October 8, 2004
The odd coupleBy Thomas Lifson
What a pair! John Forbes Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry would be an utterly new kind of team, running the wartime federal government. Make no mistake, Teresa has no intention of 'making tea and baking cookies,' as Hillary snidely caricatured the traditional First Lady role. There is strong reason to believe that Teresa aspires to exercise a powerful influence on government and society, and that her husband John would often comply with her wishes.
'Buy one, get one free,' as the Clintons advertised themselves. Until they realized it drove away voters.
Outsiders do not have access to the private conversations of husband and wife, of course. But certain conclusions can be drawn from the structural realities of the partnership formed by Teresa and John when they were both in their fifties. They were not young lovers who married and spent their lives together, raising their kids as a couple.
They were fully—formed, influential actors on the national stage when they decided to link their fates. Their coupling was a complicated business decision which, we are told, required the drafting of a written contract (the prenuptial agreement, which remains private). While love and affection were no doubt involved, the marriage was also a business deal between two people of substance, in the public spotlight. We can infer a fair amount about the deal they struck.
She also gets to place her personal opinions in front of a lot of people. She likes that. After tragically losing her first husband, GOP Senator John Heinz, Teresa has devoted herself to public policy. This seems to be her genuinely touching tribute to the man whose name she wore for years after marrying John F. Kerry. By involving herself deeply in the great questions of the day, she carries on her first husband's work. Very nice in theory, but flawed in practice.
Once she stepped into the public policy arena, Teresa ran straight into the left wing buzz saw. The Establishment in the world of foundations, nonprofits, NGOs, universities, and elite media is the sole property of the left. Registered Republican Teresa was soon giving Heinz money to 'progressive' causes.
The elitist nonprofit functionaries who need her money also happen to give the best parties and have the most prestigious public platforms. They will treat a wealthy donor with strong opinions as an intellectual peer — even a visionary — as long as there is the possibility of swinging a few hundred thou their way.
Teresa's opinions were almost certainly accorded the utmost respect by heavyweight intellectuals, globalist socialites, conference organizers, and idealistic 'activists' once she entered the world of philanthropy. This intoxicating reception only encouraged Teresa's belief in her own perceptiveness, sophistication, and intelligence. Praise from luminaries is an addictive and dangerous drug.
Teresa also gets to sign the checks. Her inherited money is pre—nupped, tax shelter—entrusted, locked—up, already in foundations, and otherwise kept beyond John F. Kerry's immediate grasp. Whatever he wants that costs money, she gets a veto over.
Here is the other half of the deal:
He gets all the money, and all the stuff he can ever use. Boats, bikes, SUVs, houses, whatever. Whew! That's a relief.
That go—out—and—make—a—fortune DNA of the Boston Forbes family, who once dealt opium to the Chinese, appears to have mutated into go—out—and—marry—a—fortune DNA by the time it got to John Forbes Kerry. He's done it twice, the first time to the nine—figure—fortune of the sister of a prep school friend.
So, he re—fulfills that part of his life's mission by marrying billionaire Teresa. This allows him to once again move comfortably in the world of wealth and power. He was always the poor cousin in his youth, dependent on a rich aunt for the fancy schools his parents couldn't afford. At his schools, he was the kid who didn't spend Christmas vacation on the family yacht, who didn't have a chauffeur drop him off in the Fall, and whose wardrobe was neither complete nor up to the standards of his peers. Escaping that youthful trauma has to mean a lot to him.
Kerry's intermarriage period, when he lacked an heiress to sign the checks, was by all reports quite an ordeal. He stayed with 'friends' or in 'borrowed apartments' for a long period, saving the hassle of paying for housing. 'I remember John Kerry when he didn't have a bed to sleep in,' reminisced his supporter Susan Estrich. Things were so tight that he was reduced to driving an American convertible as his chick magnet.
In his daily life, Kerry gets a companion who can speak five languages, and knows how to behave herself. Unless she gets excited or relaxes her self—control, that is. When Teresa lets fly with her 'opinionated' declarations, he occasionally gets serious problems to deal with. There are reports that Teresa is being redirected by the campaign to smaller, less—public events, where the audience will be friendly, as a way of minimizing the disruption. This may work for the last month of campaigning. But there is no reason to believe that Teresa would be willing to live her White House years enshrouded this way.
John F. Kerry also gets a companion, someone who enjoys talking with him in private. In French. She has become convinced that her insight is valuable and important for her husband to hear. He can't really tell her to shut up, either. There's a whole new batch of checks needing signing, coming along any day now.
Fortunately, like Bill and Hillary, the Heinz—Kerrys are used to traveling on their own itineraries, so they are not together every day. If John and Teresa were to move into the White House, there will presumably be more days than usual when Teresa will stay at the main residence. The White House is usually a lot more exciting than Beacon Hill, exurban Pittsburgh, Nantucket, and Sun Valley put together.
So, should John F. Kerry be elected President next month, we can look forward to a First Lady like no other, in love with the spotlight, and proud of her strong opinions. Her husband, habituated to regarding her strong wishes as financial imperatives, and partnered with her in the later stages of adulthood, may have a number of offers he can't refuse, when she decides to 'help.'
If the stakes weren't so high, it would be marvelous entertainment.