September 01, 2004,
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appears in the September 13, 2004, issue of National Review (the Kerry issue!).
When Teresa Heinz Kerry, as she is now known, first slipped into the public consciousness, we were titillated by the promise of unique copy to come. Here was an older, sophisticated woman, cushioned by enormous wealth and, we hoped, possessed of a grand personal style.
A tip-off to the potential for delicious indiscretion came from Lisa DePaulo's interview in Elle magazine. There Heinz Kerry blithely nattered on about a pre-nup with her second husband, her Botox injections, and how she would happily remove a husband's dangly bits if she caught him cheating. The interview caused a sensation. Reporters drooled at the possibility of future features and flashes. We pictured Kerry's staff calling out for cardiac paddles just to get through the primaries. Here at last was a flamboyant, carefree spirit who could not be tamed; this was going to be better than Martha Mitchell swilling Jack Daniel's on a 2 a.m. phone call. Teresa unplugged was going to be fun. But, as we have sadly come to see, not fun enough.
Teresa Heinz Kerry was a different kind of political wife. She had unfamiliar trappings: the certain ripeness of age, earthy good looks a kind of throwaway chic, stomping around in sling-back Chanel heels and untucked $600 silk blouses. She also had wads and wads, stacks, piles, mountains of endless money. Money she apparently totally controlled. She had five houses, innumerable cars, presumably green-carded servants, and a private Gulfstream jet. After years of pastel Talbots shirts and Mao suits from lockstep female pols, we were ready for drag-a-sable high nonchalance. We were ready for Ava Gardner in a sarong followed by maracas-shaking cabana boys. Or perhaps if she was African American, as she claimed early on a bit of Josephine Baker bananas-and-purple-feathers glam.