Monday, October 18, 2004

William Safire says that the Kerry mention of Mary Cheney was deliberate. And a giant mistake that they're extending by refusing to apologize.
The pro-Kerry columnist Margaret Carlson put her finger on it, finding that Kerry and Edwards "realize that discussing Mary Cheney is a no-lose proposition: It highlights the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney position to Democrats while simultaneously alerting evangelicals to the fact that the Cheneys have an actual gay person in their household whom they apparently aren't trying to convert or cure." (Italics mine.)

After the outspoken Lynne Cheney blasted this unsought intrusion of her daughter's private life as "a cheap and tawdry trick," the Kerry campaign hustled forward John Edwards's wife to charge that such motherly outrage "indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences."

Worse than insensitive, that shot was off message, peeling the veneer off the Kerry-Edwards justification for making Mary famous: their oleaginous claim that, gee, they were only complimenting Dick Cheney for his fatherly tolerance. The crusher to that pretense came when the Kerry campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, coolly announced that the Cheney daughter was "fair game."

Apparently the American public thinks otherwise about the campaigning children of candidates. When polls showed two-to-one disapproval of the calculated Kerry-Edwards abuse of the young woman's privacy, the Democratic strategists who concocted this base-suppressing dirty trick orchestrated a defense that it was Dick Cheney who "outed" his daughter months ago. They are advising Kerry that he would look weak or, worse, slyly manipulative were he to apologize for tagging the Cheneys with the word "lesbian" before 50 million viewers.

Kerry will, I hope, assert his essential decency by apologizing with sincerity. Other Republicans hope he will let his self-inflicted wound fester. They have in mind a TV spot using an old film clip of a Boston lawyer named Welch at a Congressional hearing, saying "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"