By Scott Ritter
….Bobby then made the only choice possible if he was going to be a viable candidate for President in 2024—he declared himself as an independent.
This should have been a huge event, the very act that would separate him from both Democrats and Republicans, thereby liberating him to become a third center of gravity which, through the strength of Bobby’s personality and integrity, could start to steal voters from the orbits of the two major parties. The announcement was scheduled for October 9, in Philadelphia.
On October 7, Hamas launched its attack on Israel.
“This ignominious, unprovoked, and barbaric attack on Israel must be met with world condemnation and unequivocal support for the Jewish state’s right to self-defense,” Bobby posted on X that same day. “We must provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself—now. As President, I’ll make sure that our policy is unambiguous so that the enemies of Israel will think long and hard before attempting aggression of any kind. I applaud the strong statements of support from the Biden White House for Israel in her hour of need. However, the scale of these attacks means it is likely that Israel will need to wage a sustained military campaign to protect its citizens. Statements of support are fine, but we must follow through with unwavering, resolute, and practical action. America must stand by our ally throughout this operation and beyond as it exercises its sovereign right to self-defense.”
Bobby Kennedy announces his candidacy in the 2024 Presidential election as an independent
The anti-war candidate, whose stance regarding peace and diplomacy was the telling difference between his Democratic and Republican competitors, had just defined himself as a pro-war leader.
I pointed this out in a response to Bobby’s post. “I like RFKJr,” I wrote. “I think he’s the best choice for POTUS. He’s positioned himself as the peace candidate. And this is the tweet I fear may have sunk his chances. Israel’s policies regarding Palestine are indefensible. Bobby should be promoting an equitable peace settlement. Not war.”
Bobby had one last chance to salvage his candidacy—his high-profile announcement on October 9.
He blew it.
Rabbi Rabbi Shmuley Boteach introduced Bobby by calling for a moment of silence for the Israeli victims. Then Bobby proceeded to say nothing—nothing—about the single most pressing issue of the day. This was his chance to weigh in on the side of peace, to promote the very peace and diplomacy message he articulated back in June.
He was silent, instead letting Rabbi Boteach speak on his behalf after the announcement.
And speak he did.
Dismissing criticism from Jewish groups that Bobby had not addressed the Hamas-Israeli conflict, Boteach said that his—Boteach’s—involvement in the October 9 event defined Kennedy’s stance toward Israel. “I think that was very brave of him and showed tremendous solidarity that he asked a rabbi who’s his close friend. You know, he moved away from the political figures who could have introduced him and endorsed him. The fact that I’m the one that introduced him, I think said it all.”
Former CIA officer-turned Kennedy campaign manager, Amarillys Fox Kennedy
Five days later, on October 14, Bobby removed Dennis Kucinich as his campaign manager, replacing the veteran politician with a political neophyte—Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, Bobby’s daughter-in-law, and a former CIA clandestine officer.
I count Dennis as a friend. We’ve known each other for decades, ever since he invited me to testify in Congress about President George W. Bush’s flawed claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. I supported Dennis in his own bid for the presidency, back in 2000, and have for the past several years had the honor of serving with him on a prestigious advisory board where we provide our opinions on matters pertaining to geopolitics. Dennis’ hand could be felt in Bobby’s powerful Peace and Diplomacy speech. Sadly, the same could not be said of Bobby’s stance on Israel—Dennis had spent his political life defending the rights of Palestinians in the face of Israeli oppression. While both Dennis and the Kennedy campaign have been silent as to the reasons behind the precipitous firing, smart money says that the Israeli issue played a major factor in the decision.
“Not a good look,” I posted on X. “At a time when America should be excited about Kennedy’s independent run, his indefensible support of Israel is sinking his campaign. He is not only failing to gain any traction, but also bleeding support from a critical base of potential supporters—those Americans who bought into his rhetoric of peace.”
The results of the Israeli bombing of Gaza, October 2023
Bobby’s commitment to peace and diplomacy is what made him viable as a presidential candidate where his two likely opponents were on record supporting Israel without question.
Bobby could have followed in his uncle’s path, advocating that all Americans walk in the shoes of the Palestinian people to better understand their grievances and, in doing so, be better positioned to come up with a fair and equitable peace based on diplomacy, not war.
Bobby did not and has not. His appointment of Amaryllis Fox Kennedy bodes poorly for the future. I will continue to applaud Bobby for his stance on Russia and disarmament. But until he fundamentally changes course on Israel, I can’t in good faith claim to support his candidacy. If his name gets on the ballot, I may end up voting for him as the lesser evil, but that is not high praise.
America deserves better.
The world deserves better.
The people of Palestine deserve better.
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