The Kerry/Cheney fallout continues
There is something about this whole Mary
Cheney flap that is beginning to bother me more and more. And not just the obvious things that have us all outraged. There is an undercurrent to this whole creepy nonsense that give me the willies. Let's get the obvious things out of the way first.
This was plainly a planned strategy from early on, as Edwards went to great pains to mention Mary Cheney by name, and to suggest in his oiliest, smarmiest tones that he was sure that Dick and Lynne Cheney loved their daughter, etc. etc. I remember at the time nearly jumping out of my seat at the temerity and gall to bring up such a personal and completely irrelevant detail in that context. It was clearly meant to put Dick Cheney at a disadvantage -- he could hardly reach over and punch Edwards' pretty little face, satisfying as that might have been, and as much as Edwards deserved it. Nor could he tell him to go F.. himself as he had done in a manly way in a private encounter in the Senate Chamber to the very deserving Patrick Leahy. But Cheney's obvious displeasure and barely suppressed rage was obvious to all, especially with his terse "thank you" to John Edwards and his refusal to answer the question at all beyond that. So -- goal number one was achieved. But I'm still puzzled at the ultimate goal of this strategy.
In a pre-planned way Kerry AGAIN brought the Cheney daughter and her lifestyle into the debate, AGAIN in a national forum, naming her by name. Who else was named in these debates?? Was Kofi Annan mentioned? He of the billions in graft in the Oil for Fraud scandal at the tony UN?? No -- the only people mentioned by name have been Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden -- and bizarrely -- the quiet, private and unassuming yet strong daughter of the Vice-President.
Then, in a fashion that has become typical of Democrats who seem to have adopted the motto of the aristocrats of old, to wit "never apologize, never explain", the Democrats have added injury to insult by Mary Beth Cahill's pronouncement of Mary Cheney as "fair game" -- as if she were a deer in season. And Elizabeth Edwards, in perhaps the most graceless comment a mother has ever directed towards another mother, has psychoanalyzed Lynne Cheney at a distance and patronizingly accused her of feeling "shame" over her daughter's preference.
So - what's behind this? Is it as some suggest an attempt to suppress the Christian conservative vote, by reminding voters who may not know it already that (GASP!!) the Cheney's have a gay daughter? If that is the case then they completely misunderstand the nature of Christian faith, which hates the sin but loves the sinner. And they underestimate the compassion and lack of prejudice that Christians are taught to have. It is a foundation of the faith to "judge not, lest ye be judged" and "love your neighbor as yourself". Most conservatives at this point feel only compassion and outrage on behalf of the victimized Cheneys.
So it really says more about the prejudice of liberals and DEMOCRATS against Christians than about religous conservatives themselves. It shows that once again the liberals have only a caricature concept of a great swath of American thought, values and faith.
Beyond that question of sexual orientation, it is an invasion of Mary Cheney's privacy, plain and simple, to drag her into a national televised political debate. It would have been equally inappropriate and insensitive for George Bush to name the Edwards' dead teenage son as an example of the need to raise the national age for driving. Or to bring up Gore's teenage son as an example of the need for drug education among youngsters. Or if George Bush mentioned the Kerry daughter as an example of young people who find nothing wrong with public nudity. It is the most elementary courtesy and human decency to leave innocent and private family members out of political public forums. Her private life and choices have NOTHING to do with the outrage. It is plain and simple -- an invasion of her and the Cheney's privacy.
So -- what are we left with? And why the strange reluctance to simply offer an apology or a retraction, saying that no harm was meant, that he simply was trying to make the point in a personal way. That would be hard to swallow on the face of it, given the deliberate nature of the mention, but it would at least paper over the unpleasantness and everyone could move on having saved some face. That is what would happen in a normal social setting.
But these are not normal times. And the Democrats seem to have renewed and even intensified their attacks. So somehow they see this as a winner for their side. They really think they are scoring some points, as the attacks are sounding more and more coordinated, and coming from all sides. Liz Edwards, and now the media are chiming in on their side saying -- what's the matter -- are you ashamed? We were trying to be NICE!!
Is it simply that they do not want to admit that this was a major blunder? To admit that most people shrink in discomfort from this sort of unpleasantness and obvious, in-your-face insult? I am beginning to think that there is some pleasure that is being gained from this beyond just playing to some perceived political advantage. That there is simply such animus towards George Bush -- but particularly to Dick Cheney (Haliburton, Haliburton, Haliburton) -- that they are simply enjoying hurting these people publicly, and doing it in such a way that the victim can't win -- either the Cheneys say nothing -- which is more or less what Dick Cheney did during the debate with Edwards, but he made it plain that under his breath he was saying, "That was ONCE!" -- and he was putting Edwards on notice not to make it TWICE -- or -- the Cheneys complain, as they have done since Kerry's remarks, and be labeled "crybabies", or "too sensitive", or "ashamed".
I am beginning to think that in addition to playing to some perceived prejudice on the part of Christian conservatives to suppress the votes for Bush and Cheney, the democrats are also trying to cement their own base. A base which has been built, sadly, on an irrational and completely out of proportion hatred of the Bush/Cheney ticket. They are playing to the Michael Moore base. The base which caricatures not only Bush and Cheney and all Republicans as wild-eyed, reactionary, bigoted, gun-toting, gay-hating, race-baiting, warmongers bent on defiling and destroying Mother Earth, etc. etc. etc. -- but most Americans. I think this episode fundamentally shows that Democrats have once and for all, completely lost touch with the real America. And it also, in their minds I believe, cements the liberal vote in reminding their base that Republicans are hypocrites on the gay issue -- they purportedly oppose gay marriage yet have gay children that they support.
I think they have forgotten the old maxim: when in a hole, stop digging. But we shall see if this is the issue which swings voters away from Kerry. So far the few interviews with focus groups and independents that I have seen have shown that undecided voters were extremely turned off by that mention. And this issue has certainly drowned out any other gains that Kerry may have made or impressions he may have created from the debates. It is most often the last thing that remains with voters. And years later, we only remember the Dukakis moment in the tank, and his Kitty Dukakis moment on the death penalty question. That matters of tremendous historical import should ride on such seemingly inconsequential matters seems at first glance to be out of proportion. But it is often in these smallest glimpses, that an entire candidacy and the character of a candidate comes most clearly into focus.
Just a follow up to my main post above. According to Pat Caddel speaking tonight on Hannity and Colmes, this WAS a planned strategy of the Kerry campaign. And it seems that I was partially correct. It IS, according to Caddel, an appeal to the democrat base -- but not just to the Bush-hating base, as I had thought -- but an appeal to the black democrat voter who is not comfortable with the issue of gay marriage. It is an attempt to say to them -- look -- there's a gay daughter over on the Republican side too, so don't let that keep you from voting Democrat on election day.
According to Caddel, the Michael Moore wing of the party has lost complete touch with the average American who is appalled and repelled by this outrageous attempt to bring the daughter of an opponent into the debate (and he and I are in perfect agreement here). He says that the political insiders did not count on there being such a backlash against these remarks and that this has hurt Kerry in the polls.
Let's hope that's true.