EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the February 23, 2004, issue of National Review.
The antidote to John Kerry is Mrs. John Kerry, if she’ll forgive the designation. Teresa Heinz is the last person on the Kerry team to remember the days when a John Kerry campaign appearance meant a campaign appearance by John Kerry. Now it’s like the title song of Hello, Dolly!, but even longer and with a bigger cast–thousands of state officials, veterans, designated human-interest victims of the “special interests,” and paunchy fellow senators frantically prancing around the stage as they anticipate the arrival of the Great One. Eventually, after several hundred choruses of what a great president he’ll make, they trill, “Well, well, hello, Kerry!”–and there he is. Then he goes into his solo–five minutes of boilerplate populism that somehow manages, in Kerry’s groggy delivery, to take the best part of an hour. And through it all, as ever, Teresa stands by his side looking bored out of her skull.
The Kerry campaign is so cynical it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that Teresa Heinz is a throaty, sensual Continental actress the strategists spotted in some Miramax thing a couple of years back and hired to play the loose-cannon wife who can’t stay on message. “Look, fellers, we got the rubes and hicks wrapped up with the ‘I’m fighting for you against the powerful interests’ stuff. But how about we hook in the postmodern crowd by having a sophisticated European standing alongside rolling her eyes at the vapidity of modern vernacular politics? Tina Brown’ll lap it up! We’ll put her in one of those over-the-shoulder Isadora Duncan scarves and every time he drones ‘BRING! IT! ON!’ she can lower her chin into it to look like she’s suppressing her giggles. If she gets it right, the columnists’ll go, ‘Well, say what you like, but at least there’s one element of the Kerry campaign that isn’t just the usual Bob Shrum phony-baloney.’ Any ideas for the exotic background?”
“How about a Portuguese Mozambican ketchup heiress?”
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