Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It is never open season on mine or other people's children.

In my world, I find myself constantly wondering what reality other people inhabit and how in earth did they get there? I just do not want to accidentally take the wrong left that leads there. Today’s editorial from the Globe and Mail on the "The Gay Calculus of the U.S. Race" misses the entire point of the Kerry/Edwards verbiage on Mary Cheney, otherwise known as "fair game" by Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry campaign manager.

To this already complex rhetorical thicket, add the wild card of Vice-President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary. In the final televised presidential debate last Wednesday, Mr. Bush was asked a simple question: Do you believe gays have a choice about their sexual orientation? Mr. Bush dodged, saying he didn’t know. Mr. Kerry answered directly, saying no, and used Ms. Cheney, who is openly gay and working for the Bush-Cheney campaign, to illustrate the point.

In doing so, Mr. Kerry was simply taking a leaf from his running mate’s book. In the vice-presidential debate, John Edwards effusively praised the Cheney’s for embracing their gay daughter. It was a deft means of highlighting the differences between Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush on the issue. Mr. Cheney has in the past said that he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but nevertheless defers to the President on the matter.

But here’s the wrinkle: Whereas Mr. Edward’s foray drew a warm response from Mr. Cheney – he could do little else without appearing graceless – Mr. Kerry’s had the opposite effect. The following day, Mr. Cheney’s wife Lynne angrily accused Mr. Kerry of pulling a “cheap and tawdry political trick.” Mr. Cheney soon chimed in, asserting that he was a “pretty angry father.” Mr. Bush later added his voice, claiming Mr. Kerry went “over the line.”

What nonsense.

I did not originally weigh in with my two cents on the third presidential debate because I did not watch the whole debate. Once John Kerry brought up Dick Cheney’s daughter, I turned the television off in disgust. I just barely managed to stomach John Edward’s reference to Mary Cheney in the VP debate and I gave Dick Cheney a lot of credit on how he handled it. It was a veiled political cheap trick designed to embarrass or harm Dick Cheney politically by having him denounce either his daughter’s sexual orientation or alienate him from the religious. Cheney thanked Edwards for his kind words and passed on the rebuttal.

John Kerry tried the same veiled attack against George Bush in this debate. Make no mistake; Kerry/Edwards used Mary Cheney’s sexual orientation in the hopes of alienating the religious voters from supporting George Bush for the presidency. This has got to be a new low in politicking when a candidate’s child is used as "fair game" in attack politics. I don’t buy Kerry’s rambling explanation. It was not an apology which would have been the decent thing to do; instead he tries to justify referencing her. What is Mary Cheney anyway – the only lesbian he has every heard of? If it was not an attack move, why not use Rosie O’Donnell? Contrary to what the Globe pundits would have us believe, Kerry was not framing his words for his base but it was said in the guise and hope of having a demonstrative impact in alienating the religious base from the Bush/Cheney camp. Let’s face it; Kerry talking about his religious faith as a Catholic is just not credible and if you want to be credible, you do not misquote biblical references or having your deeds/words reflect poorly on your faith.

The Globe and Mail opines that George Bush "dodged" the question of whether a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of choice or biology. He answered a heartfelt "I don’t know." I have to "dodge" here too. I haven’t a clue on why some people are heterosexual and others are not. If anyone can offer definitive proof either way, do us all a favour and publish it so we can put this senseless debating pointing to bed once and for all.

Here’s my bottom line. I don’t give a tinker’s damn what anyone’s sexual orientation is. It just isn’t my affair and the only time I want to know anyone’s sexual orientation is if I am the one having sex with you. There is nothing more boring than other people’s sex lives. The only time a candidate’s sexual habits/orientations are an issue is if they concern children, animals, or a betrayal of trust. This speaks to character.

I am a mother of many, I love all my children, and their sexual orientation can in no way ever alter three facts: their sexual orientation is their business, gay or straight- I do not want or need to know details, and I love my children. I expect the Cheney’s feel the same, and if I was the Cheney parents, I too would be outraged, not that my daughter is a lesbian (a fact that seems to be lost in this issue is that being gay or lesbian reflects on a person’s sexual orientation and not character) but because the Kerry/Edward’s team feel that my child is "fair game." You do not like my politics or my ethics, go ahead and take your best shot at me; but there never is an open season on my children nor do other people’s children ever become "fair game."

1 comment:

Tom said...

What Everybody Doesn't Know About Mary Cheney

By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Mary Cheney: Somewhere out there she exists, the actual Mary Cheney, child of the nondisclosed location, the one who's the luh-luh-lesbian. She's become this eternal and complicated mystery for people who are gay, and without ever really knowing her or hearing from her, they've spent four years writing poems, articles and protest songs about her. They've implored her with open letters in forums she may or may not ever read. They've waved signs with her name, started Web sites and put her on a milk carton as though she were a missing child. Oh, Mary Cheney, speak to us.

Then, after last week's final presidential debate, the subject of Mary went surprisingly national, and she became her very own polling question: Is it okay to drag Mary into this, as the Kerry-Edwards ticket has done?

In the Oct. 14 Washington Post tracking poll, 64 percent of likely voters said no, it was "inappropriate," and you get the feeling that something like this makes most Americans feel kinda ooky. People don't like to say the word lesbian, especially some mothers and fathers of lesbians. The word summons up some outdated, maternal plea -- Couldn't you wear a skirt just this once? Your father is running for office.

Mary, in pantsuits, with her life partner Heather Poe, transcends even that small drama of the American family. She is here but not here. Sometimes onstage, sometimes not, depending on the stage and the target audience. On some level, the parent in everyone recoils when you start talking about the other guy's kid, even though Mary is 35, and is in charge of operations at her father's campaign office.

Vice President Cheney expressed outrage the day after Sen. John Kerry brought it up ("Dick Cheney's daughter who is a" -- the pause here was a fraction of time that might as well have been 10 seconds -- "lesbian," Kerry had said, in response to a question about whether lesbians and gay men are born or choose to be homosexuals) in the last presidential debate, just a week after Sen. John Edwards brought it up in the vice presidential debate. Lynne Cheney, Mary's mother, was even more incensed. She called it "a cheap and tawdry political trick. . . . The only thing I can conclude is he's not a good man. I'm speaking as a mom." (How dare they bring her daughter into this . . . this . . . political debate. In a presidential election no less.)

"How incredibly sad for Mary Cheney, the lesbian in question. And not for the reasons that her parents and the pundits have been screaming about," journalist Dave Cullen wrote on, deftly describing his own offense at the latest chapter in the quiet saga of Mary. "It is not an insult to call a proudly public lesbian a lesbian. It's an insult to gasp when someone calls her a lesbian. . . . You're embarrassed for us. And it's infuriating."

This is what Mary does. She inspires loads of typing and talking -- reading the "Cheney tea leaves," journalist Rex Wockner calls it in his column this week on, a popular gay Web site. Wockner has read a lot of Cheney tea leaves in his time, and it is exactly that -- studying facial expressions. Combing the clips looking for the cloaked remark about Mary, or, in the rarest case, something actually spoken by Mary herself. Looking for the content in statements or body language of the Cheney family up on the dais, indulging in both the ironies and the strange comedy of it.

Lesbian activist Chastity Bono apparently solved the conflict with her sexual orientation and her father's politics back when her father, Sonny, a Republican, was supporting the Defense of Marriage Act and other laws that could restrict gay rights. "I was very naive in my thinking," she said in a 2000 interview with the Advocate, a gay newsmagazine, when asked to explain what life must have been like for Mary, back in the last election, when Lynne Cheney was still huffily denying, to Cokie Roberts and others, that Mary had even come out of the closet.

"I still kind of believed in this idea of politicians caring about people and voting based on a belief system of their own, as opposed to really a bunch of people who are really trying to keep their jobs," Chastity Bono said. "[Politicians] are really concerned with power and career, and that completely takes over anything else."

Andrew Sullivan, the gay conservative pundit and obsessive blogger, takes a stab at the elusive Meaning of Mary:

"The Cheneys didn't respond to . . . [Republican senatorial candidate] Alan Keyes' direct insult of their own daughter in Illinois. They have not voiced objections to a single right-wing piece of homophobia in this campaign," Sullivan posted Saturday.

"But they are outraged that Kerry mentioned the simple fact of their daughter's openly gay identity. What complete b.s. . . . The GOP is run, in part, by gay men and women, its families are full of gay people, and yet it is institutionally opposed to even the most basic protections for gay couples. You can keep up a policy based on rank hypocrisy for only so long. And then it tumbles like a house of cards. Kerry just pulled one card from out of the bottom of the heap. Watch the edifice of double standards slowly implode. Gay people and their supporters will no longer acquiesce in this charade. Why on earth should we?"

So. Mary is a lesbian.

Lesbian, lesbian, lesbian. (Do you have to keep saying lesbian?) This is all she may ever be, at least in the history books. Before she became a public enigma, she used to earn a nice living as a corporate liaison for Coors Brewing Co., going into gay bars (sometimes with Mr. International Leather 1999, who would wear his chaps and straps, according to the Advocate) to convince everyone that Coors had changed. For a long time, gay people were implored by activists to boycott Coors, based on its funding of anti-gay causes. Mary got in there, talked about Coors's new domestic-partner benefits for employees. Mary said, here, try a Coors. She was good at that, and the boycott wafted away, and you didn't see as much Bud Light in gay bars.

Mary is mythic, perhaps tragic, and don't forget sapphic. The conundrum for the liberal-hearted, stereotypical homo voter is this: She likes being Republican. She is a lesbian Republican.

One day, years from now, Mary may explain it to us. For now it's a tale about a woman trapped in a tower circled by bats. This is a common gay conceit, a misconception: Mary needs to be freed from all this. But just when you think she's rescued, she's back in that fortress again.

Finally you realize that she returns there voluntarily, that she is not trapped, that she was born and raised in the tower. Absent any words from Mary herself, you can only assume that she would be the first to tell you she belongs there.