Boston's Harvard Club with its 10 squash courts is an unlikely setting for feminists who once went barefoot and bra-less in the park. Aging activists from the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority apparently prefer the indoor atmosphere with its hand-rubbed paneling and silver vases now that the blue-blood era of John Kerry has come to the Party of the Working Class.
The club's NOW-sponsored "She Party" on opening day of the Democratic Convention attracted 300 women eager to hear from a headliner whom Feminist Majority leader Eleanor Smeal called their "secret weapon": Sen. Kerry's sister Peggy.
Ms. Kerry said her brother would do "three things" if he is elected president: restore $34 billion to the UN population fund for family planning; ensure passage of "CEDAW," an international women's rights treaty; and appoint pro-abortion justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Publicly stoking the radical feminist agenda is no surprise coming from the Kerry clan but for one problem: Ms. Kerry works for President Bush.
The 62-year-old Kerry sibling is a salaried State Department employee assigned to the U.S. Mission to the UN. She currently works at the U.S. Mission's public affairs section, which is charged with "informing and explaining U.S. policies to the media and general public," according to its website.
U.S. policy at the UN includes a ban on funding for family-planning activities as long as the UN agency supports China's one-child policy and coerced abortion. And since 1979, when the UN first adopted CEDAW, the United States has not ratified the treaty because it seeks to overturn laws that "criminalize medical procedures only needed by women"-a plain reference to universalizing abortion under the guise of protecting women's rights.
Ms. Kerry's sister act once would have been illegal for a federal employee. But in 1993 lawmakers amended the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of executive branch hires, allowing all but certain law-enforcement, Justice Department, and CIA employees to participate in partisan campaigning. State Department lawyers are currently investigating whether Ms. Kerry's activities violate internal guidelines.
Ms. Kerry was hired at the UN during the Clinton administration at Sen. Kerry's request, according to then-UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, another Boston DNC headliner. Ms. Kerry wasn't answering her direct line at the U.S. Mission during the convention, even during working hours, but U.S. Mission spokesman Rick Grenell confirmed that she still works there. "I really cannot comment further," he said.
According to the New York Post, Sen. Kerry "frantically finagled" to switch his sister's position from a political appointment to a civil service position when Mr. Bush took office. That may make it harder for the Bush administration to dismiss Ms. Kerry. But a sister on the campaign trail on taxpayers' time could become a liability for the presidential candidate who vowed to "end the era of special interests."