Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Some more Kerry

After the New Hampshire primary, Dennis Kucinich's new slogan is: ".001 Percent of
America Can't Be Wrong!" John Edwards' new slogan is: "Vote for Me or We'll See
You in Court." Joe Lieberman's new slogan is: "Sixth Place Is Not an Option." (Bumper
sticker version: "Ask Me About My Delegate.") Al Sharpton's new slogan is "Hello?
Room Service?" Wesley Clark's new slogan is: "Leading America's War on Fetuses."
Howard Dean's new slogan is: "I Want to Be Your President ... And So Do I!"

That leaves John Kerry (new slogan: "Nous Sommes Nombre Un!"), who is winning
Democratic voters in droves on the basis of his superior ability to taunt George Bush
for his lack of combat experience. Like every war hero I've ever met, John Kerry
seems content to spend his days bragging about his battlefield exploits. Wait, wait ...
Let me correct that last sentence: like no war hero I've ever met...

As everyone has heard approximately 1 billion times by now, Kerry boasts that he has
REAL experience with aircraft carriers, and if Bush wants to run on national security,
then ... BRING IT ON!

I note that when George Bush directed that precise phrase at Islamic terrorists who
yearn to slaughter American women and children, liberals were enraged at the
macho posturing of it. But they feel "Bring it on!" is a perfectly appropriate expression
when directed at a dangerous warmonger like George Bush. ("Bring it on!" was
deemed better than Kerry's first impulse, "Let's get busy, sister!")

Kerry was indisputably brave in Vietnam, and it's kind of cute to see Democrats
pretend to admire military service. Physical courage, like chastity, is something
liberals usually deride, but are tickled when it accidentally manifests itself in one of
their own. One has to stand in awe of Kerry's military service 33 years ago. Of course,
that's where it ends, including with Kerry –inasmuch as, upon his return from war in
1970, he promptly began trashing his fellow Vietnam vets by calling them genocidal
murderers.

But if Bush can't talk to Kerry about the horrors of war, then Kerry sure as hell can't
talk to anyone about the plight of the middle class. Kerry's life experience consists of
living off other men's money by marrying their wives and daughters.

For over 30 years, Kerry's primary occupation has been stalking lonely heiresses. Not
to get back to his combat experience, but Kerry sees a room full of wealthy widows
as "a target-rich environment." This is a guy whose experience dealing with tax
problems is based on spending his entire adult life being supported by rich women.
What does a kept man know about taxes?

In 1970, Kerry married into the family of Julia Thorne – a family estimated to be worth
about $300 million. She got depressed, so he promptly left her and was soon seen
catting around with Hollywood starlets, mostly while the cad was still married.
(Apparently, JFK really was his mentor.) Thorne is well-bred enough to say nothing ill
of her Lothario ex-husband. He is, after all, the father of her children – a fact that
never seemed to constrain him.

When Kerry was about to become the latest Heinz family charity, he sought to have
his marriage to Thorne annulled, despite the fact that it had produced two children. It
seems his second meal ticket, Teresa Heinz, wanted the first marriage annulled – and
Heinz is worth more than $700 million. Kerry claims he will stand up to powerful
interests, but he can't even stand up to his wife.

Heinz made Kerry sign a prenuptial agreement, presumably aware of how careless he
is with other people's property, such as other people's Vietnam War medals, which
Kerry threw on the ground during a 1971 anti-war demonstration.

At pains to make Kerry sound like a normal American, his campaign has described
how Kerry risked everything, mortgaging his home in Boston to help pay for his
presidential campaign. Technically, Kerry took out a $6 million mortgage for "his
share" of "the family's home" – which was bought with the Heinz family fortune. (Why
should he spend his own money? He didn't throw away his own medals.) I'm sure the
average working stiff in Massachusetts can relate to a guy who borrows $6 million
against his house to pay for TV ads.

Kerry's campaign has stoutly insisted that he will pay off the mortgage himself, with
no help from his rich wife. Let's see: According to tax returns released by his
campaign, in 2002, Kerry's income was $144,091. But as the Washington Post
recently reported, even a $5 million mortgage paid back over 30 years at favorable
interest rates would cost $30,389 a month – or $364,668 a year.

The Democrats' joy at nominating Kerry is perplexing. To be sure, liberals take a
peculiar, wrathful pleasure in supporting pacifist military types. And Kerry's life story
is not without a certain feral aggression. But if we're going to determine fitness for
office based on life experience, Kerry clearly has no experience dealing with
problems of typical Americans since he is a cad and a gigolo living in the lap of other
men's money.

Kerry is like some character in a Balzac novel, an adventurer twirling the end of his
mustache and preying on rich women. This low-born poseur with his threadbare
pseudo-Brahmin family bought a political career with one rich woman's money,
dumped her, and made off with another heiress to enable him to run for president. If
Democrats want to talk about middle-class tax cuts, couldn't they nominate someone
who hasn't been a poodle to rich women for the past 33 years?





ONE of the surest ways to get the phones ringing on any Massachusetts talk-radio
show is to ask people to call in and tell their John Kerry stories. The phone lines are
soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling
rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or
ducking out before the bill arrives.

The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of
the lesser mortal: "Do you know who I am?"

And now he's running for president as a populist. His first wife came from a
Philadelphia Main Line family worth $300 million. His second wife is a
pickle-and-ketchup heiress.

Kerry lives in a mansion on Beacon Hill on which he has borrowed $6 million to
finance his campaign. A fire hydrant that prevented him and his wife from parking
their SUV in front of their tony digs was removed by the city of Boston at his behest.

The Kerrys ski at a spa the widow Heinz owns in Aspen, and they summer on
Nantucket in a sprawling seaside "cottage" on Hurlbert Avenue, which is so
well-appointed that at a recent fund-raiser, they imported porta-toilets onto the front
lawn so the donors wouldn't use the inside bathrooms. (They later claimed the
decision was made on septic, not social, considerations).

It's a wonderful life these days for John Kerry. He sails Nantucket Sound in "the
Scaramouche," a 42-foot Hinckley powerboat. Martha Stewart has a similar boat; the
no-frills model reportedly starts at $695,000. Sen. Kerry bought it new, for cash.

Every Tuesday night, the local politicians here that Kerry elbowed out of his way on his
march to the top watch, fascinated, as he claims victory in more primaries and
denounces the special interests, the "millionaires" and "the overprivileged."

"His initials are JFK," longtime state Senate President William M. Bulger used to muse
on St. Patrick's Day, "Just for Kerry. He's only Irish every sixth year." And now it turns
out that he's not Irish at all.

But in the parochial world of Bay State politics, he was never really seen as Irish, even
when he was claiming to be (although now, of course, he says that any references to
his alleged Hibernian heritage were mistakenly put into the Congressional Record by
an aide who apparently didn't know that on his paternal side he is, in fact,
part-Jewish).

Kerry is, in fact, a Brahmin - his mother was a Forbes, from one of Massachusetts'
oldest WASP families. The ancestor who wed Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter was
marrying down.

At the risk of engaging in ethnic stereotyping, Yankees have a reputation for, shall we
say, frugality. And Kerry tosses around quarters like they were manhole covers. In
1993, for instance, living on a senator's salary of about $100,000, he managed to give
a total of $135 to charity.

Yet that same year, he was somehow able to scrape together $8,600 for a brand-new,
imported Italian motorcycle, a Ducati Paso 907 IE. He kept it for years, until he decided
to run for president, at which time he traded it in for a Harley-Davidson like the one he
rode onto "The Tonight Show" set a couple of months ago as Jay Leno applauded his
fellow Bay Stater.

Of course, in 1993 he was between his first and second heiresses - a time he now
calls "the wandering years," although an equally apt description might be "the
freeloading years."

For some of the time, he was, for all practical purposes, homeless. His friends
allowed him into a real-estate deal in which he flipped a condo for quick resale,
netting a $21,000 profit on a cash investment of exactly nothing. For months he rode
around in a new car supplied by a shady local Buick dealer. When the dealer's ties to
a congressman who was later indicted for racketeering were exposed, Kerry quickly
explained that the non-payment was a mere oversight, and wrote out a check.

In the Senate, his record of his constituent services has been lackluster, and most of
his colleagues, despite their public support, are hard-pressed to list an
accomplishment. Just last fall, a Boston TV reporter ambushed three congressmen
with the question, name something John Kerry has accomplished in Congress. After a
few nervous giggles, two could think of nothing, and a third mentioned a baseball field,
and then misidentified Kerry as "Sen. Kennedy."

Many of his constituents see him in person only when he is cutting them in line - at an
airport, a clam shack or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. One talk-show caller a few
weeks back recalled standing behind a police barricade in 2002 as the Rolling Stones
played the Orpheum Theater, a short limousine ride from Kerry's Louisburg Square
mansion.

The caller, Jay, said he began heckling Kerry and his wife as they attempted to enter
the theater. Finally, he said, the senator turned to him and asked him the eternal
question.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yeah," said Jay. "You're a gold-digger."

John Kerry. First he looks at the purse.

Howie Carr, a Boston Herald columnist and syndicated talk-radio host, has been
covering John Kerry for 25 years.




John Kerry, who, according to published accounts going back more than a decade,
began extricating himself from his first marriage to Philadelphia heiress Julia Thorne
at the same time she was battling a case of depression so debilitating that it drove
her to the brink of suicide.
In an attempt to explain why he decided not to let his wife's precarious mental state
derail his 1982 bid to become Michael Dukakis' lieutenant governor, Kerry told the
New Yorker magazine last December, "When I get focused and set out to do
something, I'm pretty good at staying focused."

"You don't want to let yourself down, you know what I'm saying?" added the ambitious
Democrat without a hint of irony.

Thorne, whose family is reportedly worth $300 million, married Kerry in 1970.
According the New Yorker's Joe Klein, the couple's friends said Julia was not a
typical political wife.

"There were times at dinner parties when John would be very pompous, unable to
control his impulse to make a speech," one acquaintance told the writer. "It was all
slightly laughable, and Julia was one of those who laughed. She'd say things like,
'What the f--k did you just say?'"

Kerry's career focus was so intense that Thorne apparently felt she was an
impediment to her husband's ambitions. In her 1994 book about that period in her life,
titled "You Are Not Alone," she wrote:

"I could no longer pretend I was of use to my husband or my children. ... I knew that,
once I was gone, my family and friends would be relieved of the burden of my
incompetency."

By Thorne's own account, she began to contemplate suicide a full two years before
Kerry ratcheted up his 1982 campaign. Reviewing her book shortly after it was
published, the Boston Globe reported: "One night in 1980, Julia Thorne put her
children to bed and then sat on the edge of her own bed to contemplate suicide. She
was exhausted - overwhelmed by despair, self-loathing and pain. She wanted to lie
down. Curl up. Sleep forever."

The Kerrys were separated in 1982 but didn't divorce until 1988.

Press summaries of the New Yorker report focused on other details of Kerry's life
story, such as his Vietnam heroism. Most omitted any mention of Kerry's first wife
altogether, a fact that likely pleased the Massachusetts Democrat. "Kerry is
understandably loath to talk about the details of the marriage," noted Klein.

In response to the New Yorker report, Sen. Kerry wrote what was described as "an
anguished letter" of protest to the magazine. Thorne's two daughters by Kerry also
registered their displeasure. Their mother, who has since conquered her depression
and is happily remarried and living in Montana, told the Globe, "I support John's
[presidential] candidacy, and I believe in John's candidacy. I think he is an immensely
talented statesman, and I am 100 percent behind him."

But previous reports indicate that Thorne had problems with Kerry even after they
split 21 years ago.

During the period the Kerrys were separated, for instance, the senator apparently felt
little constrained by his marital vows. Gossip columns at the time linked him to
Morgan Fairchild, Cornelia Guest and even President Reagan's liberal daughter, Patti
Davis. An upcoming Boston Globe expose will reportedly feature details of the
Massachusetts Democrat's 1980s affair with a 25-year-old British reporter.

According to a previous account offered by the paper, the fact that Kerry was still
technically married till 1988 "reportedly came as a surprise to some of his frequent
companions."

Just weeks before his May 26, 1995, remarriage to Ketchup heiress Theresa Heinz,
Thorne took Kerry to court in a bid for an increase in child support payments, arguing
that "his income was up substantially," according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Both Kerry and Thorne denied that the lawsuit had anything to do with Heinz or her
fortune.

But friction arose again two years later when Kerry, a Catholic, applied to the
Washington, D.C., archdiocese to have his marriage to Thorne annulled, even though
the couple had two grown daughters.

Thorne "has written a letter of opposition to the archdiocese because she feels the
process demeans their relationship and their children," reported the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette in 1997.

The paper blamed Kerry's new wife on the annulment bid. His office issued a terse
statement: "Sen. Kerry very much understands Julia's feelings and appreciates her
support. Sen. Kerry believes that this is a private family matter."

The Washington Times noted in a Kerry profile several years ago that his critics
consider him "a ruthless political opportunist." Given some of the more obscure
details of Kerry's first marriage, that assessment may not be too far off the mark.



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