Only days after shaking up the 2024 Presidential Election by announcing his run as an independent candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign has undergone a shake up of its own. On Friday, former progressive democrat Dennis Kucinich resigned from his post as Rfk Jr.'s campaign manager. The move came less than 6 months after Kucinich was named to the post in May. Monday, RFK Jr. named Kucinich's successor: his daughter-in-law and Kucinich's deputy campaign manager, Amaryllis Fox.
Kennedy lauded the decision to offer the position to his family member, showering his new campaign manager with accolades befitting of someone deserving the post. “Amaryllis is a woman of extraordinary intelligence and drive who I am confident will take this campaign to the next level,” RFK said in a statement formally commemorating her hiring. Despite those competencies, a cursory examination of Amaryllis Fox's background provokes more concern than reassurance about a campaign manager at the helm of a presidential candidacy that has billed itself as running against the grain of the political establishment. While RFK Jr. has understandably been outspoken about the role the US intelligence apparatus has played in cementing and maintaining the status quo in Washington, his decision to hire Fox casts doubt on that core promise of his platform as his daughter-in-law and new campaign manager is a veteran of the CIA herself.
Before marrying into the Kennedy family, Amaryllis Fox had rebuffed an offer for a position in the British intelligence agency MI6 that she received during her enrollment at the University of Oxford. While she decided against becoming an intelligence agent for the British government, she was unable to resist the allure of signing on to join its American counterpart. She received the offer after completing a master's degree in conflict and terrorism at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, having been inspired to enroll following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Fox wrote her masters' thesis on the development of algorithmic detection programs aimed at identifying local terrorist cells, a subject which thrust her into the focus of the CIA's recruitment team.
Fox was eventually hired as one of the youngest female officers in the history at just 22 years old. Given her academic background, she was assigned to counter-terrorism operations. Fox elucidated about her tenure in a memoir divulging how she was invited to join the agency's Clandestine Service Unit. She would continue in that unit within the CIA for the better part of a decade, performing in missions that saw her span the globe across 16 countries in service to the agency before finally departing from it in 2010.
After leaving the CIA, Amaryllis Fox entered into the private sector. She would rely on her intelligence background to launch the next phase of her career, writing a memoir on her service entitled Life Undercover: Coming of Age In The CIA and starring as the host of the Netflix documentary series the Business Of Drugs in which she examined the inner machinations and social ramifications of global narcotics trafficking networks. She would marry her third husband, RFK Jr.'s son Robert F. Kennedy III, in 2018 after the two met at Burning Man (*cringe*) which even if then unbeknownst to her would thrust her into center stage of the American political theater.
Though she served alongside Dennis Kucinich in RFK's campaign before taking the reins from him, her predecessor gave no indication of any internal strife between himself and Fox. Upon resigning from his post, Kucinich was tight lipped about what prompted him to do so the same week Kennedy announced his intention to run for president as an independent candidate, stating that he would “not discuss any internal communications of the campaign."
While Kucinich served the entirety of his congressional tenure as the representative of Ohio's 10th congressional district from 1997 until 2013 as a democrat, he was far from what could be described as an establishment lackey within the party. Kucinich's outspoken positions against core platforms of the Democratic Party put him on its fringes. He had famously argued in favor the impeachment of President Barack Obama – a measure he would actually go on to condemn being taken against President Donald Trump years later – in 2011 following the decision of the White House to engage in another ill fated nation building mission in Libya which led to the deposition of Muammar Gaddafi, a decision that led to the destabilization of the political climate in the Maghreb which reverberates to this day.
Although Kucinich's anti-war tenor is certainly something which fits the optics of what the RFK presidential campaign paints its candidate in the light of, its former campaign manager's long standing criticism of the State of Israel may have been an incongruity that the independent candidate could not reconcile. That tendency of Kucinich's would inevitably have come into focus given the escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas which broke out just days before Kennedy announced his intent to run for president as an independent. Throughout Kucinich's congressional career, he was a vocal critic of the Jewish state, categorizing its actions in the Gaza Strip as crimes against humanity, calling for a recalibration of relations between the US and Israel, and even astutely questioning the legality of military aid fronted by US taxpayers.
The latter criticism predicate itself upon the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 which forbids US military assistance to any nation that has received nuclear weapons under Section 102(b) of the law. While Israel contends it has no such arms, leaked emails from former US Secretary Of State Colin Powell revealed that Israel possess at least 200 nuclear weapons thsy he deemed were "all pointed at Iran." That revelation justifies Kucinich's point of contention that US military aid to Israel is illegal to this very day.
Kucinich's vocal and actionable criticism of Israel is starkly juxtaposed to the position RFK Jr. holds. Kennedy, unlike his former campaign manager, unabashedly supports military aid to the Jewish state. In response to the resurgence of its conflict with Hamas, Kennedy wrote "We must provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself - now," via his account on X. While the philosophical difference between Kennedy and Kucinich had never publicly been revealed before the latter's departure from the presidential campaign, the timing of the latest episode in the Israel-Palestine conflict coinciding with his resignation gives credence to the idea that the divergence in ideological positions between the two would have made working together with the aim of reaching the White House untenable.
This ignominious, unprovoked, and barbaric attack on Israel must be met with world condemnation and unequivocal support for the Jewish state’s right to self-defense. We must provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself — now. As President, I’ll make sure that our policy…— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) October 7, 2023
With the resignation of Kucinich comes the first chink in the armor of Kennedy, to who many has been viewed as a white knight fighting against a political establishment in Washington that has come to embody itself as the enemy and not the representative of the American people. Replacing Kucinich with a veteran of the CIA creates optics that undermine Kennedy's tacit commitment to fulfill the promise of his late uncle to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds." If the hiring of Amaryllis Fox does erode confidence in supporters that RFK Jr.'s will stand against the political establishment including the intelligence apparatus that his hew campaign manager is a veteran of, it may very well undermine his chances in the polls come November 2024 every bit as much.