HUMAN EVENTS: Nicole who?

This Tuesday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK Jr.) announced his vice-presidential pick. After months of running, and speculation that the choice could be anyone from former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura to New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, RFK Jr.’s eventual pick turned out to be none other than…Nicole Shanahan.

Yes, really, Nicole Shanahan, famous for…um…well…you know, Nicole Shanahan! She did…um…that is…

Okay, you get the point: unless you’re either an obsessive political junkie or someone who spends a lot of time following the personal lives of tech executives, you probably have no idea who Nicole Shanahan is. Frankly, we doubt RFK Jr. himself would, if not for the fact that she’s given him money. Remember that, because we will be coming back to it.

However, for everyone’s information, Nicole Shanahan is none other than the ex-wife of Google founder Sergey Brin. Her entrée to RFK came in the form of a $4 million donation, which reportedly paid for RFK Jr.’s deliberately retro ad mimicking JFK from this year’s Super Bowl. Her reason for supporting Kennedy, apparently, is that she likes his stance on environmentalism and on combatting “vaccine injury,” though Shanahan wants us all to know that she’s “not an antivaxxer.” Which, considering Kennedy’s stance on vaccines, is like saying you support Donald Trump but you’re not against open borders: it doesn’t pass the laugh test. However, it makes a certain amount of political sense when, like Shanahan, you’re someone with a past as Google royalty, who last donated to Joe Biden in 2020. In other words, choosing her sends a very clear signal about the strategy which RFK Jr. will pursue this November: namely, that he’s going to try to peel off disaffected progressives and dissident liberals, rather than trying to eat into President Trump’s core base (which a Rodgers or Ventura pick might have appealed to).  

We, at least, have no problem with this. Eating into Joe Biden’s vote share is a cause we can believe in, and if Nicole Shanahan manages that, then we have no quarrel with her. You go, girl…whoever you are.

However, for any potential Trump voters who may be reading this and considering RFK Jr. as an alternative, we do have to spoil the party a little. Because if nothing else convinces you that RFK Jr., for all his supposed dissidence, is still a liberal Kennedy, it should be the choice of Nicole Shanahan.

Firstly, let’s be clear: the reason RFK Jr. picked this woman has nothing to do with his really believing that she was the best choice for the job. How do we know? Because her name wasn’t even mentioned in most VP speculation surrounding him; like we said, Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura were the two choices that got mentioned most in that department. However, what we also know is that neither of those people were ultimately deemed acceptable, not by Kennedy himself, but by his donors. They felt that Rodgers had “no political experience,” whereas Ventura hadn’t been in politics for nearly 30 years, and therefore neither one was qualified to be Vice President.

Which is fair enough on its own, but by those standards, one might reasonably wonder how a late 30’s tech executive’s wife is qualified. The answer, we think, is obvious: because Nicole Shanahan is a donor. In fact, we suspect, she was probably one of the donors who vetoed Ventura and Rodgers. Which, if true, would make us seriously question how difficult RFK Jr. is to corrupt.

In fact, even if that’s not true, we’d question that, which brings us to our second point: picking a donor to be your Vice President is, to put it mildly, unusual. Oh, a donor as an ambassador, or even a cabinet secretary, sometimes, sure, that’s the stuff of many presidents. But Vice President? Sorry, but to us, that seems like RFK Jr. is the opposite of someone who’ll stand up to moneyed interests. In fact, to us, that seems to suggest that he’s an extraordinarily cheap date, when you get down to it, even relative to other politicians.

And that’s not even mentioning the third point, which, to put it bluntly, is the same concern that many of RFK Jr.’s donors had with Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura: lack of experience. Which is really why Nicole Shanahan’s totally unknown status is such an elephant in the room: What has Nicole Shanahan actually done? Yes, we’ll grant you, she’s wealthy, but that’s only because she was married to a wealthy man and it didn’t work out. What has she done that qualifies her to be next in line to the presidency? Jesse Ventura actually was a governor – 30 years ago, granted, but still a governor. What has Nicole Shanahan done that he hasn’t? What leadership role has she had?

As near as we can tell, the only answer comes in the form of her leadership of something called the Bia-Echo Foundation, which apparently advocates for “women’s reproductive science [read: abortion], criminal justice reform, and environmental causes.” In other words, she’s been the leader of a leftist NGO. You’ll forgive us if we’re unenthused.

But then, that’s the point, isn’t it? RFK Jr. isn’t interested in our votes, and if you’re someone who wants America to return to policies that actually serve its people rather than its unelected leftist priesthood, he clearly isn’t really interested in yours, either. He’s making a play for members of the priesthood who feel defrocked by their woke peers for being insufficiently leftist, and in that venture, we wish him well. But he’s obviously bought and paid, and frankly, bought and paid for by his own Vice President, who no one’s even heard of. To any right-leaning voters, he and Nicole Shanahan should be treated as what she clearly is: a non-entity.
 

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