Politics & Policy

“a Cheap and Tawdry Political Trick”

The Democrats misuse the vice president's family to win.

In a desperate attempt to win the White House, John Kerry and John Edwards have sunk to practicing the lowest form of politics–using the personal lives of the other candidates and their family members for political gain. Both John Kerry’s and John Edwards’s specific mention of the sexual orientation of Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter during the debates was a deliberate and calculated political attempt to suppress religious conservative voters from turning out to the polls for President George W. Bush.

During last night’s presidential debate, Senator Kerry said, “If you were to talk to Dick Cheney’s daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she’s being who she was, she’s being who she was born as.” This follows his running mate John Edwards’s specific reference to Mary Cheney during the October 5 vice-presidential debate, during which he said, “And you can’t have anything but respect for the fact that they’re willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her.”

At a post-debate rally in Pittsburgh, Lynne Cheney said of Kerry’s deliberate reference to her daughter’s sexual preference: “The only thing I can conclude is that this is not a good man…. I’m speaking as a mom,” Mrs. Cheney said. “What a cheap and tawdry political trick.”

What else explains both Kerry and Edwards pointing out Mary Cheney’s sexual orientation in two nationally televised debates? Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry’s campaign manager said in a post-debate interview on Fox News, “There are a lot of questions here about gay marriage and she is someone who’s a major figure in the campaign. I think it’s fair game.”

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards, Kerry’s running mate, made matters worse on Thursday morning when she ridiculed Lynne Cheney for her remarks, suggesting Mrs. Cheney was ashamed of her daughter. Mrs. Edwards said: “It makes me really sad that that’s Lynne’s response. I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter’s sexual preferences that I’m certain makes her daughter uncomfortable. That makes me very sad on a personal level.”

This is out of control. No, Mary Cheney’s personal life is not fair game. Mary Cheney heads up vice-presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney 04 campaign. She is not running for political office. She has absolutely no role in making domestic-policy decisions in the Bush administration. In fact, the policymaking process on the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage began well before Ms. Cheney formally joined the campaign in late 2003. While Vice President Cheney may hold his own private views about the need for a constitutional amendment, it is President Bush who ultimately sets policy for the administration. And the vice president fully supports the president’s decision to endorse the constitutional amendment.

Fox News contributor Mort Kondracke put it best when he said last night, “I think it was totally underhanded–the outing of Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter…. And it struck me as a low blow designed to weaken the Bush-Cheney team with right-wingers who might not know that Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter.”

While the Democrats have been hurling specious and unsubstantiated charges about Republicans suppressing the African-American vote, Kerry and Edwards are leading their party’s effort–on national television no less–to discourage religious and social conservatives from going to the ballot box for President Bush. This is dirty politics and the American people should reject them for it.

Cesar V. Conda was Vice President Dick Cheney’s assistant for domestic policy.

Cesar Conda — Mr. Conda, formerly assistant for domestic policy to Vice President Cheney, is a founding principal of Navigators Global, a Washington, D.C.–based public-affairs firm.


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