Thursday, August 26, 2004

Cheney On the Hot Seat

I'm not late to the party with this Dick and Mary Cheney post -- I just wanted to think about it for a day or so, because there's more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. But it sure looks like ol' Dick Cheney has really created a shitstorm in the fundie wing of the Republican Party, eh?

"Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue our family is very familiar with," Cheney told an audience that included his daughter. "With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. ... People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.

"The question that comes up with the issue of marriage is what kind of official sanction or approval is going to be granted by government? Historically, that's been a relationship that has been handled by the states. The states have made that fundamental decision of what constitutes a marriage," he said.
This is not only a public movement to the left of his boss's position, it's as far removed from the rabid base of the GOP (and truthfully, a chunk of the Democratic Party, too) as can be done without totally eliminating his chances of sharing the ticket with George Bush next week. But like I said, I think there's something deeper, nay, more nefarious involved. It's a signal to the rest of the party that maybe there's a bit of a power struggle going on in the administration.

For Cheney to outwardly challenge the administration's official position on gay marriage is nothing short of flabbergasting. George Bush has his supporters in congress; I'm willing to bet that Cheney has just as many (or possibly even more). What Cheney has said is: "I'm the gatekeeper of the gay marriage amendment issue. As long as I'm Vice President, the issue is going nowhere in congress. So, let's move along to something more important."

Don't get me wrong. I'm the last person in the world who'd toss rose petals in Dick Cheney's direction. But at least on this issue, perhaps reason has prevailed - or Lynne and Mary got to him. Wives / mothers / daughters can do that. And that's the only reason his public position is now clear (albeit, that might have been his private position all along).

How's this playing with the fundie wing? You know the answer to that question. Predictably. In Cincinnati, for example:

Kenton County Commissioner Adam Koenig said a federal amendment was needed to prevent judges from declaring state laws banning gay marriage unconstitutional.

"In a perfect world it could be a state issue, if you don't have activist judges making laws from the bench. That's why the president is doing it, and that's the best way of going about it," he said.
There's those damn activist judges again. Yeah, the 'constitutionalists'. Damn them. Damn the forefathers who had the divine inspiration to create a document that would protect the rights and liberties of everyone (even if we've had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward the concept, through emancipation, suffrage, and voters rights).

And in GOP platform caucuses around the country...

NEW YORK — A Republican convention means a Republican platform — and a Republican platform means arguments about abortion, same-sex marriage and other social issues.
Sure enough, supporters of abortion rights and gay rights protested yesterday after a platform committee made up largely of conservative delegates approved language that calls for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposes legal recognition of any sort for gay civil unions.

The panel also supported the call for a constitutional ban on abortion. Another group of delegates endorsed President Bush's restrictions on stem-cell research.

"It's certainly not going to help bring moderates into the party," said Jennifer Blei Stockman, national co-chairwoman of Republican Majority for Choice.

Republicans said their party is committed to protecting marriage and the unborn, but they added that all views are welcome.
Listen, I can't even come up with a good snarky response to that last sentence.

At the risk of getting severely redundant with previous posts of Doc and myself, the issue of gay marriage isn't about two people of the same sex hooking up in a committed relationship. It's clearly an issue of exclusion: do we modify a core document in the governance of the United States to exclude people we don't like or people who simply aren't like us? Perhaps that's the long and short of Dick Cheney's view. But again, I'm sure familial pressure has something to do with his empathetic statement.

In any case, Cheney certainly rattled some cages in the fascist wing of the GOP, because I think they thought he was truly one of their own on this issue, and would forsake his daughter for the good of the party. I'm really glad to see the wingers take a good thump on the nose from Cheney. It doesn't make me feel any better about Dick Cheney, the man / CEO / bizzaro-Robin Hood, but it does make me pleased to see that he's human.

So, what's the catch? What darkness is at work here? There's been a lot of speculation over the past month or two that, because Cheney is such a drag on George Bush in the polls, there was a backhouse movement within the GOP to move him off of the ticket at the convention. Cheney's pronouncement the other day could work two ways - ensures keeping him on the ticket to mollify the more progressive elements of the GOP (perhaps the word "progressive" is an oxymoron when used in this context), or ensures he has an escape pod ready to launch from the Bush mothership if he's so inclined (rather than be shoved out of the airlock). The timing of his pronouncement in Pennsylvania, less than a week before the RNC Convention opens, is more than just a curiosity.

Let me finish by putting in a plug for a wonderful little movie that anyone who is conflicted by the gay / lesbian marriage issue needs to see. Latter Days is an art film that played to great reviews in limited release around the country, and it's getting ready to come out (no pun intended) on DVD. I promise you, if you're hetero like me, Latter Days will initially make you uncomfortable, but by the end of the movie, you'll be going, "yeah, that's what this whole issue is all about". When you're finished with it, lend it to the homophobe or Republican friend of your choice.

Hell, order an additional copy for Dick and Lynne Cheney as a "thank you" for bringing a little uncommon humanity to this volatile topic.