“Watch Me,” Biden said. We did, Joe. It’s Time to Pass the Torch of Leadership to a New Generation.

Look, Biden’s performance in the last week’s Presidential “debate” was terrible AND Trump’s very existence as a national political candidate is terrible. Those two things are true at the same time. That doesn’t mean we have to settle for the status quo.

I’ve taught debate; I’ve coached people for debates; I’ve written speeches; I’ve run for public office; I’ve engaged in public debates on policy issues. I worked with and closely observed Mario Cuomo, perhaps one of the finest public speakers and debaters of our time. Admittedly, I pictured him eviscerating Trump, lie by lie by lie, the other night, leaving The Convicted Felon gurgling for help from his mental cell-mate, Hannibal Lecter.

By every single measure, Biden’s appearance on the CNN “shooting gallery,” — where the President of the United States allowed himself to be exposed to a firehouse of flagrant lies from a convicted felon, while moribund “moderators” Jake Tapper and Dana Bash failed to do their jobs — was the worst “debate” performance I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.

Biden’s constant lost look, frozen in place on camera shot after camera shot, reminded me of the vacant look I’ve seen on elderly relatives wandering the halls of nursing homes, searching for the rest room, or for someone who is not there.

How Biden’s incredibly intelligent and qualified staff allowed this to happen — the “debate”, the format, the camera shots, the “no-fact checking” — astounds me. Even worse, when Editor & Publisher reported on the day of the CNN cage-match that no journalists from Black Owned media outlets were credentialed by CNN for admittance, that alone should have been cause for Biden and his team to blow apart the ticking time bomb of a sur-reality show. In fact, I worried that Trump would cleverly use that reason to bow out of the debate, boxing Biden in. Neither happened.

Despite all of that, the most egregious result from that horror show where CNN happily handed a convicted felon and pathological liar an unfiltered megaphone for 90 minutes, was that Biden himself has become the central issue of one of the most important Presidential campaigns in this country’s history, with our very Democracy and individual human rights at stake.

Biden himself, a good man with an excellent record as President, asked and answered the most telling question, as CBS’ John Dickerson said in a brilliant analysis on CBS Sunday Morning, June 30, 2024:


“When President Biden has been asked about voter concern about his age, he has said, ‘Watch Me.’ They did. Now he must look in the mirror…and see whether he wants to be an agent or an impediment to Donald Trump returning to office.”

The issue — commanded by the merciless camera angles and an abandonment of all journalistic standards by CNN — quickly became Biden’s frighteningly weak look and tepid performance and not the abject criminality, venality and volcanic flow of lies erupting from Trump’s bottomless, bile-filled mouth.

Yes, Trump is a convicted felon, a serial liar, a convicted sexual abuser, delusional and lives in a dangerous fantasy world totally untethered from reality. Yet, all of that, coupled with Trump’s horrendous record as President regarding jobs, the economy, COVID, family separations, reproductive rights, and his poisoning of the Supreme Court, has not been enough to stuff Trump into the garbage can of history where he belongs, poll after poll tells us.

Biden’s age, and continued ability to carry on, keeps cluttering up people’s minds, and turning what should be a slam dunk election on values, issues and character into one that’s too close to call. But, please, don’t take my word for it — the word of a 75 year old man who has watched in pain as friends have slipped into mental and physical decline. Judge for yourself. A quick comparison of tapes from Biden’s 2020 Presidential debates vs. Trump, and last’s weeks, holds the answer. One look and you can see the huge difference between Biden’s communication abilities — never great to begin with — between age 77 and age 81.. Just watch the tapes. Neither this nation, nor the world, can afford the luxury of Biden’s age nor his health becoming the central issue of the campaign.

Or, as John Dickerson puts it, “Ego can get in the way of the greater good.”

In fact, at the very same time the country was distracted by the fallout from CNN’s pseudo-debate, the Far Right controlled, and corporate-owned US Supreme Court dismantled the ability of key federal administrative agencies (EPA, FDA, SEC) to enforce reasonable regulations against corporate excess, putting that responsibility in the hands of extremist judges (like Judge Kacsmaryk of Texas, a Christian Nationalist who tried to ban the drug mifepristone), overturning 40 years of precedent as recklessly as they repealed Roe. Singlehandedly, and without answering to anyone, Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, implemented a key provision of the GOP’s Project 2025, a blueprint for the destruction of Democracy, which calls for erasing all Federal Agency enforcement power, as well as the Civil Service.

While the incumbent President was looking hapless and feeble on national television before 48 million viewers, the US Supreme Court, turned into a mirror of MAGA by the three grotesquely ideological appointments of Donald Trump, was disemboweling the Executive Branch of the federal government of a tremendous amount of power in public health, environmental protection and accountability in financial institutions.

As long as Biden remains the focus of this campaign, and not the Felon Trump and his Fascist followers pushing a Reich-like agenda, everything is at risk. Contrary to the arrogant arguments of Biden’s inner-circle that “he alone can fix it,” since he defeated Trump once, there are far more articulate and effective advocates for the values and policies at stake, who can bring the case to the American people far, far better than Biden does.

Of course, it won’t be easy, but it won’t be as chaotic for the Democrats as Biden’s apologists — some of them who don’t work for the campaign, like Nancy Pelosi and James Clyburn, are over 80 years old themselves, are trying to persuade us. Just because the Democratic Convention is in Chicago, doesn’t mean it’ll be 1968 all over again, and Biden’s team should stop advancing such a shallow, simplistic and inaccurate analogy, and instead, focus on how this can be achieved smoothly and positively. Everything is different now.

Despite the War in Gaza, the National Democratic Party, and its elected officials in Congress, the Senate, and State Houses, are remarkably unified against Trump and the Extreme Right Wing, Christian Nationalist Agenda. There is a deep bench of Democrats — moderate and progressives from every region of the country — who can articulate the issues — and the Biden Administration’s record — much more aggressively than Biden himself, removing the shadow of age and diminishing ability hanging over the President’s own candidacy. That would assure the focus on values and issues — and on the Felon Trump — without the matter of Biden’s age or cognitive ability muddying things up.

Those candidates include, but are not limited to: Kamala Harris, Senator Mark Kelly (Ariz), Corey Booker (NJ), Andy Beshear (Gov. Kentucky), Josh Shapiro (Gov, PA.), Gina Raimondo (Sec. of Commerce), Pete Buttigieg (Sec. of Transportation) Gavin Newsom ( Gov, CA.), Gretchen Whitmer (Gov, Michigan), Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), and Julian Castro (TX, former Secretary of HUD).

The key element in all of this, is whether, and how gracefully, Biden decides to withdraw from the race, and concentrate on his achievements in his one, extraordinary term. If he does, his long record of loyalty — and his desire for “continuing the job” — would point to his supporting Kamala Harris as his successor.

In my judgment, few Democrats — with the possible exception of Gretchen Whitmer — can articulate the issues of Reproductive Rights, Voting Rights, and the preservation of civil and human rights, better than Kamala Harris. As a skilled prosecutor who put felons behind bars, she can advance the criminal case against Trump as well as anyone. Unless Harris chooses to remain as the Vice-Presidential candidate, or announce she will not run for re-election if Biden is not on the ticket, her continued presence on the ticket must be guaranteed, or risk justifiable outrage from Black and female Democrats — especially with Roe v. Wade looming as an enormous issue this fall.

Pairing Harris with a strong, white male candidate — Kelly, Beshear, or Shapiro — would be the kind of ticket-balancing usually done behind closed-doors at National Conventions. It could be an uplifting, public process in Chicago, to showcase the depth and breadth of the Democratic party and its national leadership.

For months, I have been in favor of a national Democratic ticket of Harris and Senator Mark Kelly — with either one heading the ticket. A Kamala/Kelly, or Kelly/Kamala, ticket would communicate ideological balance, as well as the elevation of a charismatic and heroic Astronaut and US Navy Captain to the international stage, sending a powerful message of unity and strength domestically, and abroad, underscoring our commitment to our Allies.

The added bonus to this would be giving the remarkable Gabby Giffords, Kelly’s lifelong partner and a crusader against Gun Violence, a bigger national platform at the very moment the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has declared Firearm Violence to be “a public health crisis in America.” With Gabby Giffords and Gun Violence coming to the forefront in the 2024 campaign, younger voters, led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivor David Hogg, born in 2000, and other young leaders of March for Our Lives, would have another compelling reason to organize and vote in record numbers, in the most important election of their lifetimes.

Biden, of course, holds the key to all of this, and to whether, as John Dickerson said, he wants to be “an agent or an impediment to keeping Donald Trump from office.”

We’ve watched you, Joe. We’ve voted for you. We applaud your achievements. Now it’s time to gracefully pass the torch of leadership to a new generation of good people who will protect democracy at home and around the world, and advance justice and human rights.

“Make America GOTTI’S Again.”

(Illustration by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Nick Anderson, of the Reform Austin News.)

I’ll be looking at Donald Trump during Thursday night’s debate, in all of his smug flatulence producing crapulence, but thinking of John Gotti. 

No, not because Gotti was as physically grotesque as Trump, nor as gargantuan in his ignorance and stupidity. 

No, because I can see Gotti (a former associate of my brother’s) and a gathering of the Gambino gang seated around a small television at the Ravenite Social Club as they ridicule the repulsive and ridiculous Republican candidate for President of the United States—just as they mercilessly mocked him as a mushy mobster wannabe in New York for years.

“Look at that hair, “ I could hear Gotti say.  “He looks like he stuck his fucking tiny little fingers into some putana’s mattress, grabbed a handful of whatever wiry shit was in there and pasted it on his head.”

 Everyone else around the Boss burst out laughing.

“Check out his shoes, “ offered Angelo Ruggiero, a childhood friend of Gotti’s,  pointing at the TV.  “Does he have any toilet paper stuck to them bottoms again this time?  You’d think a guy with as much fucking money as he says he has wouldda learned to wipe his own fat ass the right way, by this time.”

Ruggiero did an imitation of Trump tipping over while he tried to twist his torso to see his own backside.  The others roared. 

John Cody, former head of the NYC/LI Teamsters’ and a prodigious Gambino Family earner who gave Trump fits on multiple construction sites, shook his head, once he stopped shaking from laughter. 

“Money?” That loser don’t have no money,” Cody said.  “That’s all bullshit.  Everytime we shook him down for more, or threatened to hold up one of his construction projects if he didn’t pay up, he squealed like the overstuffed pig he is.”

Cody continued:  “Trump talked tough.  But as soon as you confronted him, he cowered like a frightened little girl.  All talk, no action.  When I got my cumada Vernia Hixon a penthouse in Trump Tower—right below the bullshit artist’s own place—he was like a little lap dog, covering himself with drool.”

“Whadya need, John, Whadya want.  Anything!  Anything! The puffed up patsy  pleaded with me and Vernia ,” Cody said.  “He was a pathetic wimp; literally begging us to grab him by his pussy and wring him dry. Anything, John.  You name it.”

They all sneered, while Cody made the motion of being jerked-off.

“Imagine this fucking wimp comparing himself to Al Capone,” Gotti said.  “Did you hear him bragging before a bunch of his red-hatted guffoons last week, that he was indicted more times than Capone?

 “What a bunch of jadrools those dumbfucks are,” Gotti continued.   “As if that whiney wannabe was tougher than Capone because he got 34 Criminal indictments, and Capone only got 22.  What does that make me?  The fuckin’ feds only got me on 13 counts of murder and racketeering.  Does that fat fuck-face think that makes him almost three times as tough as me?  What a stinking pile of shit.  I didn’t see him taking out McBratney or Paul Castellano….”

Gotti motioned to the TV as Trump was blabbering on about the FBI, and the DOJ.

“That fuckin’ gasbag wouldn’t even last 60 seconds in Otisville, the goddamned Taj Mahal of Federal Prisons, “Gotti said.  “If someone farted near him, he’d asphyxiate himself on it to grovel for favor.”  

Cody picked up on Gotti’s cue and staggered to his feet, imitating Trump gasping for air:  “Ugh, ugh, anything for you, John; anything, you name it.  Suck the stink out of your fart?  You got it.”

Gotti and his entire crew doubled over with laughter.  Trash-talking Trump did that to them.

“I gotta give it to him– although it was probably the Russian Mob which deserves the credit for it,” Gotti said.  “They figured out that the best way to get a lot of their guys out of jail was to prop up the fucking pansy in the White House, so he could roll over and give ‘em everything they wanted, and pardon his friends who committed felonies for him.”

“Jeez, why didn’t we think of that?” Gotti asked, waving his hand at the TV.  “I coulda been the First Felon President, and walked in 1992, instead of getting a life sentence from the fucking feds 32 years ago this week.”

“Just think, “ Gotti said, standing up, and motioning his arms in a big sweeping gesture.  “MAGA woulda meant:  “Make America GOTTI’S Again!”

They all stood, clinked their glasses of wine and said “Salut,” in unison, as Trump drifted off into a rhapsodic riff about another multiple felony-committing  role-model of his,  Hannibal Lecter.


A Fortunate Father & A Rainbow Connection.

Lou Gehrig has been on my mind a lot lately.

No, not because his birthday is coming up on June 19; a birthday he did not live to see in 1941, when he would have turned 38 years old but didn’t, because of a progressively debilitating disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or more commonly known now as,  “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Gehrig gave his farewell address to baseball—after playing 16 spectacular seasons with the New York Yankees—on July 4, 1939, before a packed house at the old Yankee Stadium, two weeks after his diagnosis with the disease.

The Yankees’ “Iron Horse,” who set Major League Baseball records for consecutive games played and grand slam homeruns which stood for decades, told the nearly 60,000 people in attendance that “ I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot of life to live for.”

Then, speaking in a strong and steady voice at a stand-up microphone behind home plate, Gehrig spoke the words etched into the minds of millions of men, especially, when repeated by Gary Cooper portraying Gehrig in the movie “Pride of the Yankees,” just one year after Gehrig’s death: 

“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

No, Gehrig’s been on my mind, because consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

At age 75, I’m not battling against a serious disease, which many good friends are at much younger ages; I’m not mourning the death of a spouse or partner, as several of my college friends have found themselves doing over the past few years; I’m not caring for a precious family member with dementia, watching helplessly as his or her mind just slip slides away.  I am grateful each day for still standing, as we walk through the eye of many storms each day, and mindful of my responsibility to use my mental and physical health to help those I love.  I am acutely aware, that although I may feel like one of the “luckiest” men on earth right now, there are countless others without such good fortune.

Preternaturally optimistic, I was raised by a mother who lived her 92 years with Polio, and was ever grateful that her paralysis wasn’t much worse, and that she didn’t  “end up in an iron lung,” like many of the other children she saw on her visits to Polio wings of hospitals.

I also suspect that having both of my parents take their last breaths in my arms has something to do with perspective. Every time I am about to complain about a personal issue, I think of that.  It has a great leveling effect.  So many other people have so many more daily life-and-death issues weighing on them—whether in war zones, or just struggling to survive—than I do. 

Still, there are certain things that knock me for a loop, and remind me clearly why I have thus far been, largely, spared.  Sure, I attempted suicide when I was a college freshman, but I survived, determined to do all I could to save others from being sucked into the belly of that sandworm, like in Dune. 

I wrote about my suicide attempt seven years ago in my book, Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother,” and then again, just a few years back on both Substack and Medium, in an article entitled, “Reflections of Suicide: Living to Write About It.”  My purpose in writing about my suicide attempt was to show other young people struggling with questions of their own existence, that things can get better; that you can survive and grow, help others live their lives, and improve the lives of other humans around us, by sharing your story, and listening, listening, listening to theirs.

Little did I foresee that the greatest test of my own experience with depression and attempted suicide would come from our oldest granddaughter, a brilliant, compassionate and beautiful child, born with her own unique set of health challenges.  On the nights we kept self-harm watch for her, and held her hand to comfort her to sleep, I understood clearly that my own experiences had simply been preparation for that moment.  No matter what she did or said, I saw and heard her with great clarity, and understood that despite a lifetime of professional achievements and high level personal connections, this was what I had been put on earth for:  this moment, this child, this circumstance, this role—to save and nurture this child’s life.  I saw myself as clearly as I saw her.   We were, as she would frequently say, “soulmates.”

This weekend, after six months away, my granddaughter, now 15, came home from a residential school out of state, where she has shown enormous personal growth, courage and tenacity.  For her, for her father, and for her grandmother and me, it’s been a long six months. 

I missed taking her “thrifting”, and standing back and observing her get lost in the pleasure of meticulously picking through rows of clothing, kibitzing with the sales people with the wildest hair styles, until she found just the right piece to try on.  When she fell in love with vinyl records, I delighted in taking her from record store to record store, in search of the newest releases from Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, Boy Genius, or Taylor Swift.  To me this was Nirvana, and for her, there was such comfort in the soothing rhythms of the search.  We both loved it, and part of me wanted it to last forever.

Yet, we both knew, this routine could not substitute for a school/learning routine, in a supportive environment that could accommodate her unique talents, personality and needs.  We talked about anything that crossed our minds, without judgment, knowing that there was nothing either one of us could ever do, that would jeopardize the other’s love.  We created a very safe space, and we both cherished it.

Through all of her ups and downs, my “soulmate” always expressed a strong desire to go to college, to be a therapist—since so many had helped her—or, an animator or artist, because that gift came so naturally to her, and often served as a great elixir.  We knew that as 9th grade began, things would need to become more structured, and targeted toward her academic and therapeutic best interests.

When she left for school, which we both agreed was best, I was lost.  For weeks, I struggled to find my purpose again, immersing myself in my writing, fiction and non-fiction; learning the music of her favorite groups, and scouring the news for items about everything that interested her.  Still, my son, our granddaughter’s father and a writer as well, sensed that I needed something more.

He came up with a tangible “project” for me, to redesign and re-landscape his front and back yards—something I had been badgering him to do for years.  I proposed doing a desert landscape, knowing that, once completed, it required the least care for him and that my granddaughter, when she returned, would love the succulents, cacti and rock-gardens I was envisioning.

Gardening had always been a great stress reliever for me, from my long days of working in government, media and public health, and from the excruciating tension between my brother’s life and mine. To get lost in the simple pleasure of gardening connected me back in time with my mother, who also loved it, but was unable to actually garden because of her Polio paralysis in one arm.  In practice, I became her “good” arm in the garden.

Serendipitously, at the same time I began this project, the New York Times ran an article on “Why Gardening is So Good For You.”

The article focused on the good exercise results of gardening (“Gardening gets you moving again,” and the mental health benefits (“Gardening does wonders for your mental well-being.”)  For me, the effects in both cases were terrific and tangible.

Over the course of my six-week landscaping project (timed to culminate over Father’s Day weekend), I lost five pounds, dropping to my lowest weight in a decade.  Each day I moved shovel by shovel of blue/grey gravel—12 Cubic yards in all—to give me the clean desert palette I needed to design from at my son’s Sonoma County, California home. 

While I started the project as a Father’s Day Gift to him (which came in ahead of schedule and way under budget) it morphed into a fun and creative design project to have finished in time for my granddaughter’s first visit home from residential school in six months.   Each Blue Agave I planted in a symmetrical line, was intended to bring a smile to her face when she saw it, since she previously found their weed-wounded yard to be “sad.” 

I repurposed thousands of dollars of unused “river rocks,” strewn on the side of my son’s home, finding enough of them to create several rock gardens, including a Pride-colored Rainbow of Rocks, at the lower bottom of the front yard.  Since my oldest granddaughter proudly identified as part of the LBGTQ+ community, I knew this would make her smile.

To add to the joy of doing our “Rainbow Rock Garden”, our youngest granddaughter, aged 8 ½, spray-painted most of the rocks for me, and came up with the inspired notion of placing the Rainbow on a “cloud” of white rocks, since she said, “whenever there are rainbows, there are clouds.”

For days after, I was humming Jim Henson’s “The Rainbow Connection,” a song which he wrote for Kermit the Frog, in The Muppet Movie, in 1979, just ten years after Stonewall, and four years after our son was born.  Over and over again, the Spotify in my mind kept playing the lyrics to me, in Kermit’s pure innocent voice, while our youngest granddaughter and her grandmother worked on the colorful masterpiece:

Someday we’ll find it,

The Rainbow Connection,

The lovers, the dreamers and me…”

I could not stop looking at our finished Rainbow Rock Garden, laughed at the sight of our youngest granddaughter draped in a smart-looking smock carefully spraying-painting each one, and smiled when I thought of the look of wonder our oldest granddaughter would have when we welcomed her home.

I am, without question, the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

For Flag Day, the Alito’s Go All Out Across the Dark Lagoon.

(Martha Ann Alito’s Flag of preference for Flag Day, and every day.)

Supreme Court Justice Samuel’s Alito’s wife, Martha Ann Alito, has become so obsessed with making America more “Godly,” that she’s taken to designing Flags in her head, to be flown when her husband “is free of all this nonsense” — of being one of nine US Supreme Court Justices. Yes, she actually said that.

Martha (Alito, not Mitchell) let all the world see the worm holes in her head at a Christian Nationalist cult-meeting, when asked what kinds of Flags she’s thinking of:

“They’ll be all kinds. I made a flag in my head. This is how I satisfy myself. I made a flag. It’s white and it has yellow and orange flames around it. And in the middle is the word VERGOGNA.” (Editors’ note: “Vergogna” means “Shame” in Italian, and has been used on flags protesting Italy’s “shameful” immigration policy, to movie titles by Enrico Morricone, for “Vergogna Schifosi,” literally translated as “Disgusting Shame.”)

While her husband Sam has cast a crazed Savonarola-like spell over the Supreme Court on matters of personal autonomy, women’s rights, sexuality, racist reapportionment, and matters of “godliness,” and faith, Martha has been dreaming of becoming America’s new Betsy Ross.

Here are some of the Alito’s real and imagined flags they’ve either already flown, or are dreaming of flying once Sam’s Supreme Court “nonsense” is over, and he has made America “godly” again. That is, of course, in the image of the fundamentalist Christian God, not the God of Jews, Muslims, progressive Christians, or of any other faith.

(NB: The Swastika flag may be on loan from Right Wing Billionaire Harlan Crow, benefactor of Alito’s fellow Far-Right collaborator on the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas, and collector of Nazi paraphernalia.)

“You are assassinating my legacy.”

(Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., age 14, in the foreground, stands by his father’s casket in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in early June, 1968. TV Talk Show Host Jack Paar stands behind the coffin.)

Dear Bobby:

I know life has been hard for you since I was murdered 56 years ago, after I just won the California Democratic Presidential Primary. I’m sure it’s been difficult for the entire family.

But, I’m writing to you now, because I believe you’ve taken your grief over my being taken from you at such an early age, in some incomprehensible and unconscionable directions. It’s time for you to reflect on the enormous damage you are doing.

I was glad you weren’t there to witness me being shot in the head. It was bad enough your mother had to see it. The fact that you were asleep in your dorm some 3,000 miles away at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., and had to be awakened in the middle of the night by a priest to hear the news, has always been of some comfort to me. For a 14-year old to have watched such gun violence in person, being perpetrated against his father, would have been traumatizing.

I can only imagine how terrible it was to be rousted from a sound sleep to learn the news. I will be forever grateful to Vice-President Hubert Humphrey for flying you, Kathleen, and Joe out to LA on Air Force Two, so you could all be at my bedside in Good Samaritan Hospital. Hubert personified what being a “good samaritan” means.

Even though Last Rights had already been administered to me, I felt you grab my hand tightly and pray for me to survive and for my soul. I shall also never forget how brave you were to stand by my casket, day-after-day, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC, while millions of Americans were able to come by and pay their respects. I felt you trembling, but still, you stood there, strong and erect like a soldier of Jesus Christ. For that courage, I shall always be grateful.

However, in pursuing the path of public service, to which many in our family have devoted themselves, you seem to have gotten lost along the way. So, as a deep believer that eternal change for the better is possible, I am offering you the kind of guidance I wish I was able to give you in person:

First, you’ve harmed millions of children with special needs—the same children whose lives our family championed in the Special Olympics, and to whom you Aunt Eunice, your cousin Maria, and I dedicated our lives to serving—with your decades long laundry list of lies about the link between Vaccines and Autism.

Those bold-face lies — disproved by dozens of medical studies — resulted in the loss of the medical license by Andrew Wakefield, the British researcher who originated and propagated the destructive anti-vaxxer propaganda. You knew that at the time you started peddling that pernicious propaganda, and you certainly know it now. To continue to spread those lies, and grotesquely try to repeat them concerning COVID-19—a disease which killed 1.2 million Americans—is unconscionable. Stop it.

I am ashamed that you knowingly disseminated and profited from peddling such widely disproven, and damaging, lies about a non-existent link between standard, childhood MMR vaccines and autism, blocking legitimate research and treatment for autism for many years. By intentionally spreading such ignorance, you personally caused direct harm to many of the same marginalized communities — communities of color, the poor, and the disabled — that I spent my lifetime championing. Didn’t you learn anything from our dining room table conversations about the special responsibilities we had?

Secondly, your candidacy for President is of grave concern to me, as it it to every other member of our family, who have all solidly backed Joe Biden. Biden, a good, fair and compassionate man, has governed in a conciliatory, pragmatic progressive tradition to benefit working families—much as I would have done—and, right now, he is a necessary bulwark against the anti-democratic, nationalistic, nihilistic, racist, xenophobic, anti-women, anti-gay, and reactionary forces in this country and around the world. He may well be the last best hope for Democracy, and for decency. How could you undermine that, and play into the hands of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn—all convicted felons, by the way—and of Vladimir Putin?

Your mother and I taught you respect for the Rule of Law, for Democracy and for the dignity of every human life. How could you not see that by taking even one-vote away from Joe Biden, you are pushing this country into the abyss of darkness, and turning it over to the forces of Fascism your Uncle John and I gave up our lives fighting? Why are you trashing all the good work we tried to do during our brief time in public office?

And, while I have your attention, that choice you made for your running mate is completely looney-tunes. She met a billionaire at a Yoga Retreat, had his baby, took some of his money and then dumped him when she had sex with another billionaire? And she used her multi-millions to spread more lies about vaccines, and to purchase a place on your national ticket? Really, Bobby? What are you doing? I can understand your wanting to act out a bit of a subconscious Oedipal plot aimed at me for abruptly leaving you at such a tender age, but do you really want to send your 96-year old mother to her grave? Snap out of it!

Third, that cringe-worthy book for which you wrote the forward, entitled, “The Real Anthony Fauci”, has been adopted as gospel by the John Birch Society, Q-Anon, and every other anti-government wacko on the extreme Right Wing, including the Republicans running the present House of Representatives. Do you really believe that the life-saving work of Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates was meant to “ put humanity under totalitarian rule,” and “must be stopped? Who ARE you?

The Craig Newmark Center’s Poynter Institute—which has done some outstanding work in public health and public policy I would have strongly supported— reported that you are “one of the biggest sources of anti-vaccine rhetoric today.”

Worse, McGill University’s Office of Science & Society —at one of Canada’s leading Medical Universities—has called you “one of the princes of the anti-vaccine movement, if not its king.” What have you become?

As if all of this deeply damaging behavior on your part wasn’t enough, Bobby, you gutted me when you testified before the Louisiana House Oversight Committee during the height of the COVID pandemic, and opposed a proposal requiring public school students to be vaccinated. Your reckless actions took by breath away: my son, my namesake, crusading against a proven public-health measure that has historically protected people of color.

You had to know that more than 50% of the public school students in Louisiana are students of color — precisely the demographic that had the highest rates of COVID infections, and death. Were you consciously undermining everything your mother and I taught you to fight for? Everything shred of public service and the public good that the Kennedy family has stood for?

Didn’t it matter to you, Bobby, that the rabid Right Wing groups you are now working with are the very same pernicious people who have always opposed more funding for health care for the poor, for working families, for mental health services, and for the disabled? Doesn’t it matter to you that those actions are costing the lives of the most vulnerable among us?

I know you have questions about whether Sirhan Sirhan acted alone in murdering me, Bobby, but whether he did or not, your unhinged actions and life-threatening lies against the people for whom I fought, are doing a far more thorough job of assassinating my legacy than Sirhan ever could.

I will always love you, my son, and will always believe in the power of redemption, and in your ability to turn toward the light, instead of pulling the country down into a wormhole of darkness and despair.


Your father.