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Who is John Kerry?

Justin Williams



Recently, the 2004 US Presidential election campaign began in earnest when the Bush re-election campaign placed ads on national television. These ads managed to include images of September 11 in New York while asking people to vote Bush in November this year. The timing of these ads was to coincide with the rise to Presidential candidate of one Senator John Kerry as Democratic Party nominee. Although Kerry has yet to officially win the Democratic nomination, his almost complete domination of the Presidential Primaries thus far suggests this to be a mere formality. This means that Democrats have endorsed Kerry as their man to “get rid of Bush”.
With the election still eight-odd months away, now is the perfect time to ask the question: Who is John Kerry? He’s the first Democratic candidate to have the initials JFK (his middle name is Forbes) since Kennedy himself. He was born on December 11 1943 at a military hospital in Colorado. His father was a World War 2 veteran with lineage to a famous Massachusetts statesmen and his mother was related to the influential Forbes family. Because of this pedigree, young Kerry was born into privilege and opportunity. He graduated from Yale before joining the Navy (possibly reluctantly) in the mid 1960s and serving in the Vietnam War. Because of the nature of the election campaign to date, Kerry’s war record is receiving close scrutiny from commentators. Unlike George W. Bush, Kerry’s service record is excellent. He was awarded numerous medals and attained the rank of Lieutenant before discharging in 1970.
Despite this, Kerry may become more known for post-service attacks on the war and political involvement in the anti-war movement of the 1970s. He co-founded the anti-war Vietnam Veterans of America and was a key figure in the protests against President Nixon’s government. This particular angle is one the Republican propaganda machine has already latched onto with the hope of overshadowing his record. What does it say about American politics right now when the respective war achievements or lack thereof dominate the election campaign? Apparently, the American public want a strong wartime leader at the same time as a strong peacetime one.
Before formally entering politics, Kerry graduated with a Boston Law degree and worked both as a District Attorney and in private practice. He made a successful bid for the Lieutenant Governor’s position in Massachusetts in 1982. After two years in that position, he run for and won a place on the US Senate representing that state, a position he still holds to this day. His most noted contribution in politics was his investigation of the US Government’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair of the late 1980s. His report showed the Government’s actions to be illegal and fostering terrorist activities. During his three full terms, Kerry has served in many Party Committees and was recently Chairman of the Committee on Small Businesses. He’s now considered as one of the current ‘fathers’ of the Party organisationally and politically.
Kerry has been married twice. His current is Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress to the considerable Heinz fortune. In fact, many believe that their combined wealth is well over USD500 million. Saying that, considering the history of wealthy families in power in America, this shouldn’t adversely affect his campaign. Outside of politics, Kerry has been known to date glamorous actresses like Morgan Fairchild, own a range of motorcycles and be recently prepared to ride one into a campaign rally. He’s also a hunting fan and has successfully recovered from prostate cancer as recently as last year.
These are the brief highlights of John Kerry: the man and his credentials. This snapshot paints Kerry as a man with many career and personal highlights and few “mistakes” to attract the intentions of the Republican Party. The perspective merits of the candidates will probably be judged by voters as much on image and style as distinct from their politics and the issues. In this regard to date, Kerry managed to stay “clean” during the Democratic Primary race. He also united a fragmented Party leadership and Democratic voters early in the race in the process.