Thursday, October 21, 2004

Updated October 21, 2004 at 3:30 pm
Liberals supporting Liberals, that’s blogworthy? Kerry-Edwards and Mary Cheney, just one more time.
More from Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn on Kerry-Edwards and Lesbians in yesterday’s blog of his [], with a response. Eric Zorn states,

“The real exploitation here is all the phony outrage and hand-wringing and fingerpointing from the same folks in the GOP who've remained silent as gays and Mary Cheney herself have been actually, pointedly denigrated by their partisans.

They decided to jump up and down and wave their arms about this remark--a remark that would have passed as virtually unnoticed as John Edwards' remark in the veep debate passed if they'd let it – and turn Mary Cheney into Little Nell.

They saw an opening, a chance to use the Mary Cheney issue to score points against Kerry, and they took it. Their partisans hammered on it for days and days after the debate, assuring that "Mary Cheney…lesbian" was uttered 1,000 times more often than it needed to be.

And readers of this blog, anyway, recognize that.

Asked to vote yesterday and today on the question, "Which side is cynically exploiting the Mary Cheney issue for political gain?" 78 percent of more than 1,100 respondents said it was the Bush/Cheney campaign.

Poll results not scientific, but strangely gratifying nonetheless.”

Taking Eric Zorn’s points in reverse order, why are the poll results gratifying? Zorn is one of the fairest columnists I know, with the pro-con arguments that he hosts on his site [rhubarb patch] and that he often includes in his columns. I am not exactly a card carrying liberal and yet I almost never miss a Zorn column or blog entry, which are always gracefully written and almost always try to employ logic. That having been said, Zorn is a proud liberal [albeit not always towing the party line] and his column/blog attracts, no doubt, disproportionately liberals. I am the exception that proves the rule. So, 78% polling for Kerry-Edwards on this issue means liberals support liberals. Another dog bites man story. Gratifying? I can’t imagine why.

And, Zorn tells us what brutes Republicans are for pouncing on Kerry to take political advantage of Kerry stepping needlessly on Mary Cheney. My, my, complaining about pols for trying to manipulate things for votes is like complaining about dogs for barking. That is what they do. Both Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards would do anything, say anything, for a vote. Well, almost anything. Perhaps one team a little more so than the other, but a difference in degree, not in kind.

Finally, as to the substance of the discussion, it does seem odd that John Edwards and John Kerry, both apparently very big on gay rights, don’t seem to know any gay people, except for one- the Veep’s daughter. When they want to make a point about gays, they don’t go to Gephardt’s lesbian daughter. And, they don’t go to a lesbian who is almost a true house-hold word or name, e.g., Melissa Ethridge, who has told us to label records, not people. My God, if somebody who is not so hip, like me, knows Melissa, so would everybody. And they don’t go to Ellen DeGeneris, whose life is almost a gay TV sit com. And they don’t go to Will and Grace, which, I am told, is a gay TV sit com.

Oddly, very oddly, the only gay person who Kerry-Edwards can think of to make their gay points is Mary Cheney? And within minutes of the Kerry-Bush debate concluding, there is little Miss Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry-Edwards Campaign manager, explaining in her grandmotherly way to Chris Wallace on Fox that of course, it was Okay to bring up Mary Cheney, with Cahill saying, “it is fair game.” Apparently, the “it” is Mary Cheney.

Zorn says, of course, this is all happening because, “the toe-hold for all these harangues is the idea that it's bad to be gay and therefore Kerry was waving around the Cheney family's dirty laundry. If it's exploitation to remind voters that he [Kerry] doesn't see it as dirty laundry, then so be it.”

No, no Eric, this is not happening primarily because evangelicals and others think it is bad to be gay. Yes, a bunch of those folks are important potential Bush-Cheney voters. But, this is happening because Kerry-Edwards, knowing 70 million voters are watching the debates, wanted to take that opportunity to remind those who think it is bad to be gay that the Cheneys have a lesbian daughter and the Cheneys aren’t necessarily calling her a sinner or a selfish hedonist.

So, implicitly, Kerry and Edwards are saying to their newfound voters in need of information, say “Do you really want to vote for a guy with a lesbian daughter. And, the dad is not even complaining. Of course, since I think that is Okay, you are not voting for me. But, perhaps you would like to skip your presidential vote for Bush-Cheney.” And the fact that Mary Cheney is “out,” doesn’t mean that all of those 70 million viewers know that, and especially not those more rural people who think gay is bad and who are in the swing state areas of rural Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc.

And, of course, the act of Kerry-Edwards bringing up Mary Cheney may also have been, as Bill Kristol said, a shot across the bow. That is, Kerry-Edwards were saying to Bush-Cheney, “don’t you guys start hammering on the gay marriage thing to pull in your votes in say, Ohio, or we will keep throwing the Mary Cheney thing all over the place, diluting any effort for you to energize those social conservatives who think traditional marriage needs to be “protected.”

So, surprise, surprise, this is happening because Kerry-Edwards were out hunting for voters, or more precisely, to keep some potential Bush-Cheney voters home and using the gay issue, to do so. Just as, Bush-Cheney have been using the issue to hunt for votes, or to keep some of the Kerry-Edwards voters home.

So, just one request, Eric. Don’t tell me any of these pols are pure. They wouldn’t be where they are if they were. You know that. I know that. And, so do all of our gentle readers.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of “Public Affairs,” can be reached at