Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Post debate spin

Commentators are claiming shock over Kerry’s reference to Dick Cheney’s daughter during tonight’s debate. Edwards made a similar reference in his debate last week.

I tend to agree with this reaction: using anyone’s children for political advantage is shameful. But is there a grey area here? Cheney’s daughter works on his campaign, is open in her sexuality, and the Vice President has spoken publicly about her orientation (and his belief that “freedom should mean freedom for everyone”).

Nevertheless, Senator Kerry committed an unfortunate error in judgment. (TAPPED agrees.)

I have MSNBC on in the background. The commentators spent a good 10 minutes on this one aspect of the debate… if I’m the Kerry/Edwards team, they better acknowledge the mistake, apologize, and move on. Or else it threatens to be a non-issue that escalates to occupy a large part of the discussion over the next few days, while the President’s blatant misrepresentations of his own record fade.


  1. I agree this was a new low for Kerry. After Edwards gratuitously exploited her in the VP debate, Mary Beth Cahill had the audacity to say she was "fair game".

    She's open in the sense she has admitted she's gay, but the Cheney's have said on many occasions that they (and she, specifically) are very private about their personal lives.

    This was a lame attempt at Kerry trying to stain the Bush-Cheney team with her sexuality. I think it's going to backfire because it was so inappropriate and the average person saw right through his motive.

    I think Kerry was hoping to sway some evangelicals back to his side, but not only did he fail on that one, in the process he may have alienated some of his own base (the gays).

  2. Like Andrew Sullivan (who unfortunately lacks permalinks), I have a hard time seeing the scandal, since I don't see being gay as negative or scandalous. The reference pointed out the hypocrisy and cruelty of Republicans who advocate anti-gay policies, even when they have gay family members.
    "Fair game" is a poor choice of words. The more neutral way of saying it is that Mary Cheney is openly gay, so it is not news to mention it in a public forum. Outing people is much more problematic -- but Kerry didn't out her.

    It seems similar to mentioning that a politician has a relative in another minority. If someone is embarrassed and offended that a black relative is mentioned in public, that reaction is a measure of racism.

  3. Since the point could have been made with no mention of Ms. Cheney, and nothing was gained by refering to her (other than political points with people whose sentiments Kerry purportedly abhors), we have at least a show of very poor judgment by John Kerry -- a demeaning distraction that makes even his supporters wonder about his integrity.

    If nothing else, Kerry's debate-prep team again shows itself to be second-rate.

  4. I don't know, David. Definitely an error in judgment, but it may prove to be an error in judgment worth making. (Much as I dislike the tactic, it may prove effective for Kerry.)

    As for second-rate debate prep? I think setting Bush up for the major gaffe on Osama shows a mine that Bush not only detonated, he hit it with a pogo stick.

    Doesn't seem second-rate to me.

  5. I respectfully disagree with both you and Dave. The issue is not "Ha, Ha, Look Who Has a Lesbian Daughter (and Ought to be Ashamed)." Rather, it was an attempt to point out the basic hypocrisy of the President's position. (Which is, sort of "Some of best friends are [name your minority group].")

    Additionally, of course, the response was really a direct underlining of Kerry's response to the question (i.e., Do you think that homosexuality is biologically determined?)

  6. Don't forget, if it wasn't simply about political opportunism, he could've used Dick Gephardt's daughter as an example.... you know, someone he actually KNOWS.

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