Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Updated July 28, 12:30 am

Best line of the Democratic Convention on Tuesday night: I half expected her to break out in, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

“You know, Brit [Hume], I have to say, I never understood why they were giving Teresa Heinz Kerry this kind of prominent spot, the featured speaker on one of the four precious nights of the Convention and after listening to Mrs. Heinz Kerry’s speech, I still don’t get it…it seems to me that her speech tonight was all about Teresa Heinz Kerry, her vision of America, her understanding of where we ought to go- much more so than it was about her husband…I have to say that by the end, I half expected her to break out in, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.”

Chris Wallace, Fox political news analyst and Fox Sunday anchor, commenting from the floor of the Convention after Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech, July 27, 2004.

As for me, I thought Teresa Heinz Kerry speaking a bit in four languages, or so, was quite impressive: Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian? Except, was she just showing us she could say, “shove it,” in multiple languages. That could be handy, at least as to the French.

But, seriously, I had the same reaction as Chris Wallace when I saw Teresa speaking there, i.e., why was she speaking? She is not running for President, her husband is. As to what she has done, in terms of accomplishments, to warrant addressing the Nation, I am at a loss. She married one U. S. Senator, John Heinz. He died, making her a billionaire. Teresa then became head of the Heinz Foundation, where she oversees, in some sense, the dispersal of a lot of funds.

Then, at age 55, Teresa married another U. S. Senator. Then, Teresa helped Senator Kerry win in Iowa by allowing him to mortgage a jointly held property to throw a lot of money into Iowa, which of course was crucial to Kerry’s win in Iowa, which, of course, was crucial to Kerry’s winning of the nomination. Now, at age 65, Teresa is helping Kerry win by describing herself as sexy, saucy and, it is rumored, by introducing Kerry to Botox, which Teresa touts as a great wrinkle remover. She also told an Editorial Page editor [watch out Bruce Dold] to “shove it,” apparently, because she did not think he should quote her.

Okay, so Teresa was speaking because she married well, inherited a billion, and then leveraged that billion into another U. S. Senator marriage, which in turn was leveraged into becoming the spouse of a presidential nominee? Somewhat similar to what we called at the turn of the 20th Century, monopoly by merger. I don’t think this is what Gloria Steinem had in mind as to feminism. At least, I hope not. I’m with Chris Wallace, I think Teresa should at least have belted out- Don’t cry for me, Argentina.

We can just hope that this precedent does not catch on, that is, in the future- spouses do not get to address the Convention, even if they are billionaires.

One benefit of that: if Hillary is the presidential candidate, Mr. Bill does not get yet another bite at the apple.

Jeff Berkowitz, host and producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at