WILL COMMUNIST VIETNAM BE AMONG THE BIGGEST behind-the-scenes bankrollers of the Democratic National Convention this July 26-29 in Boston? It already has been, via a de facto intermediary, thanks to the Massachusetts boy and friend of Hanoi now likely to be nominated there as the Democrats’ presidential standard-bearer.
Senator John F. Kerry has a long political career, distinguished by his willingness to go farther Left in politics and lower for money than most other American politicians would dream of going. He has been largely unnoticed outside the liberal Northeast and the approving pages of leftist magazines and newspapers.
But now, with the latest polls showing Senator Kerry likely to follow his Iowa Caucuses win last week with a strong victory this Tuesday in the New Hampshire Primary, it’s time for America to wake up and smell the Kerry.
Who is this gaunt and haunted, French-looking apparition nicknamed “Ichabod” by his preppy classmates? And what could America expect from a John Kerry candidacy – or presidency?
“Who would have guessed it,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie last Friday. “Ted Kennedy is the conservative Senator from Massachusetts?” But that is exactly what the leftist group Americans for Democratic Action makes clear by giving Kennedy a lifetime liberal vote rating of only 88 percent but John Kerry’s 19 years as the state’s junior Senator a lifetime liberal vote rating of 93 percent.
John Forbes Kerry was born December 11, 1943, in a hospital in Denver, Colorado, where his test-pilot father Richard had been sent to treat his tuberculosis. His mother, Rosemary, was by descent a double New England Brahmin, her father James part of the colonial Forbes family and her mother a Winthrop whose lineage included the pilgrim leader who helped establish the Congregational Church in the young Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Rosemary’s Forbes family had wealth through its hereditary ownership of much of Cape Cod. Her father used his money to raise his family in France, where aspiring lawyer Richard met her during a youthful idyll. Setting a pattern his son would follow more than once, Richard did not hesitate to wed a rich girl.
In this aristocratic tradition, young John Kerry spent much of his childhood in Europe – with his family in Berlin, Oslo and St. Briac, France – and in an upper-class boarding school in Switzerland. So recounts historian Douglas Brinkley in his fawning-but-eye-opening new biography Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War. Kerry grew up speaking foreign tongues and absorbing a European socialist’s view of the world – and of America.
By 1957, his family had returned to the United States and enrolled John in the elitist Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts, and thereafter at patrician St. Paul’s school in Concord, New Hampshire, where John began to ponder politics.
While dating Janet Auchincloss, Jacqueline Kennedy’s half-sister, Kerry found himself unexpectedly alone in a room of her home with President John F. Kennedy. When the President asked “What are you doing with yourself?” the 6’4” young man blurted out: “Well, I’m about to go to Yale.” Harvard graduate JFK smiled: “I’m a Yale man too now!”
At Yale, John Kerry was one of only 15 in his class upper-crusty enough to be invited to join Skull and Bones, as George W. Bush had done two years earlier like his father and grandfather. (The deceased husband of Kerry’s current wife, John Heinz, was also Skull and Bones. For such people it’s a small world.)
When Kerry in 1986 tried privately to recruit into Skull and Bones Jacob Weisberg, now Slate.com editor, wrote the Boston Herald’s Andrew Miga, “Weisberg declined, pointedly asking Kerry how he squared his liberalism with membership in such an elitist club that refused to admit women. ‘Kerry got sort of flustered….’”
At Yale, Kerry also made a special friendship with David Thorne, whose sister Julia he courted. (One published estimate of Thorne family wealth: $300 million.) They wed in 1970. She was descended from George Washington’s Attorney General William Bradford (who ended the Whiskey Rebellion). Her great-uncle was Henry Stimson, the Secretary of State under President Herbert Hoover and Secretary of War under Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman. (Stimson by some accounts made the decision to target Nagasaki, the most Christian city in Japan, for nuclear annihilation.)
“Between the two of them,” wrote Brinkley, “John Kerry and Julia Thorne constituted a virtual storehouse of America’s most productive and distinguished bloodlines.” But what Kerry seemed to love most was that 5’8” dark-haired “Judy” Thorne had spent much of her childhood in Europe as he had, smoked cigarettes, and spoke fluent French and Italian. Part of their courtship had been at the Thorne summer house on Italy’s Tuscan seacoast.
“Old Europe,” wrote Brinkley, “remained her home, and her culture.” Or as he quotes Julia: “I considered myself European.” No wonder she felt drawn to the French-looking, French-thinking, aristocratic-but-not-personally-wealthy John Kerry.
But after two children and 12 years of marriage, Julia Kerry had been driven to depression and the brink of suicide. The couple separated in 1982, but on election night she kept this secret from voters as she had during the rest of John’s first successful political campaign. He became Lt. Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis. Although elected on a separate ballot line, as he has stressed since Dukakis’ humiliating defeat in the presidential race of 1988, Kerry embraced almost all Dukakis policies including weekend furloughs for convicted murderers, government subsidies for drug addicts and alcoholics, and opposition to the death penalty even for terrorist mass murderers.
John Kerry and Julia did not formally divorce until 1988, by which time Kerry had been dating (in the strict sense adulterously) for more than half a decade. The gossip columns linked Kerry romantically to, among others, actress Morgan Fairchild, Cornelia Guest and Patti Davis, the leftist daughter of Republican President Ronald Reagan.
Kerry, a Roman Catholic, would (like onetime-Congressman Joe Kennedy) in 1997 apply to have his marriage annulled by his church. Julia’s outspoken opposition made Kerry back down.
“After his divorce to Julia Thorne was finalized,” notes a CBS News timeline on Kerry’s career, “it was apparent how much she helped the family financially. The divorce left him strapped for cash…Before finally renting apartments in Washington and Boston, he was a bit of a roamer.”
Translation: during six years of separation from his wife Julia, John Kerry continued to live on money she provided to him. Before and after their divorce in 1988, Kerry slept around – both in the beds of other women and in the plush accommodations provided to him by lobbyists, especially after his election to the U.S. Senate in the Orwellian year 1984.
Among the goodies lobbyists and other insiders provided Kerry, writes Michael Grunwald of The New Republic, were “a car he ‘leased’ for 16 months without any payments, a ritzy condo he rented for $200 per month from a friendly developer, a no-risk $21,000 real estate windfall arranged by a top fund-raiser, a lobbyist’s $8,000-per-month waterfront apartment where he crashed without paying.”
When criticized for giving only $175 one year to charity, notes Grunwald, Kerry claimed that sending his kids to private schools had left him strapped for cash – but, as reporters ferreted out, not too poor to buy a handmade, ruby red $8,600 Ducati motorcycle for his joy rides.
(Such Kerry deception and dissimulation is common. Knowing that his Bohemian Jewish grandfather had changed his name from Kohn to Kerry, look how long Kerry passed himself off as Irish to gain ethnic votes, making such statements as “For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry, we take great pride in the contributions that Irish-Americans….” Well, okay, there is a lot of Blarney in Kerry. And probably a lot of European French, too. But it leaves us wondering whether he is what he pretends to be today.)
A new partner soon entered John Kerry’s life. At the 1992 environmental summit on global warming, Kerry found himself warming to the widow of Republican Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz.
Teresa Simoes-Ferreira Heinz was born the daughter of a Portuguese physician on October 5, 1938, in Mozambique in East Africa. She earned a BA degree in Romance Languages and Literature in 1960 from the University of Witwatersrand in apartheid-era South Africa. She is fluent in five languages, has worked for the United Nations, and is tough, worldly and cosmopolitan in outlook.
Kerry, five years younger than Teresa, courted and won the older woman’s hand. Cynics wondered if his relish to wed her was whetted by Teresa being one of the world’s wealthiest women. Her first husband, who died in a 1991 aircraft accident, was heir to the Heinz ketchup and steak sauce fortune. Her inherited wealth exceeds $500 million, and she oversees the Heinz Foundation endowment of $1.2 billion.
(As Kerry doubtless has thought, George Washington made his stake by marrying an older woman, Martha Custis, one of the wealthiest widows in the American colonies.)
Kerry was expected to use Teresa’s wealth in his longtime quest for the presidency. He then announced that campaign finance laws limited his political use of her money to $2,000. But now Kerry’s once-stalled campaign has been re-ignited with money he has borrowed against multimillion-dollar property they own jointly, a debt she later can pay off from her fortune. This certainly violates the spirit, even if it circumvents the letter, of the law.
Like his Democratic rival Howard Dean, Kerry (after railing against the influence of the evil rich in politics) has decided not to accept Federal matching funds nor the limits that come with such funds for his own campaign.
Kerry, his critics say, has since his teens been angling to become President. Any idealism he began with has been dulled and tarnished with experience in politics.
Kerry has spent 19 years deferring to Massachusetts’ senior Senator Ted Kennedy and acting as a rubberstamp second vote for every Kennedy legislative proposal.
One of the easiest ways to embarrass Kerry in an interview, it’s said, is to ask him to list the major pieces of enacted legislation he has authored in his career. There are none. As a lawmaker, Kerry is one of the least successful politicians in American history.
But early on, Kerry as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations set out to conduct news-making, important hearings into drugs and the Noriega regime in Panama, Oliver North and Iran-Contra, and other topics that could attract television cameras. One thing his chief investigator vis-à-vis Noriega stumbled onto were the dictator’s links to BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, a bank connected to prominent Democratic Party figures such as Clark Clifford.
“Why did John Kerry not confront Clark Clifford?” asked reporters James Ring Adams and Douglas Franz in their 1992 book A Full Service Bank: How BCCI Stole Billions Around the World. “One explanation lies in Kerry’s own character. He tends to operate in bursts, pushing relentlessly on a subject and then seeming to lose interest in it.”
[And to his credit, sometimes Kerry touches briefly on bold positions such as criticizing teacher unions, whose members comprise roughly 25 percent of delegates at Democratic National Conventions.]
“Also, Kerry was learning the Washington game,” Adams and Franz continue, “and beginning to think of himself as possible presidential timber down the road. That meant that certain people were not attacked, at least not until all the evidence was in.”
“By this time, Kerry had become chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,” they write. “Known by its shorthand DSCC, the committee was one of the key fund-raising mechanisms for the party’s senators and a big step on the path to power in Washington…Much of both the individual donations and PAC money is channeled through the DSCC…So Kerry’s new job put him at the center of power and meant that he would rub shoulders with the movers and shakers who were financing the Democratic Party.”
“One of these men was David Paul, the owner of CenTrust Savings in Miami,” Adams
and Franz continue. “On July 20, 1988, Kerry hosted a reception honoring Paul, one of the largest contributors to the DSCC, and later the Senator used Paul’s private jet to fly to a DSCC leadership meeting.”
David Paul would turn out to be deeply involved with the machinations of BCCI. And Kerry would help bring at least some BCCI wrongdoing to light. He would also experience private attacks from several of his Democratic colleagues for doing so. From such punishments, Kerry soon learned how to play the Democratic Party’s dirty “Washington game.”
Consider two of the big money people backing Kerry’s current presidential campaign. One, who since 1999 has reportedly funneled nearly $700,000 in both hard and soft money to Kerry, is Alan Solomont.
Remember the controversy four years ago when it came to light that one of the flagship stations of the Public Broadcasting Service, WGBH in Boston, had been violating the privacy of its contributors and the taxpayer-supported impartiality of this PBS station by giving its confidential lists of contributor addresses, telephone numbers and other personal information to the Democratic National Committee? The partisan person who reportedly committed this outrage was WGBH Board Member and bigtime Democratic fundraiser Alan Solomont, now the Daddy Warbucks of the Kerry Campaign.
Another Kerry moneybags is former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes, who during the same period ponied up more than $450,000 for the Massachusetts senator. This fatcat lobbyist, called by Tom Daschle “the fifty-first Democratic senator,” was so adroit as a fixer that he once cut a deal so that, after Texas enacted a state lottery, he and a partner would personally be paid 3.5 cents for every ticket sold – which added up to more than $3 million for them each year. Bill Clinton, a master at backroom money-grubbing, once reportedly told a group of Methodist ministers: “If you all will take a sinner like [Ben] Barnes, you might take me.”
A third cash-and-Kerryer, who during this same period gave Kerry more than $180,000, is Hassan Nemazee. This Iranian-American investor raised a cool $250,000 for Al Gore in November 1995, and he and his family slushed another $150,000 to Democrats during the mid-1990s. Six Nemazee family members and friends (including the caretaker of his 12-acre Katonah, N.Y., estate) donated a total of $60,000 – the maximum legally allowed -- to Bill Clinton’s legal defense fund.
In the closing days of 1998 Clinton named Nemazee his Ambassador-designate to Argentina. Hillary Clinton embraced the Muslim moneyman at a January 1999 White House celebration of the Islamic holiday Eid. The Senate, however, refused to confirm the controversial nominee after a Forbes Magazine investigation exposed Nemazee’s questionable business dealings. “He was,” said a bitter former business partner, “the Iranian equivalent of J.R. Ewing.”
The Forbes magazine investigation also documented how, in order to get his hands on public-employee pension fund monies allocated for minority managers, the U.S.-born Nemazee had falsely claimed to be a Hispanic of Venezuelan background and, on another occasion, an Asian-Indian.
But Nemazee’s cynical lust for money can be frightening as well as laughable. He is a founding board member of the Iranian American Political Action Committee [IAPAC], which seeks to create friendly and lucrative business relationships with the medieval theocratic dictatorship now ruling Iran. Iran is, of course, an “Axis of Evil” nation that seeks to acquire nuclear weapons and is on our State Department’s official list of nations that support terrorism. Nemazee seeks to enrich himself by further enriching the power-mad Mullahs ruling Iran.
“The founding member of this group is Mr. Hassan Nemazee, an American of Iranian origin and one discredited, and well-known agent of the Islamic Republic, within the Iranian community in the United States,” wrote opponent of the Iran regime Aryo B. Pirouznia of the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran. “Their [IAPAC’s] agenda in their own words is: ‘…how relations between the Islamic Republic and the United States can be restored in support of the Islamic Republic and the revolution.’”
Pirouznia wrote this in an open letter to Senator Edward Kennedy urging the Massachusetts Democrat to dissociate himself from Nemazee. The more-leftward senator from the Bay State, John Kerry, continues to embrace Nemazee and the suitcases full of money that he donates.
And, needless to say, Kerry welcomes all sorts of other benefactors, e.g., happily pocketing $50,000 apiece from Hollywood actor Dennis Hopper and Viacom Entertainment Chairman Jonathan Dolgen.
Such are the strange bedfellows of John Kerry, these Big Money payers who call his tune and pull his puppet strings today – and will do so if he becomes President of the United States. But these people are clean and honest compared to the evil foreign cesspools where Kerry has gotten cash. To understand these, we need to remember Kerry’s past in Vietnam.
Lowell Ponte exposes Kerry's Vietnam history -- and much more -- in Part Two, tomorrow.