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July 17, 2004
Dowd: Teresa the "Stepmoney"

Normally, Maureen Dowd writes nearly incoherent and largely pointless screeds against Republicans, and normally I only give her columns a brief scan to see how many dippy names she can call Bush or Cheney this week. However, Dowd marks her return to the Times' editorial page by turning her sights on John and Teresa Kerry, and it's clear she's less than pleased with the Democratic nominee and his wife:

And campaigning in Boston, her compliment for the new ticket was backhanded. "I have to say that John Edwards is very beautiful," she said in her soft accent, adding, "and my husband is very smart." Welcome to the campaign, pretty boy. ...

Even in a place where everyone is constantly reinventing, people are a little stunned at the way Teresa casts herself as a "third worlder" and "daughter of Africa," a wretched-refuse-of-your-teeming-shore sort of immigrant rather than a "White Mischief" migr, the daughter of a prosperous Portuguese doctor in colonial Mozambique who met John Heinz when they were studying in Switzerland. When Mrs. Kerry presents herself as an African-American or says, "I'm an immigrant, too," and when her son Chris Heinz says he's looking forward to the day when there is a "first-generation American" in the White House, it doesn't always strike the empathetic chord with Hispanic and black audiences that the campaign hopes for.

Some Hollywood contributors want to censor any Teresa tidbits, including any mention of her nickname among some in the Kerry circle "the Stepmoney."

Early on in the campaign, Republicans thought that Teresa could wind up being a liability, but no one wanted to come out and make her an issue. First, it's not very fair -- Bill and Hillary campaigned on getting "two for the price of one," while Kerry has never implied that Teresa would have anything to do with policy development. More than that, though, no one wanted to point out Teresa's oddities for the record, mainly because they would become self-evident soon enough.

However, I don't think anyone expected a leftist columnist to go out of her way to out Teresa's eccentricities. Dowd scores point after point against Heinz-Kerry in ways that would elicit screams from Down had a conservative columnist gone half as far as she does. As it is, I expect that Dowd will receive an avalanche of criticism for this column, for both the personal attacks on Teresa as well as the poor writing and structure of the piece itself. After wandering from Bush and Cheney to the Stepmoney, she then drifts towards Kerry himself without any unifying theme except her displeasure:

Surely, the reason the town known as the Democratic Party's wallet is so focused on the candidate's spouse is that the candidate himself has given it nothing to get excited about. People here are amazed that John Kerry does not even have a soaring stump speech yet, either in terms of the arc or music of the words, or the passion of the ideas. John 2 came up with the theme of two Americas in the primaries, and John 1 still hasn't articulated his vision for one.

Usually, it's President Bush and Mr. Cheney who engender the feeling of, "Just how stupid do they think we are?" But last week, it was the Kerry campaign, which tried to make the claim that Hillary Clinton preferred a silent cameo in a non-prime-time chorus line of female Democratic senators to a top speaking slot.

"Senator Clinton, along with all the other women senators I think nine of them in the Democratic Party," Tad Devine told Judy Woodruff Thursday on CNN, "agreed that they wanted to appear and speak together and ask Senator Mikulski, the senior member, to speak on their behalf."

And I am Marie of Romania.

It looks like the Democrats may tear themselves to pieces long before the Republicans get the chance. If this is the tenor of the commentary from the established opinionmakers on the Left less than two weeks before the nomination, the Kerry campaign had better hope that Teresa gets laryngitis for the next four months -- and gives it to her husband as well.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 17, 2004 11:16 PM

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