Roger L. Simon

Dept. of "Oh, Really?"

I was “saddened” to read of Elizabeth Edwards’ radio comments today regarding Kerry mentioning Mary Cheney’s sexuality on the debate last night:

She’s overreacted to this and treated it as if it’s shameful to have this discussion. I think that’s a very sad state of affair… I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter’s sexual preferences… It makes me really sad that that’s Lynne’s response.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what’s missing. The ellipses come from ABC. But in honor of the recently deceased, let’s deconstruct this statement, starting with “It makes me really sad….” That couldn’t be more obvious bull. It goes without saying that Elizabeth is “extroardinarily happy” for the opportunity to bash Lynne and by extension Lynne’s husband and Lynne’s husband’s senior running mate.

But let’s go on to “le reste,” as Derrida would say. (I know that’s not what Derrida meant by le reste– but does anybody know what it’s really supposed to mean? So indulge me.) Elizabeth says that “I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter’s sexual preferences…” Even taking account of the weasel words “certain degree,” this is patent nonsense. Here’s how I read Lynne Cheney: The Cheneys probably did have mixed feelings over a decade ago about their daughter’s sexuality, but they are long since gone. Indeed they probably have learned a lot about life from having their daughter “come out.” In fact the views of both Cheneys on gay rights seem to differ from Kerry’s only at the extreme margins. Why Lynne made her post-debate remarks (available at same link) about Kerry’s mentioning her daughter during the debate was that Lynne saw that as an opportunity to bash Kerry. This is all politics. (Italics obviously mine.) Now Elizabeth is bashing back – probably a tactical mistake, but few will know or care.

What is far more interesting is why Kerry decided to bring it up. Was this a nefarious maneuver or something bubbling up from his unconconscious or both? I go with the last because of the strained way he squirted out the word lesbian, but that is only conjecture. People’s sexual weirdness never ceases to amaze me.