Politics & Policy

Tell Me About Yourself.

How did you like my speech?

On Tuesday night we learned that the Democrats think they have a problem on their hands and her name is Teresa. We didn’t learn anything personal about John Kerry from his bride, the traditional job of the First Lady-in-waiting, because her speech was conceived and designed to reassure voters about her, not her husband. I think it’s obvious that the problem to be addressed wasn’t her reputation for being opinionated. My guess is that Democrats fear that her odd demeanor, accent, and foreign birth might be just a tad too exotic for Middle America. The point of Tuesday night’s speech was to introduce her to voters with the message that she loves America. Whether or not she loves John Kerry was less important. She only indirectly reinforced the message that John Kerry represents strength by prompting an audience to figure that being married to her might call for some fortitude.

With a short biography Teresa answered the question “Where the heck is she from?” When she talked about her first husband, her regard for her parents and her love for her family she was appealingly feminine. Of course, the litany of issues that she said John Kerry believes in seemed to be her own favorite causes, but it’s not her fault that she’s been persuaded she’s a great thinker on global problems. It’s the fate of the filthy rich to be indulged and flattered. And, they can’t plausibly champion the need to speak truth to power. A billion dollars is power.

My guess is that Teresa is uncomfortably feminist. She was happily married to John Heinz and devoted herself to raising three sons. She is the product of a traditional culture and enjoyed a close relationship with her father. She has adopted the conventions of her class and new political party, but her bossiness seems to be of the maternal kind and her outspokenness is more flaky than feminist.

An off-message whiff of Teresa as global citizen was unhelpful to the overall intent of the speech. The multilingual riff in the beginning, the celebration of the Peace Corps (how must that have sounded to troops in Baghdad?) and the pledge to reverse global climate change missed the “bread-and-butter” mark.

One wonders how the introduction went over with the previously inattentive. They would no doubt think that she looks great for 65, but rich people are always better looking than the rest of us. (Well okay, not Teddy.) My guess is that someone might conclude she’s oddly unexpressive and a little strange–but likeable.

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