THE CHENEYS

The Cheneys: Politics and the modern family

 
 
CARLSON
CARLSON

Mcarlson3@bloomberg.net

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go? Not the Cheneys. Not this Thanksgiving. Not when U.S. Senate candidate Liz Cheney is using her gay sister Mary to right her sinking campaign in Wyoming.

The family feud broke into the open again Sunday on Fox News when Liz reiterated her view that Mary shouldn’t be married. Dad, meanwhile, has been out front on the issue. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has embraced Mary and her marriage to the point where he said government shouldn’t be in the bedroom and that he believes in legalizing same-sex marriage (though the details should be left to the states).

Liz (and, friends say, her mom, Lynne) is forgoing support in favor of mere forgiveness. They don’t want to isolate or hurt Mary, but politics comes first. It will be easier to repair a family breach than it will be to survive an electoral loss. You can hear Lynne saying, “It’s the business we’ve chosen.” There’s no place for feelings.

No wonder then that the two sisters communicate their most private feelings on Facebook. On Fox News, Chris Wallace asked Liz about a posting by Mary in which she said, “I love my sister but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage.” Given a chance to heal the wound, Liz poured love that felt like salt on it: “I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue in which we disagree.”

Not that Liz wouldn’t throw Mary a few crumbs. She’s all for gay partners receiving “health benefits or be designated as a beneficiary on their life insurance.” And she partied at Mary’s wedding reception. But that’s private. Publicly, Mary’s marriage is just not of the same caliber as Liz’s. She wishes her sister all the best, as long as that doesn’t include what she has with her husband and children.

It was back to Facebook for Mary and spouse Heather Poe, who let it be known how “offensive” she found Liz, her sister- in-law in 15 states and the District of Columbia, at least. “Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 — she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us.” Mary added: “You’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.” This followed an earlier exchange in which she wished for her family the “same rights, privileges and protections” accorded to Liz’s.

Under any circumstances, it would have been awful for Mary and Heather, who have two children, to watch Liz refuse to stand up for them. It may make matters worse that Liz was shunning them over a primary election she is almost certain to lose.

Liz is following a standard Republican playbook, evolving from “I hate homosexuals,” dropped for political survival, to “I can tolerate them so long as they don’t think they’re equal to me.”

What Republicans don’t realize is that the “love, but” construction is increasingly unnecessary. Survey after survey shows young people make no distinction between gay and straight marriage. Older folks have gradually changed as family members come out, and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a gay family that looks a lot like your own. In polite society, you can’t treat gays badly anymore.

Monday, Mary lost Dad when he backtracked and explained that all that stuff about shared holidays and visits was just Liz being nice. “Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position,” he said.

The worst conclusion is that Liz was cynically calculating that this was her big chance to show live, and in living color, that despite what residents of the Cowboy State had heard, and she possibly felt, she hasn’t gone soft on gay marriage.

This could be as wrong politically as it is personally. In all states, including conservative ones, people might reward putting love of a sibling above lust for political power. Liz could have had a Sister Souljah moment with her own sister. She still might lose, but would do so with her family intact.

© 2013, Bloomberg News

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    Ray Rice’s fans are too quick to forgive

    “I think they’re going too far with Ray Rice.”

  •  
FLOWERS

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

    Rice targeted unfairly by media

    I’ve never been a victim of domestic violence, but I’ve loved people who have been. I say “people” because some of the victims have been men, despite the general “Burning Bed” stereotype of the muscled brute beating the living daylights out of the 100-pound female. Violence is violence, victims are victims and abusers are abusers regardless of gender, color, religion, and affluence. This is an equal opportunity horror.

  •  
PUTNEY

    FLORIDA RACES

    Disgusted with smarmy campaigns

    How seriously should we take the candidates on the November ballot? As seriously as they take the big issues, which is not very.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category