A Hero No More
Once upon a time, William F. Weld '66 had a future. His early days consisted of pure peaches and cream--an eminent lineage, a lauded stint at Harvard College and Harvard Law School, an impressive display of poise in the cesspool of Washington, D.C., and a calculated career change to the gubernatorial duties of his home state. For the militantly Democratic citizens of Massachusetts, electing blue-blooded, uberWASP Weld, was an absolute phenomenon.
With Weld in the driver's seat, the once ridiculed Beacon Hill became a beacon of hope for residents attempting to escape the infamous Taxachusetts. The State Senate was overhauled as Weld waded through the miasma of budget debacles left by the late, great Michael S. Dukakis. Praise of Weld in the ultra-liberal Boston Globe simply became ubiquitous. A champion of abortion rights and an advocate of gay rights, Weld strode about the State House continually shocking his Republican supporters and constituents. Seemingly, there was nothing he could do wrong. Massachusetts had found her messiah.
Bill, however, made a drastic mistake. His conscience was usurped by his ego. As Bill announced his "boredom" with the vocation of Massachusetts governor, he clearly adopted delusions of grandeur by announcing his candidacy for a Massachusetts Senate seat. Though voters might toss aside their party tendencies and elect a Republican governor, a Republican senator is an entirely different story. Attempting to barge into the domain of the Kennedys does not increase popularity in Massachusetts. Though he was running against an equally undesirable character, John F. Kerry--the man who plainly used his wife's ketchup fortune to fund his campaign--Weld's longing for national limelight was sorely unresolved.
Crashing down a row of tollbooths a week before the Senate election in the hopes of endearing Massachusetts voters essentially did just the opposite: They scoffed at his meager endeavor. Kerry pranced off to Washington leaving Weld in the dust without his coveted Senate seat. Splashing his name on The New York Times and Newsweek appeared to be his next sortie; however, his attempts to create another fifteen minutes of fame were demolished by the churlish Jesse Helms. For once, Helms, the bane of politics, had the right idea. Weld, seeking the illustrious position of Ambassador to Mexico, made himself into the most ludicrous political figure in the United States. The very idea that a blue-eyed, blond-haired member of the Social Register could possibly address Mexico with any form of intelligence or empathy, without even speaking Spanish, struck most Americans as pathetic.
After the ambassadorial fiasco, Bill turned to the metier of novelist. His utterly atrocious "mystery," Mackerel By Moonlight, was greeted by the media as perhaps the worst book written in the Western World. Bill's career looked to be on a downward slippery slope, but he valiantly tried to salvage his reputation by returning to his background in law and purchasing an apartment in New York City to be close to all the action. Sadly, recent Boston Globe articles reported the demise of Weld's marriage with his quiet, cerebral wife--a woman notoriously shy of government functions and engrossed in her studies of Chinese law. The Globe article reported that Bill was permanently living in the city, dating a celebrity columnist from the trite magazine In Style and considering a career in acting.
After his exeunt from the citizens of Massachusetts, a poor attempt at national eclat and a wretched first novel, Weld has finally dug his own grave. By leaving Susan Weld and their five children and deciding to "date" while still married to his lady-wife, Weld clearly aspires to Clintonesque activities. Does he truly think his image will remain as Teflon as the President? By thinking that his middle-aged paunch and balding head might possibly be attractive on-screen, in addition to his deplorable treatment of his wife, Weld has remade himself into a less than admirable public figure.
Cavorting around New York City, hitting the trendiest bars and hippest restaurants, Bill acquired the playboy mentality of recently graduated Harvard students networking at Goldman-Sachs. His I-banking attitude and his love for celebrity does not add much to his once-prominent position in national politics. If he believes that salvaging his career and running for the position of New York governor in 2006 remains a possibility, the destruction of his marriage as a result his social aspirations declares his death as a politician.
Weld once had potential. His latest escapades, especially surrounding the separation from his wife in a search for trendier pastures, demonstrate his complete lack of compassion--a personality trait that does not attract the average voter. By constantly choosing the wrong path, Weld has descended from the pedestal of a brilliant politician to an overt parody of himself. Moving to New York and hobnobbing with the city's finest will not create worthwhile opportunities for him; rather, he should have preserved the exceptional intellect that now lies dormant.
Frances G. Tilney '02, a Crimson executive, is a history and literature concentrator in Mather House.