This really is an interesting campaign from a psychological perspective.
And on the couch this session is the case of Mary Cheney, America’s most famous lesbian since Ellen. She made another debate appearance during the third and final meeting between incumbent and challenger.
Following a question about homsexuality, Kerry said:
“If you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.”
Others, including the subject’s mother, took none too kindly to these remarks.
Lynne Cheney explained:
“The only thing I can conclude is he is not a good man. I’m speaking as a mom. What a cheap and tawdry political trick.”
Interesting. My immediate diagnosis is that Lynne Cheney must not realize how she is positioning her daughter’s sexuality. One is bad man and introducing a cheap and tawdry trick by referring to your daughter’s homsexuality? Not a cool outburst.
At the time Kerry mentioned Mary, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about it. I’m not sure I am now. I was mostly concerned by the idea that anyone would drag someone else’s kid into the world of politics. But, in fairness, she was already there. And would there be any such outrage if Kerry had mentioned a child who was not gay?
I keep getting emails asserting that Kerry’s mentioning of Mary Cheney is somehow offensive or gratuitous or a “low blow”. Huh? Mary Cheney is out of the closet and a member, with her partner, of the vice-president’s family. That’s a public fact. No one’s privacy is being invaded by mentioning this. 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. And by mentioning it, Kerry showed something important. This issue is not an abstract one. It’s a concrete, human and real one. It affects many families, and Bush has decided to use this cynically as a divisive weapon in an election campaign. He deserves to be held to account for this – and how much more effective than showing a real person whose relationship and dignity he has attacked and minimized? Does this makes Bush’s base uncomfortable? Well, good. It’s about time they were made uncomfortable in their acquiescence to discrimination. Does it make Bush uncomfortable? Even better. His decision to bar gay couples from having any protections for their relationships in the constitution is not just a direct attack on the family member of the vice-president. It’s an attack on all families with gay members – and on the family as an institution. That’s a central issue in this campaign, a key indictment of Bush’s record and more than relevant to any debate. For four years, this president has tried to make gay people invisible, to avoid any mention of us, to pretend we don’t exist. Well, we do. Right in front of him.