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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Gay-baiting (aka the latest Republican diversion)

Here's what Timothy Noah has to say on the subject:
Dick and Lynne Cheney claim to be outraged that John Kerry mentioned their daughter Mary's sexual orientation (she's gay) in the Oct. 13 debate. Immediately after the debate, Lynne said it was a "cheap and tawdry political trick." Her outrage was spontaneous, and therefore probably sincere. But the vice president, who spoke at the same press availability, glided past the subject and instead expostulated on the "whale of a job" the president had done and Kerry's poor record on defense. That suggests to me that Cheney wasn't outraged at all. (When John Edwards had mentioned Mary in the much nastier vice presidential debate, Cheney had thanked him "for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter.") The morning after the debate, Jodi Wilgoren reported that three undecided Iowans—all member of the same family—had thought it "unfair" for Kerry to mention that Mary Cheney was gay. Knowing now that outrage had tested well in a focus group, Cheney chimed in early that afternoon that he was "a pretty angry father," and said it showed that Kerry will "say and do anything in order to get elected"...

The [Wall Street] Journal, preposterously, accused Kerry of "outing" Mary Cheney, even though, when asked about gay marriage at an August campaign rally in Iowa, the vice president had said, "Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it's an issue that our family is very familiar with." It was hardly the first time either Cheney had acknowledged Mary's sexual orientation in public. It's been common knowledge for years...

I won't dispute that Kerry was using Mary Cheney to score a political point. But the political point was an entirely legitimate one, aimed, I believe, not at fundamentalists but at swing voters with libertarian leanings. Listen, Kerry was saying. This guy knows gay people, just like you and I do. So he must know that homosexuality isn't a "lifestyle choice." He must know that, and yet he pretends not to know it to score points with the religious right. How cynical can you get?


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