Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. sued Nevada’s secretary of state last week for not accepting Kennedy’s petition to be on the ballot as a presidential candidate.

In March, Kennedy thought he had already gathered enough signatures on a petition to qualify him for Nevada’s ballot. However, in a glimpse of Kennedy’s executive acumen, it turned out the petition he submitted to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office failed to identify a vice-presidential candidate, as required by state law.

In late March, Kennedy did pick a VP candidate, Nicole Shanahan, whose sole qualification appears to be possessing enough money to bankroll his campaign.

One curiosity in all this – apart from Kennedy’s candidacy itself – is that Kennedy could have just played it safe and had Shanahan pay to start regathering signatures, and submitted a fresh – and legitimate – petition by now.

Petitions with the requisite number of signatures must be submitted no later than July 5. If Kennedy misses that, his lawsuit will be his last resort to get on Nevada’s ballot.

But Kennedy has an even more pressing deadline if he wants to achieve the ultimate goal of his campaign: attracting attention to himself.

Along with meeting other criteria, to be invited to participate in the debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump scheduled for June 27 on CNN, Kennedy (just like Jill Stein or Cornel West or that guy the Libertarians nominated last month while they were raspberrying Trump) must be qualified to appear on ballots in states whose combined electoral votes total at least 270, i.e., enough to win the presidency.

Nevada’s modest six electoral votes are the least of Kennedy’s debate qualification hurdles, by the way.

The idea of watching Trump and Biden debate no doubt gives many voters the heebie-jeebies. 

Kennedy’s daffy stream-of-consciousness babbling would render the event even more unwatchable.

Robert F. Kennedy the Younger is not a serious person. Somehow, somewhere, the once-respected environmental attorney and activist abandoned that career, instead charting a direct course to Quackadoodleland.

He’s best known now for spreading conspiracy theories about the covid vaccine. Perhaps less widely known is that Kennedy has been spreading conspiracy theories about pretty much all the vaccines, for a long time, particularly the thoroughly discredited conspiracy theory that MMR vaccines lead to autism.

Other Kennedy-endorsed conspiracies include (but are not limited to): Wi-Fi causes cancer and “leaky brain”; the covid vaccine is secretly laced with tracking chips that can be activated by cellular networks using 5G (you may remember that one); chemicals in the water are turning children transgender (deliberately, of course – it’s a conspiracy, remember); and the cause of school shootings is not access to guns, but access to antidepressants.

Kennedy should buzz off

People who wish both parties had different nominees might shudder at the idea of watching the Biden-Trump debate later this month.

Yes, it promises to be quintessential cringe TV.

But there are two potentially saving graces in the format: 

First, there will be no audience at the debate. When Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated over the expansion of slavery (and an Illinois U.S. Senate seat), an audience made sense because, you know, 1858. But in these our audio-video-enabled times, audiences hooting and hollering at debates is a dopey idea.

Second, at the June 27 debate, when one candidate’s speaking time is up, their mic will be turned off.

Understandably given the format, there is a school of thought that says even though Trump agreed to it, he won’t actually show up for the debate (calling it “rigged” in the process, of course).

An even better case scenario, however, might be that Trump does show up, but the first time they turn off his mic while he’s lying, er, snarling, er, talking, which no doubt would be in the first minutes of the event, he storms off the set in one of his trademark displays of unhinged huffery puffery. That might at least be some good TV, as well as remind viewers that Trump is a snot-nosed child in a septuagenarian’s McDonald’s-stuffed body, and unfit for public office. In case they’ve forgotten.

Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is almost assuredly not going to be in the debate. And he absolutely assuredly is not going be president of the United States. 

But there he is, crying “Look at me! I am a quack! But I am also a Kennedy! Celebrity and quackery! What could be more attractive to U.S. voters in the 2020s?” Except Kennedy phrases it differently. A little.

In last month’s splashy New York Times-Sienna poll of Nevada and other swing states, Kennedy had the support of 12% of Nevada registered voters. 

Third party candidates almost never do as well in actual elections as they do in polls, and Kennedy’s support will shrink the closer we get to the election. But in what is going to be a very close election in Nevada and the handful of other battleground states that will decide the presidency, Kennedy getting even one or two percent of the vote could allow Trump to win the state, and maybe the presidency.

If he cared about the country and its future as much as he seems to care about media attention and daft conspiracies, Kennedy wouldn’t be suing Nevada in the hope of getting on the debate stage with Biden and Trump. He’d shut the hell up and go away.

The state and the nation have enough problems. Nobody needs some screwball with a famous name playing spoiler under the delusion that it accomplishes something other than his own gratification.

A few passages in this column were initially published in the Daily Current newsletter, which is free, and which you can subscribe to here.

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