John Kerry, a little too GQ

By Tim Grieve
Published August 16, 2004 5:35PM (EDT)

If John Kerry's supporters cringed last week when the candidate let himself be drawn into a no-win back-and-forth with Bush over his votes on Iraq, they'll want to pull up the covers and hide in bed when the new GQ hits the stands.

The September GQ appears next Tuesday, and in it readers will find an interview called "A Beer With John Kerry." If the Democratic presidential nominee thought it was hard to get his economic message out last week amid all the noise about his Iraq comments, how does he think things will go when people start talking about Kerry's list of the sexiest actresses in movie history?

The highlights, such as they are, from GQ's press release:

Kerry on the sexiest women in film: "I think Charlize Theron is pretty extraordinary ... Catherine Zeta-Jones ... and Marilyn Monroe. I thought she was funny. Complicated. And obviously very attractive, very beautiful."

Kerry on what to look for in a woman: "Look for what gets your heart. Someone who excites you, turns you on. It's a quality of character. It's a kind of presentation. Sense of womanhood. Full woman. Confident. It's a woman who loves being a woman. Who wears her womanhood. Who knows how to flirt and have fun. Smart. Confident. Has a sense of self. Strong. And obviously sexy and saucy and challenging."

Kerry on being a bachelor in Washington: "Those were not good days ... I think if you ask anyone, Bob Kerrey, or anyone who's been single on Capitol Hill, you'll find it's no fun ... That's not a good world, and everyone wants a piece of you, and all I can say is thank God I found Teresa."

Kerry on Marlon Brando and Iran-Contra: "He took a huge interest in it. And he would call me. He was always asking questions. And he'd give me advice. I took his advice on a couple of angles. A couple of points."

The interview isn't all bad. There are moments when Kerry comes across as more human than he sometimes does on the stump -- moments when he talks about his battle with prostate cancer, his life as a bachelor in Washington, and his love for Teresa Heinz Kerry. Kerry says he was "a little gun-shy and apprehensive and nervous" after his first marriage ended in divorce, but that Teresa gave him a new sense of confidence. "I'm confident about a lot of things, but I'm not somebody who's blind to human frailty and to the need for humility. We all have our flaws. And Teresa, you know, gave me just a great sort of strong, clear commitment to who I am. So you know, she loved me. And I think that kind of love is very compelling."

Sure it is, and it's fine for Kerry to say so. But at a time when Kerry is still trying to persuade swing voters that he is an acceptable -- read: "presidential" -- alternative to Bush, these aren't exactly the words he should want the world to be hearing.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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