There's Something About Mary Cheney

After last night's presidential debate, some Bush partisans are characterizing Sen. Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney, as an attempt to smear her.

Mary Cheney has been open about her sexuality for years. She was employed as the lesbian and gay community liaison for Coors Brewing, a board member of the pro-gay Republican Unity Coalition, and works today as a senior member of her father's campaign, drawing a $100,000 salary. Some activist groups have publicly lobbied her to speak up on gay-rights issues, as the Dear Mary Web site demonstrates.

Though as a general rule politicians should avoid making rhetorical points using each other's children as examples, Mary Cheney's a 34-year-old woman who has been in the public sphere since the 2000 campaign. Her relationship to her father informs his policy on gay marriage rights, which he described in the vice-presidential debate with Sen. Lieberman:

... we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody. We shouldn't be able to choose and say you get to live free and you don't. That means people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into.

Describing her as a lesbian should be no more controversial than discussing the AIDS and gay-marriage activism of Vanessa Kerry, the senator's 27-year-old daughter.

Besides, calling someone a lesbian is only a smear under the false premise that homosexuality is something to be ashamed about, as Andrew Sullivan writes this morning:

When Kerry cites Bush's wife or daughters, no one says it's a "low blow." The double standards are entirely a function of people's lingering prejudice against gay people.

Comments

It is a given, at least to me, that a discussion of Vanessa Kerry's activities, as you describe should, indeed, be no more controversial than Mary Cheney's lesbianism except for one brightly blazing point of fact. Neither George Bush or Dick Cheney MENTIONED Vanessa Kerry with respect to her gay activist activities in any of the debates or debate followup as BOTH Kerry and Edwards have made sure to do of Mary Cheney repeatedly.
Given the lack of basic understanding of economics, foreign policy, and the most fundamental of principles of our own Constitution and form of government that Kerry and Edwards have so unswervingly demonstrated in the debates, should it be considered so beyond the realm of possibility that they might not also wrongly believe that drumming this theme could somehow 'hurt' Bush and Cheney among what they believe to be a bunch of naturally bigoted right wingers? In this context there would be no doubt that this WAS a vicious attack leveled at a non-combatant meant only to harm in the meanest, basest of ways. Such divisive and low borne tactics fit just like a glove over the rest of the hand the DNC has thus far played in this, their most desparate campaign ever.

I am writing in repsonse to the discussion on Mary Cheney....I am a mother of a daughter and I if I want to disucss my daughters personal life then I can do so.....but if someone else discusses my daughters personal life then you will see fire from me and I can understand how the Cheney's feel. I only hope that Elizabeth Edwards some day has to defend her daughter and she can see how it feel.

Bush and his crew have attempted to change our great Constitution to add discrimination against tax paying citizens, homosexual Americans. At the RNC we saw Cheney and his family, including his lesbian daughter and her girlfriend, sitting in the audience. However, when it came time for Cheney and his family to go and stand on the stage the lesbian daughter and her girlfriend were banished from the building, not allowed to accompany the family. I see that as blatant hypocracy. The lesbian daughter has a position of importance in the Bush/Cheney re-election machine. More hypocracy. At the very least, Sen. Kerry answered the question that was asked. On the other hand, Pres. Bush mumbled-stumbled again, going off topic. We saw very little, if any on topic responses by Bush. So you need to get over it because it is the bigotry, ignorance, and hate espoused by the Bush machine that put the topic in place.

It is pretty obivous the Cheney's were embarresed. They are ashamed of her and it shows.

Wow. Etiquette and good manners is not an option, no matter what your selling. It is obvious that Kerry and Edwards were trying to get the massage out to the not so culturally hip conservative Christians that are a huge vote block for the Republican candidates, that “hey, your guy’s daughter’s gay…did you know!”

That would be the same if Bush or Cheney tried to slip in to one of their stories how people can change then used an reported story of Edward’s violent homophobic tendencies in College as an example. It was done to create some doubt in the minds of those constituents whose votes the candidate is counting on.

It was cheap, it was not right and the fact that it was done in regard to a candidate’s daughter was just terribly bad form. It will backfire though because it goes against most peoples basic sense of fair play.

The prior comment that tries to create an inference that Cheney disrespects his daughter because she is gay is just emotional garbage. Dick Cheney may have wished his daughter was Mary Poppin’s and had 15 grand children, it does not matter and can not be known, what is known is that for years it has been public knowledge that his daughter is gay, they obviously love each other and stand by each other. It is also obvious that he treats her partner like she is family. You see pictures all the time on TV and can tell that they are not forced or uncomfortable and certainly not pushing an agenda or trying to create some sort of political gain. Which is the only reason Kerry and Edward’s have mentioned her.

I wasn't so surprised that Kerry & Edwards engaged in cheap politics -- but the remarks by Elizabeth Edwards are extremely telling in assessing her character. Instead of empathizing with a mother being protective of her child or at the very least keeping her mouth shut on the subject -- she resorts to the cheap politics of her husband. Accusing a Mother of being ashamed of her own child is unconscionable.

This feels like invented outrage to me. Dick Cheney has mentioned in debates and public appearances that his daughter is a lesbian. He seems, to his credit, to be very proud of her.

Kerry's mention of her was complimentary and sympathetic. The only reason to object, as far as I can see, is to try and concoct a controversy for political purposes.

Kerry and Edwards did nothing more than point out that the President may very well be further to the right than even Dick Cheney when it comes to gay relationships. To Mr. Cheney's credit, he subtly offered such admission by his principled response to John Edwards' point on the matter. It was hardly a sneaky political move on the part of Kerry and Edwards--it was stating the obvious and admitted facts.

The real disservice was the forced anger the Cheney's expressed. They love their and understand their daugther as demonstrated when both she and her partner appeared on stage following the Vice Presidential debate. Had they truly wanted to protect her from the political limelight and the harsh reality that it brings they would have had her appear alone or not at all. They certainly wouldn't employee her in a campaign and actively use her to stump to gay voters! They aren't ashamed of her choices nor does she need protection from the political machine. To express something contrary to their own beliefs for political gain is simply disappointing.

John Kerry was very deliberate in stating Mary Cheney's name, that she was the daughter of the Vice President, that she is a lesbian. The words came out of his mouth, you cannot argue otherwise. Why would he do it? To introduce her to citizens who may have been unaware of her existence and/or sexual identity? And then to put words in her mouth, as if he knows her personally and has talked with her, knowing what she would say. Why would he do that? I do not understand this man, John Kerry, and I wonder what he might say, in event he should become President, to a world leader about a delicate personal matter. And what the reaction might be from such a world leader who doesn't understand such intrusions into privacy.

Was John Kerry out of line when he brought up Mary Cheney's name? I'm a moderate conservative and I'd say he was really, really close to the line but necessarily over it. Kerry should have used Chrissy Gephardt or someone else that he actually knows as an example instead of using a person related to his opposition. This would have been at the very last more political savvy route. Elizabeth Edwards, on the other hand, has shown that she is almost as crazy as Teresa Heinz Kerry by stating that Lynne Cheney felt “a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences."

For those of you who are upset by Kerry's remarks, here is a link to some libs ragging on Kerry:
www.azcentral.com

I wonder why it is that no one reporting this "outrage" has bothered to ask Mary Cheney how she feels about it.

Chris,

Mary HAS made a comment. She has stated "I have no comment". She refuses to be put in the spotlight on this matter. She has tried to be behind the scenes for some time now. Her employment with Coors was to mend dwindling relations with the gay community. She wasn't trying to rally some march on the white house. She was trying to keep the peace outside of the media. In fact the media has considered her off limits. Yes, the media that hunts down people in the farthest nether-regions considers her off limits.

One note on the three (yes three) lesbian groups that are courting her voraciously: she has not even responded with a yes or a no. She does not acknowledge them.

As for fair game: if you are capable to see feelings in people you could not have missed the face of Cheney during the vice-presidential debate when Edwards made mention of her. Something went hard inside of cheney that I've never seen before. If you missed it you were either not watching or too blinded by the sunshine coming out of Edwards' backside to notice. It was a distinct moment that at least half of the people watching noticed, I would conjecture that was the half with childeren and have had that feeling themselves. We all took note that if mention of her was made again that it would be disrespectful in a family way.

Apparently, many people missed it. People like youself and A. Sullivan just don't understand what the larger American populus got. To you she's fair game because Cheney made mention of her before. Every time they have mentioned her they speak in high regard of how much they love her. There has NEVER been an issue of shame. The only shame I can see is that Kerry has not been able to read the people well enough to see that the majority of America sees her as off limits. He needs to respect that or lose the election. As trivial as it may seem to you it's THAT important to the United States as a whole.

This is silly. Neither the Cheneys nor any of the other people up in arms about this said anything when Alan Keyes described Mary Cheney as a "selfish hedonist." This outrage is an invention of the Bush/Cheney spin doctors, who needed to change the subject because the debates went so poorly.

Silly or not Rogers, it's the world we live in. The whole of America doesn't go to see Alan Keyes let alone know who he is. Nearly everyone saw the third presidential debate and a good portion remember the vice-presidential debate. You should know by now that it's not about justice or truth, it's about what's percieved as truth. Why else would www.factcheck.org (not .com) be such a popular site among the educated? Even the MSM is baised. It's all about spin.

Side note: Keyes was originally asked about his views on gays which he classified as "selfish hedonism". The next question was "since Mary Cheney was gay would that include her?" Obviously, he agreed with the assumption. He was asked specifically about Mary Cheney. He didn't go out of his way to call on her and he wasn't trying to use it as a political stance. A journalist, and Andrew Sullivan, did that.

So you're willing to excuse Alan Keyes for specifically insulting her, but you're taking offense at John Kerry for mentioning her in an expressly complimentary manner? Surely you can understand why I suspect your objections are partisan in nature.

That's where you're wrong. These are not MY objections. I'm just trying to explain to you why people are seeing this how they are seeing it. These are not my views, not by a long shot. These are the views of America as a whole on the subject. Cheney managed to get the microphone on this at exactly the right time. Keyes did not get the same air time as Cheney. That's mostly what I'm trying to get at. This whole election is not about what's right or wrong. It's about what the candidates spin as right or wrong.

As for my views, I am a stickler for context. If you come by my site and find me putting something into the wrong context let me know. (After the election, I'm being a partisan hack until Nov. 2nd.) I'll change it if you're right and give you credit for calling me out. Keyes was stating his views on homosexuality as a whole. His interviewer was the one that called out Mary Cheney, not Keyes.If any other name was brought up, like Ellen Degeneres, he would have said the same thing. It wasn't about Mary Cheny, it was about every homosexual being a selfish hedonist.

With that being said, I go back to my earlier comments about this being the second time the democratic party brought her out on the same question that was not directly related to her. Yes, she's a lesbian, that's great and fine. She's never made any mention of gay marriage, his daughter has. Kerry should have mentioned his own daughter's activism Vanessa, for gay rights. I'm telling you right now that if he'd have used her the same people that are booing him for the Mary flap would be cheering him for support of his daughter...including me. (even though I'd still vote Bush.)

I don't think the entire country was offended at Kerry's remark. Though some liberals joined the usual suspects in taking offense where none was intended, it's just a blip on the radar.

Besides, even if you believe that it was an intentional insult, answer this: If Theresa Heinz Kerry is fair game for Republican insults, why is a woman in her 30s who runs Dick Cheney's campaign supposed to be beyond comment? This isn't a 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton here. Adult children of presidential candidates have always come under public scrutiny.

True, it's just a blip and she is "fair game". Kerry still would have done better to apoligize ONLY with the pretence of "I did not know it would offend anyone." Whether it's right or wrong to apologize he would have been able to suck in a few more votes with his "compassion". Still, it's just a blip.

I disagree with you about comparing Mary to Chelsea. Chelsea's ugly duckling story played out over 8 years. Most people didn't really pay her any mind of bring her up in any conversations until after Bill was an elected president. After that, she became a papparazzi target and only a minor media target. Chelsea would be closer related to the press the Bush twins get with the press on their college drinking episodes.

I do get your point though, she's a grown woman and should be fair game as an adult on Cheney's staff. It would have been even better for Kerry if they weren't even related but she was just one of his staffers. No realtional ties but the effect would have been the same.

...and she doesn't RUN Dick's campaign, she's one of many who help, she's a staffer.

...and the 100,000$ salary she gets in D.C. is a pittance. I would not change my 60,000$ a year job in Norfolk, VA for her salary in D.C. because I would still be losing money. It's just the cost of living there.

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