My local paper reprinted an L. A. Times’ piece on how the First Family consumes their (and influences our) Popular Culture. It notes that W. has an iPod (is that what he wears under his jacket?), with not only the expected roster of jingoistic country singers, but also Van Morrison, Aaron Neville and Creedence (“Fortunate Son?” Yeah, suuure). First Consumer Laura Bush is portrayed as a so modern “confirmed on-line shopper.”
But it was the article’s final twelve paragraphs on “Reading” that I found most interesting. Incurious George’s very short reading list runs from Thomas Wolfe’s “I am Charlotte Simmons” to right-wing Israeli Cabinet member Natan Scharansky’s book, “The Case for Democracy” which bases its arguments on the notion that “free” societies don’t make war with each other. (Well, well. I did not know that. I’d always assumed that countries with Nuclear weapons don’t attack each other.
Of course, the “Reading” section provides for the millionth example of the playing of the “Laura was a librarian and teacher” card. This, in turn got me thinking, “Just what is Teresa Heinz’ ‘real job?’ ” Heinz, of course, in a USA Today interview with two weeks to go in the heat of the presidential election campaign last October 19th, famously said, “Well, you know, I don’t know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don’t know that she’s ever had a real job — I mean, since she’s been grown up.”
To her credit Heinz did apologize, but the damage done ABB was fatal.
The TIME presidential poll conducted October 14th and 15th had it a 48% to 48% tie. The very same TIME poll conducted October 19th through 21st showed Bush leading ABB by 52 % to 47% – a five point swing in a week! Perhaps I was too hasty concluding that it was mostly the anti-Gay backlash that, against all rationality, returned Bush to the White House?
The Non-profit Empress
So, anyway, what is Teresa Heinz real job? (Yes, Teresa Heinz Kerry is history. From an article earlier this month in the Washington Times; “I just checked and she no longer uses her (entire) last name; only during the (presidential) campaign did she use Kerry,” campaign spokeswoman Tamara Rodriguez Reichberg said.)
Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões-Ferreira Heinz was born into a Portuguese upper-class family in October 1938 in colonial Mozambique. She graduated from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg at the height of Apartheid there. She then graduated from Interpreters School in Geneva and is fluent in five languages.
In 1966, she married ketchup magnate Henry John Heinz III who went on to become a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and who later died in a 1991 plane crash. She was appointed a delegate to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit by President George H.W. Bush where she was reacquainted with John Kerry whom she married in 1995, after first changing her lifelong Republican registration to Democrat in 1993.
As a result of her inheritances from her family and her first marriage, she has personal wealth estimated at between $700 million and $1 billion. And, as head of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, Teresa Heinz controls endowments of over a billion along with all the influence that grants funded by this largesse brings.
And, that is her real job; a Philanthropist who gains political capital through the influence of her ability to impart money. Ten different colleges have given Heinz Honorary Degrees simply because of her munificence. Numerous nonfunctional non-profits vie for the honor of having her atop annual conference speaker’s lists.
Flying fossil-fuel burning, ozone-depleting jets from one gathering of sycophants to another; professing all the while to be an environmental champion (no big green is going to mention the empress’ new clothes); applying generous coats of greenwash to Democratswait a minute; there’s entirely too many people with that job description, many funded by Heinz herself. That’s it. My question is answered: Teresa Heinz is Nonprofit-Professional-in-chief.
Where Have You Gone Mr. “Two Americas?”
When last seen late November 3, 2004, John Edwards was vowing to “fight for every vote” while his running mate ABB was conceding as quickly as he denied using Botox; which is to say, light-years quicker than he responded to the Swift Boat idiocy.
Since then, Edwards appears to have dropped off the planet. His disappearance has been the butt of jokes on GOP lists. Even as the Bush Administration fires salvo after salvo at litigants’ rights, the famed Trial Lawyer has been invisible.
Perhaps the “Breck Girl’s” inability to win any Southern states for the Democrats, including his own, was too much and he has prudently retreated to a secure, undisclosed location? Or perhaps it has been the “failed to fight for every vote” Democrats’ Senate genuflections before as gruesome a string of cabinet nominees we’ve ever seen that has proven too much?
MICHAEL DONNELLY is an environmental activist in Salem, Oregon. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org