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US politics

The presidential battle I want to see

Kennedy (left) and Carlson: “Appealing, in a way Trump and Biden could never be.” Phillip Chin/WireImage/Getty; Chip Somodevilla/Getty

If there’s one thing Americans can agree on, says Andrew Sullivan on Substack, it’s that they don’t want a Trump-Biden rematch in 2024. Some 70% of voters say the President shouldn’t run for re-election, and 60% think the same about his predecessor; almost two-fifths tell pollsters the prospect of these two old duffers fighting it out again leaves them “exhausted”. So there’s a real opening, surely, for someone younger, fresher, “and more attuned to our actual moment”. Ron DeSantis isn’t up to it on the right; on the left, there’s a Bernie Sanders-shaped void. Who else? “I hope you’re sitting down”, but two men stand out: former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, and JFK’s controversial nephew Bobby Kennedy Jr.

The two men are “very different, but weirdly simpatico”. Both are “anti-corporate populists, lone rangers in their own partisan coalitions”, and believe America’s involvement in Ukraine is misguided. Kennedy, who announced he was running for president last month, is clear-minded about how the Democrats have become “the party of big corporations, HR authoritarians, and the mega-wealthy”. Carlson sees the “totalitarian essence of wokeness” and all the damage it’s causing. Sure, I find parts of his message “repellent” – the “racist tinge” to his comments on immigration, for example – and disagree with Kennedy’s anti-vaccine campaigns. But I confess I find the pair of them “appealing, in a way Trump and Biden could never be”. I hope they both run – if only to “force a rethink on both the complacent right and loopy left”.