Why did someone have to kill my election buzz?

OK, even though I have said time and time again that I rarely do any posts that are strictly political in nature, mainly because political bloggers are a dime a dozen, great political bloggers are rare, and I don’t consider myself anything better than an at best passable political blogger. However, when politics intersects my areas of medical interest, I can’t resist diving in, and unfortunately, Walter Olson gave me a reason to dive in today. In fact, to some extent he killed my election day buzz about the prospects for an Obama victory and a return to a government that respects science and tries not to manipulate it.

How did he do that?

Olson pointed out an article that suggests that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is being considered for Secretary of the Interior. Yes, that RFK, Jr. You know, the one who added rocket fuel to the fire of the entire scare about mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in vaccines as a cause of autism back in 2005, with his pseudoscience- and misinformation-filled article Deadly Immunity. He’s also one of the key boosters of antivaccination fearmongering based on the claims that mercury causes autism, and has done numerous articles, public speeches, and media appearances supporting the now scientifically discredited idea that thimerosal in vaccines is a cause or “trigger” for autism. The source, an article at Politico outlining the shape of a potential Obama Administration based on canvassing of Democrats supposedly “in the know,” lists Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as the top candidates for the Interior spot.

I really, really hope that this is nothing more than a trial balloon or a bit of uninformed speculation by the sources at Politico and that Obama isn’t seriously considering a wingnut like RFK, Jr. for any position in his administration. I realize that Secretary of the Interior has nothing to do with medicine or vaccine safety, but putting an pseudoscience-boosting crank like him in any position of power in the federal government, much less at a Cabinet-level position, is not the kind of message that reassures me that an Obama Administration is dedicated to using good science as a basis for determining policy.

Say it ain’t so, Barack! If you’re elected, please, please, please, don’t pick RFK, Jr. for any position in your administration. It would be the single worse message you could send that I could think of regarding your commitment to science-based policies. The stench of his crankery and advocacy of the rankest pseudoscience would taint your administration instantly and irrevocably.

My RFK, Jr./Department of the Interior/EPA posts:

  1. Why did someone have to kill my election buzz?
  2. Say it ain’t so, Barack! Say you ain’t seriously considering Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to run the EPA!
  3. Contact the Obama transition team to tell them why Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a truly bad choice for any science-based government post
  4. My last word on RFK, Jr…for now