The Note

"If not, then we are not going to respond to a political party."

Part six of the Boston Globe 's series on John Kerry finds the "brash freshman" Senator embracing his position as a Massachusetts liberal in a Reagan world, and gaining a reputation as a go-getter and a grandstander. LINK Globester John Aloysius Farrell picks up the story in 1986, with Kerry appealing to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to launch an official probe into what would eventually be known as the Iran-contra scandal.

Using Oliver North to draw a parallel path, Farrell sums up Kerry's aggressive, prosecutorial, media-happy pursuit of the scandal. Farrell describes him running down leads in Nicaragua; becoming a "magnet" for leaked information; forming anomalous alliances; arousing the misgivings of his colleagues; interrogating Elliott Abrams; taking testimony from an alleged CIA operative who implicated then-Veep GHW Bush (who in turn, demanded Kerry "'show some evidence and stop leaking out information that is not true'"); and maintaining a sense of duty to his Vietnam experience and campaign promise.

As Edward Kennedy puts it, "'He is, by nature, an investigative figure … You can investigate and then legislate. He's investigated.'"

Farrell Notes Kerry's "unlikely alliance" with Jesse Helms, who had a particular distaste for drug traffickers; Kerry has courteous words for his former colleague: "'I spent time with Jesse … I talked to him. Talked his language. Jesse didn't believe the same things I did in many cases, but he was a gentleman. He was a man of his word.'"

We get a tasty little Biden-Helms exchange from the "then-secret session:"

Biden: "'Jesse? What do you think about this? … I know you are a contra supporter.'"

Helms: "'I will tell you what I do not support, and John Kerry and I have talked about this: anybody sending drugs into this country … I do not care whose side they are on.'"

Continuing on his forceful, prosecutorial path, Kerry helped launch the Manuel Noriega probe, and stepped on some D.C. Democratic toes by investigating the BCCI scandal, which brought down Democratic fixture Clark Clifford.

Farrell writes that some Senate colleagues became "icy," while Kerry aides recall the pleas from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Pamela Harriman to let up on Clifford. Of Clifford's involvement and disgrace, Kerry is quoted as "shocked . . .(and) surprised' but 'resigned that you had to go in and let the chips fall where they may.'"

Farrell also takes the time to Note that Kerry's personal life during this period was bleak; he was separated from his daughters, "broke," and forced to rely on the kindness of strangers, some of whom were developers and lobbyists, to his eventual detriment.

Divorced in 1988 (following a six-year separation) from the wealthy Julia Thorne, who had provided the bulk of the family assets, Kerry was saddled with campaign debts and child support obligations, made some bad real estate decisions (including, it turned out, a rather tainted investment), supplemented his income with speaking fees (a practice later banned by Congress in 1991), and chaired the DSCC with its cache of donors.

Teresa Heinz Kerry now calls this his "'gypsy period,'" as he went for months without a fixed address, but eventually settled in apartments in D.C. and Boston.

Farrell delves into the famed romantic life of the single senator, mentioning Judge Roanne Sragow (see part five) and Morgan Fairchild. LINK

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