John Kerry: profile in opportunism

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., longtime New England patrician, decorated war hero and aficionado of wealthy heiresses, hacks and slashes through the jungle hellhole of presidential politics, captivating millions with his impeccably Botoxed forehead, impossibly elongated face and newly purloined populist aura.

After Howard Dean’s unnerving post-Iowa re-enactment of the Nuremberg rally (we’re going to the Sudetenland and Austria and France and Britain and Norway Ö yeah!), Kerry might seem appealing as a blandly traditional candidate more inclined to kiss a baby than to invade Poland. The Democratic Party, however, should take a second look at its frontrunner before anointing a champion to take back the presidency.

“We’re coming, you’re going and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Though Dean might have offered a similar platitude while contemplating the invasion of Czechoslovakia, this banality has become the rallying cry of the Kerry candidacy. The austere aristocrat from Massachusetts has eagerly adopted the mantle of Huey Long and Henry Wallace, pledging undying support and sympathy to the common man in his struggle with wealthy special interests.

If he truly despises special interests, Kerry’s first act as president will be a prompt resignation.

While his fellow Democratic candidates were chasing ambulances, shuffling stock, performing surgery and even languishing in prison to liberate Vieques, Kerry made his money the old-fashioned way: He married it. Twice.

Kerry married Julia Thorne, whose family’s net worth exceeded $300 million. Twelve years later, as Thorne grew depressed and suicidal, Kerry decided to focus his attentions on his 1982 campaign to become Michael Dukakis’ lieutenant governor. As Kerry later explained to The New Yorker, he was “pretty good at staying focused” and, after all, “You don’t want to let yourself down, you know what I’m saying?” – meaning one assumes that electoral politics outweigh the needs of a mentally ill spouse.

A few years after divorcing the hapless Thorne, Kerry landed a Heinz heiress with a net worth exceeding half a billion dollars inherited from her tragically deceased husband. The result is that Kerry is the wealthiest person in the Senate.

Despite his own prosperity, Kerry has, according to the Washington Post, accepted more money from lobbyists than any other senator. Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter has rejoined that “If anyone thinks a contribution can buy Kerry’s vote, then they are wasting their money.”

Should Kerry’s presidential run falter, at least his staffers can look forward to a lucrative future spinning for the George W. Bush campaign.

Kerry boosters will be quick to point out that their candidate, in the proud tradition of the Boston Brahmins, voluntarily enlisted for a perilous but ennobling jaunt in the Vietnam War – an experience he proudly concluded by tossing someone else’s medals onto the ground during a 1971 protest while keeping his own. Kerry then accused U.S. veterans of having generally “razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan” and “taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power.” Kerry was above the antics of all these lowborn brigands, naturally.

Kerry now revels in a newly discovered opposition to the Iraq war he authorized and a sudden enmity for the elite he patronized and married into. Moreover, voters seem to love Kerry for the sheer audacity of his transformation. Nothing polls better than a militant shamelessness.

Kerry’s apparent message to the White House: I know something about political opportunism for real. Bring it on and let the spinning commence.

Christopher Oster is a political science junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]