When Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., brought his Water Keeper Alliance to Iowa a week ago, “he made an ass of himself,” writes David Yepsen, veteran columnist for The Des Moines Register. Kennedy’s “statement that large-scale hog producers were a bigger threat to America than Osama bin Laden’s terrorists has to be one of the crudest things ever said in Iowa politics… Kennedy referred to producers as ‘bullies’ and ‘the enemy within’… The remarks demean him, his family and the environmental movement.”
Writes Yepsen, far from influencing an Iowa Legislature debate on hog farming, “the aggies at the Statehouse just laughed” at Kennedy, “this fool from the East… They know a dumb slicker when they see one and just figured he was on something.”
“Kennedy looks to be cashing in on his family’s name,” Yepsen concludes. “What’s his expertise on hogs or Iowa? If his name were Bob Fitzgerald, he’d be dismissed as another one of the kooks on the fringe of this debate. But, no, he’s a member of the Kennedy family.” And he’ll be an even richer one if Water Keepers’ lawsuits against pork succeed. Kennedy has estimated potential “damages” of up to $9-13 billion. Divide that up by Water Keepers’ 11-firm team of lawyers, and Kennedy’s own two-partner firm stands to gain at least a cool $200 million.
During his Iowa anti-hog event, Kennedy told a reporter: “Let me tell you, the best thing would be if this industry did leave the country.” But Yepsen thinks it’s Kennedy who should be given the heave-ho: “Kennedy should come back, apologize and offer some positive help to Iowa. If not, the environmental movement in the state should invite Kennedy to butt out.”