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October 14, 2004

DICK CHENEY ON KERRY'S USE OF HIS DAUGHTER:

You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen.

I think it was a major blunder by Kerry -- especially as his position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.

UPDATE: Reader Keith Rempel gets at the heart of what's wrong here, and articulates what I couldn't: "Kerry was using Cheney's daughter to harm her father. How many kids want to be used to harm their parents? Did anyone ask her if she wants to have her sexual practices used in the campaign?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here: "thou shall NOT speak of another's kid in any way that could POSSIBLY be construed as negative."

Meanwhile, Brian Erst emails:

A proper analogy would be if President Bush was asked a question about the issue of divorce. If, in reply, he said, "I believe divorce is very hard on children. Senator Kerry's daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa, know how painful and heartbreaking the divorce of their parents were to them. That's why I believe that we should have a program of marriage counseling that should take place prior to any divorce, to see if we can bridge the gap that has grown between two people who at one time, obviously loved each other. If it can't, then the divorce, however painful, may have to take place, but at least we have tried to minimize the damage to the children."

The inclusion of Kerry's daughters in the above quote would be crass. The matter is one of public record and I believe it has been spoken of to some extent during the campaign, but it still is using another person's family to score a cheap political point. . . . This one was obvious - especially after Edwards made the same point in his debate as well. Add Elizabeth Edwards' cynical psychoanalysis ("I find it sad Lynne Cheney has such a problem accepting her daughter...") and you get the Democratic equivalent of the old Republican tactic of wink-and-nod race baiting.

Well, maybe. I'm not sure I'd analogize gayness to divorce, but the family point-scoring is there. Whatever it is, it's tacky.

MORE: Lots of readers seem to think so. James Somers emails:

Politically, this issue is about parenthood, not gay rights, for the simple reason that there are more voters who are parents than there are voters who are gay. Kerry crassly exploited Cheney's daughter for use against Bush and thus, by extension, Cheney. Perhaps you have to be a parent to understand what that means. But the parents I've spoken to about this today - including some very liberal ones up here in deep-blue Connecticut - found Kerry's ploy nauseous. One Democratic friend, who's a father of four, said he recoiled at Kerry's remarks. And a mother I know who's voting for Kerry, and who believes (like me) that gay marriage should be legal, said she felt "deeply uncomfortable" when Kerry brought up Mary Cheney. The bottom line is that Kerry screwed up.

Yeah, I think it was a mistake.

STILL MORE: Andrew Sullivan writes: "The usually even-keeled Instapundit says that Kerry's 'position on gay marriage is the same as the President's.' I can't see how that's even remotely the case."

Well, it was this Kerry statement that led to my conclusion:

The president and I have the same position, fundamentally, on gay marriage. We do. Same position.

Call me crazy, but I took that to mean that they had the same position. Since it was a Kerry statement, I should have realized that I was probably missing out on a crucial nuance. My bad. Andrew also writes: "One last gripe about Glenn: he also writes that Kerry 'dissed' Mary Cheney. How? Is calling an openly gay person gay an insult?" Of course not. It's not even an insult to call a straight person gay. But it is disrespectful to drag people into debates on sexuality on national TV. And it's disrespectful to do so as an effort to -- as Mickey Kaus suggested -- swing the votes of homophobes. I'm surprised that Andrew is so untroubled by this.

I think this illustrates that those who are expecting some special degree of sensitivity toward gay issues -- or privacy in general -- from a President Kerry are likely to be disappointed. Apparently, it's all just stuff to be manipulated for advantage.

MORE STILL: Mary Cheney was there, along with candidate wives and mothers, but Ann Althouse notes the women who weren't mentioned.

FINALLY: This video clip seems pretty fitting.

And Howard Fineman observes:

But do you like one who mentions someone else’s child to make a nasty political point? There were no laughs but gasps in the press room when Kerry noted that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, was a lesbian. It came during a discussion of gay marriage. Now, of course, everyone knows something about Mary—she is open about her sexual orientation and has worked in outreach programs to gays and lesbians, and even brought her partner to the vice-presidential debate in Cleveland.

Still, what was Kerry's point in hauling her into a discussion of the pros and cons of gay marriage? Was he trying to highlight the fact that the vice president doesn't share the president's support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman? Was he trying to say that Cheney should actively OPPOSE it because of his daughter? Cheney and Kerry actually seem to share the same views.

But different standards.