Perhaps there were some who came away inspired from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s marathon presidential announcement speech last week. And why not? There’s a sucker born every minute.

Kennedy aggressively mined his famous family’s inspirational reserves, papering the Park Plaza with “I’m A Kennedy Democrat” signs. And it isn’t that hard these days to rally lost souls behind you. Even Elon Musk has fans.

But Scott Ferson was uninspired, to say the least. “It was gross,” says Ferson, a card-carrying Kennedy Democrat and former Ted Kennedy staffer who still swears by John F. Kennedy’s exhortation to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

At RFK’s photo-op, “I don’t think anyone was thinking about what they could do for the country,” he says.

This was a publicity stunt, not the launch of a serious candidacy. Even a fringe hopeful like Tom Steyer, who spent nearly $200 million on a 2022 Democratic primary run without winning a single pledged delegate, headed straight from his announcement to a key early primary state to campaign. Kennedy made a beeline for Tucker Carlson’s soon-to-be cancelled Far-Right Fantasy Hour on Fox (“We Lie, You Decide”).

Carlson seemed a tad nonplussed when Kennedy lit into the House Republicans’ proposed cuts in the food stamp program. But he and the “candidate” quickly found common ground on the great animating belief of the modern-day right – that the “corporate” media is evil and actively suppressing dissent. “We know the media lies to us,” Kennedy said in his Park Plaza speech. “Everybody knows that.”

After all, why else would Facebook and Instagram have deleted the accounts of Children’s Health Defense, a Kennedy-run nonprofit, after it was named one of the nation’s biggest “superspreaders” of COVID-19 disinformation by the Center for Countering Digital Hate? That hasn’t stopped Kennedy from peddling polarizing falsehoods about vaccines.

“A lot of the misinformation is just statements that depart from government orthodoxy so they have to either censor us or they have to lie about what’s true and what’s not true,” said Kennedy in his speech. “And that amplifies the polarization.” Neat trick! You trash the house, then blame it on the dog.

But amid the tsunami of egomania and tinfoil spewing from Kennedy last week, the “Kennedy Democrat” branding stood out. In a 2019 op-ed, three family members – including former Congressman Joe Kennedy II – noted the family’s history “as advocates of public health and promoters of immunization campaigns to bring life-saving vaccines to the poorest and most remote corners of America and the world, where children are the least likely to receive their full course of vaccinations. On this issue, Bobby is an outlier in the Kennedy family.”

Kennedy’s father and uncles were serious political leaders who promoted serious policies, for better or worse. They did not waste time and squander credibility pandering to trolls and peddling garbage.

The torch has been passed to a new generation alright. But in this case, it’s a proctoscope.

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Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.