What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

There's Something About Mary

Dick and Lynne Cheney's daughter, Mary, has suddenly become the focus of media attention, all because John Kerry made what he probably will think in hindsight was a mistake: evoking her name in answer to a question in the last presidential debate. Bob Schieffer had asked the question, "Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?" This was Kerry's response:

"We're all God's children, Bob. And I think 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.
I think if you talk to anybody, it's not choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I think we have to respect that."

In response, Lynne Cheney said Kerry was guilty of a "cheap and tawdry political trick," adding, "This is not a good man."

I believe Kerry was trying to make a point about the importance of families, and perhaps the decision to mention Mary Cheney was a bad decision, but I find it hard to believe that Kerry intended to hurt the Cheney family in any way. How could he? People know the Cheneys have a gay daughter. If Kerry's remarks were a "cheap and tawdry political trick," what exactly did he stand to gain by making those remarks?

If I had to make a guess, I'd say a campaign advisor to the Bush/Cheney campaign suggested that John Kerry be called on his remarks. Republicans are good at creating distractions away from issues they know would harm them if the public focused on those issues. The war in Iraq, the economy, and other domestic and foreign issues are going to be something of concern from the Bush/Cheney campaign. The strategy seems to be to shift focus away from the important issues and instead occupy the public with a non-issue that ultimately does not affect anyone.

What's odd about this whole episode is how silent the Cheneys have been in other situations where the subject of homosexuality was brought up, but not in a positive way. For instance, in an appearance on the 700 Club on Sept. 13, 2001, Rev. Jerry Falwell said the following: "I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this (9/11 attack) happen.'"

So, on one hand, we had John Kerry, in a clumsy way, compliment the Cheney family on being good parents, and the other (extreme), a man who blamed gays and lesbians for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Cheneys had nothing to say about the remarks, and the only statement issued by the White House about Falwell's remarks was that Bush found them "inappropriate."

And while the media is focused on Mary Cheney, attention is shifted away from Iraq. On Friday, car bombs killed five American troops, while other car bombs targeted churches. This latest attack brings American casualties to 1,098. Iran is continuing its program of uranium enrichment, as that country moves closer to actually having a weapon (or weapons) of mass destruction. There are big issues in the world, but it's easier just to focus on John Kerry and his compliment to the Cheney family. Such is the nature of political campaigns.


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