Ben Langhinrichs

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Where's the outrage?

Fri 15 Oct 2004, 10:06 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I guess I am constantly amazed at what people, and especially the media, consider outrageous.  Dick Cheney talks about his lesbian daughter in a debate, and yet the papers are all in an uproar that John Kerry mentioned that same fact, even though he did it in a sensitive, polite manner.  Yet there is much less outrage over George Bush's direct denial of his previous outrageous comments about Osama Bin Laden.  Watch these two clips (in various formats for your convenience):
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I'm not even as appalled that Bush would forget what he said earlier as that he doesn't see how obviously this is not an exaggeration, and also obviously not a matter to joke about and score cheap political points with.  He could have answered totally seriously and said, rightly or wrongly, that Osama Bin Laden has been marginalized, but this is no joking, smirking, laugh a minute matter.  I really wish that President Bush would treat this seriously, and that it would cause even a tiny bit of outrage when he does not and then derides John Kerry about it.

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

224.1. Christopher Byrne
(10/15/2004 07:55 AM)

Dick Cheney is allowed to because it is HIS daughter and he was quite refeshingly candid in his discussion of his views. Kerry crossed a perceived line, even if politely, that he probably should have avoided. And the failure to put a gag on Edward's wife and her comments, ughhh.

Just consider for a moment what the backlash would have been if the roles were reversed and Bush/Cheney had made a similar comment about Kerry's or Edward's daughters. How big would the story be then? HUGE.

224.2. Andrew Pollack
(10/15/2004 08:02 AM)

It may be the only thing I think Dick Cheney is right on, but in this case I think so.

I heard the use of the daughter's name in both debates, and in both cases it felt uncomfortable to me in a few respects.

First, it felt "worked in" -- it wasn't natural, didn't make a meaningful addition to the thought being expressed, didn't even flow right.

Second, its way out of line to discuss someone else's children so publically in nearly all cases. If we're talking about felony convictions for election fraud, sure. If its not something that will directly impact the way the candidate does the job -- and in a negative way -- its got no business being discussed.

224.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(10/15/2004 08:09 AM)

Chris - But what is the outrage about? Mentioning that Mary Cheney is a lesbian? It is a critical point that she is highly open about that points out a fundamental dissonance about the President's position. Pointing out that someone who is openly gay is gay is not incendiary, unless you think the whole topic is taboo or there is something fundamentally wrong with it. What is wrong with John Kerry's comment? He didn't deride Mary Cheney. He didn't expose some truth that wasn't actively in the public eye and that Mary Cheney does not mention frequently as part of her outreach to gay Republicans. She is an active part of the campaign as "chief campaign manager of Vice President Dick Cheney" according to several major media sources. What could possibly be wrong with that? She acknowledges it regularly in public in the context of the campaign, so why shouldn't John Kerry mention it in the context of the campaign? It would be a different matter if she chose to not be open about it, but she and her father have chosen to be open about it.

Andrew - I would agree if she were not part of the campaign staff and using her status as a lesbian to recruit gay Republicans. That puts her in a totally different context than even the Bush twins, who speak for their father but are not officially part of the campaign.

224.4. Christopher Byrne
(10/15/2004 12:12 PM)

The outrage, in my opinion, was the context. I do not think people minded so much when Edwards said it because it was mano y mano and Cheney was right there to respond and he thanked him for the kind words.

What Kerry did was invoke the name of a family member of someone not there to respond, PUT WORDS IN HER MOUTH that the parents or child may not have said, and then did not put a gag order on people like Edward's wife!

If he had just spoke in general and not referred to her and the Cheney's by name, all would be ok. But he crossed the line. It has nothing to do with a general topic being taboo. It has to do with him being perceived as being out of touch with middle America and what they consider to be acceptable.

I liken this to an incident when my oldest daughter was seriously ill not too long ago. A parent of one of her soccer teammates took it upon herself to tell anyone that she thought would listen to her that she felt that we as parents were making it up and putting our daughter through invasive tests because we got a thrill out of it. I wanted to drive over to her house and have face to face words with her, but cooler minds prevailed. But still, an unacceptable line was crossed by her and I have forgiven her in my heart, but I will have nothing to do with her as a person.

224.5. Ben Langhinrichs
(10/15/2004 12:20 PM)

OK, I don't agree, but I'll accept your position. But what about Bush acting insulting about the "exaggerations" that Kerry made when Kerry clearly didn't. Not to mention which, what about Bush saying in the first place that he wasn't all that concerned with Osama Bin Laden, when clearly Al Qaida is still a major threat to this country. Just because he can't catch him, he shouldn't redefine him as a non-threat, then act as if he hasn't. We need a leader who leads, not dithers around trying to figure out what to say.

224.6. Christopher Byrne
(10/15/2004 02:31 PM)

I do not disagree with you on the latter part Ben. I just offer my views of Kerry crossing the line..fair and balanced remember?:-)

224.7. Richard Schwartz
(10/15/2004 06:45 PM)

I'm with you on this, Ben. Kerry's answer was responsive to the question and respectful of Mary Cheney and her parents. We're not talking about a minor child here. Mary Cheney's daughter has no more right to be sheltered from mention than Theresa Heinz Kerry does. It's no more insensitve or inappropriate of the Kerry campaign to point out the conflict between the Buch/Cheney campaign's public position on gay rights and the private situation of the Cheney family as it is for the Bush campaign to point out the conflict between the Kerry/Edwards campaign's public position on abortion and Kerry's private religious views on the subject as a Catholic. There is no difference at all.


224.8. jonvon
(10/18/2004 02:23 PM)

"Mary Cheney's daughter has no more right to be sheltered from mention than Theresa Heinz Kerry does."

i don't agree with this at all. i think her right to privacy should be respected, unless she is out campaigning. is she out campaigning?

but i totally vehemently agree that a lot more should be made of bush's saturday night live style disregard for bin laden, his whereabouts and most especially that they used 9/11 as the basis for invading iraq, along with a lot of other so called "intelligence".

someone told me about a bumper sticker seen recently. "The only bush I trust is my own."


224.9. Richard Schwarttz
(10/19/2004 11:42 AM)

It is my understanding that she is out campaiging, though perhaps in a less public manner than Heinz Kerry. Equally important, the television interview that VP Cheney gave, with his wife and daughter, in which the subject of her orientation and his political position on Gay rights vis a vis his bosses' position were raised, was clearly a campaign event designed to personalize and "soften" his image. This was weeks before Kerry mentioned it in the debate. He can't have it both ways. Either he's silent himself with respect to how he resolves the inherent conflict between his family circumstances and his party's political platform, or he opens that conflict up to comment by the oppsosition.