D. Dowd Muska


This Week's Column



Trustafarian, Junkie, Womanizer, ‘Environmentalist’

October 08, 2015

In 1997, moonbat pundit Margaret Carlson described the sons of JFK, RFK, and EMK as “good teeth, good hair and the best public relations a trust fund can buy.”

Ouch. In their defense, the boys were burdened with terrible parents, family tragedies, and a predilection for guzzling, snorting, smoking, or mainlining whatever substances gave them pleasure. Yet despite access to resources most of us can’t imagine, the scions have consistently failed to overcome the darker devils of their nature.

RFK Jr.: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream (St. Martin’s Press; 403 pages; $27.99) can be tough reading. Robert and Ethel’s thirdborn is known today as Al Gore’s rival for the nation’s leading eco-alarmist. But author Jerry Oppenheimer provides a fuller picture of the man People dubbed “America’s Toxin Avenger.”

RFK Jr. was 14 on the day his father, who had just prevailed in the California primary for the Democratic presidential nomination, was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan. The politician’s wife, never reliably rational, grew even nuttier after the assassination. She had too many kids -- 11! -- to manage while fulfilling the considerable duties of being the widow of another Kennedy martyr. A 21-year-old college dropout hired to supervise her brood, Oppenheimer writes, found them to be “spoiled, arrogant, undisciplined know-it-alls.”

RFK Jr. had always been a little odd, but at the boarding schools he kept getting kicked out of, he surrendered to narcotics, and spent very little time hitting the books. When it came time for college, Harvard was a given, “despite his addictive drug use, his erratic and often bizarre behavior, his run-ins with law enforcement, and what were said to be mediocre grades and little if any extracurricular activities.”

Law school at the University of Virginia followed, which led to a gig with “legendary Manhattan DA Robert M. Morgenthau, who happened to be a boyhood friend of Bobby’s uncle the president.” But flunking the bar exam on his first try -- a fate suffered by only 6 of 55 newly hired ADAs -- suggested that a career in real-world law wasn’t to be. It didn’t help that in 1983, on a flight out of Minneapolis, RFK Jr. overdosed, and was charged with felony possession of heroin.

In contrast to his brother David, who destroyed himself with drugs, RFK Jr. eventually got clean. As part of his guilty plea, he performed community service with the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association. Since then, he’s been a full-time “environmentalist.” The greenie scold rewarded his eco-mentor Robert Boyle by ousting the writer and activist from the organization he founded. (“I think he’s a despicable person. I have no interest in Mr. Kennedy.”)

Joe Kennedy and his sons were manically uncommitted to their vows of marital fidelity. Ditto for the third generation. RFK Jr. has waged a one-man war on women. His first wife, a sharp attorney -- she passed the bar on her first try --  had trouble “transforming her Indiana-born-and-bred natural style into being the model, exuberant Kennedy wife like her mother-in-law.” Separation came in 1992, with a quickie divorce in the Dominican Republic in 1994. The next month, Mary Richardson, already pregnant, became wife #2. The union ended in horrific fashion in 2012, when amidst a nasty divorce process, the mother of four hanged herself. Actress Cheryl Hines became wife #3 last summer. Good luck, sweetie.

RFK Jr.’s had a sordid life, and Oppenheimer covers it all. Perhaps most disturbing is the trustafarian’s relationship with the late Lem Billings, who befriended JFK “while working together on the Choate school yearbook.” Surprisingly, his homosexuality didn’t keep the New York advertising executive from becoming a top Kennedy errand boy. Ethel chose Billings to become RFK Jr.’s surrogate father. His performance was abysmal. Billings cleaned up his charge’s many messes, and even participated in the boozing and drugging. Mom didn’t seem to mind -- or care, really.

For those willing to endure it, RFK Jr. offers an exhaustive compendium of it subject’s depravity. It lays out, in gruesome specificity, the reasons why he chose, rather wisely, not to pursue elective office.

But don’t count the Most Awful Family in America out. Sister Kathleen was a bust as a pol in deeply Democratic Maryland, and Ted Kennedy Jr. is merely a member of the Connecticut legislature. However, U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA), RFK Jr.’s nephew, is young and hungry. The Kennedys’ political ambition goes on, their solipsism endures, their sense of entitlement still lives, and their haughtiness shall never die.

D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.

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