Yesterday, Dick Cheney added to his wife's angry comments from Wednesday night:
Vice President Dick Cheney, a self-described "angry father," yesterday denounced Sen. John Kerry for bringing up his homosexual daughter during a debate with President Bush, calling the Democratic candidate "a man who will do and say anything to get elected."Why all this attention and anger?
"I am not just speaking as a father here, although I am a pretty angry father," the vice president told supporters at a rally in Fort Myers, Fla.
After all, Mary Cheney is an "out" lesbian and her own father mentioned that fact at a campaign event in Iowa in late August. She used to work on gay and lesbian outreach for Coors, a company that had been boycotted by gays and lesbians for two decades. Her job was to improve the company's image in the gay community.
In 2002, Cheney was a member of the new Republican Unity Coalition, a Republican gay rights group, where she was committed to "working hard for gay and lesbian equality as well as reaching out to gay voters for the GOP." She is still openly identified as a gay Republican and said this in 2002:
“We can make sexual orientation a non-issue for the Republican Party, and we can help achieve equality for all gay and lesbian Americans,”Her sexual identity is not supposed to be an issue. Kerry was pointing out that he doesn't think she had any choice about her sexual identity. For him, personally, it is a non-issue. "I think we have to respect" their right to live as they are, he declared in the debate. Kerry added:
...because we are the United States of America, we're a country with a great, unbelievable Constitution, with rights that we afford people, that you can't discriminate in the workplace, you can't discriminate in the rights that you afford people. You can't disallow someone the right to visit their partner in a hospital. You have to allow people to transfer property, which is why I'm for partnership rights and so forth.Kerry's beliefs, in other words, are directly at odds with those held by much of the President's electoral base.
Mary Cheney is also a public figure. After all, she is a paid political employee of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign:
Cheney currently receives a paycheck of $2,776 every two weeks, for her role as the head of her father’s campaign team.Apparently, the Washington Post reported her annual salary as $75,000 to direct vice presidential operations in the campaign.
So why are Cheney's parents so outraged? It is obviously not an invasion of privacy. Father Cheney mentioned her sexual orientation during a televised campaign event.
The President himself mentions peoples' personal identity at times. When he commemorates Black Music Month at the White House, he mentions specific African Americans by name, even if few vote for him. When Bush commemorates Women's History Month, he mentions specific women, even though there is an electoral gender gap.
And in the presidential debates, Bush sometimes mentions specific individuals in the debates, like "Wanda Blackmore," who apparent bought prescription drugs with her government discount card. Or like Missy Johnson, whose spouse was killed in Afghanistan.
Really, what's the difference? Kerry didn't make a personal attack against Mary Cheney, and said nothing that she hasn't said herself. Like the President, Kerry mentioned a specific individual to make a larger point about his political position -- and to contrast it with his opponent's views.
Perhaps the Cheney parents are in denial. In August 2000, when asked about her lesbian daughter, Mom Lynne said, "My daughter has never declared such a thing." Quite famously, Mary Cheney did not join the rest of the family on stage at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
I report, you decide.
Moreover, does anyone remember Cheney family outrage about this story from just last month? On September 1, 2004, it was widely reported that Illinois Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes said this about Mary Cheney:
Keyes said: "The essence of ... family life remains procreation. If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it's possible to have a marriage state that in principal excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism."Was Cheney outraged?
Asked whether that meant Mary Cheney "is a selfish hedonist," Keyes said: "That goes by definition. Of course she is."
Apparently not. My google search for "hedonist" received ZERO hits on the White House webpage. None.
I couldn't find any outrage in press reports either.