Mary Cheney II

by Ted on October 16, 2004

I’ve got to quote Andrew Sullivan again:

Some of the subtler arguments I’ve heard overnight say the following: it’s not that homosexuality is wrong; it’s just that many people believe that and Kerry therefore exploited their homophobia to gain a point. I don’t buy it, but let’s assume the worst in Kerry’s motives for the sake of argument. What these emailers are saying is that Kerry should hedge what he says in order to cater to the homophobia of Bush’s base. Why on earth should he?

The truth here is obvious: Bush and Cheney are closet tolerants. They have no problem with gay people personally; but they use hostility to gay people for political purposes, even if it means attacking members of their own families. What they are currently objecting to is the fact that their hypocrisy has been exposed. To which the only answer is: if you don’t want to be exposed as a hypocrite, don’t be one.

There are at least two bloggers (Jason Kuznicki at Positive Liberty and John Cole) whose disapproving reaction to this little tempest isn’t blatant opportunism. I’m sure that there are more.

I’d just like to draw a little Venn diagram, if I could.

A: Outraged Kerry-bashers who think that they feel insults to gay dignity more keenly than Andrew Sullivan or the Log Cabin Republicans.

B: Giggly Kerry-bashers who write posts like this or this (search for “When do they kiss?”)

OVERLAP: People I see no reason to take seriously.



BenA 10.16.04 at 12:43 am

What evidence is there that the Cheneys or the Bushes are “closet tolerants”? As far as I can tell, Dick Cheney is fairly tolerant, though I suspect that if none of his children happened to be gay, he’d be a total homophobe. Lynne seems to have real issues — despite _Sisters_ — about gays and lesbians. I have no idea what Laura Bush thinks, and frankly I don’t care.

That leaves the president. The only evidence that he’s in any way tolerant are his occasional prose poems to toleration, such as we heard in the last debate. There are two major problems with these performances. First, they’re standard issue, “love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin,” conservative Evangelical BS. Simply put, that’s what contemporary American “polite” Christian homophobia looks like. Sully ought to know better. Secondly, Bush says he’s for a lot of things (e.g. freedom, education, the environment, personal responsibility) that his actions indicate he is clearly against. So what actions can anyone point to that indicate that Bush is in any way tolerant of gays and lesbians?


G. Svenson 10.16.04 at 1:01 am

What I find peculiar with this is also that the side effect of the argument: “Kerry should not presume that Mary Cheney was born into being a lesbian!” seems to take those making it into the territory of welcoming theories according to which the human sexuality is a kind of malleable or socially constructed indeterminate entity. I’m not so sure that this is a point of view that some conservatives would feel comfortable with for long.

The alternative implication is, of course, that they would mean that there are no “true” homosexuals, just heterosexuals who are faking it, or, possibly, that it is the work of Satan or similar. But this does little to answer the bigotry charge.

To be sure, though, not all Republicans (or conservatives, if one is to make the distinction) are people who subscribe to anti-gay type values, so some could indeed make the argument that Kerry is being hopelessly narrow-minded and patronizing in his theories about the origin of homsexuality. But that begs the question: will they stand up to president Bush on the Fedral Marriage Amendment, will they confront less open-minded fellow party members about their views? Indeed, those who wish to criticize Kerry for his remark will probably find it a lot easier to do so if they are not card-carrying Republicans.


Scott Lemieux 10.16.04 at 5:47 pm

And let us not forget Kaus’s analysis of Vanessa Kerry’s breasts ( Now that’s how to talk about a candidate’s daughter in a dignified manner!

By the way, has anybody identified a single gay person (aside from apocryphal emailers to the Corner) offended by this pseudo-scandal yet?


Scott Lemieux 10.16.04 at 5:51 pm

Whoops, pace Roger it was actually Alexendra that Mickey was incoherently rambling about. But I think it tells you all you need to know about him either way…


Jon H 10.16.04 at 7:07 pm

One could hardly imagine someone less likely to *choose* to be a lesbian than Mary Cheney.

And if she did (to piss off her parents?) she probably wouldn’t be working for her father’s campaign.

Choosing to be gay, in such a conservative family, would not suggest she’d have a very close relationship with the parents.

If someone wants to suggest that Mary Cheney was not born gay, they’d have to explain why someone raised in such a conservative environment, and still living in such a conservative environment, would “choose” to be gay.


Adam 10.16.04 at 8:07 pm

So it’s a win-at-all-costs campaign stunt by Kerry to pander to homophobes…by making a statement endorsing tolerance. Wasn’t the campaing stunt pandering to homophobes the retarded “Constituional Amendment” that had no chance of passing?

Kerry cited Mary Cheney of an example of the ways the gay-rights debate touches even the highest levels of government on a personal level. He certainly didn’t say Mary Cheney did anything wrong, or that she was a bad person. But Dick and Lynne Cheney are acting like he did. Either they’re ashamed of their daughter, or more likely they just want to reassure their “base” voters and make them think they’re ashamed, which would be *truly* an example of a cheap and tawdry campaign stunt. Who’s the bad person?


Ray Davis 10.16.04 at 11:32 pm

My heart sunk when Kerry ventured on his example, not because it was playing unfair politics but because it was falling into a trap: For him, the salient point shouldn’t be that Mary Cheney is lesbian but that Mary Cheney *works for the Republican Party*. By personalizing the issue, he joined in the loathesome “I’m all right, Jack” / “This time it’s personal” hypocrisy that keeps Bush supporters fat and happy.

Nepotism is a traditional family value but it’s not a civic virtue, and a government official does not deserve credit for giving his family special treatment. I’m sure it’s nice for Bush’s daughters that they’re not in jail; the question for a voter should be why Bush then wants to make it so hard for less powerful parents to keep their children out of jail. I’m sure Mary Cheney can afford health insurance and an excellent lawyer; the question for a voter should be why Dick Cheney doesn’t feel it necessary to support the rights of anyone else’s daughter.


Most Wanted 10.17.04 at 6:42 am

FBI: Most Wanted Terrorists

Mr. Bush is doing a terrible job of getting the terrorists that threaten America. He named his 22 most wanted terrorists 3 years ago, and he promised “They will be stopped, and they will be punished … we expect results”. He’s only gotten 3 of the 22. The other 19 are still out there preparing for the next strike.

This is documented at: , including a link to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists web page.

When, after 3 years, a coach has won 3 and lost 19, it’s time to bring in a new coach.


Ethesis 10.17.04 at 5:42 pm

Bene …

Well, a moment to discuss “W.”

The woman who dragged him into politics, so to speak, is a doctor’s wife in Wichita Falls, Texas who is squarely in the “big tent” camp.

If you recall the first time “W” was nominated for president, all of those stone faced delegates from Texas that you saw sitting there, they were the “right wing” part of the party from Texas.

The evidence and experience in Texas is that “W” is a pretty open minded and friendly guy, willing to take money, votes and handshakes from any group.

Interesting how his presidency has evolved, but since you commented on him, I thought I’d respond.

I not sure a “closet” tolerant is the way to describe “W.” He had a long history of being tolerant long before he was elected.

Interesting how things develop.


HRH Julie, IQWM 10.17.04 at 9:52 pm

i kinda said my thing about this over on my blog, but frankly, i was disappointed in Kerry. I thought he could have done better than to wave the Cheney lesbidottir flag – point out, perhaps, as noted above, that she’s a staunch Republican.


Simon Rippon 10.17.04 at 11:22 pm

You read John Cole’s rag Ted? But what for? His argument about this is as specious as his ridiculous argument that Kerry was doing something wrong with his invocations of Christopher Reeve. But to the subject at hand:

Cole’s argument is roughly: by not condemning Kerry for mentioning Mary Cheney, we’re being partisan because we’d be upset if Ketty’s daughter was gay and Bush kept mentioning it.

But we KNOW that if Bush kept mentioning Kerry’s gay daughter, his primary reason for doing so would be to pander to the homophobia of some of his base and discredit Kerry in their eyes. It MAY be that Kerry intended to pander to Bush’s homophobic base with his comment, and discredit Cheney in their eyes. But in the context of his answer that homosexuality is not even a choice, this seems hardly likely. Wasn’t he more likely (and perfectly reasonably) implicitly trying to make the point that children in some of the “best” families are gay, and that this tends to (rightly) moderate the attitudes of such families to gay people in general, and to make them realize that being gay is neither necessarily chosen nor a sign of lax moral character? Since Mary Cheney was out and politically active as such, I can’t for the life of me see what would be wrong with mentioning her with such an intention in mind.


Nichole 10.19.04 at 6:35 pm

Ya know, I couldve sworn that Pres. Bush and Dick Cheney were the ones we needed info about. I don’t recall Mary Cheney running for Pres. Kerry’s remark was a low blow, and a tactic to get the republicans to switch votes. He brought up the race issue and failed and now he trying for some more “dirt”. I’m a republican, I am proud for who Mary Cheney is and what she stands for, her sexual preference is no concern of mine and won’t make me change my vote for Bush. She has nothing to be ashamed about. Just because you don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle DOES not mean you should slander it. Kerry needs a mannerism check. That man is no man, he is evil, a liar and cunning. My opinion, thats my freedom of speech.

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