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Jewish World Review July 29, 2004 / 11 Menachem-Av, 5764

Tony Snow

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Tell me you love me | Is it just me, or is there something oddly absent in the marriage of John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry – like, say, identifiable signs of love? When addressing the Democratic convention Tuesday night, Mrs. Kerry talked tenderly of her first husband, the late Sen. John Heinz, but sounded more like a narrator than a woman smitten when discussing her present life-mate.

She didn’t mention a single personal detail about her man – nothing about whether he bought her flowers, liked to hold hands, helped with the dishes, left the toilet seat up: Nothing. We got wild-eyed boasts, such as the claim that he could reverse global warming and stem the tide of disease. Frankly, if the guy can manipulate planetary motion and subdue microbes, I’ll vote for him soon and often.

Mrs. Kerry, understandably impressed with her guy, also made it sound as if the happy couple spent their tender hours cooing about trailblazing manufacturing processes and renewable energy sources – not about who would call the guy to come fix the water heater.

The tableau presents political problems for both of them. THK suffers from abysmally low poll ratings for a putative First Lady. Her positives equal her negatives, which places her in league with Hillary Rodham Clinton in the darkest days of the health-care task force. Laura Bush, in contrast, enjoys fabulous ratings. People respect her, mainly because she carries herself with proper measures of dignity, devotion and independence.

Mrs. Kerry’s ratings don’t matter much, except for the fact that they add to the mounting list of complaints about John Kerry, who, for all his talents, accomplishments and drive, appears to drift through life as an Accidental Brahmin – someone who appears in the dim background of every historical picture of his era, but never has managed left a mark, despite his proximity to greatness.

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Try to draw a mental image of the senator. What do you see? A firm chin jutting; a slight tilt of the head and hunch of shoulders as he holds a microphone with his left hand and gesticulates with the right; a mouth that moves slowly when speaking, as if his mandibles were bound by fat wads of taffy.

Kerry suffers from an unfortunate malady: Television cameras – the arbitrary and cruel chroniclers of today’s public women and men – make him look as fraudulent and lifeless as a sock puppet. He comes across as stately but affectless – Clutch Cargo without the gruesome mouth.

His wife didn’t dispel any of that, and it’s a shame. I’m sure the two love each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if they knew how to say a word or two to let everybody in on the secret?

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