Thursday, October 14, 2004

Cheneys, Mary Cheney, and the Kerry / Edwards Ticket

But they are on the same page right now? You see, according to all reports the Cheneys have been talking about their lesbian daughter for the past couple months on talk shows, together and singly. There's certainly no secret that's she's a lesbian. MSNBC puts it this way:

The vice president has spoken at length about his daughter’s sexuality and his view of gay relationships, even disagreeing with the president about the need for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages.They were quite conciliatory when Mr. Cheney debated John Edwards recently. Edwards mentioned Mary Cheney, their lesbian daughter, in quite complimentary terms to both her and the family. Edwards was asked a question about the Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, and he responded this way:

Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy.
Clearly Mr. Edwards was trying to put a good face on how lesbians and gays should be treated by their families. That he did so while complimenting his opponent shows a great deal of grace and respect, and that's exactly how Mr. Cheney responded in a very short rebuttal. (Was he trying to get off the subject after two straight questions?) Cheney:

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.

IFILL: That's it?

CHENEY: That's it.

IFILL: OK, then we'll move on to the next question.
So far so consistent. Mr. and Mrs. Cheney talk fully with talk show hosts and reporters about their daughter, and they do so without shame whatsoever. When Mr. Edwards mentions their daughter while glowingly complimenting the Cheney family, Mr. Cheney is also gracious. But that changed in last night's debate. What changed?

From this angle, the only thing that changed is that Mr. Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney without complimenting the Cheney family. Here's the excerpt from the last Bush Kerry debate:

We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as.
Yes, we are all God's children, and Kerry framed the rest of his answer to include all gays and lesbians and the families that support them as struggling but dealing admirably with difficult situations. I find it hard to figure out how Mr. Cheney finds this objectionable, but in that same MSNBC article cited above, both he and his wife are puffed up with righteous indignation.

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Vice President Dick Cheney called himself “a pretty angry father” on Thursday after Sen. John Kerry mentioned their gay daughter during the final presidential debate — comments Kerry said were meant to be positive about families with gay children.

The vice president’s wife, Lynne Cheney, called Kerry “not a good man” and his remarks about daughter Mary Cheney “a cheap and tawdry political trick.”.... . .

Cheney told supporters at a rally Thursday in Fort Myers, “You saw a man who will do and say anything to get elected, and I am not just speaking as a father here, although I am a pretty angry father.” He made no other reference to Kerry’s remarks about his daughter
So, what exactly is the meaning of this? Mr. and Mrs. Cheney have decided to get their collective panties in a bunch because John Kerry didn't compliment them enough while mentioning their daughter?

There are other theories, of course. Perhaps the religious right sent a message to the Bush camp about their soft line on gay marriage, and they're lashing out at Kerry is a signal to their base. Or maybe desperation is setting in. Maybe, just maybe, this is a manufactured controversy, with the thinking that any news devoted to examining Kerry's words is good for their campaign.

Either of these last two scenarios are the most likely, of course. And ugly in their duplicity and seaminess. Yeah, rinse twice, and hopefully you can stop spitting the taste of this little fiasco from your collective craws by bedtime.