Tuesday, October 26, 2004


The Republican Spin Machine has been working overtime recently, grinding out Teresa Heinz Kerry horror stories, putting out lists of her possessions, claiming that the Heinz Company has been outsourcing for past decades.

They conveniently forget the fact that Teresa Heinz Kerry no longer holds a controlling interest in the Heinz Company. I believe her ownership is about 4 percent, which would bring in a tidy amount of spending money, but doesn't allow her to fire the CEO. They all forget the fact that Teresa Heinz-Kerry's fortune was left to her by her late husband, a Republican Senator, who in turn inherited it from his family.

One would think we were thinking of electing Teresa Heinz Kerry rather than her husband, but I suppose, in these modern times, the First Lady assumes a role of importance, even though one would find that hard to believe when considering the Bush women.

Teresa Heinz-Kerry, like most wealthy people, owns estates and villas and vast holdings. If I had her money, the first thing I would do is purchase estates and villas and vast holdings. I sure wouldn't live the remainder of my days in this retirement mobile home trying to keep that diabolic and evil item called "skirting" from blowing in the wind. As with most of us, vast wealth is beyond my reach, perhaps because of a lack of talent and ambition on my own part, or perhaps because I didn't marry Senator Heinz. One might say the Hand of Fate dealt me a rather humiliating wallop. Or one might say money doesn't bring happiness, just escape from such mundane irritations as "skirting" and "hunger".

Because First Ladies have become the object of interest in political wrangling, I thought I should take a good look at Laura Bush. She's an attractive lady and has become increasingly attractive as the White House years progress, perhaps because of access to the Republican Extreme Makeover. Remember what they did for Paula Jones. Without that schnozz, one could imagine Bill Clinton being attracted to her. With it, well, it was a stretch.

Laura Bush looks a little bit like a doll sitting on the shelf at Walmart. Her eyes are perpetually bright and shining. Her hair is impeccably fashioned. Her smile is eternally pleasant, not a wide, tooth-baring grin, but a simple, ladylike and rather fatuous smile that advertises her loyal Republican viewpoint, but refuses to contemplate adversity. Laura is usually dressed in expensive and classic suits or pantsuits, accessorized by crisp blouses of varying colors. One could easily imagine her being hawked as the "Laura Doll", outfitted in her secretarial splendor, packaged with books from the tiny little girlish library, and accompanied by her boyfriend "Battlin' George Doll", dressed for combat. Pull the string and he declares, "Mission Accomplished!" in a squeaky doll voice.

As a doll, Laura Bush is perfect. A Teresa Heinz-Kerry doll wouldn't even make it off the shelf. Teresa looks, well, blowsy and perhaps a bit too motherly. She clings to John Kerry like a ship-wrecked sailor clinging to a piece of driftwood, choking on the mile-high waves, terrorized by the onslaught of lurking sharks. A brave, independent woman who has successfully taken over her late husband's Charitable Foundations, raised her children, conducted her life with dignity, she is obviously terrified by this bevy of dragons facing her, the American public with their predatory news media as well as the bright spotlight now illuminating her life. When she does open her mouth, she says the wrong thing. She is honest, and one cannot be honest in politics. It's gauche.

One clings to the notion that the American First Lady ought to do something for the good of the people....anything! In fact, she can choose her object. I can remember one First Lady who selected Beautification as her Cause, although I don't remember which First Lady it was. Perhaps it was Mamie Eisenhower, with those perpetual bangs. Or it may have been Nancy Reagan, who has those large, adoring brown eyes. I always chuckled at Nancy Reagan and her belief in Astrology, but since she raised Ronald, Jr. , and has had the courage to speak out for Stem Cell Research, my respect for her knows no bounds.

Beautification urged us all to plant flowers and clip shrubbery. Beds of flowers were planted along the roadways. It was a nice, womanly, safe and satisfactory project....and who doesn't appreciate beauty? We all clipped our blooms, arranged them nicely on our dining room tables and were thrilled by the realization that our homes were as teeming with floral scents as the White House.

And, thinking of First Ladies and Worthwhile Projects, one has to consider Jackie Kennedy...or Jacqui, which I read somewhere was a spelling she preferred. However you spell it, Jackie brought no iota of Good Works with her to the White House. Actually, she had her hands full keeping an eye on her husband and his women. But she did bring us something magical...pride in a quasi-royal family. With her beauty and disdain, with her love of fashion, with her charm that toppled the hearts of European leaders, Jackie reigned supreme as the Ideal First Lady. Good Works, be damned! A little glamorous lifestyle was even better! Around the country, women were wearing pillboxes perched jauntily and cute little Oleg Cassini designs.

However, neither Laura Bush nor Teresa Heinz Kerry will qualify for the adoration given Jackie Kennedy. Rather than fascinating glimpses of adventurous life, Laura Bush brings forth the vision of the ideal "good little woman". Never mind the fact that she probably had a nanny for the twins and may not have seen the kitchen sink in years! Never mind that the Bush family wealth is nearly as phenomenal as that of Heinz-Kerry. She could be imagined baking bread for the family and turning out cookies by the barrel. She could be imagined as having no opinions upon anything besides toilet training and religious rote, this pretty Donna Reed character with crisp little apron and smiling demeanor. Does she ever dissolve into tears, or froth into angry shouts? Does she ever tell George what a dolt he is? Does she ever threaten to walk out on the whole affair?

Laura Bush walks two steps behind George Bush, usually, as though she knows her place. Since her husband was evidently an alcoholic for years, one wonders just what Laura Bush could do for the families in America afflicted by that disease. What could she tell them about the anguish and despair she must have felt as her husband battled alcholism? What advice could she give? What comfort, what hope could she inspire?

Not to speak up about anything is the choice of Laura Bush, who has only given interviews to support her husband's stance on Stem Cell Research, a stance she must surely have some reservations about as an educated, intelligent woman. Her role of silence is her business and certainly, we shouldn't expect her to kowtow to the needs of the American people.

But Republican Spin enters the picture again. The strong, independent, modern woman determined to live a productive life and enhance the talents she is born with has been reduced to a public image of a screeching, domineering shrew, slicing the testicles off of any man around and never putting food on the family table because she is busy with non-feminine activities like career-building and tree-hugging. A "Libber" is as nasty a word as "Liberal". Combine the two and you have a poisonous mixture. A Liberal Libber....could anything be worse? Could anything be more threatening to real men? Far easier to turn women into obedient kitchen staff and sit around snickering over Dumb Blonde jokes.

But, since Laura Bush prefers to enhance this image, perhaps we could expect the Republican Spin Machine to lay off Teresa Heinz-Kerry and allow her to make her choice, a woman who will undoubtedly NOT select silence, but may prove to be a leader of American woman the likes of which we have not seen since Eleanor Roosevelt. Hillary Clinton showed this promise and still does, but could be called a living example of what the Republican Spin Machine can do. It can humiliate and deceive. It can denigrate and dismay. It can even destroy.