June 05, 2018

#RFK50 brings out whack jobs, as I see it

Busboy Juan Romero trying to help Robert F. Kennedy
after he was fatally wounded.
(Photo by Bill Eppridge
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
For the unfamiliar, the hashtag is for the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination by Sirhan Sirhan.

And, by whack jobs, I refer not to Sirhan Sirhan, but by assassination conspiracy theorists, many of whom are — of course — also JFK assassination conspiracy theorists.

I had forgotten that today was the 50th anniversary until one of those whack jobs, Jim DiEugenio, was given not one but two opportunities, and one other to Dan Moldea, to pontificate at Consortium News about how Sirhan Sirhan didn't do it, how Bobby was the greatest thing since Jack's Camelot sliced bread, and more.

Moldea, had I read through his piece, I would have seen that he's now rejected RFK conspiracy theories. I apologize sir, per your comment.

All bullshit, of course.

We have good evidence on Vietnam that Jack wasn't leaving until he had a proven victory — and no, not the declare victory and leave schtick. We also have good evidence that the military ramp-up LBJ called into play after the Gulf of Tonkin was already on the Pentagon books well before Jack's assassination. It was probably detailed enough that he had semi-intimate knowledge of it.

DiEugenio's JFK is a puzzler in many other ways.

He's a genius on civil rights legislation, not only on how and with what timing to work Congress, contra the WTF? at that time of LBJ, but on how strong a piece to craft, despite neither LBJ nor MLK trusting him that much. As far as knowing how to work Congress, would you believe The Master of the Senate, per Robert Caro, or The Absentee of the Senate? No brainer in my mind.

Yet, this same genius, strong on how strong to be on civil rights, is also not only too weak to say no to the Bay of Pigs in early 1961 but also too weak to say no to the Diem coup just weeks before his assassination.

Well, if you'll believe that, it's no wonder you'll believe, and promulgate, conspiracy theory bullshit.

But, this is ultimately about Bobby, not Jack.

First, Bobby's 1968 political future.

Per this Politico piece, Bobby had about zero chance at the nomination. It reminds us only 14 states had primaries back then. The other states, through caucuses and conventions, were still largely controlled by "machines." LBJ made sure they stayed Humphrey.
Almost three-fifths of conventional delegates were selected by county committeemen, state party officers and elected officials, and those officials were squarely behind Humphrey.
In fact, that's why some were wondering if LBJ wasn't going to parachute into Chicago and elbow aside Hubert. And, had Bobby not been shot, he might just have done it.

And, on the ballot, Humphrey took two-thirds, not three-fifths, of the vote. Sure, some of Bobby's delegates went to him, instead of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, or somebody else. But, Bobby wasn't going to win, period.

(Also, there's the myth that Eugene McCarthy couldn't win Democratic primaries in minority-heavy states, which itself isn't so true, as the results show him beating Bobby in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Yes, it's true Bobby contested none of those, but that may be because he knew he couldn't win. And, Bobby was FROM Massachusetts, too. At the same time, Wiki repeats the Camelot 2.0 myth, claiming the antiwar movement was kaput with Bobby's death, which would be news indeed to McCarthy and many of his backers. [Note: He never would have released pledged delegates to Bobby, anyway. Never.])

At the same time, showing Wiki's problems with lack of editing uniformity, but further undercutting DiEugenio, in his first major campaign speech in 1968, per Wiki's piece on his campaign, he admitted:
"I was involved in many of the early decisions on Vietnam, decisions which helped set us on our present path."
Original quote from this piece, among others. Not quite either Camelot 1.0 OR 2.0. (DiEugenio accuses me of trolling in another comment to one of his pieces. If telling the truth is trolling, so be it. And, I'll get to that in a bit.)

The Politico piece also notes that if Bobby had somehow pulled off a miracle in Chicago, he might have had almost as much a George Wallace problem as Humphrey did.

Now, the Ambassador Hotel.

Sirhan Sirhan has gun in hand. He was in the right position to fire the fatal shot. He admitted the shooting. He described why he shot Bobby — over his support for Israel. (His journals are quite explicit as to all of this, too.)

Sirhan Sirhan?

Or, some lame conspiracy, or set of them, as, although less wild than with JFK, multiple RFK assassination conspiracy theories exist.

Occam's razor.

It was those four paragraphs above, with the third being simply "Or, some lame conspiracy theory?" that led DiEugenio to accuse me of trolling.

Oh, and I don't give a fuck that RFK Jr. claims that Sirhan Sirhan didn't do it. Bobby Jr. is an antivaxxer in particular and a believer in conspiracy theories in general himself.

And, some of the specific claims, like Sirhan Sirhan was given post-hypnotic suggestions and other stuff? Crazier yet.

That said? Per an essay by Moldea, Sirhan Sirhan had fired about 400 rounds with the revolver before he shot Bobby. Per Jeff Greenfield, what set him off was seeing Bobby wearing a yarmulke at an Israeli Independence Day celebration. And, that's not alt-history. The Jewish Press confirms it, complete with photo.

Original AP photo, May 26, 1968. Just a week before
his assassination on June 6, 1968, Senator Kennedy,
then a candidate for the presidency, wears a traditional
yarmulke in his appearance before a Portland synagogue.
Anybody who doesn't believe in conspiracy theories about Bobby's death but has read much of Sirhan Sirhan's numerous parole hearings and other things will realize he'll say whatever he thinks will get him parole. (At other parole hearings, he's admitted shooting Bobby, while blaming booze or something.)

Wouldn't you?

And, the conspiracy theories, including but not limited to Manchurian candidate ones with hypnotic suggestion, have even less credibility than the JFK ones.

Even more interesting, but perhaps because it would be self-undercutting, no conspiracy theorist that I know of has proposed the most reasonable one.

And that is that some Palestinian organization — whether PLO, PFLP, or someone else — put Sirhan up to it. The undercutting would be that that would still mean he did it, unless combined with one of the actual conspiracy theories like a two-gunman idea.


Oh, although he doesn't explicitly endorse a JFK conspiracy theory in his uncle's death, RFK Jr's new book, which is a total teh suck of high-octane mendaciousness, basically claims the CIA did it.


Dan Moldea said...

You say that I went on Consortium News to "pontificate . . . about how Sirhan Sirhan didn't do it." . . . Dude, do you know how to read? I published a book in 1995, saying that "Sirhan did it, and he did it alone." I haven't strayed from that position since--and that was exactly what I said at Consortium News. . . . You clearly owe your readers a correction for your false statement about me and my important work on the RFK case.

Dan Moldea

Gadfly said...

Dan, you are right. I made that correction at the time, but failed to comment that I had, in case you're following this. I have also linked to a piece I found by you online.

AND ... because I never knew it until this week, I posted the Jewish Press piece, with AP photo, about Bobby in the Portland synagogue for Israeli Independence Day. Apparently this is what "triggered" Sirhan Sirhan.