Monday, March 07, 2005

Teresa Remains in the News

Teresa Heinz Kerry
In The Northwest: Teresa Heinz Kerry hasn't lost her outspoken way

Monday, March 7, 2005


What made Teresa Heinz Kerry so refreshing to some voters, and threatening to others on the 2004 campaign trail, is summed up when THK talks about her speech to last year's Democratic convention:

"Nobody told me what to do," she told a Saturday fund-raiser here.

The implicit afterword: Nobody better try.

The sails of the philanthropist wife of Sen. John Kerry were not trimmed by November's narrow electoral defeat.

The softly accented voice gives pointed advice to the Democratic Party, which she lately joined, formerly having spent 15 years as wife of a Senate Republican.

Heinz Kerry flew into town on her own Gulfstream jet (the Flying Squirrel, named for a Sun Valley ski run) direct from a conference on global philanthropy at Stanford.

She talked energy-efficient building design with Seattle Art Museum boss (and old friend) Mimi Gates. She dined at Wild Ginger and flew back east with takeout food from the Third Avenue restaurant.

At a lunch for Rep. Adam Smith, guests were treated to more spicy observations than will likely be heard at all fund-raisers under the Westin's roof from now to the 2008 presidential race. A sampling:

  • THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: A practicing Catholic, as is her husband, Heinz Kerry remains outraged at attacks by bishops on her husband's pro-choice views.

    "You cannot have bishops in the pulpit -- long before or the Sunday before the election -- as they did in Catholic churches, saying it was a mortal sin to vote for John Kerry," she said.

    Heinz Kerry gave no examples. Last year, a few ultraconservative prelates said they would not allow the Democratic nominee to receive communion in their dioceses. The bishop of Colorado Springs declared that Catholics voting for pro-choice candidates were not welcome at the communion rail.

    "The church has a right and obligation to teach values," Heinz Kerry declared. "They don't have a right to restrict freedom of expression, which they did."

  • COUNTING THE VOTES: Heinz Kerry is openly skeptical about results from November's election, particularly in sections of the country where optical scanners were used to record votes.

    "Two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States," Heinz Kerry said. She identified both as "hard-right" Republicans. She argued that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."

    "We in the United States are not a banana republic," added Heinz Kerry. She argued that Democrats should insist on "accountability and transparency" in how votes are tabulated.

    "I fear for '06," she said. "I don't trust it the way it is right now."

  • A SECOND KERRY RUN: Heinz Kerry won't stand in the way of a second presidential bid by her husband. She tersely summed up emotions at the end of November's long election night: "No tears, some sadness."

    "I think we should focus on '06: If '06 doesn't work out, '08 will be impossible," she argued. "If it were right for John to do it -- and he felt right -- he would do it again (in 2008). If he didn't feel it right, he wouldn't."

    Theresa Heinz Kerry campaigned tirelessly -- "When I put out, I put out" -- but seemed to scorn the political wife's expected role of fixing her husband in adoring upward gaze.

    At Saturday's fund-raiser, she talked openly about conflicting emotions when confronted with her spouses' ambitions. Born in Mozambique of Portuguese parents, she was married to Republican Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania. Heinz was killed in a 1991 air crash.

    She inherited her husband's fortune, took charge of Heinz family endowments and married Kerry in 1995.

    "I kept my first husband from running for office for four years," she explained. "Terrified" at the prospect of public life, as a non-native born American, Heinz Kerry adjusted to what she described as a life of "losses, diseases, hurt, disappointments and many joys."

    She confessed to similar self-doubts when John Kerry launched his bid for the White House: "I'm too old. I can't handle it. I have too much to do."

    A hike by herself in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho gave THK time to reach another conclusion: "I thought, 'There's no way I have a right to keep him from doing it'. "

    She was always a hit in Seattle -- even while Deaniacs had John Kerry's campaign in the doldrums -- but ran into bumps on the campaign trail.

    She responded to nasty questions by a columnist with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a paper owned by right-wing mogul Richard Mellon Scaife, using words familiar to many Americans: "Shove it!"

    The Drudge Report, a popular conservative Web site, missed no opportunity to run unflattering pictures of THK or float untruthful personal rumors about her husband.

    A gossipy, superficial book on the 2004 campaign by the Washington, D.C., bureau of Newsweek depicted Heinz Kerry as a loose cannon requiring constant maintenance.

    Heinz Kerry is still steamed at what the Republican attack machine did to her husband.

    "Think about last year," she said. "Once John had his nomination, the Republicans spent $90 million to destroy his reputation."

    She cited dirty tricks used in the campaign to mobilize what the religious right called "Values Voters."

    "In West Virginia, John was going to burn Bibles," she said. "It's not 'values.' It's outright lies."

    Often a vigorous overseer of grants, Heinz Kerry has taken a lesson from the concentrated incoming fire she received from the right flank.

    "We have to develop a discipline for this party, so the people of this country know more clearly what it is to be a Democrat," she said.

    She came away from 2004 with a high opinion of Americans' ideals and gratitude to a campaign that exceeded Bill Clinton's winning vote total of 1996 by 9 million votes.

    "Basically, we are at a crux, a crossroads right now," Heinz Kerry said. "It's no place for self-indulgence. It's no place for looking back. We must be totally committed to this journey ... to believe again, to hope again."

    More Articles on Teresa Heinz Kerry


    Post a Comment

    << Home