Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 15, 2004
POLITICS: A Unified Mary Cheney Theory

Speculation abounds: why did both Edwards and Kerry bring up the fact that Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter? Some think they were trying, clumsily, to get religious conservatives to feel disenchanted with the Bush-Cheney ticket. I'm doubtful that will work; if anything, conservative Christian voters who already like and agree with Bush and Cheney are more likely to see this as personal family business that shouldn't be used in a campaign.

But they may not be the target audience. Connsider: the Kerry campaign seems very worried that African-American voters, who by large margins (especially the majority of African-Americans who are regular churchgoers) are opposed to same-sex marriage, might be less motivated to show up and vote for Kerry on Election Day. This is compounded by the fact that Kerry, unlike Clinton and Gore, doesn't have much experience appealing to black voters and doesn't seem to have the same emotional rapport with them. This concern is almost certainly why you never hear Kerry compare the same-sex marriage fight to the civil rights movement (as Andrew Sullivan does on a daily basis), since African-Americans are understandably touchy about diluting the moral weight of their struggle for equal rights, and doubly so for a cause many of them don't sympathize with.

Perhaps bringing up the gay daughter won't work with people who are already fond of Bush and Cheney and likely to respond by circling the wagons around them. But it could be savvy politics in trying to neutralize the issue with a bloc of voters Kerry badly needs who are predisposed to dislike the Republican ticket. I don't know how this gambit played with African-Americans, but if you think about it logically, they seem like the most likely target audience.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:57 AM | Politics 2004 | Comments (25) | TrackBack (5)
Comments

The most likely target in bringing up the Veep's gay daughter is African Americans?

That's rich.

In three paragraphs you've effectively said that the dems are pandering for undecided black votes by outing the veep's lesbian daughter. This links the dems with dirty politics, pandering, racism and homophobia! This is like the "when did you stop beating your wife?" question.

How about this explanation? By mentioning Mary Cheney, Kerry and Edwards have shown just how not freakish being gay is because the Vice President himself has a gay daughter who is still campaigning for him, and who is still loved and respected by him.

Or how about this explanation? By proposing a marriage ammendment to the constitution, Bush tried to force Kerry into saying he was for or against gay marriage. Bush just wants to get his core constituency to show up in record numbers, while Kerry is riding a fine line on this issue amongst the undecided's. By mentioning Mary Cheney, Kerry's is attempting to put the wedge between the Veep and the President, because its an issue they both possibly can't agree on without Cheney looking like a crass and unloving father.

I mean seriously, is the message really, or most logically, that the Dems have said "Hey, if you're black, and considering voting for Bush/Cheney, here's a reason to reconsider.....the Veep's daughter is gay!" I gotta think that the number of black voters who are inclined to vote for Bush/Cheney but who would be turned off by that ticket due to Cheney's gay daughter has got to be infinitesimally small.

If you consider this the most logical explanation, you might want to take a step back

Then again, you felt that Bush won one if not both of the final two debates, and that Cheney cleaned Edwards' clock....so this "logic" shouldn't have surprised me so much.

Posted by: C Giddy at October 15, 2004 11:06 AM

Or this theory being espoused by others, that Kerry and Edwards brought it up to turn even 1 to 2% of the religious right away from the polls on Nov. 2nd.

This certainly isn't the most noble of intentions (although with the tarring of McCain in 2000 we see that the Bushies aren't below such Machiavellian ploys) but its certainly more likely, or logical, than aiming this tactic towards Blacks who might otherwise vote for Bush or Cheney.

Posted by: C Giddy at October 15, 2004 1:00 PM

Who runs this site? Do you really think this will not hurt bush. I am so glad the rnc keeps pushing this. No, bush wll not loose any chirstain right people becuase they are not really christians! They just use religion to promote facism, because we know that the next facist leader will not be exactly like Hitler. Bush has to fool people, of course he would not come out and say I approve of Hitler, even thought his policys do. Real chirstians know Jesus was a liberal, enough said.

Most people will realize that Bush/cheney are nothing but hipocrites! This will just add another log to the fire that bush has no creditablity.

When it was said that Bush has never had a meet with the NAACP, that will stop any America who happens to also have black skin, to not vote for bush.

Posted by: Ryan at October 15, 2004 5:35 PM

Seriously Crank....

"if you think about it logically, [African-Americans] seem like the most likely target audience."

Huh?

Considering this the most logical progression certainly reveals alot about your natural tendencies/inclinations/biases.

Either that are you were tired, had little time, and posted this too quickly without choosing your wording carefully.

I hope the latter is responsible for this post.

Posted by: C Giddy at October 15, 2004 5:49 PM

"Considering this the most logical progression certainly reveals alot about your natural tendencies/inclinations/biases."

Did I read that wrong, or did you just imply that Crank in a racist?

C'mon guys. Kerry went out of his way to use Mary Cheney's name. I think it's pretty safe to say that he saw some sort of political gain in it. I think Crank is over thinking it a bit when he says it was aimed at stregthening Kerry’s African American base, but he's entitled to his opinion, and it is at least logically argued.

Posted by: Richard at October 15, 2004 8:12 PM

Crank is just calling them like they are, and should be congratulated for having the guts to say what I suspect a lot of the pundits know but are afraid to say on the tube.

Read this ABC story about a Kerry campaign event on Oct 11 with Jesse Jackson. Money quote:

Black turnout is key to Kerry's plan for victory in Florida and elsewhere less than 10 percent of black voters nationally supported George W. Bush in 2000. But Kerry's campaign says there have been efforts to turn religious blacks against him based on his support for abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples.

Jackson told worshippers their political concerns are issues that touch their everyday lives, not gay marriage.
It's not PC to say so, but the poll internals tend to show stronger opposition to gay rights among African-Americans than in the population as a whole. From a story about a Michigan anti-gay marriage initiative:
The proposed ban was supported statewide 54 percent to 37 percent in a recent statewide survey by the Michigan-based independent polling firm EPICMRA. Among black voters, that backing stood at 64 percent.
This can be interpreted as very, very, ugly and cynical on the part of both sides. I'm afraid that's my own view - disclaimer: I'm a pro-war, pro-gay marriage small-l libertarian. I believe that Bush believes in the FMA for the reasons he states, but I think this is why it's been pushed. It's not about the Republican base. It's about Kerry's base. I suspect that Kerry's professionals are seeing this in their own internals and are terrified that black voters will turn on him in the privacy of the voting booth. There are two reasons for them to fear this: 1) Bush has made any inroads on economic issues (increases in AA home ownership), education (many in the black base would prefer vouchers), and by having so many articulate, visible black cabinet members and other spokespeople. Note that this will probably not win a lot of votes, but it only has to dilute the "get out and vote or they'll burn your church" argument that was actually made in 2000. 2) Kerry doesn't have any of the Clinton-Gore magic in the black community. He has some very strange and phoney-sounding efforts at outreach (remember his admiration of hip-hop), and hasn't talked about traditional civil rights issues much.

To be clear, I don't like it that this play probably works as intended by both sides. But I don't think pretending it ain't so is useful.

From a strictly tactical point of view, you can almost admire Rove for painting Kerry into this corner. He's managed to make Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney (who I like, btw...he seems like more of a real adult than any of the other three) into a sympathetic victim!

Posted by: huski at October 16, 2004 12:43 AM

Comment above now converted to the first trackback to this post!

Posted by: huski at October 16, 2004 12:56 AM

I would be curious to see what the Dems' internal pollings shows - is Bush really drawing away any black voters from Kerry over the marriage issue? I saw a report that Bush's support among blacks has doubled since the last election (from around 7% to 14%, I think), but I don't know how much is because of FMA. Jesse Jackson's comments recently in that church lead me to believe it must be prominent.

That having been said, I don't know if the Kerry stunt was aimed at them. It's a stretch, I think. But not inconceivable at all. The numbers would tell the story. Either way, it was almost certainly calculated, whatever the goal.

Posted by: Johnny Walker Red at October 16, 2004 2:29 AM

I haven't seen any increase in black support for Bush. Check out each of the last several WaPo tracking polls. In every single one black support for Bush ranges between 5 and 9 percent. Bush won 8 percent in 2000. This whole Cheney explanation is just implausible. A better one is that Kerry thought Mary Cheney was an acceptable example of an out lesbian because of how Dick Cheney acted at the VP debate. Kerry was a bit clumsy in the delivery but I don't see anything more sinister than what was there.

Posted by: Elrod at October 16, 2004 4:13 AM

It may have been Kerry's intention to target black swing voters but the effect it is having on all swing proves it to be a huge blunder.

Posted by: Harry in Atlanta at October 16, 2004 8:17 AM

Interesting that Kaus points out that Pat Caddell, who I'm sure knows a damn sight more than C. Giddy agrees with the Crank. And let's not forget that little Mary Beth Cahill, in a nude moment defended it by characterizing Mary Cheney as "fair game". So, Mr/Miss/Ms Giddy... stuff your spin and attack on the theory presented here. It was a cynical usage, America (that isn't in the tank) knows it, and all that is left is to determine what these idiots were thinking when they brainstormed it's intentional repeated introduction into the debates.

Posted by: rhodeymark at October 16, 2004 9:23 AM

Maybe it was spontaneous, and Kerry's just a boor.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man at October 16, 2004 11:12 AM

how about the idea that kerry is speaking to gay people and families with gay people in them....most families.....and he's saying "look...the republicans dont even want their own kids to have equal rights....or at least, the republicans will sell out their own kids for a few bigot's votes. i think everyone in your family deserves equal rights, and while i SAY i'm against gay marriage, wink wink, we all know who's REALLY against it...."

Posted by: ross at October 16, 2004 11:38 AM

I think it is true that Kerry is playing the "while i SAY i'm against gay marriage, wink wink, we all know who's REALLY against it...." game.

As a bit of an aside, how do we square Kerry's refusal to take a position with criticism of Bush for pandering to homophobic bigots? Isnt' Kerry, by refusing to take a clear stand, trying to preserve his acceptability to these same monsters? (Pardon my hyperbole; I've been reading Sullivan).

As to Kerry's vulnerability in the black community, the "low turnout" argument is key, not the proportion that will actually vote for Bush.

As to why Kery is vulnerable, I don't think anyone has mentioned Bush's support for Faith Based Initiatives, but I believe that is popular with black ministers, and should be added to the list.

And one hopes that education reform resonates with the inner-city community.

As to the Crank's logic - if we accept that Kerry has good reasons to avoid a strong stand (and does *anyone* think he has taken a clear, principled position on this?), then mentioning Mary is important because it implies that the Reps are not *really* any more reliable on this issue than Kerry is.

Net - Kerry may or may not have been trying to undermine Bush with his base; he is surely trying to avoid turning off a key part of his base. So who is pandering to the homophobic bigots?

And why do we need to wait this long for this key spin point? C'mon, crank it up!

Posted by: Tom Maguire at October 16, 2004 12:52 PM

Crank hit it right on the head! The majority of Black do hate gays, whether we like it or not, and what Kerry said in the Black churches, as quoted above, is part of the record. Kristol had the best analysis of the "what" and "how" of this. It was meant to hurt Bush/Cheney and what Kerry said in response to the hoopla was how it was SUPPOSED to come out during the debate, but Kerry is just not as smooth and silver tongued as Edwards.
Blacks, and of course I mean as an average group, are the most culturally conservative group, but their love of wealth redistribution puts them firmly in the Dems camp. The question is, just how much do they hate gays?

Posted by: Dahlia at October 16, 2004 1:36 PM

Crank,

You called it correctly. The black Church vote is what he wants. After all, why would Kerry want to get people to the polls who can actually read.

Posted by: leaddog2 at October 16, 2004 3:05 PM

Crank,

Now.... the last comment lets the other guy rant and rave at me too!!! Racist, Racist, Racist!

Actually, neither of us are, of course!

I will say that anyone who cannot read or is too old to understand a simple butterfly ballot is TOO DUMB to vote. That was Florida's problem in 2000. There is a point where Alzheimer's and other diseases of old age may make voters NOT COMPETENT to vote.

All who had problems with Florida's 2 page ballot in 2000 were in that categpry.

My Mother was an example in 2000 and she did not vote.

Posted by: leaddog2 at October 16, 2004 3:11 PM

a typo above....... category

Posted by: leaddog2 at October 16, 2004 3:12 PM

interesting comments, all around. point taken about kerry ALSO pandering to homophobes by not being clear about his stands on gay issues. or if he says they're clear, then most of us would surely agree, they're incoherent. from my perspective as a gay man, choosing between kerry and bush on the gay marriage issue is a little like choosing between being punched in the face or stabbed in the heart. they're both bad, but i'm hoping for one of those famous flip-flops that the reepublicans keep mentioning if kerry gets elected. as far as the black church vote theory, while i understand that there's a preponderance of socially conservative black voters there i just cant wrap my brain around the concept that anyone over say, 15 years old would seriously vote for a different party just because "his daughter is GAY!!!!! OH MY GOD!!!!!" its too childish. it just sounds silly to me. i dont buy it. people who want to vote against gay marriage, be they black or white or whatever, are going to vote for the party that wants to amend the constitution to deny gays the right to marry.....i mean....right?

Posted by: ross at October 16, 2004 4:24 PM

The Crank/Cadell theory, I think, holds water. OTOH, don't underestimate the number of old line redistributionist, socially conservative white dems. Admittedly they are now a distinct minority of the body politic, as well as their own party, as well as being a much smaller % of white dems than black dems. Nonetheless, just because they don't exist so far as any media is concerned doesn't mean they might not amount to 5% or so of the vote. In any case, the Kedwards campaign has clearly allowed their ignorant preconceptions to steer them into a mud puddle. Like, Ross, my experience is that even quirky, bigoted, Buchananlike dems, black or white, are not going to hold parents electorally responsible for the gayness of their kids! And even if some do, the well deserved and forseeable backlash will swamp any Crank effect. All of which is to say Kedwards were not only classless, and in Kerry's case inept, but stupid as well.

Posted by: Lloyd at October 16, 2004 5:33 PM

I think that all one has to do to see who the target audience was for Kerry's comment is look at the reaction of the gay community. They loved it. Andrew Sullivan is case in point. The commentors above who said that it was a *wink-wink* to the gay community is exactly right. Now, what does it say that Kerry apparently needs to shore up the gay vote?

Note to pro-gay marriage people: if you go around calling decent, religious people "bigots" and "monsters", you will never get your point across. Hysteria and hate does not help your cause.

Posted by: Johnny Walker Red at October 17, 2004 12:38 PM

point taken about the "bigots and monsters" situation. its not helpful, and it makes the very people that you want to communicate with shut you out. just let me say in my defense that if you try to look at it from my perspective, you might see how i can get a little angry sometimes. when people want to make sure that you cant marry the one you love, it hurts, and it messes with your life. i suppose i lashed out a little out of those hurt feelings. i know its a complex issue for some people, but not for me. consider how interracial couples felt 50 years ago when they were not allowed to marry in many states. the people that stood in their way had deep concerns, religious and racial. i think that with hindsight, we can say that those who fought against interracial marriage were wrong. if it helps the discussion, i'm willing to leave it at that, and not label them "bigots" in this forum. i'll just say that i think they were wrong and i think that people who want to keep gay people from expressing their love through the institution of marriage are equally wrong. its a cruel denial of gay people's humanity and their innate human desire for spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy. marriage might not be right for everyone, but it should be ok regardlesss of one's sexual orientation. ya know, just my opinion.....

Posted by: ross at October 17, 2004 1:41 PM

"By mentioning Mary Cheney, Kerry's is attempting to put the wedge between the Veep and the President, because its an issue they both possibly can't agree on without Cheney looking like a crass and unloving father."

I think you have actually hit it on the head here. However my guess is Kerry is also looking at shoring up shaky African American voters who are socially conservative and whose eyes are beginning to wander. I am in favor of gay marriage and I certainly felt the comment was directed at voters such as myself. That Kerry is right on the issue and possibly correct in characterizing Cheney in this fashion (I do not know what Cheney's position is other than to support the President) in no way excuses using Mary's name. It is wrong for one candidate to use another candidates children to score a point, regardless of the merits of the issue. It doesn't matter that maybe he was appealing to people's better side rather than their prejudices. You don't explicitly tie an issue to a man's children. You especially do not do it when you are not even debating that man. It is dirty pool because your opponent cannot and should not discuss the other man's children either.

Posted by: lance at October 20, 2004 8:33 PM

You're all thinking too hard. Shave with Occam's Razor.

The gay community despises Mary Cheney. They cannot tolerate dissent and thus she is a traitor to them. I vividly recall an interview in which a gay activist vowed that they were going to "get her."

This is just Kerry throwing a bone to his base and allaying any concerns that have been raised by his anti-gay marriage pronouncements.

Posted by: N. G. Zax at October 21, 2004 2:53 PM

Maybe Kerry's motive was some combination of all of the above: Shore up the gay base and social liberals (Cheney's a hypocrite, the Bush admin is homophobic), shore up the black base (Cheney has a gay daughter!), shore up blue-collar Dems (Cheney has a gay daughter!) and suppress Bush's Christian right vote (Again...Cheney has a guy daughter!)

Posted by: Huck at October 21, 2004 8:31 PM
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