~ Free Of Dick Cheney Puns* ~
Big Dick is pissing** and moaning.
Lynne Cheney knows good men when she sees them, and Kerry ain't it.
Republicans are loudly shocked and outraged.
"So," you ask yourself, "Should I maybe be upset as well? There are many fine Americans who think Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney as a lesbian was wrong. Should I count myself among their number?"
Allow me to help you sort things out:
There exists in this country a percentage of Idiot Queer-Haters.
Earlier this year, the decision was made in the White House that re-election prospects were sufficiently dicey that an effort to mobilize IQHs in force was neccesary. Cue the Federal Marriage Amendment, accompanied by a tightrope walk of a PR strategy which amounted to using enough compassionate language to not be branded outright bigots in the media, while winking at the IHQs in the audience and stage whispering "We gotta play nice for the liberal media, but don't you worry none, we hate them fags too!"
This seems to have worked, for the most part. Members of God Fearing Americans Against The Homosexual have a reason to come out to the polls, even if they are pissed at Bush for other reasons, while enough vague compassion was sprayed around for pro-Bush flaks to be able to look their gay or gay-friendly colleagues somewhere in the vicinity of the eye.
Due to this successful, if cynical, play, George Bush almost certainly has gained at least a small bit of support he would not have otherwise had, particularly in states with significant evangelical populations.
Said additional support is what we in the business like to call ill gotten gains.
This election could quite possibly be very close, to the point where a fraction of a percentage point in certain states could decide the whole thing.
Therefore, in the Kerry camp, the decision was made to attempt to neutralize some of the support the FMA gained for Bush.
The way this was done was not only ingenius, but well within ethical bounds - a combination not seen nearly often enough in politics.
To understand what they did, one has to understand that, while the FMA was targeted at IQHs, there in fact exists a spectrum of support for it, or at least the idea of it. While only made up of a minority of citizens, this spectrum encompasses a massive portion of the non-libertarian GOP base, and it includes everyone from people who abhor persecution and inequality for gays -- but still find themselves uncomfortable with the idea of homosexual nuptials -- to hardcore IQHs who see homosexuality as a blight upon God's creation.
The danger in trying to shave off some of Bush's support here is that one runs the risk of gaybaiting your way into becoming what you oppose. Sure, that could very well help win the election, but acting ethically only counts when it is in your immediate interest to act unethically, otherwise everyone would act in an ethical manner all the time.
So the Kerry campaign adopted a two-pronged strategy - one aimed at bringing voters over to their side, the other aimed at cutting voters loose from Bush.
The former targeted those who basically support the idea of equality for all Americans, but are, for a number of reasons, opposed the gay marriage. To woo these voters, both Kerry and Edwards have stated their firm opposistion to gay marriage, while enthusiastically supporting for gays all the legal benefits afforded to married couples. In effect, they are stealing potential Bush votes by doing nothing more than conceding the word "marriage." The cost/benefit ratio for gay Americans on this is astoundingly good.
The second strategy is not an attempt to gain votes for Kerry, but to lose votes for Bush. This is aimed at the Idiot Queer-Haters, the ones so far lost to intolerance that the mere fact of someone's daughter being gay is enough to sour them on that person. These people exist; in what numbers, exactly, it is hard to say, but they are out there.
Those are the people Kerry was speaking to when he mentioned Cheney's gay daughter. Not because he wants them to vote for him - after all, if you hate gays so much that you would refuse to vote for Bush because his Veep is related to a lesbian, never in hell will you vote for Kerry, who followed the Mary Cheney reference by saying,
"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.No, this was merely a way to alienate a couple thousand of the most hardcore bigots from Bush - a couple thousand bigots who could possibly provide the margin of victory for the President, if they happen to live in Ohio.
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."
It was not a pander, but a wedge. Everytime Kerry speaks of how loving and supportive the Cheneys are toward their daughter, it drives them farther and farther away from those that are incensed that someone would support their own daughter's sin against God. The question, then, for anyone who professes to be outraged by Kerry's remark, is this: Why does the President deserve to benefit from pandering to such people?
It has been suggested that Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney is analogous to a Civil Rights-era politician trying to gain favor among racist constituents by pointing out an opponent's friendliness with a black person.
This is backwards.
The appropriate analogy would be for a politican supporting Civil Rights to point out that Strom Thurmond had a black daughter - thereby partially neutralizing Strom's own appeals to virulent racists.
If politics were a game where everyone was kind and fair and respectful to everyone else, Kerry never would have had to mention Mary Cheney. However, by supporting the FMA in the first place, Bush himself pandered to anti-gay sentiment in a grotesque manner; so again, why exactly should he be allowed to benefit from it? It seems to me that Kerry should be applauded for effectively countering gutter politics while very firmly remaining out of the gutter himself. It speaks quite well for how a President Kerry would conduct himself in office.
After all, isn't that exactly what we want in a Commander-in-Chief? Someone who will put the hammer to the wrongdoers without becoming a wrongdoer himself?
I know that's what I want, and the very real possibility that John Kerry is that kind of man is one of my primary reasons for supporting him.
So I say, let the Republicans whine. We're going to need to get used to that sound, because we'll be hearing it quite a bit over the next four years.
* Claim guaranteed by management to be equally as valid as Bush's "No Draft" promise.
** Y'all know where "Canada" is, right?