Sunday, October 17, 2004

Have you heard the one about Dick Cheney's daughter?

This issue is not so much important as it is interesting; but I took part in an extensive discussion of it at Winds of Change (here and here).

When John Edwards brought up Mary Cheney's sexuality in the Veep debate, I winced. But it seemed to me an off-handed thing of no particular significance. I'd never paid much attention to John Edwards before, and in the debate he struck me as being kind of flighty and nervous - the sort of person who might say anything under pressure, without meaning to be rude. It did occur to me that he might be trying to deliberately bait Cheney (90% of commentary on all of the debates seemed to focus almost exclusively on Republican facial expressions - very important to the future survival of our nation) but I thought little of it. Using somebody's gay daughter against them in that way would be just be too low, wouldn't it? You might as well start on in on their mother, too, while you're at it.

But when Kerry brought it up in the third debate, taking care to deliberately load and fire the word lesbian into thousands of working and middle-class homes, it became obvious that Edwards' earlier invocation was no accident. Kerry and Edwards are trying to tell us something, folks. At least, they're trying to tell something to somebody, so the question is: What are Kerry and Edwards trying to communicate, and to whom?

The candidates are:

1. Religious conservatives - commonly known in liberal folklore as the dreaded Religious Right. Kerry and Edwards want those people to know that Dick Cheney has a GAY LESBIAN daughter. Gosh, what does that say about Dick as a parent? And how many of Mary's gay lesbian friends are running loose in Washington even now? Isn't it time for a change?

2. Black voters. Reliable backers of the Democratic party, for sure. But their enthusiasm for gay rights issues is something less than ardent. At least, the Kerry campaign thinks so. Jesse Jackson has been dispatched to the churches of the south, to remind everyone that gay issues should not interfere with their duty to support the political ambitions of the White Liberal Leisure Class. It couldn't hurt to remind them that the Republicans are hip-deep in homosexuals themselves. Dick Cheney actually had one living in his house, did you hear about that?

3. Generic idiots. No offense to some notable fence-sitters of Blogdom, but at this late stage of the campaign the dwindling pool of undecided voters always has a high percentage of idiots. They are eternally undecided because they know nothing about the issues or the candidates except for superficial impressions. They know what a lesbian is, though.

4. Gay activists. Apart from his opposition to the defunct Federal Marriage Amendment, Kerry is pretty lukewarm on gay rights issues. Kind of milquetoasty. His strategy has been to stay in George Bush's shadow, assuring everyone that his position on gay marriage is the same as Bush's. So this reference to Mary Cheney is a kind of postcard to gays, to let them know that Kerry thinks about them now and then.

5. Republican-hating partisan Democrats. These people hate conservative and/or Republican gays with a Hell-hath-no-comparable-fury kind of hate. They hate all Republicans, of course, but they especially hate the gay ones, who are social traitors. They love to point the finger at gay Republicans, because they believe that their very existence proves that Republicans are hypocritical as well as evil. And being a hypocrite is even worse than being evil, by their lights. Kerry's remark threw a great bucket of chum into the troubled waters that these people inhabit.

So which is it? The charitable (for Kerry and Edwards) interpretation is number 4. The most popular interpretation is number 1. The correct interpretation, of course, is all five.