Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 2004 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

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Consumer Reports

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Why Teresa Heinz Kerry is such a flake | In the spirit of the Kerry campaign official who declared Vice President Cheney's lesbian daughter "fair game," let us now turn to the question of whether John Kerry's wife is fit to be First Lady.

The issue is "fair game" because of how Teresa Heinz Kerry is behaving. Already wildly unpopular - her approval rating is an anemic 30% - she did the political equivalent of mooning her neighbors last week by insulting First Lady Laura Bush. Said Heinz Kerry in an interview: "I don't know that she's ever had a real job - I mean, since she's been grown up."

The incident, including a quick apology for forgetting Bush was a teacher, librarian and full-time mother, was a one-day wonder because Laura Bush brushed it off. But it was not an isolated event. It fit a pattern Heinz Kerry established with a series of breezy putdowns and oddball rants.

There was the blast at the "scumbags" who criticize her, the claim that "only an idiot" wouldn't like her husband's health care plan and her goofy suggestion that Caribbean hurricane victims "go naked for awhile" until food was delivered.

My favorite came on her recent visit to Nevada to discuss health care. The 40-minute speech, per her usual rambling, it's-all-about-me style, included her remedy for arthritis: "You get some gin and get some white raisins - and only white raisins - and soak them in the gin for two weeks. Then eat nine of the raisins a day."

Got it - not eight raisins, not 10 raisins, nine.

She's a fan of Botox, Armani and Chanel, calls herself "cheeky" and "sexy," but Kerry aides have heart palpitations every time she opens her mouth. Even some New York backers are concerned.

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"We could have a bona fide head case as First Lady," said a supporter.

"She's weird," says another. "She looks like she's on Prozac or something."

Radio man Don Imus, as usual, said what others can't: A Kerry supporter, Imus wondered whether Teresa is "too crazy to be First Lady."

I've been wondering myself. After watching her on several occasions and after following her antics on the trail, I've concluded she's not crazy.

She's a rich, spoiled brat.

And because she's so rich - a billionaire, with five houses, a private jet and income of perhaps $50 million a year - she is used to being feared by the help and flattered by supplicants who hope she'll sprinkle a few pennies their way. The recipient of such bowing and scraping naturally begins to feel wise, even superior.

Arrogance is thus born.

Arrogance is what former Texas Gov. Ann Richards spotted in a privileged George H.W. Bush. The former President, Richards said, woke up on third base and thought he'd hit a triple.

But Heinz Kerry's arrogance is different. Worldly and intelligent, she exhibits a presumptiveness that recalls 19th century robber barons who believed their wealth proved they were divinely blessed, and that the poor, too, got what they deserved.

Speeches she's given, including at the party's Boston convention, were mostly about her, as if her life is inspiring. She has a habit of lecturing, skips from topic to topic and tends to speak quietly, so you'll just have to listen harder.

Not to worry - there's not much to hear. Her story, stripped of hyperbole, comes to this: she was the child of privilege, and now she is the adult of privilege. Her doctor father was rich and so was her first, late husband. All her money is inherited.

After her marriage in 1966 to John Heinz, heir to the ketchup fortune, she quit her job as a translator and settled into the pampered world of the super-rich.

So she hasn't had a real job for 40 years.

Oh, yes, she does give away Heinz money. She calls herself a philanthropist.

Not exactly a job ordinary Americans can relate to. Or a First Lady.

Michael Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Daily News Comment by clicking here.


10/14/04: Kerry's scary on terrorism: Unchanged by 9/11, he says, and no real ideas about what to do
10/05/04: The Big Mo still looking for its lover
09/28/04: What we're up against: The war on terror & the war in Iraq are now one and the same
09/14/04: Media bias is doing nation a disservice
08/18/04: Kerry confusion will soon be unforgivable
07/29/04: Why are the wackadoos still dear to Dems' hearts?
07/21/04: Kerry couldn't say no: Hillary waffle was just part of a wimpy week

© 2004, New York Daily News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.