History Podcasts

Ask Steve: Robert Kennedy

Ask Steve: Robert Kennedy

In this Ask Steve video clip, Robert Kennedy and the chance that he would have been elected president of the United States if he hadn't been assassinated was discussed. It would have been difficult seeing as the primary's were much different then. He would have needed to get the support from the delegates, since the primary's were for show only.


LifeSite, Ted Cruz, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. challenge COVID totalitarianism

Nazi Rally Frame capture from video "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Int'l. Message for Freedom and Hope " By Steve Jalsevac

December 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) &mdash There has been a massive flood of contradictory and false information being published about the Wuhan virus and the various vaccines that have recently been approved that allegedly prevent infection. And there has been a massive disinformation campaign against several already available, safe, effective, and very inexpensive preventative and &ldquomiracle&rdquo treatment medications for Wuhan infection.

Thankfully, thousands of ethical physicians, scientists, and others are now actively attempting to counter the flood of lies and extremely flawed narratives related to these issues, including,

- false justifications for a now huge increase again in catastrophic, medically and scientifically unnecessary lockdowns

- intense pressure to accept vaccination with the poorly tested, dangerous and never-before-tried mRNA vaccines

- what may likely be an inevitable, devastating loss of fundamental rights and freedoms for those who refuse to be vaccinated

- partly because it is impossible to give fully informed consent to such vaccination because there is inadequate, trustworthy information about its safety and effectiveness.

This has never before happened in history, especially for a virus that is now known to be less dangerous than the common flu, except for those over 70 with certain health issues. And even that category of persons has a very high recovery rate if they receive proper early treatment.

First off, I would encourage you to review my updated, in-depth, December 10 investigative report on 10 actions Trump must take to save us from impending globalist tyranny. It is a long read, but anyone I have talked to who has made the effort to read the document, view the videos, and investigate the links has expressed immense gratitude for having their eyes opened to many aspects about the virus that they had no idea about and which none of the mainstream media have reported.

Patrick Delaney&rsquos explosive December 17 report, What is the real motivation for attempting to vaccinate millions of healthy people?, has also been updated with some amazing additional videos and information to help readers further explore what might be behind the disturbing, world-changing developments related to the Wuhan virus.

The added excerpt from a Children&rsquos Health Defense video regarding the safety of the COVID-19 and all other vaccines is a goldmine of calmly presented questions and facts that I am sure will be greatly appreciated by most who view it.

Both mine and Delaney&rsquos articles and the video below will really help you to understand why Senator Ted Cruz stated the following about the health tyranny that we have all been subjected to the past several months:

&ldquoThis is a bizarre, lunatic, totalitarian cult.

It&rsquos not about vaccines or protecting people&rsquos lives&mdashit is instead profoundly anti-science, and is only focused on absolute govt control of every aspect of our lives.&rdquo

Following is an especially MUST-VIEW, recent presentation by Robert Kennedy, Jr. of Children&rsquos Health Defense. Kennedy&rsquos Message for Freedom and Hope provides a powerful, motivating overview of the &ldquocoup d&rsquoetat&rdquo by powerful international forces whom Kennedy claims &ldquowant to subvert our democracies and want to destroy our sovereignty and our control over our lives and our children&rsquos health.&rdquo

He begins with by stating that his message is being presented

&hellipto thousands of citizens, in 15 countries on all the continents in the world, who have come together today to protest this coup d&rsquoetat &mdash by Big Data, by Big Telecom, by Big Tech, by the big oil and chemical companies, and by this global public health cartel led by Bill Gates and the W.H.O &mdash and now amounts to two trillion dollars and wants to magnify and amplify its wealth and its power over our lives, over our liberties.

Kennedy asks a lot of questions in this video that we may not have thought of, but should all be asking. He stresses the great importance of honest, open debate on the issues of our day and the free flow of information, as opposed to the massive censoring of certain views that we are currently enduring.

He urges everyone to participate in the exchange of information and free debate and tells all of his viewers,

You are on the front lines of the most important battle in history and it is the battle to save democracy, and freedom, and human liberty, and human dignity from this totalitarian cartel that is trying to rob us &ndash simultaneously in every nation in the world &mdash of the rights that every human being is born with.

The founder of Children&rsquos Health Defense ends by announcing that Children&rsquos Health Defense is launching a daily information journal to help to generate that flow of information and debate.

Those are just a few, brief excerpts of statements in the video. I don&rsquot want to post more because it is more important that you watch this great man, who makes it plain that he is willing to give his life for the truth.

Such leadership is a rarity in our great-leader-deprived current world. By watching his presentation, you will most effectively absorb his necessary message to the people of the world. Everyone needs to hear this inspiring oration at this critical time in history.

I must add that LifeSite does not necessarily fully agree with Children&rsquos Health Defense on every issue that they cover, such as climate change and some of their environmental views and possibly more. But on the Wuhan virus, vaccines, and every aspect related to those issues, they have been one of the very best sources of reliable, crucial information to which we should all pay close attention.

And Kennedy and his team obviously deeply care about the harm being experienced by children, the sick, and everyone else from the terrible deeds of the unethical multi-billionaire elites they are exposing. LifeSite has been privileged to be able to publish quite a few articles from this organization for the benefit of our readers.


Caroline Kennedy is an animal lover

The Kennedy clan has long been noted to be a pet-loving family, and Caroline Kennedy is no exception. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum lists more than a dozen pets the family had while in the White House, including several dogs, horses, birds, a cat, two hamsters, and a rabbit. Caroline and her younger brother, John Kennedy Jr., had three ponies, including Macaroni, who was given to Caroline by then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Macaroni became famous in 1962 when she appeared on the cover of LIFE alongside the young Caroline.

Even after the family moved to an apartment in New York, the household was filled with pets. A 12-year-old Caroline excitedly talked about the family pets — which included dogs, guinea pigs, finches, and a garter snake — in an interview with The New York Times. She told the outlet that her favorite thing to do in her free time was to go horseback riding and fox hunting, something the family regularly did on the weekends.


Remembering the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy

“And now it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there,” Senator Robert F. Kennedy triumphantly declared during his speech after a decisive victory in the California Democratic primary on June 5, 1968.

It had become clear that Kennedy would be the Democratic nominee for the 1968 presidential election. He had inspired a generation of young people to get involved in politics and galvanized a Democratic Party still reeling from the loss of his brother President John F. Kennedy five years earlier.

But as Senator Kennedy walked out of the Ambassador Hotel ballroom that night, shots rang out.

Robert Kennedy’s life was tragically lost and a beacon of hope for a generation of young Americans was extinguished. Our nation would be forever changed.

Just two months later, the controversial nomination of Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic candidate at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention sparked several nights of demonstrations and riots.

The convention damaged the trust the Democratic Party built with the American people. Richard Nixon ran a divisive campaign pitting the law-and-order “silent majority” against the riot-plagued Democrats scrambling for unity amidst crisis, and Nixon won the 1968 presidential election.

Richard Nixon’s presidency resulted in more than 30,000 additional American soldiers killed in Vietnam. His war on drugs and the Southern Strategy left inner cities, our young people and the African-American community ravaged for generations. The Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation, shook the country to its core.

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President Kennedy’s legacy and Robert Kennedy’s vision of a more progressive America was shattered on that June 5th night in Los Angeles. At the end of the summer in 1968, Edward Kennedy said in reference to his brothers, “I shall try to carry forward that special commitment to justice, excellence and courage that distinguished their lives.”

America under President Robert Kennedy would have looked very different from the America we knew under President Nixon. Robert Kennedy’s commitment to expanding on his brother’s legacy of justice, excellence and courage was unwavering.

Rather than a Southern Strategy rooted in racism, President Robert Kennedy would have expanded upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. He built a reputation as a strong champion of civil rights and as a fighter for low-income Americans.

Upon learning of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Robert Kennedy informed a predominantly African American audience in Indianapolis of the tragic news. He spoke extemporaneously, reflecting on experiencing assassination in his family. He preached unity and rising above anger and vengeance.

Robert Kennedy also understood the importance of America’s investment in culture, education and science to provide people with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. In contrast, Nixon played to America’s fears and invested in the military industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned us about, and a harsh, punitive criminal justice system.

Finally, Robert Kennedy would have likely ended the war in Vietnam years earlier, saving thousands of lives. Nixon, on the other hand, continued the war for political gain. Kennedy also supported his brother’s policies of nuclear disarmament, diplomacy and restraint.

U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, right, walks through the airport with local attorney and friend John J. Hooker after arriving in Nashville on June 29, 1962. (Photo: Jack Corn / The Tennessean)

America has struggled to recover from the Kennedy assassinations and the resulting Nixon years. The deep racial divides in this country still plague us. The election of Barack Obama rekindled the progressive momentum that John and Robert Kennedy championed.

On the anniversary of the assassination of Senator Kennedy, the modern progressive movement should reflect upon the Kennedy legacy of justice, excellence and courage as we fight another president who threatens our values.

Sometimes we see the elections of presidents as a pendulum that swings back and forth between the parties, ultimately balancing the different viewpoints of voters. But elections are more like ripples in the water with effects that spread on into the future, leaving us wondering “What if?”

We cannot change what happened but we should, as we remember Robert Kennedy, continue to be the ripples of hope that he thought we could be. As Robert Kennedy famously said quoting George Bernard Shaw, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Vaccines, COVID and Dr. Fauci: 'I Read the Science'

In an interview with NewsGuard the day before Instagram removed his page for spreading dangerous misinformation, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. discussed the COVID-19 vaccine and the coronavirus pandemic. Citing his experience in assessing related scientific issues he encountered in his career as an environmental lawyer, Kennedy has fashioned himself a crusader against Big Pharma and the government health apparatus that he says props it up.

In addition to other assertions, Kennedy described Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as "an abject failure" who profits personally by promoting vaccines, and made the unsubstantiated claim that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are dangerous.

NewsGuard's interview has been edited for length and clarity. The transcript below is annotated in italics, with fact checks responding to Kennedy's claims.

NewsGuard: Now that the vaccine is out there and has been taken by tens of millions of people, what's your assessment of it?

Kennedy: It's really hard to say. The Moderna vaccine [is] probably the more reactogenic of the two. And I would say that it's at the indicia from the clinical trial, and from what we've seen on the ground, are that it is extremely reactogenic.

Reactogenicity refers to reactions that occur soon after vaccination, representing "a physical manifestation of the inflammatory response to vaccination," according to a September 2019 article in the journal NPJ Vaccines. "A reactogenic vaccine is not the same thing as an unsafe vaccine," Saad Omer, a vaccinologist and the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, told The Atlantic in a December 2020 article.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on its website that the immediate side effects from the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine "were common but were mostly mild to moderate."

Meaning what?

Meaning that in the clinical trials it was five times as deadly as the Pfizer vaccine. During a phase one trial, you had 100 percent injury rate after the second dose. You had a 6 percent injury in the low-dose group after the first dose, and that is one in every 20 people has a serious injury, meaning medical intervention or hospitalization required. And in the high dose group, it's a 20 percent, 21 percent injury rate, which means one in five people are gravely injured and required medical intervention. That kind of product would never get FDA approval.

No one died as a result of receiving the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in any stage of clinical trials.

The Phase 1 trial for Moderna's vaccine involved testing different dosages of the vaccine on 45 participants to test the safety of each dose and find out what immune response is produced.

All 15 patients who received the 100-microgram dose&mdashthe amount used in later trials and now being distributed to the public&mdashreported mild to moderate pain at the injection site after their second dose, which is what Kennedy refers to as a "100 percent injury rate." One participant out of the 15 (which would be 6.7 percent of the participants in this dosage group) did report what the trial called a "severe injury," which was explained in the trial's supplementary appendix as a patch of redness on their skin greater than 10 centimeters.

In the much larger Phase 3 trial, where 15,000 participants received Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, 82 people (0.5 percent) reported a serious adverse event following vaccination. Only three of the serious adverse events were considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be related to the vaccine: one case of nausea and vomiting and two cases of facial swelling.

The high-dose group in the trial received 250 micrograms of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Kennedy's "21 percent injury rate" statistic comes from 3 out of the 14 participants in that group reporting severe reactions, two of which trial investigators found to be related to the vaccine: syncope (loss of consciousness due to low blood pressure) and lightheadedness. "Because of these reactions, Moderna did not move forward with this dose," William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, told Agence France-Presse in a January 2021 article.

However, Kennedy's statement that 1 in 5 people were "gravely injured" in this dosage group is an exaggeration, as only three people reported severe reactions. One of those three participants, a 29-year-old volunteer named Ian Haydon, told STAT that he did go to an urgent care facility after experiencing chills, fever, nausea, and muscle pain following his second shot, but said he felt better within a few days.

One in five people have been gravely injured by the vaccine?

What they call serious injuries are class three injuries, and the FDA's definition is that it is medical intervention or hospitalization required.

The FDA's definition for what is a Grade 3 injury in a clinical trial varies by the type of injury. For the injuries studied in the Moderna vaccine's Phase 1 trial, a Grade 3, or severe, case of nausea is defined as "prevents daily activity requires outpatient IV hydration." However, any injury requiring hospitalization would be defined as Grade 4 by the FDA, and no Grade 4 injuries were reported in Moderna's Phase 1 trial.

Where can you go to find that data?

Just look up the phase one trial data. And the problem is, you can never get FDA approval for a product like that. But Moderna is too big to fail. It has friends in high places. The other problem with Moderna vaccine: There's no evidence that it prevents death. That's really a tough argument for efficacy. There's no evidence that it prevents transmission. If it doesn't prevent death&mdashthat was the original endpoint for the study. It changed the endpoints. Who cares if the vaccine prevents mild symptoms? Nobody cares about that. You don't want to take a vaccine if it's going to prevent mild symptoms. You take a vaccine because you don't want it to be transmitted. You don't want to be spreading the disease, number one, and number two, you don't want to die from it.

While the primary endpoint of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine's Phase 3 trial was whether it prevented symptomatic COVID-19 cases, the trial results did include an analysis of whether the vaccine prevented severe COVID-19 cases, which included hospitalization in an intensive care unit or death. "Severe COVID-19 occurred in 30 participants, with one fatality all 30 were in the placebo group," the study reported.

At an October 2020 meeting on the FDA's vaccine advisory committee, Dr. Phillip Krause, deputy director of the FDA's Office of Vaccines Research and Review, said concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines preventing only mild, but not severe, disease, were unfounded. "There simply does not exist an example in vaccinology of vaccines that are effective against mild disease that are not more effective in severe disease," Krause said.

There is no evidence to back Kennedy's claim that the endpoints of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial were ever changed. Both a July 2020 press release from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and trial's protocol, released in August 2020, said the primary goal was to evaluate whether the vaccine prevented symptomatic COVID-19, with prevention of severe COVID-19 listed as a secondary endpoint.

It is true that COVID-19 vaccines have not been proven to block transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Preliminary evidence from Moderna's Phase 3 trial found approximately a 66 percent reduction in asymptomatic COVID-19 infections among a small subset of participants who were tested for COVID-19 between their first and second doses, but further study will be needed to determine whether the vaccine curbs transmission of the virus after two full doses, and to what degree.

Have people who received the vaccine died from COVID?

Nobody can tell you whether they have or they haven't, since the vaccine has been issued under an emergency use authorization, which is not an approval. This is an unapproved drug. By definition, it's a mass population experiment. There was nobody, for example, over 80 in the clinical trial, there's only 20 people over 70. Those are the people who are most likely to die, the big deaths that we're seeing now in the nursing homes all over the world, in Gibraltar or in England, where they've had a 46 percent increase in nursing home deaths since the vaccine was issued in Toronto and Montreal and Belgium, Spain, New York all these places where you're seeing these mass deaths in nursing homes after the vaccination regimen starts. Within a week, you're seeing large, large numbers of death.

At the time of this interview, two COVID-19 vaccines had been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. by the FDA. While emergency authorization is not the same as FDA approval, the vaccines still had to go through rigorous testing, including multiple phases of clinical trials to determine their safety and efficacy, before being reviewed and authorized by regulators.

Kennedy is wrong about the number of elderly participants in the Phase 3 clinical trials for Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna's Phase 3 trial included 1,300 participants between the ages of 75 and 84, and 90 participants aged 85 or older. The Phase 3 trial for the Pfizer vaccine included 1,700 participants aged 75 and over.

Kennedy's claim that there had been a 46 percent increase in nursing home deaths in England since COVID-19 vaccines began being issued to residents appears to be based on a week-to-week increase in COVID-19 deaths in English care homes reported by the U.K. Office of National Statistics on Jan. 15, 2021. These COVID-19 deaths were not reported to be linked to vaccinations and no COVID-19 vaccine contains the live COVID-19 virus, thus making it impossible for the vaccines to infect anyone with COVID-19.

The other instances described by Kennedy as "mass deaths in nursing homes after the vaccination regimen starts" similarly lack concrete evidence that these deaths were caused by COVID-19 vaccines.

In Spain, seven nursing home residents died of COVID-19 after receiving their first vaccine dose. As German broadcaster Deustche Welle reported, it is possible to become infected with COVID-19 soon after vaccination, because the vaccine requires time to produce an immune response and a single vaccine dose would not be 100 percent effective in blocking infection. In an Auburn, New York nursing home, 24 residents died of COVID-19 in an outbreak that began one day before residents started receiving vaccinations in December 2020, according to Reuters.

Is the world a safer place or not with these two vaccines?

Nobody can tell you that because&mdash

Didn't you just tell us?

You said one in five people have serious side effects or death, and there's no evidence that it's saving any lives.

Yeah, I would say that it's a very, very reactogenic product. Here's the problem. You can't say that those deaths were caused by the vaccine and you can't say they weren't. How are you going to tell? There is no way to tell. The only way to look at vaccine safety is by doing placebo studies. You compare a vaccinated group to an unvaccinated group and you look at health outcomes. If you die from a vaccine, there is no way of telling you died of that vaccine. There's 400 different ways, the manufacturer's insert says, that a vaccine can kill or injure you. None of them leave a fingerprint, so what you're dying of is vascular collapse, you're dying of seizures, you're dying of heart attacks, you're dying of stroke. And there's no fingerprint on your corpse that tells what you die of.

The only way you can tell safety is through a placebo study or a retrospective study that compares health outcomes in vaccinated versus unvaccinated people, and that has not been done. They ought to be counting every death that happens in the two months after vaccination. You can take that number, and you can compare it to the daily death rates in the national database of those age cohorts, people between 80 and 90, people between 70 and 80, and so on. We know how many are supposed to die per day. Let's say it's 2.3 out of 100,000 in each of those cohorts that die, and if you're getting a rate from the vaccine, that is 10 times per 100,000, you know you've got a very dangerous vaccine.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were tested against placebos in their Phase 3 trials.

Both the CDC and FDA are monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. According to the CDC website, the FDA requires vaccination providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which acts as an early warning system for any safety problems involving vaccines. The CDC website states that the agency "follows up on any report of death to request additional information and learn more about what occurred and to determine whether the death was a result of the vaccine or unrelated." To date, VAERS has not found patterns to indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.

Manufacturer's inserts on vaccines include data on adverse reactions reported in clinical trials and after vaccines are put on the market, but these reports do not take into account whether the vaccine caused those side effects, according to an April 2019 article from FullFact.org. The FDA's own guidance on the adverse reactions section of packaging inserts includes the following disclaimer: "Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure."

Kennedy was also wrong about the lack of retrospective studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children. For example, an April 2019 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined autism rates among 657,000 Danish children and found no difference in the prevalence of autism comparing children who had received the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and those who had not been vaccinated. Another study, published in February 2011 in the German journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, compared vaccinated and unvaccinated children (13,000 total) and found no difference in the prevalence of allergies between the two groups.

Given your view, would you advise your own mother to get the vaccine?

The Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine? No, absolutely not.

You'd tell her not to take it?

Of course. Look at the clinical trials.

Let's step back for a second. How did you first get interested in all this? I always thought of you as the person who cleaned up the Hudson River.

I got into it because I ran one of the biggest water protection groups in the world, the Waterkeeper Alliance. We have 350 Waterkeepers all over the world, and they sue polluters. In 2005, I was running 40 cases against coal burning power plants and cement kilns because of mercury discharges, keeping those from getting into fish. I was going across Canada and the United States, and I was talking a lot about mercury. Wherever I went these groups of women would come and sit in the audience, and after I spoke, they'd come up and talk to me. They were, as I discovered, the mothers of intellectually disabled children. They were well-presented, they were doctors, they were pharmacists, they were scientists, lawyers. All of them had a child who was brain damaged, and all of them believed that the vaccines had injured their child. They would say to me in a very respectful but vaguely scolding way, "If you're genuinely interested in mercury exposures to children, you need to look at vaccines." It's not something I wanted to do.

I was involved in issues with intellectual disabilities my whole life. My aunt founded Special Olympics at Camp Shriver, and I was working there almost every weekend in autumn and spring from when I was seven or eight years old. I worked at the Wassaic Home for the Retarded in upstate New York when I was in high school. I had been involved in Special Olympics, with Best Buddies. It was deep in our DNA. My uncle was head of the Health Committee for 50 years and made this one of his priorities.

It is impossible to verify the exact number of lawsuits Kennedy has worked on throughout his career, but news reports and court filings from his decades working in environmental law confirm that he was known for frequently filing such suits. His description of his family's work helping people with disabilities is well-documented.

I didn't want to do that with my life. I wanted to work on rivers and energy. And one of these women came to my home in Hyannis Port in the summer of 2005. She was a psychologist, a Minnesotan named Sarah Bridges. She had a child who had gotten autism from a vaccine and had gotten a $20 million award from the vaccine court for his autism. His name is Porter Bridges, and she brought me a big pile, probably 18 inches thick, of scientific studies. She put them on my front porch and she said, "I'm not gonna leave here until you read these."

Sarah Bridges, an organizational consultant in Minneapolis with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, confirmed that she approached Kennedy with her vaccine concerns at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. She told NewsGuard in a phone interview that although she first met Kennedy at one of his speaking events, she was able to bring him a dossier of information at the Kennedy Compound when she was visiting her college friend Vicki Strauss Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s sister-in-law.

Porter Bridges did earn an award from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). In a phone interview with NewsGuard, Sarah Bridges confirmed that the amount was $20 million, with $800,000 to compensate Porter for a lifetime of lost wages and the rest for round-the-clock care for her son.

Bridges documented Porter's story in a book and a 2003 Washington Post Magazine article, in which she claimed that "The government received our petition and immediately conceded. A vaccine injury had caused permanent brain damage." She said the process took eight years from the time Porter received the pertussis vaccine in 1995. NewsGuard did not receive a response to an email inquiry and a voicemail left with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which administers the VICP, regarding Porter Bridges' settlement.

The VICP states that its settlements do not count as an admission that a vaccine caused a particular injury. "Conclusions regarding vaccine safety should not be drawn from the fact that cases were settled. Settlements are one way of quickly resolving a petition," the program's website notes. "Settlements are not an admission by the United States or the Secretary of Health and Human Services that the vaccine caused the petitioner's alleged injuries."

In her conversation with NewsGuard, Bridges acknowledged the government's position: "They don't typically come out and say, wow, your son was brain damaged by x, y, and z," she noted. Still, she added, "We were told at the time that it was a clear case that met a table injury," referring to the VICP's chart that lays out the qualifications for who is eligible to receive compensation.

"Maybe because of being trained in science, I am not a black-and-white person vaccines are good, vaccines are bad," she said. Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, "I feel concerned about how fast this has gone through. That said, I honor anybody who wants to get it," Bridges told NewsGuard. Her family will not: "We have medical exceptions," she said.

While Kennedy suspects a conspiracy among vaccine regulators at the FDA and other federal agencies, Bridges does not: "I have no doubt there are people doing their jobs who are very solid," she said.

I'm very accustomed to reading science. I've brought over 500 successful lawsuits, almost all of them involve scientific controversy. I know how to read science, and I know how to read it critically. I started reading at least the abstracts for most of those studies, and before I was four or five inches down in that pile, I realized there was a huge delta between what the public health agencies were telling us about vaccines and what the actual peer-reviewed science was saying. Then I started calling the regulators, people like Tony Fauci and Francis Collins, Paul Offit, who they all told me to call because he's a big insider in the vaccine industry. I realized while I was having those calls that the top regulators who are in charge of vaccine safety in our country either were completely non-conversant with the actual peer-reviewed science, or, in one case, they were deliberately lying about it.

Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health. Paul Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine.

Kennedy did not provide any evidence to back his claim that vaccine specialists and regulators were "nonconversant with actual peer-reviewed science." Evidence suggests the opposite: According to Fauci's official biography, "in a 2020 analysis of Google Scholar citations, Dr. Fauci ranked as the 32nd most-cited living researcher."

Where would you put Fauci among the two possibilities?

I think Fauci has a very unique role. He has really driven the pharmaceutical paradigm and obliterated the science and democracy when it comes to pharmaceuticals. He's turned that agency from an agency that was created to do basic science, to find out where these epidemics of chronic disease are coming from. Since he took over in '84, chronic disease has increased from 12.8 percent of the US population to 54 percent. He has not been a success. He has been an abject failure. He's taken that agency away from doing science and from looking at, Why did autism go from one to 10,000 in my generation to one in every 34 people today? Why did food allergies go from one in 1200 to one in 12? Why did asthma and autoimmune diseases and arthritis all explode in our generation, or in our kids generation? He doesn't look for any of those. He doesn't allow that science to be done.

He turned that agency into an incubator for pharmaceutical products. That's all they do. He's got $6 billion of his own and $1.6 billion that he gets from the Pentagon through DARPA, and all he does is develop new drugs and gets us addicted to them. Now, under his watch, we take more drugs than anybody in the world, we paid the highest prices for them, and we have the worst health outcomes, and that is all Tony Fauci.

Kennedy's organization, Children's Health Defense, has previously asserted similar figures of increased rates of chronic disease. According to an August 2019 article from FactCheck.org, the two figures are pulled from two different studies. The 12.8 percent figure came from a 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association study and was referring to chronic conditions among a cohort of 2,300 children in 1994&mdasha decade after Fauci was named director of NIAID. The 54 percent figure was pulled from a 2011 study published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, which relied on 2007 survey data from 91,000 children across the U.S.

The two studies used different designs, studied different populations, and used different definitions of chronic disease. Christina Bethel, the lead author on the 2011 paper, told FactCheck.org that the two papers were "not comparable."

Kennedy is correct that rates of autism, arthritis, and food allergies have risen in recent decades, and there is some evidence from a NIH-funded study published in 2020 that autoimmune disease may also have increased in prevalence. Asthma prevalence has been relatively flat, however, with a CDC study reporting that 8.3 percent of children had asthma in 2016, down slightly from 8.7 percent in 2001.

Contrary to Kennedy's claim that Fauci "does not look for any" of those conditions, NIAID has funded research related to autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, and food allergies. Autism research is supported through other NIH agencies, such as the National Institute for Mental Health.

Kennedy was correct that NIAID received $6 billion appropriation from Congress for fiscal year 2021. However, it does not receive $1.6 billion from the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as DARPA spokesperson Jared Adams told NewsGuard in an email that Kennedy's figure was "wildly inaccurate."

"The agency's total annual budget is $3.5 billion, and biosecurity/biotechnology is just one of six research areas we allocate dollars toward," Adams said. "That would mean, roughly, 47 percent of our budget is going to NIAID, which is preposterous." Asked exactly what level of funding DARPA has provided to Fauci's agency, Adams told NewsGuard, "From FY2012 to present day, the only award or grant DARPA has issued to NIAID was in FY20 for $290,000."

It is true that the U.S. pays the most per capita on prescription drugs and has worse health outcomes than other high-income nations, according to a January 2020 report from the Commonwealth Fund.

However, a separate 2016 report from the Commonwealth Fund found that utilization of prescription drugs in the U.S. "is not an outlier" among high-income countries. A 2014 report from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry that compared prescription drug use in Europe, U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, ranked the U.S. behind France and Spain in drug utilization.

How can it all be Dr. Fauci if his institute is not the one who approves the vaccines? That's the FDA. He's a voice that people listen to, but how can all the blame be on him?

I'll tell you how. He funds 10,000 principal investigators (PIs), who are working at hospitals and medical schools. Their job is the most lucrative job in medicine, which is to do clinical trials for the pharmaceutical companies. He pays them $15,000 a patient.The hospital or the university skims off 75 percen so they're all on the take, too. All of these PIs make their living by developing drugs for NIAID and then selling them to the pharmaceutical companies. They get royalty agreements from the pharmaceutical companies, and he does too. His agency owns over 2,000 patents. He owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine and will get royalties on it.

There is no evidence that Fauci is personally funding any principal investigators who are conducting vaccine trials on his behalf. The NIH says on its website that "approximately 1,200 Principal Investigators conduct biomedical or behavioral research" within the institute's Intramural Research Program, and NIAID states on its website that through its Division of Intramural Research, "120 principal investigators lead research groups composed of staff scientists, physicians, fellows, technical personnel, and students."

PIs do not hold the "most lucrative job in medicine," according to the U.S. News & World Report, which named anesthesiologists the number-one earners in health care in 2021 with an average salary of $208,000 per year. Employment website ZipRecruiter estimates that PIs earn $133,000 per year.

There is also no evidence that Fauci is paying PIs $15,000 per patient to conduct vaccine trials, or that hospitals and universities supporting vaccine trials "skim off 75 percent." NIAID reports that "each year, NIH sets a maximum for PI salaries, though your institution can use its own money to pay beyond NIH's limit." In 2021, that limit is $199,300.

NIAID does not report how many individual patents it holds, although NIH states on its website that "as agencies of U.S. Government, NIH owns the rights to any patent to a discovery made by any NIH employee or personnel working at a NIH facility, or from a discovery that involves the use of a NIH facility or use of government equipment." Fauci himself holds six patents, according to NIAID, but that does not include "half the patent for the Moderna vaccine."

NIH told Axios in June 2020 that it was seeking patents related to the vaccine because its scientists created the "stabilized coronavirus spike proteins for the development of vaccines against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2," but that means that the agency would have a stake in the Moderna vaccine, not Fauci personally. A PolitiFact article from April 2020 stated that "there is no publicly available evidence that Fauci personally stands to profit from a vaccine."

The agency, not him personally.

He owns some personally, too. The Moderna vaccine&mdashhis agency owns half, but six of the top guys who work for him own pieces of that patent, so they will each get $150,000 a year for life for every patent that they own.

Six NIAID scientists are listed as inventors on two patent applications related to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, though the patents themselves, if approved, would be owned by the U.S government, not the individual inventors. Fauci is not named among the inventors on the patent applications. NIAID spokesperson Jennifer Routh told NewsGuard in a February 2021 email, "NIAID is seeking patent protection to preserve the US Government's rights in this invention and to provide incentive for commercial partners to invest the capital and resources needed to advance the invention's development, commercialization, and public use as vaccines."

Kennedy was correct that NIAID scientists listed as inventors on these patents would profit from them financially. The Federal Technology Act of 1986 requires that government agencies that license inventions in exchange for royalties give some of that money to the inventors, with the rest going to the agency.

As Routh explained to NewsGuard, under NIH licensing agreements, "the first $2,000 of royalties received under a license go to the inventor, and then at least 15 percent thereafter per year are shared with the inventors as a group under that license. Inventors are capped at $150,000 per year per person from all licenses. Very few NIH inventors receive that amount."

Could you point us to the paperwork for that?

Yeah, go to ICAN's website, they did the lawsuit and they found out. They got all the paperwork on him.

The principal investigators are the most powerful people in medicine. They're all getting money from Fauci. The FDA does not decide which vaccines to license and the CDC does not decide which vaccines to mandate. There are committees within those agencies. They are made up of independent scientists on the outside of the agency. Well, guess who all those independent scientists are? They are Tony Fauci's PIs. He controls those agencies. He controls all the medical products that get approved, and he controls the vaccines that get mandated.

There have been no reports of Fauci personally funding principal investigators for vaccine trials, and Kennedy did not provide any evidence to back his claim.

The FDA does decide which vaccines to license, according to its website, which states that "the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must license (approve) a vaccine before it can be used in the United States. FDA regulations for the development of vaccines ensure their safety, purity, potency, and effectiveness." It is, however, true that the CDC does not decide which vaccines to mandate. On its website, the CDC says that "the federal government does not mandate (require) vaccination for individuals," though individual states may.

He is an absolute dictator in that agency. He is J. Edgar Hoover of HHS. [President George W.] Bush offered to promote him to head of HHS and he said "No way." Because he would lose his power. His power comes from all those licensing deals that he's getting. And he's able to control what the other agencies do because of that. His first drug was AZT. That was just killing people. It wasn't helping anybody. Peter Duesberg says that it killed more people than AIDS did. What he's been doing since he got in there is figuring out how to cheat, how to rig clinical trials to get drugs approved. And then his agency collects the royalties on it.

There is no evidence that President Bush considered nominating Fauci to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Kennedy may have been referring to a February 2002 Kaiser Health News report that found that Bush considered promoting Fauci to be director of the National Institutes of Health, the body that oversees his agency, NIAID. However, the reasons Bush didn't fill the position are more complicated than Kennedy states. The Bush administration expressed concerns over "administrative and political issues, including Fauci's unknown stance on abortion rights," the Kaiser report concluded.

Kennedy names Peter Duesberg, a prominent AIDS denier who has argued the false hypothesis that HIV does not cause AIDS. He has instead argued that drugs, such as AZT, cause the condition, despite a lack of evidence. AZT became the first FDA-approved treatment for AIDS in 1987. The drug was controversial for the significant side effects from high doses, like anemia, and because it involved only one human trial. However, evidence showed the drug offered some help for patients, even if it was not a miracle treatment. Kennedy's claim that the drug "was just killing people," oversimplifies complex medical history.

He's channeled us all into this funnel, that the only way to get out of masks and lockdowns is through the vaccine path.

Do you wear a mask?

When I need to wear a mask, I wear a mask. Do I think masks work? I read the science on them. We have it posted it on our website. We post the science that says it works, and we post the science that say they don't work.

They're already saying, well, the vaccines aren't gonna prevent transmission. They're not allowing the kind of studies with the surveillance system that is supposed to gather information on the injuries from the vaccines. It is completely dysfunctional. The HHS says that the system collects fewer than 1% of vaccine injuries. So, how can you ever tell when the vaccine is dangerous or not? Nobody's gonna know.

Because preliminary studies of COVID-19 vaccines were not designed to measure the vaccines' efficacy in preventing transmission of the virus, it is unknown whether or not any vaccines approved for use against COVID-19 prevent recipients from transmitting the virus to others. Early reports from researchers behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines suggest that the vaccines may reduce disease transmission, but that evidence is by no means conclusive. No vaccine manufacturers have claimed that their vaccines do or do not prevent transmission of COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tracks vaccine injury claims through its Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS. HHS does not state anywhere on its website that VAERS "collects fewer than 1% of vaccine injuries." However, ChildrensHealthDefense.org has repeatedly attributed the statistic to a 2010 study from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a New England-based health insurance company. The study's preliminary data suggested that reactions to vaccines were not commonly reported to the FDA, but the authors did not complete the study to determine how often adverse events were actually reported to VAERS.

HHS states on the VAERS website that one of the system's main limitations is underreporting, noting that "VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events." Further, VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine actually caused a reported event, as the system "accepts all reports of adverse health events following vaccinations without judging whether the vaccine caused the adverse health event."

What [Fauci's] done is he's committed $48 billion to the vaccine enterprise, and he's permitted $1.48 billion to antivirals, and almost all of that has gone into his drug remdesivir, which does not work. It doesn't reduce hospital stays, and it certainly doesn't reduce deaths. Now, the medications that do appear to work, from the science, things like ivermectin, hydracorticosteroids, hydroxychloroquine, and many, many, many others, these off the shelf medications that are patent expired. How much money does he put into those? Zero.

Kennedy cites this same $48 billion figure in a January 2021 article written for ChildrensHealthDefense.org, in which he referenced "the $48 billion COVID vaccine enterprise." He attributed the number to a Bloomberg article from September 2020 that discussed "Pfizer Inc.'s $48 billion gain in market value since last March, egged on by optimism for a successful Covid-19 vaccine."

NIAID, Fauci's agency, says on its website that it received $1.5 billion from Congress in 2020 to support its COVID-19 research efforts, but it does not detail how those funds were allocated. NIAID did sponsor a trial of remdesivir, known as the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT), which found that remdesivir was superior to a placebo in reducing time to recovery in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

In October 2020, remdesivir was approved by the FDA to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. However, studies conducted since have yielded mixed results. While the 1,000-patient NIAID trial suggested that remdesivir might shorten recovery time for COVID-19 patients, the Solidarity Trial, which enrolled nearly 12,000 patients across 30 countries, found no survival benefit with remdesivir. The World Health Organization "recommends against the use of remdesivir in COVID-19 patients" for this reason, while the National Institutes of Health's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommends remdesivir for COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized and require supplemental oxygen, based on ACTT results.

Ivermectin, an antiparasitic medicine, has been studied in the context of COVID-19, but the NIH's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel states that "currently there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19." Merck, the manufacturer of ivermectin, stated in a February 2021 release that there was "no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease," citing "a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies."

Some research suggests that steroids may be useful in treating COVID-19 patients. The RECOVERY Trial, for example, found that the steroid dexamethasone lowered mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory complications. The NIH, WHO, and U.K. National Health Service now recommend dexamethasone for use in these patients, but not in patients with non-severe COVID-19.

You think hydroxychloroquine works?

I read the science, and the science indicates that it does. Fauci drummed up studies where they deliberately gave elderly people five times the lethal dose of hydroxychloroquine to show that it doesn't work by killing a lot of people. Their studies were published in three places: New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and Lancet. Two weeks later, New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA and Lancet had to pull those studies. It was the most humiliating retraction in the history. The third study, the one in JAMA, was done in Brazil. The researchers on that study are being prosecuted for murder.

While one non-randomized study published in early 2020 suggested that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine might be effective in treating the virus that causes COVID-19, larger, randomized clinical trials conducted since have found that the medicine does not provide beneficial effects to COVID-19 patients. These reports led the FDA to revoke the March 2020 emergency use authorization that enabled the drug to be used as a treatment for COVID-19, and in June 2020 the WHO halted the use of hydroxychloroquine in its Solidarity Trial after the drug showed no survival benefit for COVID-19 patients. The NIH's COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine in both hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients.

The NEJM study referenced by Kennedy was published in June 2020 and did not include or discuss hydroxychloroquine, but rather the effects of pre-existing heart disease on COVID-19 patients. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study, published in April 2020, dealt with chloroquine&mdashan antimalarial medication that is related to hydroxychloroquine but is not the same drug.

The Lancet study, from May 2020, did analyze hydroxychloroquine. The study reported an average patient age of 54 years and an average hydroxychloroquine dose of 596 milligrams, which is within safe limits, according to Mayo Clinic. The clinic says on its website that standard doses of hydroxychloroquine for other conditions range from 200 to 600 milligrams.

The NEJM and Lancet studies were both retracted in June 2020 after the data the studies relied on&mdashcompiled by an analytics company known as Surgisphere&mdashwas found to be questionable. The authors of the NEJM paper said in a retraction statement that "all the authors were not granted access to the raw data" provided by Surgisphere, and the authors of the Lancet paper reported that "our independent peer reviewers informed us that Surgisphere would not transfer the full dataset, client contracts, and the full ISO audit report to their servers for analysis . As such, our reviewers were not able to conduct an independent and private peer review."

The JAMA study was not retracted, as Kennedy claimed, though it was conducted in Brazil. There is no evidence that the study's authors "are being prosecuted for murder."

You will see probably 100 studies on hydroxychloroquine that show that if you give hydroxychloroquine during the first six days after exposure, before the cytokine storm, with azithromycin and with zinc&mdashyou have to give all three of them at the same time&mdashthat it has an extraordinarily prophylactic impact, and it also has a curative impact, maybe 80 or 90 percen. What Fauci did was create studies that were designed to fail. He did the opposite with vaccines. He created studies that were designed&mdashand this is what the [British Medical Journal] said about him, Peter Doshi&mdashnot to tell us the risk profile, but designed to get approvals for those products.

A regimen of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc has not been proven to have a "curative impact" on COVID-19. In fact, the American College of Cardiology published a report in March 2020 stating that "chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin all prolong QT interval, raising concerns about the risk of arrhythmic deaths from individual or concurrent use of these medications." The NIH says that "there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of zinc for the treatment of COVID-19," and the RECOVERY Trial, which randomized more than 2,500 COVID-19 patients to treatment with azithromycin, found no benefit with the antibiotic. In a December 2020 statement, RECOVERY investigators reported that their data "convincingly rule out any meaningful clinical benefit of azithromycin in the hospitalised COVID-19 patients we studied."

Peter Doshi, an associate editor at The BMJ, published an October 2020 article in the journal criticizing the designs of COVID-19 trails, writing, "none of the trials currently underway are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospitalisations, intensive care use, or deaths." He also said that most trials were too small-scale to "demonstrate statistically significant differences" in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, since the majority of cases of COVID-19 are mild.

However, trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did include severe COVID-19 as a secondary endpoint, including in that category ICU admissions and deaths from the virus. Published data showed that between the two trials, one severe case of COVID-19 was reported among those who received vaccines, compared to 39 cases among those in placebo groups. Additionally, FDA guidance on granting emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines specifies that EUA requests should include data on "cases of severe COVID-19 disease among study subjects" across all phases of the vaccine trials.

After Hank Aaron died, you said there was some vaccine connection there, which has not been proven. His medical center and his family have said the vaccine played no role in his death. Do you think that was a responsible comment to make?

What I said was absolutely accurate, which was that his death was part of a wave of deaths among seniors that we're watching after the RNA vaccine. I never said that he was injured by the vaccine, but what I saw was this huge barrage of press condemn me for making that association. The New York Times and everybody else quoted the Fulton County Coroner's office as saying that Hank Aaron's death had nothing to do with the vaccine. So, I heard that, and I said, "How did that coroner know that?" There's no fingerprint on vaccine injury. You can't do an autopsy and figure out what killed somebody. You can only say that they died within a certain number of days after the vaccine, and there's a lot of people dying in that period. I called the coroner. And you know what the coroner told me? He said, "We never saw Hank Aaron's body. We never did an autopsy. We never had jurisdiction. We never performed a necropsy. We never had a post mortem. He was just buried." They all lied about it.

Politifact reported in February 2021 that Joseph Mercola, a holistic health advocate whom NewsGuard has found to publish vaccine misinformation on his website Mercola.com, had written an article claiming that "around the world, reports are pouring in of people dying shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine." Among those people were Hank Aaron and a number of seniors in Norway and Gibraltar.

According to Politifact, "there is no evidence that the vaccines caused any of the deaths. Aaron's death was ruled natural, and authorities in Gibraltar and Norway said none of the deaths of elderly people they investigated were caused by the vaccines."

Kennedy claims that "a lot of people" die in the days following a vaccine. It is true that some people will die after receiving a vaccine, but, according to Boston Children's Hospital epidemiologist Dr. John Brownstein, who spoke to ABC News in February 2021, "we have to be very careful about causality . Just because these events happen in proximity to the vaccine does not mean the vaccine caused these events." Brownstein further noted that "these vaccines have had incredible safety profiles in the trials and post-authorization. So far, there has been nothing to confirm these awful events."

Regarding Aaron's death, The New York Times did report in January 2021 that "the Fulton County medical examiner has also said there was nothing to suggest that Mr. Aaron had an allergic or anaphylactic reaction related to the vaccine." Dr. Karen Sullivan, the Fulton County medical examiner, told NewsGuard in an emailed statement that a senior investigator from her office had examined Aaron's body after he died at home on Jan. 22, 2021, contradicting Kennedy's claim that the office never saw his body.

"The FCME Senior Investigator discussed with family members the events prior to Mr. Aaron's death including his activities and the presence or absence of medical complaints," Sullivan said. "There was no information suggestive of an allergic or anaphylactic reaction to any substance which might be attributable to recent vaccine distribution. In addition, examination of Mr. Aaron's body did not suggest his death was due to any event other than that associated with his medical history. Based on the information provided by Mr. Aaron's family and physical examination of his body, it is my medical opinion that Mr. Aaron's death was not related to his recent vaccination for COVID-19."

So the coroner was lying to the press?

Oh, I doubt that. I think the New York Times is lying. The coroner says that they never said that. Why don't you call them up and say, "When did they perform this autopsy?" And then why don't you report on that?


Why Robert Kennedy Transformed From a Conservative Into a Liberal Champion of Civil Rights

There is something about middle children, especially in large families. They often struggle to define themselves. Robert Francis Kennedy was the ultimate middle child. Until shortly before his untimely death 50 years ago, he was still embarked on that struggle of self-determination.

Kennedy’s early career included working as a Senate staff member for the right-wing demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It would have been reasonable to conclude that as a young conservative, he could only move farther right as he aged.

Kennedy turned the tables on the conventional wisdom by moving — both by circumstance and by calculation — in a more liberal direction. But it was a distinctive liberalism that was shaped by his origins in a family that, despite their enormous wealth, were regarded as outsiders.

I’m a political scientist who studies American government and U.S. legislative politics and I’ve worked as an adviser to Democrats in the Senate and House. It is clear to me that Robert, much more than his older brother John, was shaped by the tribalism of Massachusetts politics in the 1950s.


Robert Kennedy: His Life

Having previously read An Unfinished Life John F. Kennedy: 1917-1963 I have to say it was excellent preparation for this book. If you’re starting from scratch on the Kennedy clan I&aposd go as far as to say it&aposs essential pre-reading. The JFK bio provides much of the family background missing from this book and also provides the big picture on events impacting Robert Kennedy (RFK) during the period JFK was president. This knowledge helps flesh out the detail provided in this book - it&aposs very much a Having previously read An Unfinished Life John F. Kennedy: 1917-1963 I have to say it was excellent preparation for this book. If you’re starting from scratch on the Kennedy clan I'd go as far as to say it's essential pre-reading. The JFK bio provides much of the family background missing from this book and also provides the big picture on events impacting Robert Kennedy (RFK) during the period JFK was president. This knowledge helps flesh out the detail provided in this book - it's very much a complimentary piece.

RFK’s life is covered in great detail in this book and it does feel like the author played a straight bat (or 'tread a neutral path' for non-cricket followers). There are many positive statements about the man and his achievements, but there are just as many challenges and counter-views.

Regarding the man – his personality and how he differed from and yet complimented JFK - some of the key points I picked up were:

- RFK was often an ‘in your face’ individual in his professional life, challenging to colleagues and frequently rude. Yet he was a family man, tactile and loving to his children. He was attentive and caring when visiting injured soldiers in hospital and rushed to Jackie Kennedy’s side to support her when her first child was still born. He was described at one point as being a ‘kind boy within a rude man’.

- His style was urgent and probing versus the steady and reasonable approach adopted by JFK. These styles complimented each other when they worked closely pre and post JFK’s election. RFK would hector and JFK would tease. They made a great partnership.

In examining Robert Kennedy’s career it is evident that he was more adept at running political campaigns and inspiring loyal staff than in shaping long-term policies. Serving as Attorney General in JFK’s government he was also, effectively, JFK’s unofficial number two. He juggled a huge workload. And when the president was assassinated he never really recovered from the personal loss.

RFK had two career feuds – with Hoover (at the FBI), whilst Attorney General supporting his brother, and later with Lyndon B Johnson, when he succeeded his brother as President. It was amazing to read how much time and energy managing these two relationships devoured!

Always a physically fearless man, Kennedy took huge personal risks despite known threats to his life resulting from actions against Castro and Organised Crime. In the end it was a mentally unstable drifter who brought his life to a premature end.

This is a very well written and exhaustively researched and documented account of an important figure in modern American history. I highly recommend it. . more

excerpts from two RFK speeches that never fail to make me shed a tear:

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

"Let us de excerpts from two RFK speeches that never fail to make me shed a tear:

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world." . more

My favorite period in Brazilian history is between the years of 1945 and 1964. The so-called Third Republic is an epoch of a deep political fight which revealed our nation in its more crude fashion. I’m increasingly convinced that the 1960s display a similar role in American history. Racial issues, foreign policy, the problems raised by the deep state are all presented there in their roughest form. And I believe that Robert F. Kennedy is one of the keys figures that allow us to better understand My favorite period in Brazilian history is between the years of 1945 and 1964. The so-called Third Republic is an epoch of a deep political fight which revealed our nation in its more crude fashion. I’m increasingly convinced that the 1960s display a similar role in American history. Racial issues, foreign policy, the problems raised by the deep state are all presented there in their roughest form. And I believe that Robert F. Kennedy is one of the keys figures that allow us to better understand those years.
The early life of RFK hardly can be seen as a biography of a gladiator. As a boy, Bob was a timid and circumspect child. Until Ted’s birth, he used to be the younger among the boys (while Bob was born in 1925, Jack came to the world in 1917 and Joe Jr. two years earlier). Thus, Bob was the only male in a circle of girls — his sisters Eunice, Pat, and Jean. His mother, Rose, was afraid that he became “punny” and “girlish”. His solitary habits in childhood made his father call him “the runt” of the family.
Even more revealing of this introvert nature is his confession to Jack Newfield:

“What I remember most vividly about growing up was going to a lot of different schools, always having to make new friends, and that I was very awkward. I dropped things and fell down all time. I had to go to the hospital a few times for stitches in my head and my leg. And I pretty quiet most of the time. And I didn’t mind being alone.”

We all know the story about Moses’s shyness. When God shows His intentions to his servant, Moses complained:

“ … my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Exodus 4:10–12

If God had shown to the young Robert Francis Kennedy how much he would
achieve in adulthood, maybe he too would have complain in the way Moses did.
Yet, for each flaw, Bob had one virtue. He was eager-to-please his Father but he was the only son in early age who openly defy his Father anti-semitism. He was a shy but not fragile. People always admire his astounding physical courage. “For God sakes, stopped him before he gets killed,” his school-mate Vinnie Moravec said about Bob’s tenacity in football camp. Sometimes, this toughness is almost foolishness, once time Bob keeping playing the game even after his leg was broken.

It's easy to see contradictions here. Or maybe not. Maybe Bob’s qualities were the other side of his imperfections. It’s immanent to human nature that restrictions make us stronger, not weaker. In the play “The Makropulos Affair” write in the 1920s by the Czech writer Karel Čapek the character Emile has an elixir that allows her to be immortal. With such gift, she lives for more than 300 years and is able to realize every human desire as pleasure, power, and love. However, in the path, Emile becomes more and more indifferent to human suffering. Inevitably, a person who lives forever will deal with the vulgarization of death. As Nelson Rodrigues once said “ninguém é insubstituível” and this claim is even truer in the long run. Unable to love, Emile is too unable to receive love. Without death love itself emerge as an impossible thing.

Our great gifts are the products of our restrictions.

This is true for all of us. It’s also true for RFK. Family ostracism and introversion were one side of the coin. His toughness and empathy for the weak were the other. Bob would achieve national fame when he faced corruption in the organized labor in Senate Labor Rackets Committee and written a well-received book after the end of investigation (The enemy within). Far more notorious than this, his remarkable work as Attorney General give him the opportunity to show his more impressive qualities, namely, his personal courage and deep identification with the underdogs. The first quality can be seen in his tenacious and frequent confrontation against Hoover and Lyndon Johson. In another hand, his disposition to use federal force to enforce the law of the land in the deep south is a testimony of the second.

Despite Moses early insecurities, he proves himself able to God’s work. He released Jewish people from slavery and lead his people to the promised land. In the way, he learns from God and teaches remarkable lessons to his people.
Bob Kennedy was the man of shaken hands and high-pitched voice but he shows to the Democrats that true commitment with the poor is way better than electoral opportunism and, above all, he proved that in politics talented is far less important than will . more


Column: The busboy who cradled a dying RFK has finally stepped out of the past

Juan Romero, the Ambassador Hotel busboy who cradled a dying Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot on June 5, 1968, carried the weight of that moment through the decades. Now, he says, “I don’t carry the cross anymore.”

In June, Juan Romero did something he hadn’t done in decades. He celebrated his birthday, going out to dinner with his family in San Jose.

“I always dreaded when June was coming up,” said Romero, 65, who has struggled for most of his adult life to let go of his crippling memory of an American tragedy.

It happened just after midnight on June 5, 1968. Robert F. Kennedy had won the California presidential primary and made his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Romero was a 17-year-old busboy.

A Roosevelt High School student who had moved north from Mexico at the age of 10, Romero recalled the photos of President John F. Kennedy that hung alongside those of Pope John XXIII in the homes of Mexican families.

He worked at the hotel after school and had delivered room service to Kennedy earlier in the week. He knew he’d never forget the way Kennedy treated him and the pride he felt, and now he wanted to congratulate him as the candidate made his way through a kitchen service area. Romero reached out, took Kennedy’s hand, and watched him slump to the floor as gun blasts echoed.

The black-and-white photos of that moment, by Boris Yaro of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Eppridge of Life magazine, are as haunting now as they were 47 years ago.

RFK, who for many people represented hope for social justice, racial tolerance and an end to the war in Vietnam, lies on his back, limbs splayed. Romero squats at his side in white service jacket, a young witness to horror, his hand cradling Kennedy’s head.

“I wanted to protect his head from the cold concrete,” says Romero, who went to school the next day with Kennedy’s blood crusted under his fingernails, refusing to wash it away.

In the photos, disbelief and despair gathered in Juan Romero’s dark eyes, and he would carry the weight of that moment through the decades. I knew this when I first met him on the 30th anniversary of the assassination, and his pain was just as raw 12 years later in 2010, when I went with him to RFK’s gravesite in Arlington, Va., where Romero knelt, paid his respects and wept once more.

He spoke to me each time about his regrets, his sense of duty to the Kennedy legacy, and a lingering feeling of guilt. I told him there was no rational reason to feel guilty.

But the shooting had wounded his psyche. On far too many nights he lay awake wondering if Kennedy would still be alive if he hadn’t paused to shake a busboy’s hand.

It was a different Juan Romero, however, who reached out to me earlier this month to say he was much improved “spiritually and emotionally,” and it was all because of an unlikely friendship with a woman from Germany who saw my column about the Arlington visit, tracked Romero down and helped him finally step out of the past.

Claudia Zwiener, 45, was a teenager when she first read about the Bobby Kennedy assassination. She became insatiably interested in his life.

As an adult, she read books about Kennedy, traveled to the U.S. with her husband, visited the gravesite, and met people who had known him, including former L.A. Times national editor and Bobby Kennedy press secretary Ed Guthman.

Two years ago, Zwiener came upon my column about Romero’s visit to Arlington. She wrote to me saying she was touched by his humanity, and didn’t believe he needed to ask Kennedy’s forgiveness, as he had that day in Arlington. Not long after that, Zwiener sent Romero a message.

Many have reached out to Romero over the years, and he appreciated their concern but wondered as to their motives. He didn’t want pats on the back he didn’t feel he deserved, or comments that stoked his own second-guessing of his actions that night. He hoped Zwiener wasn’t yet another “somebody who wants to feel sorry for me.”

But Zwiener came across differently.

“She really wanted to see how I was doing, and to find out if she could do anything to make it easier on my conscience,” Romero said.

He answered back. She responded. They became pen pals, then began talking by phone.

Zwiener is not a trained therapist, but she works with special-needs children in Germany, and Romero felt that he could talk to her in ways he had never been able to with other friends or his own family. In time, they began talking about his struggle.

“I don’t think she intended to fix me initially,” says Romero, “but as we came to know each other, she knew something was broken in me.”

One day, while visiting his mother in Tulare, his guilt surfaced again while he spoke to Zwiener by phone. He said she comforted him by saying that in some of the photos, taken just moments after the shooting, the shoes of bystanders can be seen at a safe distance from Kennedy. But there’s Juan, who didn’t take cover, trying to help a man in need.

Romero traveled to Germany to meet Zwiener, her husband and their children, and the Zwieners came to California. Last August, Romero returned to the site of the assassination with Zwiener.

The hotel is long gone, and in its place is a school and RFK memorial bearing Kennedy’s words, which read in part: “Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, it sends out a tiny ripple of hope . ”

Zwiener worried about Romero’s ability to handle the visit. As they approached, she trembled, but was relieved to see that even though Romero wept quietly, he was OK.

On another day Zwiener carried a book that had those iconic photos of Romero at the Ambassador — the photos he had glanced at once or twice in nearly half a century, but never studied. She turned to the photos and described what she saw.

“Juan slowly, slowly dared to take a look,” she said.

When I asked Romero what he saw, he said:

“I saw a person in need and another person trying to help him.”

Romero moved to Wyoming shortly after the assassination. He needed for his own sanity to leave the Ambassador, where guests insisted on being photographed with him.

He returned to Los Angeles before long but later settled in San Jose, where he continues to work as a concrete and asphalt paver. It’s good exercise, he told me when I visited last week, and it keeps him young.

On each anniversary of RFK’s death, Romero takes flowers to a memorial in downtown San Jose, where Kennedy delivered a speech during his winning primary run. Romero misses Kennedy, or at least what Kennedy seems to have represented as a statesman and presidential candidate. He misses him all the more in the midst of a current campaign in which the hottest topic is a proposal to build a higher wall between Mexico and the United States.

“He made me feel like a regular citizen,” Romero says of the night he delivered room service to Kennedy. “He made me feel like a human being. He didn’t look at my color, he didn’t look at my position . and like I tell everybody, he shook my hand. I didn’t ask him.”

Romero has always believed the best way to honor Kennedy is to live a life of tolerance, to work hard, to take care of family, and to not be a burden.

“I don’t know if you can understand this, but [what happened in 1968] has made me more humble,” Romero said. “It made me realize that no matter how much hope you have, it can be taken away in a second.”

Romero was carrying rosary beads in his pocket the night of the assassination. He stuffed them into Kennedy’s hands as the former U.S. senator and attorney general lay mortally wounded, two months after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and less than five years after President Kennedy was gunned down.

Romero says no one else may have heard it in the commotion, but he insists that Kennedy spoke after being shot, as one eye blinked and his leg twitched.

“First he asked, ‘Is everybody OK?’ and I told him, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK.’ And then he turned away from me and said, ‘Everything’s going to be OK.’”

It has taken Romero 47 years to believe that. He and Zwiener haven’t discussed June 5, 1968, for three or four months, he said. They talk about other things — the things friends talk about.

Romero will travel to Germany later this year to vacation with her family, and he has bought himself a new wardrobe because he feels as if he’s begun a new phase.

He still thinks about Kennedy, he said, but he no longer drowns in sorrow or regret.


Ask Steve: Robert Kennedy - HISTORY

On June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy won California’s Democratic primary in his bid to become President of the United States. That night, after his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy was shot in the head and neck in what turned out to be a successful assassination attempt. He died the following day.

In a famous photograph taken seconds after he was shot, Kennedy lies on the floor. A teenaged hotel busboy kneels beside him, cradling the Senator’s head. That busboy was Juan Romero, who came to the United States from Mexico as a child.

At StoryCorps, Romero remembered the night of the assassination — and how he met Senator Kennedy the day before, when Romero helped deliver his room service.

Top photo: Juan Romero at home in California holding a photo of himself and Senator Robert F. Kennedy that was taken the night Kennedy was assassinated. The photo he holds was taken by Boris Yaro of the Los Angeles Times.
Bottom photo: Hotel busboy Juan Romero cradling Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s head after Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968. Photo by Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

Originally aired June 1, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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“The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan ” by Chris Zabriskie from the alb um Undercover Vampire Policeman

Transcript

Juan Romero (JR)

JR: They opened the door and the Senator was talking on the phone. He put down the phone and says, ’Come on in, boys.’ You could tell when he was looking at you that he’s not looking through you he’s taking you into account. And I remember walking out of there like I was ten feet tall.

The next day he had his victory speech, so they came down the service elevator, which is behind the kitchen. I remember extending my hand as far as I could and then I remember him shaking my hand. And as he let go, somebody shot him.

I kneeled down to him and put my hand between the cold concrete and his head, just to make him comfortable. I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, ’Is everybody okay?’ I said, ’Yes, everybody’s okay.’

I could feel a steady stream of blood coming through my fingers. I had a rosary in my shirt pocket and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me. I wrapped it around his right hand, and then they wheeled him away.

The next day, I decided to go to school. I didn’t want to think about it, but this woman was reading the newspaper. And you could see my picture in there, with the senator on the floor. She turned around and showed me the picture. She said, “This is you isn’t it?” My photo was right on the front page. And, uh, I remember looking at my hands and there was dried blood in between my nails.

So then I received bags of letters addressed to the busboy. There was a couple of angry letters one of them even went as far as to say that, ’If he hadn’t stopped to shake your hand, the Senator would have been alive,’ so I should be ’ashamed of myself for being so selfish.’

It’s been a long fifty years and I still get emotional uh, tears come out. But I went to visit his grave in 2010. I felt like I needed to ask Kennedy to forgive me for not being able to stop those bullets from harming him. And I felt like, you know, it would be a sign of respect to buy a suit. I’d never owned a suit in my life. And so when I wore the suit and I stood in front of his grave, I felt, uh, a little bit like that first day that I — that I met him. I felt important. I felt American. And I felt good.


The Most Trusted White Man in Black America

Bobby Kennedy started out clueless on race, and yet he died a civil rights hero. His learning curve should inspire today’s leaders.

Larry Tye is the author of seven books, including the just-released Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, from which this article is adapted.

The best clue to where the participants at the historic gathering stood was where they sat. All 11 African-Americans lined up on one side of the Kennedy family drawing room overlooking Central Park, the five whites on the other. It was Harlem vs. Hickory Hill. The partition was a fitting one for the spring of 1963, when demarcation of the races was written into law across the American South and into practice in the rest of the land. But it was not an auspicious beginning to an urgent conclave that the black novelist James Baldwin had pulled together, at the request of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, to talk about why a volcano of rage was building up in Northern ghettos and why mainstream civil rights leaders couldn’t or wouldn’t quell it as summer approached.

A second sign that the meeting was ill-fated was not who had been invited but who had not. Baldwin assembled a motley collection of fellow artists, academics, and second-tier civil rights leaders, along with his lawyer, secretary, literary agent, brother, and brother’s girlfriend. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t welcome, nor were the top people from the NAACP and the Urban League, because Bobby Kennedy wanted a no-holds-barred critique of their leadership. He also hoped for a sober discussion of what the Kennedy administration should do, with African-Americans who knew what it already was doing. Having a serious conversation without the serious players would have been difficult enough, but Bobby made it even harder: What he really wanted was gratitude, not candor. Baldwin did his best given those constraints and only on one day’s notice. Bobby may not have been inclined to take them seriously, yet everyone participating—whether a matinee idol or crooner, dramatist or therapist—had earned their stripes as activists.

After feeding his guests a light buffet and settling them in chairs or on footstools, Bobby opened the discussion on tame and self-serving notes. He listed all that he and his brother John F. Kennedy had accomplished in advancing African-American rights, explaining why their efforts were groundbreaking. He warned that the politics of race could get dicey with voters going to the polls in just 18 months and conservative white Democrats threatening to bolt. “We have a party in revolt and we have to be somewhat considerate about how to keep them on board if the Democratic Party is going to prevail in the next elections,” said the attorney general. He had already implied that he was among friends by tossing his jacket onto the back of his chair, rolling up his shirtsleeves and welcoming everyone into his father’s elegant apartment. Now he wanted these friends to explain why so many of their African-American brethren were being drawn to dangerous radicals like Malcolm X and his Black Muslims.

OPTICS: Robert F. Kennedy's Education on Race: Images from a civil rights figure's steep learning curve (click to view gallery) | Getty

The first reaction to Bobby’s speech was halfhearted and short-lived. Bobby assumed his audience was naive about the real world of raw-boned politics, while they took him to be unschooled in the even rawer realities of the slums. “He had called the meeting in hopes of persuading us that he and his brother were doing all that could be done,” remembered the singer Lena Horne, whose silken voice had earned her center stage at the Cotton Club and whose left-leaning politics had gotten her blacklisted in Hollywood. “The funny thing was that no one there disputed that. It was just that it did not seem enough. … He said something about his family and the kinds of discrimination it had had to fight. He also said he thought a Negro would be president within 40 years. He seemed to feel that this would establish some sort of identification, some sort of rapport, between us. It did not. … The emotions of Negroes are running so differently from those of white men these days that the comparison between a white man’s experience and a Negro’s just doesn’t work.”

Kenneth Clark, black America’s preeminent psychologist, came prepared to lay out studies and statistics to document that corrosive racial divide, but he never got the chance. Jerome Smith, a young activist who had held back as long as he could, suddenly shattered the calm, his stammer underlining his anger. “Mr. Kennedy, I want you to understand I don’t care anything about you and your brother,” he began. “I don’t know what I’m doing here, listening to all this cocktail party patter.” The real threat to white America wasn’t the Black Muslims, Smith insisted, it was when nonviolence advocates like him lost hope. The 24-year-old’s record made his words resonate. He had suffered as many savage beatings as any civil rights protester of the era, including one for which he was getting medical care in New York. But his patience and his pacifism were wearing thin, he warned his rapt audience. If the police came at him with more guns, dogs and hoses, he would answer with a weapon of his own. “When I pull a trigger,” he said, “kiss it goodbye.”

Bobby was shocked, but Smith wasn’t through. Not only would young blacks like him fight to protect their rights at home, he said, but they would refuse to fight for America in Cuba, Vietnam or any of the other places the Kennedys saw threats. “Never! Never! Never!” This was unfathomable to Bobby. “You will not fight for your country?” asked the attorney general, who had lost one brother and nearly a second at war. “How can you say that?” Rather than backing down, Smith said just being in the room with Bobby “makes me nauseous.” Others chimed in, demanding to know why the government couldn’t get tougher in taking on racist laws and ghetto blight. Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote the play A Raisin in the Sun, stood to say she was sickened as well. “You’ve got a great many very, very accomplished people in this room, Mr. Attorney General. But the only man who should be listened to is that man over there,” she said, pointing to Smith.

Musician and actor Harry Belafonte, Freedom Rider Diane Nash and Freedom Rider Charles Jones discussing the Freedom Riders movement on July 14, 1961. Bobby Kennedy considered Belafonte a loyal friend. | Getty

Three hours into the evening the dialogue had become a brawl, with the tone set by Smith. “He didn’t sing or dance or act. Yet he became the focal point,” Baldwin said. “That boy, after all, in some sense, represented to everybody in that room our hope. Our honor. Our dignity. But, above all, our hope.” Bobby had heard enough. His tone let everyone know the welcome mat had been taken up. His flushed face showed how incensed he was. As his guests were leaving he was approached by Harry Belafonte, the King of Calypso, whom he had considered a loyal friend. “I said, ‘Well, why didn’t you say something?’” Bobby recounted later. “He said, ‘If I said something, it would affect my position with these people, and I have a chance to influence them. … If I sided with you on these matters, then I would become suspect.” Before Belafonte could finish his thought, Bobby turned away, grumbling, “Enough.”

That set-to of half a century ago is eerily reminiscent of today’s America in which Republicans like Donald Trump are fueling rather than quelling the rage building in places like Dallas, Baton Rouge and the suburbs of St. Paul, national Democrats are only slightly less tone deaf as they try to please black supporters without alienating white ones, and African-Americans are despairing whether anyone in the political establishment is capable of bridging the racial divide. Yet, if Bobby Kennedy’s story is partly a sign of how little things have changed, it also offers inspiration. He may have been clueless about race relations when he took over as his brother’s attorney general, and when he spoke to that group at his father’s apartment in 1963, but he was the quickest of learners. He suffered through and grew from the Freedom Rides, when he was called on to protect the young protesters trying to integrate buses traveling across the Deep South, and even more from the race riots at Ole Miss and the University of Alabama, when he was trying to ensure that black students could tap their right to enroll guaranteed by the Supreme Court but denied by Mississippi and Alabama. In both cases, Bobby came to see that appeasing arch-segregationists by delaying the use of federal force only emboldened the racists. He already knew that bigotry wasn’t confined to the South, but he now acknowledged that not just America’s laws but its soul needed redemption. He stood up against racist leaders on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, crusaded against joblessness and hunger, and used his seat in the U.S. Senate to pioneer anti-poverty programs from the Mississippi Delta to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, America’s biggest ghetto. By the time of his death in June 1968, Bobby was the most trusted white man in black America.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and others greet Freedom Riders about to board a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in May 1961. The Freedom Riders rode buses throughout the southern United States in the months following the Boynton v. Virginia Supreme Court case, which essentially outlawed racial segregation on public transportation, in order to test and call attention to still existing local policies that ran contrary to national laws. | Getty

Just how far he had come was apparent the night, five years after the Baldwin powwow, on April 4, 1968, when King was gunned down outside his room at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel. Bobby was in Indiana for the first of the big primary tests in his improbable campaign for president. He got word of the shooting as he was boarding a plane from Muncie to Indianapolis by the time he landed, King was dead. An outdoor rally had been planned for the heart of Indianapolis’ ghetto at 17th and Broadway, but the mayor and chief of police told Bobby not to go, fearing for his safety and their city’s. (The assistant chief of police, who was black, had a different message for Kennedy advance men: Bobby was so well-liked in the ghetto that he “could sleep all night in the middle of 17th and Broadway and not be hurt.”) Bobby wouldn’t hear of canceling —“I’m going to go there,” he said, “and that’s it”—continuing on to the black neighborhood and asking his police escort to peel off just before he arrived. When an aide handed him scribbled notes he stuffed them into his pocket, preferring to extemporize but unsure what the nearly all-black crowd of a thousand knew about King’s condition and what it would be open to hearing from a white politician.

“I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some—some very sad news for all of you. … Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight,” he said from the flatbed truck that served as his platform, his dark overcoat pulled tight against the raw cold as his audience gasped as one: “No! No!” He continued, louder but his voice still tremulous, “For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with—be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. … What we need in the United States is not division what we need in the United States is not hatred what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King—yeah, it’s true—but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love—a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”

His remarks, lasting barely five minutes, were pitch perfect. No one else had Bobby’s credibility in talking about the pain of a loved one gunned down, or about racial reconciliation. It was the first time he had opened up that way about his brother Jack and his listeners sensed it, wanting to comfort him even as he tried to soothe them. “To do it that night was an incredibly powerful and connective and emotionally honest gesture,” said John Lewis, a Freedom Rider who knew the strains in Bobby’s relationship with King and had taken heat for joining the Kennedy campaign. But Lewis also saw that Bobby’s unorthodox bid for the White House was setting a standard for racial and ethnic bridge-building that resonates more than ever in today’s climate of divisiveness, and summons us to do better. “I said to some of my friends, ‘Dr. King may be gone but we still have Robert Kennedy,”’ recalls Lewis, now a congressman. Not only did Bobby prove wrong that night the mayor and police chief, but the crowd—some carrying knives and homemade bombs—dispersed as he’d asked. Indianapolis would be hailed as an island of calm during that Holy Week Uprising that saw riots break out in more than 100 U.S. cities. The way Kennedy held his audience spellbound would have been unimaginable for his more wooden political rivals—President Lyndon Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, or Senator Eugene McCarthy. If the King murder and its aftermath put urban unrest back on the front burner of the 1968 campaign, it also reinforced that Bobby was the one Caucasian in America trusted by African-Americans. As the signs in the ghetto throughout the campaign said "Kennedy white but alright."

Back at his hotel, Bobby couldn’t unwind. Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar, who had been waiting to make sure the presidential candidate made it out of the ghetto, recalls him as “shaken.” Lewis said Bobby “broke down on a bed, lay there on his stomach and cried.” This Kennedy brother also knew from experience just what King’s widow, Coretta, would need, and he arranged for a plane to bring her to Memphis to pick up her husband’s body, then for three more telephones to be installed at her home that very night. He’d already canceled all campaign appearances except one the next day at the Cleveland City Club, which would be a plea for national calm. He’d met with a dozen local black leaders, with Charles Hendricks of the Radical Action Program conceding afterward that the senator was “completely sympathetic and understanding,” and Bill Bell, who ran a youth center, adding that “the cat [Kennedy] was able to relax.” Then Bobby prowled the hotel, checking in on aides who years later would recall his stream-of-consciousness remarks that offered a lens into a soul troubled by the nation’s problems and his own. “You know,” he said to one of them, “that fellow Harvey Lee Oswald, whatever his name is, set something loose in this country.” He told another, “My God. It might have been me.” The observation that stuck longest with those who heard it was, “You know, the death of Martin Luther King isn’t the worst thing that ever happened in the world.” Speechwriter Jeff Greenfield said, “I could not for the life of me understand that callousness until, of course, I realized he had been thinking of the death of his brother.”

Over the next week Bobby made clear how, for the rest of his campaign and his life, he would be the racial healer that Lyndon Johnson wanted to be but couldn’t, despite authoring a record number of civil rights laws. More than any of King’s would-be successors, Kennedy inherited the slain leader’s mantles of prophecy and advocacy. “Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear,” Bobby told his mostly white and wealthy listeners in Cleveland. “Only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.” Two days later he was back in Washington, where troops in armored carriers patrolled the riot-ravaged streets that he insisted on walking. “A crowd gathered behind us, following Bobby Kennedy. The troops saw us coming at a distance, and they put on their gas masks and got the guns at ready,” recalled Walter Fauntroy, a minister, city councilor, and later the District’s delegate to the U.S. Congress. “When they saw it was Bobby Kennedy, they took off their masks and let us through. They looked awfully relieved.”

Ethel Kennedy shakes hands with Martin Luther King III after she and her husband Robert F. Kennedy, center, visited his mother Coretta Scott King at her Atlanta home on April 8, 1968. | AP Photo

He was the unexpected center of attention again at King’s funeral in Atlanta on April 9, to the dismay of McCarthy, Humphrey, former Vice President Richard Nixon, and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who were largely ignored, and LBJ, who didn’t come. Andrew Young, one of King’s closest aides, who would later serve as Atlanta’s mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was a Kennedy skeptic until that day when Bobby met with him and other black leaders. “He said, ‘You have to pick up the torch or the cross of the fallen hero and carry it on. There’s no slowing down, there’s no stopping,’” Young remembers 50 years later. “From that point on, I felt that this was a guy that I could give my life for, like I would have for Martin. I never felt that way about Gene McCarthy or [George] McGovern or anybody else.” To the Reverend Frederick D. Kirkpatrick, another civil rights icon, Bobby was the “blue-eyed soul brother.”

King himself had recognized that potential sooner than most, and patiently endured the slow way in which Bobby’s growth was stoked by the furnace of experience. No matter that Bobby was neither as patient nor as trusting with King, and had never even sat down with him one-on-one. And no, it wasn’t what today’s cynical pundits would dismiss as mere flip-flopping. “Somewhere in this man sits good,” the preacher and civil rights pioneer had told his lieutenants early on. “Our task is to find his moral center and win him to our cause."


Watch the video: Ask Steve: His ass has got to go. STEVE HARVEY (December 2021).