- Category : Business-Entrepreneur
- Type : ME
- Profile : 4/1 - Opportunistic / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : JX Strategy
American politician and entrepreneur, the senior Senator from Nebraska, Vice Chairman of Senate Select Committee and a member of Senate Finance Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee. Kerrey served as Company Chairman of the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service in addition to the Senate Appropriations Committee from 1989-1996. Re-elected to the Senate in 1994, he served one term as Governor of the State of Nebraska from 1983-1987. Despite his lack of political experience, he defeated incumbent Republican Governor in heavily Republican Nebraska. Balancing the budget of Nebraska in each of his four terms as governor, he turned the deficit he inherited upon taking office into a seven per cent surplus upon leaving office.
Kerry was one of seven children of James, a builder, and Elinor, a homemaker who returned to school when the kids were grown. A natural student in high school and a determined athlete, he ran track, played golf and earned a letter in football. After graduating from the University of Nebraska in 1966 with a degree in Pharmacy, upon facing the draft, Kerrey enlisted in the Navy, chosen to serve in the elite Navy SEAL Team. The grueling regimen of training defeated many and the remaining soldiers were encouraged to quit every day for the four-month program. Undaunted, the intrepid Kerrey pressed on, saying, "I was very gung ho. I enjoyed it."
The actual experience of action in Vietnam was a different matter. On 2/25/1969, when he had been in the country for less than a month, Kerrey was leading a patrol of six men on a raid of a hamlet named Thanh Phong. They encountered the enemy and in a firefight, killed 21 Viet Cong that included at least 13 unarmed civilians, women and children, a terrifying example of the horror of war and the nightmare aftermath. Less than two months later, he was wounded in action. On 3/14/1969, Kerrey lost the lower half of his right leg in a pre-dawn assault against the Vietcong, requiring at least one operation a year for seven years before he could walk on a prosthesis without assistance. His bravery was never in doubt and for his exemplary military service, Kerrey was decorated by President Richard Nixon on 3/14/1970 with the Congressional Medal of Honor in a Rose Garden Ceremony. Though the memory of action remained as a deep scar, upon reflection he considered that his experience in Viet Nam was not a complete catastrophe. If he had not served, he would have been a "middle class suburban white boy who had never hurt, who had never suffered and who had never felt any pain."
Upon his return to civilian life, Kerrey's military discipline served him well. Despite a complete lack of experience, he opened a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska with his brother-in-law called "Grandmother's Skillet," 1973. Working 18 hour days for months on end, the restaurant became a financial and public success when until it was destroyed by a tornado two years later. Kerrey and his kin rebuilt and thrived, adding new branches until they had built a chain of nine restaurants, employing over 700 people. Capitalizing on their success, they parlayed their profits into high-end health clubs called "Prairie Life Centers."
Kerrey's marriage to Beverly Defnall in April 1974 ended in divorce. They had two children, son Ben, born in 1974 and daughter Lindsey, born in 1976. His romance with actress Debra Winger broke up in 1985 after two years when she married Timothy Hutton, but they renewed it for another term in 1989 after her divorce. Senator Kerrey makes his home in Omaha, Nebraska and Washington DC.
His critics consider him a "biography in a suit," as his conflicts of interests have tarnished his image. During the '90s he was viewed by some as a formidable challenger to Al Gore in the Presidential race but he declined to pursue a Presidential bid, announcing his decision in December 1998. A little more than a year later, on 1/20/2000, he further announced that would not seek re-election as he wants to tend to his spiritual side, "a deeply personal decision." He took up a post as president of the New School University in New York City in January 2001.
The former Nebraska married his longtime companion, former "Saturday Night Live" writer Sarah Paley, age undisclosed, at a ceremony in New York on 2/23/2001 and their son Henry was born on 9/10/2001.