October 16, 2004

A Mother's Exploitation

Steve brings up the outrage over Kerry mentioning Ms. Cheney in the debate.

Appropriately, he ends his short and accurate post with:

Ok, now everyone just shut up.

But of course now I have to post about it. I’d preface this with a sigh, but I’m trying to save up just in case Kerry loses the election.

It’s somewhat unrealistic that Kerry might hope to gain a supposed Bush-supporter-homophobic vote. It assumes that this person is so fixated on the issue that they would switch their vote based on the Veep’s daughter. And even though they are fixated on the issue, they have somehow missed the other public and nationally televised mentions of Mary Cheney’s sexual preference. It’s possible that Kerry believes this, but I doubt it.

It is much more plausible it was a tactic to get Bush off balance.So it was a debate tactic.

Emotionally, I feel the mention of her name struck a false note, mainly because it seemed out of place. Realistically, what is the big deal? Ms. Cheney is not some political innocent, unconnected to the campaign. She’s been in the trenches — and specifically regarding to this issue — for quite a while now.

Furthermore, as Steve mentions, Cheney has brought up his daughter’s sexual preference himself on occasion. In a political context.

So, what are they outraged about, exactly? That Kerry would use the word “lesbian?” That only the Cheney’s are allowed to mention their daughter’s name?

The same folks who traded those pictures of Kerry’s daughter whose dress was suddenly rendered translucent under the glare of flashbulbs are now wringing their hands in woe and shaking their fists over the mere mention of Cheney’s daughter.

“But wait,” you say. “You can say that about right wing bloggers, but what about her Lynne Cheney’s pain as a mother?” If some sort of damage was done to Ms. Cheney, I wish someone would point it out to me.

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.

If someone ever says that sort of thing about me, that I am being who I was born as, boy—you just wait to hear my anguish. I’ll be sitting outside, rending my garments and wailing. And holy cow, if my parents ever find out… well, it won’t be pretty.

I’d say “I’ve seen it all” but it makes me afraid at what mock indignation is waiting around the next corner. If Kerry had lied about Cheney’s daughter, or even criticised her, I’d be right there with those who are offended.

Let’s say that the issue had been alcoholism and Kerry had said something like “even though the president’s daughter appears to be alcoholic, her family still loves her…” or something along those lines. I would have to agree—there is something wrong with taking advantage of a weaknesses in the president/vice president’s family to try to knock the president off balance in the debate. There would be something wrong with outing her, wrongly accusing her of being an alcoholic, or taking advantage of her disease.

Thing is, Kerry didn’t do that. Homosexuality is not comparable to alcoholism. But among those who believe it is, their indignation is telling. Back in reality, Kerry’s false note is about as damning as mispronouncing “nuclear.” It comes down to one awkward debate moment with no repercussions except the opportunity for Bush to take advantage of a possible Kerry backlash.

Kerry’s mention of Ms. Cheney doesn’t rise to the treatment it’s getting. The lasting phenomenon of disingenuous outrage is going to be the real stain here, if it lingers.

If Kerry loses the election over this joke, we’ll have a fun four years to discuss how we are all still offended by the above comment which is just in such poor taste.

This election will surely drive me to alcoholism.

Posted by James at October 16, 2004 2:12 AM
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The Sinclair show will knock John Kerry out of the race before this will. For the record I thought it was in poor taste too, not enough to vote the other way of course, because unlike the average Bush voter, I don't have my head so far up my ass that I can't tell the difference between "poor taste" and "sending Americans to die in Iraq based on a lie".

Face it, the standards that the wingnuts apply are far more rigidly applied to their opponents. If *Al Gore* had sent the troops to Iraq and the WMDs were not found, the Republicans would be shrieking with righteous bile, and you know it.

Itís somewhat unrealistic that Kerry might hope to gain a supposed Bush-supporter-homophobic vote. It assumes that this person is so fixated on the issue that they would switch their vote based on the Veepís daughter. And even though they are fixated on the issue, they have somehow missed the other public and nationally televised mentions of Mary Cheneyís sexual preference. Itís possible that Kerry believes this, but I doubt it.

Could also be a tactic to get the homophobe voter to stay home on election day. That would also help Kerry.

Posted by: Chuck S. at October 16, 2004 8:33 AM

Again, it assumes that the combination of:

1) homophobas so important as a deciding factor that they would stay home based on it,
2) somehow they haven't heard about Mary Cheney up until now.

Yes, it's possible. But Kerry stood to gain much more if he knocked Bush off kilter during the debate.

Are there a instances of Kerry/Edwards mentioning Ms. Cheney in other campaign speeches? Why would it happen only in the debates? Answer: because it was primarily useful in the context of the debate.

Posted by: James at October 16, 2004 9:25 AM

The bottom line is that it was bad politics. I thought I was beyond the political 'shock' stage but when Kerry used that line I caught my breath. (Not a gasp, per se, just an 'ouch, that'll cost him moment.')

I don't think this is simply a GOP partisan issue -- although they'll certainly milk it for all its worth -- I think Kerry 'misunderestimated' the reaction the comment would draw from ordinary Americans.

Let's face it, out there in the red states you're going to find a lot of honest, hard working, proud, 'family folks' who would hate the spectacle of using someone's daughter to score political points. Even the non-Bush voters in the red states would have their sense of dignity offended by Kerry's performance.

It was a stupid move and given Kerry's otherwise excellent performance at the last debate I don't discount the possibility that the line is partically responsible for the Bush bump in the polls.

Posted by: Steve at October 16, 2004 9:38 AM

Here's a great article that says pretty much exactly how I feel about it: the Republicans use dirty tactics, they've even used Mary Cheney as one of their dirty tactics, and now Kerry has gone and done the same thing. It put him on their level, and that's why I, like Steve, had a little "ouch, I wish you hadn't done that" moment when both Edwards and Kerry brought up Mary Cheney. If they were trying to expose the Republicans' hypocrisy, I think Kerry should have come out and exposed the Republicans' hypocrisy and said that what's coming out of Bush's mouth is at odds with what he tries to legislate.


It makes me really angry when the Democrats pull Republican dirty tricks. Not that I love the Democrats, but I would like to be able to at least like somebody. I'd like to think that even if I don't agree with you, you actually have integrity (integrity, integrity...) and I know you're not going to sleazebag one over on me. Or more pathetically, that you're going to try to beat the dirty tricksters at their own game.

Oh, dear, I'm ranting. I'll stop now.

Posted by: Maggie at October 16, 2004 9:26 PM

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