point taken that he may not be the best choice.

fwiw, here's more:

"A few years ago I gave a speech a group of 1,200 farmers in Clear Lake, Iowa, and I said that I am more frightened of these large multinationals than I am of Osama bin Laden. I got a standing ovation from all the farmers in the room, but I got six months of abuse from the farm bureau." Kennedy recalled. "I stand by what I said. It's the same thing that Teddy Roosevelt said, that our country was too strong and too committed to ever be destroyed by a foreign enemy, but our democratic institutions would be subverted by what he called "malefactors of great wealth," who would destroy them from within.
11.6.2008 12:10am
Cold Warrior:
Strikes me as a bit of ego massaging for the Kennedys.

Much more likely: Caroline Kennedy as UN Ambassador.

Obama wouldn't dare bring 2 Kennedys into his inner (well, not really "inner;" this isn't Treasury and AG after all) circle.
11.6.2008 12:18am
I'd be disappointed if Obama selected Kennedy for a major post in his administration, but I'd avoid jumping to any conclusions: the article is remarkably thinly sourced and seems more like a rumor than a real story.
11.6.2008 12:19am
Amzongly, this would be the FIRST Kennedy in a cabinet position.

(Presidents' baby brothers don't count. Especially if LBJ thought they were "little bastards" or "shit eating little runts". Naming no names, of course.)
11.6.2008 12:22am
therut (mail):
I think this Kennedy is the kook of the family. NO way this would be a horrible bad judgement choice. He is anti-science in the leftist kook way.
11.6.2008 12:25am
I would be very surprised if Obama did this. I will think a lot less of him.
11.6.2008 12:37am
Bryan Long:
Well, he wasn't far off about the media, I'll give him that.
11.6.2008 12:39am
James Gibson (mail):
I've always suspected Teddy got him the job with the NRDC to try and control that group (our at least give Ted advanced notice of any new activity). If Obama was to name him to either Interior or EPA he'll regret it within months. And I remind everyone of all the people Clinton brought in with him in 1992- Oleary at Energy, the female surgeon general, etc. How many of Clinton's initial cabinet members survived the first two years.

Thus in truth I hope he gives Robert a job. The high profile leaving in a year would finish the guy for good.
11.6.2008 12:48am
A. Zarkov (mail):
RFK Jr. would be a bad choice. Here he is discussing energy issues with Mike Gallagher. He clearly doesn't understand much about energy economics. It's all about price not supply. For example the Athabasca Oil Sands in Canada could easily produce 170 billion barrels of oil. The US consumes about 20 million barrels of a day of which about 10 million go into refined gasoline. Thus the oil sands could run our whole automobile fleet for 47 years. The oil from ANWAR would run it for about 3 years using the USGS numbers from here. Clearly we do not face a "crisis" from our oil "addiction." Moreover, the world price of oil is extremely sensitive to supply changes. Even a 5% supply change will greatly affect world price according to my friend who analyzes the oil industry for a living.
11.6.2008 1:17am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Whoops here is the link to the discussion with Gallagher.
11.6.2008 1:21am
Cornellian (mail):
I can never keep track of which Kennedy is which in that generation. There are just too many of them.
11.6.2008 3:00am
Kevin P. (mail):
Didn't the Supreme Court rule that the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant?

So RFK Jr. would be in charge of writing the regulations?

Oh, this does not sound good.
11.6.2008 4:06am
Ventrue Capital (mail) (www):
While I disagree with a lot of RFK Junior's views, I believe he's on the right track about the MSM. Yes, the country as a whole would be better off if they all drank poison.
11.6.2008 6:58am
RFK Jr. is an idiot. I wish the Kennedy family would just go away. At least the latest generation of the Rockefellers (I believe the great grandchildren of the oil baron) are just rich spoiled brats who don't get public attention. Liberals, yes. But not annoying rich liberals who want to tell people how bad things are and how they KNOW what to do about it.
11.6.2008 7:36am
Tom B:
Say what you will, but after the past 18 months we know that he was right about the Kool-Aid...
11.6.2008 9:02am
The good Kennedys have been extinct for about 40 years.
11.6.2008 9:42am
So the hand wringing over Obama appointments begins before an actual appointment is made.

And it seems most of the criticisms are based on his name more than his person.

The problem with our oil demand is that it is completely reliant on foreign supply. So even if we aren't near exhaustion of oil our dependence on foreign oil is causing to engage in a really reckless foreign policy.
11.6.2008 9:54am
Hans Bader (mail):
RFK Jr. isn't the only nut who may be appointed by Obama. A lot of Obama's inner circle are nutty.

Deval Patrick has been suggested for the Supreme Court. Ed Whelan looked at Patrick's left-wing record of pushing racial quotas, which drew criticism from even from liberal judges and liberal Senators like Carol Moseley Braun, in National Review's The Corner.

Patrick, who has also been suggested as a potential attorney general, has claimed that speech opposing halfway houses for substance abusers (defined as disabled by the Fair Housing Act) is as unprotected as using "baseball bats" to deny them access to housing.

The ABA Journal predicts that Charles Ogletree will be in charge of civil rights at the Justice Department, despite his controversial remarks blaming America for 9/11 and calling America a racist country. (The National Journal describes Ogletree as a member of Obama's "inner circle." Rush Limbaugh and others describe him as Obama's top adviser on racial issues).

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.

Let's hope better-qualified people actually end up getting these jobs.

(McCain had his own truly stupid advisers, like Martin Feldstein, whose proposal to buy up all the bad loans in America was described by one commentator as "the stupidest idea I've ever heard," and cost McCain the support of the editor of the Arlington Sun-Gazette, one of the few moderate or conservative papers in the Washington, D.C. area. But McCain's advisers are now moot).
11.6.2008 10:23am
I'm a liberal envrionmentalist and R"mercury milita"FK Jr. scares me.
11.6.2008 11:05am
A. Zarkov (mail):
According to his Wikipedia bio, RFK Jr. was convicted of heroin possession in 1983, and criminal trespass in 2001. In his interview with Gallagher, he speaks in a strained manner. Perhaps that's just the way he's always talked, but it does arouse suspicious of substance abuse given his record and distorted thought patterns.
11.6.2008 11:21am

for either post would be a profound mistake, and would almost certainly provoke a bitter confirmation fight.

Why? For all the reasons describing RFK, Jr. as a truly horrible pick -- and several more I could add, having learned them while litigating against the NRDC -- I'd recommend that the Republicans NOT conduct a bitter confirmation fight. Just make sure that in the confirmation hearings that RFK, Jr. is questioned thoroughly in a way so that he hangs his ideas on Obama's "Change we can believe in" slogan, and then say "In the interests of bi-partisan cooperation, although we are concerned about RFK, Jr.'s qualifications and ideas, he's the sort of person that Pres. Obama chooses and we will respect Pres. Obama's choice." Then, let RFK, Jr. go off and be the huge disaster his past indicates he will be. This way Republicans can't be accused of sullying the blessed memory of the martyrs JFK and RFK or picking on Teddy's nephew when Teddy is terminally ill. Instead, make Obama responsible for RFK, Jr., and his failures.
11.6.2008 11:33am
eddiehaskel (mail):
After the levels of incompetence we have endured the last eight years, all you "libertarians" can do is pre-judge someone (on purely ideological terms) and not even do a cursory explanation of how this person would be less competent than the current occupant of the post. Until debate can return to a discussion of facts, there will never be any progress in this country. If government is to accomplish anything, playing these law-school hypothetical ideological moot court debate-club games is simply boring. And in the end a waste of time and resources. If the air you breath is killing you, are you really going to debate with me why your death is necessary to maintain the economic viability of the energy industry?
11.6.2008 11:54am
giovanni da procida (mail):
I'm not going to say whether or not RFK jr. would be more or less competent than the current head of the EPA. But I think it is important to realize that one of the complaints against the Bush administration with regard to agencies such as the EPA is that they have ignored scientific findings in favor of their ideological beliefs.

I know that all administrations ignore scientific findings that they find inconvenient. Yes, Clinton did it too. But the Bush administration has had political appointees rewriting the scientific findings of some of its agencies.
(I have also been told by folks at the EPA that the Bush administration is much worse about political interference than past administrations. This is anecdotal and relies on a small sample size).

For this reason it is important that the heads of those agencies that deal with scientific issues be people who have respect for the scientific evidence, even when it disagrees with their beliefs. Kennedy continues to believe that vaccines cause autism. This is not consistent with the findings of the scientific community. In my mind this belief in "gut feelings" over peer reviewed science make him a less than ideal candidate for EPA head. Why can't we appoint a scientist to head technical agencies as opposed to a lawyer (no offense to lawyers, but how many physicists are in contention to be attorney general?)
11.6.2008 5:15pm
Okay, so what's worng with what he said about the media...that should be a point in his favor shouldn't it?
11.6.2008 7:44pm
According to his Wikipedia bio, RFK Jr. was convicted of heroin possession in 1983

OK. Wow. Even I can't claim that.
11.6.2008 9:44pm