Enter the Newsomverse. These are friends, advisers and staff influencing the California governor.

If Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s three-month-old presidential campaign were a newly opened restaurant, it would have already succumbed to its negative reviews and closed its doors. Members of his own family have declined to back him. “Due to a wide range of Bobby’s positions, I’m supporting President Biden,” said his sister, Rory Kennedy. “I support President Biden,” said cousin Patrick Kennedy, a former member of Congress. And, most damning, the bookies say he has next to no chance of winning.

Kennedy — and this comes as a surprise to nobody — is about as likely to win the Democratic Party’s nomination as, say, Donald Trump. A sharp CNN piece last month by the network’s analyst Harry Enten attached an anchor to Kennedy’s chances and sunk it into the depths of the Mariana Trench. According to Enten, the party faithful overwhelmingly approve of Joe Biden’s presidency, while a poll of “strong Democrats” registers as 50 percent unfavorable to Kennedy. Seeing as it is Democrats and not the press or tech billionaires who select the party’s nominee, and the fact that Kennedy shows no sign of exceeding the sub-20 percent level of support among Democratic voters, his candidacy is stillborn.

This inevitable defeat is self-evident to everybody, including Kennedy, one suspects. But RFK Jr. doesn’t care about losing because there’s little evidence he was very interested in becoming president in the first place. Those with genuine presidential ambitions tend to establish foundational political careers, putting in at minimum a term or two in elective office. If they run and get beaten, they get back up and run again and again, as Biden did.

Outliers who enter the presidential derby usually broadcast their plans before running, as Trump did, forming an exploratory committee for the office in 2000, before finally running in earnest in 2016. But outside of Dwight D. Eisenhower — a genuine war hero — almost never does a figure without a political resume and not so much as a previous head feint toward the White House launch a serious presidential campaign out of the blue as Kennedy did in April. Some people give more forethought to picking a dressing for their salad than Kennedy seems to have given to his run for president.

But Kennedy doesn’t care that he’s losing because winning the White House isn’t his objective. One clue that Kennedy doesn’t crave the political power that comes with the presidency is that, unlike his siblings, cousins and other Kennedy offspring (Joseph P. Kennedy II, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Patrick J. Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Edward M. Kennedy Jr., Mark Kennedy Shriver, Bobby Shriver), he has never sought public office. The closest he has ever come to serving in a legislature was in 2000 when he briefly considered running for Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s open U.S. Senate seat (which Hillary Clinton slipped into) and in 2008, when he appears to have been on the New York governor’s shortlist to fill the seat when Clinton vacated it to become secretary of State. Or, to give him the benefit of the doubt, it could be that Kennedy has always craved power but wanted to start at the top.

What Kennedy does undeniably desire is public attention, something his presidential campaign is delivering, with critical profiles in the Washington Post","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/06/05/rfk-jr-democratic-primary-biden/","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4080008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4080009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Washington Post, the New York Times","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/28/us/politics/rfk-democrats-election.html","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000a","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000b","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>New York Times, Time","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://time.com/6287001/rfk-jr-interview-2024-campaign/","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000c","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000d","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Time, the Atlantic","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2023/06/robert-f-kennedy-jr-presidential-campaign-misinformation-maga-support/674490/","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000e","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e408000f","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Atlantic and a particularly damning and comprehensive one by Rebecca Traister in New York magazine","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/robert-f-kennedy-jr-2024-presidential-campaign-democratic-primary.html","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4080010","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4080011","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>New York magazine. In just a couple of months, Kennedy has gone from “that anti-vaccine guy” to a staple of cable news coverage, making him The Top Kennedy for now, even if much of the publicity is bad. It’s always been a competitive clan, so he’s got to be happy that he now occupies a larger presence in the public mind than his cousin Caroline Kennedy, an ambassador to Japan and now Australia, larger than her brother John Kennedy Jr., who dominated the headlines until his accidental death in 1999. Because it’s been so long since his father and famous uncles died, Bobby Jr. might even have eclipsed them as The Top Kennedy among younger voters.

The political gene, which often comes bundled with the one for narcissism, never adequately thrives until fed by some form of adulation. Even the negative adulation of the recent profiles can be read as “I must be doing something right because they’re all knocking me” for somebody as thirsty for attention as Kennedy. He’s winning there, too.

Kennedy’s candidacy has broadened the platform for his previously banned-by-Facebook-and-Instagram outré ideas about vaccines, not to mention his views on his father’s assassination, gender dysphoria and chemicals, antidepressants and school shootings, the CIA, and the “stolen” 2004 election. That adds to the considerable platform he has already built on his podcasts and his bestselling screed The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health. The current campaign has and will continue to expand his exposure until he concedes the nomination to Biden.

Kennedy may have spent his career as an environmental activist and litigator on the political sidelines, but he’s well aware of the dividends that can be earned from running a long-shot presidential campaign. As laid out in a recent Insider article, the typical dark horse candidacy is mostly about climbing the rungs of power. Would former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg be the secretary of Transportation today if he hadn’t run in 2020? Would Kamala Harris, who polled below Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for almost the entire 2020 primary campaign, and frequently did worse than Buttigieg, have been tapped as Biden’s running mate if she had not run? Would Sanders possess his current clout if not for his two unexpectedly strong forays? Failed candidacies have produced book contracts, cable TV deals, paid speaking engagements, lobbying gigs and proximity to power.

The current Kennedy moment will soon be swamped by the Biden machine. But every day this final heir to America’s second greatest political dynasty spends on the hustings, he will continue rolling up winnings like an undetected card counter in Las Vegas.

The greatest? The Bush family, of course. Send your winnings to Shafer.Politico@gmail.com","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"mailto:shafer.politico@gmail.com","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090004","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090005","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Shafer.Politico@gmail.com. No new email alert subscriptions are being honored at this time. My social media accounts — Twitter","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://twitter.com/jackshafer","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090006","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090007","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>TwitterMastodon","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"http://journa.host/@jackshafer","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090008","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090009","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>MastodonPost","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://post.news/jackshafer","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000a","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000b","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>PostBluesky","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://bsky.app/profile/jackshafer.bsky.social","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000c","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000d","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Bluesky, and Notes","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://substack.com/profile/547901-jack-shafer","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000e","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e409000f","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>Notes — want to welcome a baby brother: [http://@jackshafer@threads.net]Threads. My RSS","link":{"target":"NEW","attributes":[],"url":"https://t.co/tfg9KzdCxq","_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090012","_type":"33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df"},"_id":"00000189-4370-d660-a1ff-5f77e4090013","_type":"02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266"}”>RSS feed wants to kill them as they sleep.

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