Thursday, October 14, 2004


Roughly two months ago, I wrote:

This whole swift boat thing is getting goofy. It reminds me of the Bush camp’s use of Hitler in one of their web-only ads a couple months ago.

Somehow, this election promises not to be about ideas, but about who can be more outraged at the other side’s outrage, and who can get John McCain to be on their side first.

And while I stand by what I wrote last night about Kerry and his references to Mary Cheney, I also think the commentators on the right are being, well, opportunistic. Mary Cheney is gay, she’s open about it, and is very comfortable with it. Dick Cheney has repeatedly acknowledged this fact, and Mary not only is the Vice President’s daughter, she’s working on his campaign. Finally, calling someone a lesbian (when they are, in fact, a lesbian) is not an insult.

For the record, here’s what Kerry said:

“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.”

And here’s what Lynne Cheney said in response:

“The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I’m speaking as a mom,” she said. “What a cheap and tawdry political trick.”



  1. I think the issue isn't whether she's gay or not, or whether she's working on her dad's campaign or not. The issue is the appearance that both John Edwards and John Kerry took the opportunity to remind the world Cheney has a lesbian daughter. The obvious implication is their desire that this "revelation" will somehow turn away some of Bush-Cheney's religious support. It's gratuitous at best and opportunistic and worst.

    Plain and simple, average folks know why they brought it up, and that's the real issue. It's the Johns that are trying to make "being gay" a political weapon, not Bush or Cheney.

    To say nothing of the fact that it's lame to trot out your opponent's children for your own political gain. You didn't see Bush or Cheney discussing Alexandra Kerry being an exhibitionist, did you?

  2. With all due respect, Jason, I just don't see your argument. Let me lay out some of the basics.

    1. The Background
    From MSNBC August, 25, 2004 Dick Cheney speaking with (it seems) Lynne Cheney at his side:

    "'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 Cheneys have two daughters, both of whom are working on the campaign. Mary Cheney is director of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. She held a public role as her father's assistant in the 2000 campaign and helped the GOP recruit gay voters during the 2002 midterm elections."

    2. Additional background:

    "After graduating from Colorado College, Cheney went to work as a gay community liaison for Coors Brewing Company, where she was instrumental in ending a 20-year boycott by the gay community of that company. Cheney left Coors in 2000 to work with her father and the Bush campaign. In 2002, Mary Cheney served on the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition, a gay-straight alliance formed within the Republican Party to help increase tolerance within the party for gays and lesbians, and others."

    3. The Summary.

    a. We have here a public lesbian figure (Mary Cheney) that has worked with the gay community in business and politics, including a stint on a Republican advisory board that helps "increase tolerance within the party for gays and lesbians, and others."

    b. We have parents (VP Dick & Lynne) that have made public reference to their daughter's sexuality, and one of them is the Republican Vice President who has suggested the experience with his daughter is useful as a way of understanding public policy (please note that Lynne has taken a high profile role as well, arguing that Dick's position on the issue of Gay Marriage in 2000 (leaving it to states) was still the correct view - see my argument about it here).

    The Conclusion
    While I readily acknowledge the problem Mary represents in attracting the religious right to the Republican Party, and that Kerry may have been opportunistic in choosing to mention Mary, it is also true that this clearly was fair game. Kerry was making public reference to a public figure about an issue in which they have personal, business and public policy experience, and referring to them as an authority to answer a relevant question to their expertise. He cited the same authority as Vice President Dick Cheney has in the past to discuss public policy - and did so in a respectful manner. Case closed.