Earlier today, President-Elect Donald Trump met with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and, at least according to RFK, Jr., wants the prominent Democratic anti-vaccine activist to head a commission on vaccine safety.
You've heard all this before. Like President-Elect Trump, during the 2008 campaign Senator Obama also said alarmingly anti-vaccine things, and like President-Elect Trump, President-Elect Obama met with RFK, Jr. despite his fame as a science denier. In 2008, I am proud to say Science 2.0 helped change President Obama's mind, but I took to the Wall Street Journal to make the case this time.
In 2008, Senator Obama had good reason to reward Kennedy. Aside from having a famous name among fellow Democrats, Kennedy was being floated to run EPA partly because of his involvement with the BrightSource solar panel company, making him simpatico with a politician who wanted $9 a gallon gasoline, but primarily he had raised a lot of money for the Obama campaign. Sanjay Wagle, one of the principals in Kennedy’s firm, who had also raised a great deal of money for the Obama campaign, was in line to go to the Department of Energy to advise them on energy grants.
But a few weeks later Kennedy was out, and the reason had nothing to do with his environmental beliefs, it instead involved that article in Rolling Stone magazine where he proudly proclaimed his anti-vaccine beliefs. For a candidate who had promised to "restore science to its rightful place", the blowback from the science and health community (here as well as in other places, like Scienceblogs) was too severe and Kennedy was gone. All did not end badly for BrightSource, however. Wagle
still got his Energy appointment and then BrightSource got a $1.4 billion grant from the Obama administration.
Kennedy certainly did not raise money for Trump, and there is no government bailout needed by Kennedy now. With American Council on Science and Health Senior Biotechnology Fellow Dr. Alex Berezow, I outline why, given all those reasons, if RFK Jr. wasn't good enough for Obama in 2008, he certainly isn't good enough for anyone in 2017.
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