‘RFK Jr.’s Inside Job,’

If I were to choose just one detail from Rebecca Traister’s rich and damning portrayal of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the anti-vaxx chaos agent currently wreaking havoc in the Democratic primary, it would be the time the Indonesian leader Sukarno gifted a young Bobby a pair of Komodo dragons, so large and deadly that, to the boy’s dismay, they had to be placed in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. There, he would feed them frozen piglets and rats, as if the premier zoo in the country’s capital were his private menagerie — which, for a Kennedy, it kind of was. This is a childhood you could call enchanted if it were not also so cursed, a level of affluence and entitlement that, when combined with the tragedy of his father’s death and the expectations of a Camelot-addled political and media culture, can really mess a person up. If you’ve ever wondered how a scion of America’s most storied political family could end up, at 69 years old, baring his chest and doing push-ups to chase clout on Elon Musk’s broken hate site, you have to start right here.

— Ryu Spaeth, features editor, New York 

RFK Jr.’s Inside Job How a conspiracy-spewing literal Kennedy posing as a populist outsider jolted the Democratic Party.

Photo: Philip Montgomery for New York Magazine

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