The Second Gunman

No, this is not a crass commercial advertisement for my recent fictional account of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, In the National Interest, available locally at Story and Song Bookstore and Bistro and from all on-line booksellers.  (Well, maybe it partially is.)  Nor is it in response to the many other books, podcasts and documentaries which coincided with the 60th anniversary of the events in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963.  The title refers to another Kennedy murder but again not the one you might imagine, the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy at the hand of Sirhan Sirhan.  But you are getting warmer.  Today’s post explores a conspiracy surrounding a crime that is yet to be committed.

Any reference to a “second gunman” should not be taken literally.  There is no Italian-made Mannlicher-Carcano rifle like the one owned by Lee Harvard Oswald.  There is no grassy knoll.  And the intended victim is not a human being.  Most importantly, the targeted victim is not a Kennedy.  Quite the opposite.  The role of “second gunman” is played by none other than Robert Kennedy, Jr.  And the quarry is American democracy.

If the latest Emerson poll is to be believed, the 2024 presidential election is a toss-up.  In a two-way race, Trump has a one point lead over Biden 45-44.  As I have said many times in an effort to talk Democrats off the ledge, Trump’s 45 percent is a ceiling while Biden’s 44 is a floor.  It is hard to imagine the 11 percent still undecided voters are going to break for Trump, especially as the former guy continues to insult and shock those who are not totally committed to him.  As any campaign manager will tell his/her candidate, “Electoral victory is about addition, not subtraction.”

When the Emerson poll adds three independent candidates–Kennedy, Cornell West and Jill Stein–to the mix, both Trump (40 percent) and Biden (38 percent) lose support.  West and Stein garner a combined total of two percent and Kennedy has the support of seven percent of those surveyed.  More importantly, the percent of undecided voters increases from 11 to 13 percent, something I find quite curious.  Instead of the original undecideds finding a home with one the independents, two percent abandon their initial Trump/Biden choice but do not to gravitate toward anyone else.

The greater the number of undecideds as election day approaches, the more volatile the electorate becomes.  Take 2022 as the premier example.  On October 23, just two weeks before the mid-term elections, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll identified 11 percent of likely voters as still undecided.  Based on questions related to Biden’s job approval, an unfavorable opinion of Nancy Pelosi and whether the nation was headed in the right or wrong direction, POLITICO analyst Steven Shepard wrote, “The news isn’t good for Democrats.”  However, as Shepard noted in his article, “The poll was conducted prior to the attack on Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home on Friday.”   Yet, everything still pointed to a “RED tsunami.” However, late deciders, who historically, in mid-terms, vote against the party that holds the White House, broke for Democrats in House, Senate and gubernatorial races across the country.  The “RED tsunami turned out to be an unprecedented mid-term victory for the party in power.

We know Trump and MAGAworld will be “gunning” for Biden.  In a two way race, the outcome will depend on what it always does.  If Democrats vote, Democrats win.  If they don’t, they lose.  And Democrat turnout relies heavily on early and mail-in voting as again proven during last week’s special election victory by Democrat Tom Suozzi in New York.  Which is why Kennedy is the potential “second gunman.”  He will not be the next president.  He may even take an even number of votes away from each candidate.  The bigger danger is his ability to maximize the number of voters who remain on the fence until election day, on which they may decide not to vote at all, increasing the odds of a second Trump presidency and the end of American democracy we have known for the past 247 years.

The United States will have its first king, if not worse, with all the pomp and circumstance afforded such title.  I have no doubt Trump will use the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026 to hold a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.  How do I know that?  On January 18, 2018, during a Pentagon meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, Jr., Trump gave them a directive.  He wanted a Veterans’ Day parade with soldiers, wheeled military vehicles, tanks positioned for his address at the Lincoln Memorial and a flyover of 50 aircraft to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.  He told reporters that his idea followed his attendance at the 2017 Bastille Day parade in France which he promised “to top.”  When Defense officials cunningly told him the parade would cost $92 million, three times the original estimate, Trump cancelled the event.  This time no one in the Pentagon or the cabinet will say “No,” including Secretary of  Health and Human Services Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

For what its worth.