The Braun Campaign Drain

“I wish Carol all the luck in the world, but she’s not anyone I would vote for,” said Marty Faye. On June 17 Faye emceed a fund-raiser at the Sheraton for Carol Moseley Braun. A few days later Braun insulted his daughter.

“They were so close!” said Marty Faye. “I mean, they were Siamese twins. They worked together side by side. They traveled everywhere together.”

Sydney Faye-Petrizzi is an emblem of the legions of white women who can’t imagine not voting for Carol Braun. Faye-Petrizzi held the candidate’s coat and purse when she swept into rooms and onto stages. She took endless notes, describing the crowds and scribbling down the best applause lines and logging whoever came up afterward and volunteered for what. To do this grunt work, she’d given up a fancy job at Mirabella magazine, but the campaign was so much more than a job–it was a cause. In the name of the cause she’d put up with almost anything, including the disdain of Braun’s other traveling companion, the prickly campaign manager Kgosie Matthews.

“I told my daughter, if there’s anything to do, I’ll help,” said Marty Faye, a legendary radio and TV personality who put in 37 years at the mike. “She said, ‘Would you emcee the fund-raiser?’ It was a lovely evening, even though it poured. Mayor Daley was there. Marlo Thomas was there. And Eppie Lederer. Carol just waxed poetically about Sydney–she was even a guest in my home the week before–and told me what a terrific job she’d done, how unselfishly she’d worked for her. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue . . . ”

It burns him. “After all that working together, not to have faith in someone is just tacky,” Faye told us. “I feel badly because I like Carol, but someone got in her ear and turned her head around. She’s losing some very hardworking people.”

On June 26 Michael Sneed ran an item about a memo that had been posted at Braun headquarters asking for ways to improve the campaign. Somebody wrote, fire the campaign manager. A “source close to Braun” told Sneed, “This guy could alienate Eleanor Roosevelt.”

That evening Braun, who was in California trying to raise money, called Faye-Petrizzi back in Chicago. “She accused me of being a continuous leak, of trying to sabotage her campaign, and of disloyalty. This wasn’t questioning. She accused me. Flat out. ‘I know it’s you. I know it’s you.'”

Braun hung up, and Faye-Petrizzi felt sick. “I’d have taken a bullet for her,” she says. Hot Type is in no position to swear that Faye-Petrizzi wasn’t leaving notes in geranium plants on a nightly basis outside the doors of Sneed and Kathy O’Malley. But she categorically denies leaking Sneed the memo story. A political reporter we talked to said Faye-Petrizzi knew how to keep secrets, and her image inside the campaign was of a lady whose devotion to the candidate approached sycophancy.

Besides, says Faye-Petrizzi, for all her thundering Braun singled out only one leak–and it wasn’t even Sneed’s dump-Kgosie item. Braun accused Faye-Petrizzi of leaking the news that her dad was going to do the fund-raiser. Braun repeated this accusation to the press: “Braun said she didn’t know about it beforehand,” the Sun-Times reported a few days later.

Faye-Petrizzi confesses–when she ran into Kathy O’Malley she told her. But so what? And how could Braun not have known? They were traveling together when Faye-Petrizzi picked up the car phone and called her dad and asked him.

Faye-Petrizzi stewed awhile over Braun’s call, then tried to call her back. The candidate was flying to San Francisco, and Faye-Petrizzi left a message for her at the hotel. She waited 50 minutes and tried again. You left a second message at the desk? we asked her. Not at the desk, she said vaguely. It was her father who filled us in. “Kgosie got on the phone and said she was down at a meeting and couldn’t talk to her. And bang! Down went the phone. It’s obvious who got in her ear.”

We wondered if the campaign manager had made an impression on Marty Faye. “I do know this Kgosie is very antisocial,” he told us. “There was a private dinner after the fund-raiser with some heavy-duty people. He wasn’t a part of it. He went into the bar. He never came over to say hello. But that’s fine. Everybody doesn’t have to be friendly.”

Braun never did return Faye-Petrizzi’s call. But the next day the campaign office paged her at her parents’ house. She was told to leave immediately to represent Braun at a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah.

“I said to this young woman on the phone that (a) she didn’t know where it was, so obviously how could I go? and (b) “I don’t know if you’re familiar with bar mitzvahs, but it’s three o’clock. It’s a little late to be going to a bar mitzvah.’

“That really, really threw me over the edge. She doesn’t call me back twice. She accuses me of those dastardly things. And she wants me to go to a bar mitzvah. I was supposed to be with her all Sunday at the NOW conference and the gay pride parade. I didn’t feel like being with her after she’d insulted my integrity. By Saturday night I still hadn’t heard from her, so I left a message on her machine and resigned.”

Hurt feelings and resignations are a routine part of any political campaign, as the Braun camp was quick to remind us. The whole thing’s a molehill, said press secretary David Eichenbaum, speaking in lieu of Braun or Matthews. He wouldn’t respond to Faye-Petrizzi’s account of her leave-taking, but he said the press had blown it out of proportion. When Faye-Petrizzi quit, so did Kay Clement, the Hyde Park activist who’d talked Braun into running for the General Assembly back in 1978, and Clement’s son Adam. “The press has played it like three top staffers have left,” Eichenbaum complained. “One mid-level staffer left and two volunteers.” A wave of high-level resignations and dismissals–one involving a friend of ours–during the primary happened before his time.

Eichenbaum, who came to Braun from the Tsongas campaign, wished the press would write instead about the “highly professional” and, by his account, harmonious staff around Braun today. That’s a worthy theme, and one day soon a friendly reporter will probably tackle it. But we told Eichenbaum that what we wanted to focus on was the campaign’s problem with all those leaks.

“It’s not a problem,” Eichenbaum replied. “There have been a couple of instances where things have gotten out to the press that are unfortunate. But it’s not a big deal.”

Then what was Braun so upset about? we asked. But he had no light to shed.

Honorable Choice

The question we were hoping the Senate Judiciary Committee would put last year to Clarence Thomas, once he’d made it clear he would say nothing about Roe v. Wade, could have been framed hypothetically. As there’s no proposition five lawyers can’t be rounded up from somewhere to support, how much respect would be due a Supreme Court ruling arrived at because over a span of a decade or more no one who might have decided differently was allowed to join the court?

Journalists, such as George Will and Stephen Chapman, who long for Roe v. Wade to be rolled back don’t see the problem. To them Roe is a profound moral and constitutional mistake to be reversed by any means necessary, including court packing, and last week’s decision appalled them. Chapman reminded us that he considers Roe “infamous.” Will called Roe “frivolous and arrogant.” The “abortion right,” he said, exists only “in the personal preferences and social agendas of various justices.”

Perhaps that was true in 1973. It isn’t true now. The abortion right exists today because three conservative justices who were supposed to overturn Roe cared less about that than about the dignity of the institution to which they’d been appointed. Go back and read the New York Times’s excerpts of the various opinions in the Pennsylvania abortion case–opinions that Will dismissed as “one pound 14 ounces of . . . mostly pseudo-constitutional reasoning.” Whether or not you respect the majority’s reasoning, you’ll spot the irony that laces it: Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter knew what they were put on the court to do, and that’s largely why they didn’t do it.

Their jointly written decision stresses “principles of institutional integrity.” Concluding that “the stronger argument is for affirming Roe’s central holding, with whatever degree of personal reluctance any of us may have, not for overruling it,” the three justices distanced themselves from both Roe and the White House crusade to topple it. “Whatever the premises of opposition may be, only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a later decision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure, and an injustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance.”

The dissenting chief justice, William Rehnquist, denounced this stress on precedent. A ruling on either side of Roe could be construed as “surrender to political pressure,” he argued, and noted that the decision of O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter “cannot bring itself to say that Roe was correct as an original matter.”

Of course it can’t. Look who its authors are–three jurists vetted before they were nominated for their hostility to Roe. To Rehnquist, political pressure is a wash, being “large demonstrations, including repeated marches on this Court and on Congress, both in opposition to and in support of [Roe].” But the only political pressure on the Supreme Court worth talking about has been the systematic attempt to remake it. It’s this pressure, not some field of marchers, that keeps Harry Blackmun on the Court at the age of 83. O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter chose not to act the part of White House hit men. Chapman and Will don’t see how this choice could be honorable.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J. Alexander Newberry.