Thursday, October 21, 2004
by Wayne Besen
Artificial outrage is all the rage in the GOP. Each time the political fortunes of George W. Bush sink like the personal fortunes of middle class Americans under his presidency, Republicans gin up imitation indignation.
During the final debate, both John Kerry and George Bush were asked whether homosexuality is a choice. Kerry responded that, "If you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian…who would tell you she was being who she was."
Lynne Cheney went apoplectic, accusing Kerry of a "a cheap and tawdry trick." Dick Cheney grumbled that he was an "angry father." And, right wing political hacks are now disingenuously spinning Kerry's innocuous response as "Marygate".
Let's be clear. This is not a genuine controversy, but an entirely new Republican invention - the "contrived-versy". A contrived-versy is inventing and embracing a counterfeit cause designed to distract voters from the administration's miserably failed policies.
For example, this summer a prevaricating president refused to come clean on mysterious gaps in his military service. Compared to Kerry's distinguished record in Vietnam, Bush looked craven. To shift this unflattering focus, Republicans trotted out a sketchy group of resentful Kerry hating veterans to slime the war hero. Suddenly, news coverage shifted from questions of Bush's lack of service, to questioning of Kerry's honorable service.
This was Exhibit A of how the GOP elevates rogue issues to drown out real issues. The Mary Cheney saga is no more than an extension of this type of premeditated lowball, smoke and mirrors politics.
Intellectually honest people acknowledge the three debates were a trio of tragedy for the president. Even at his best, he looked like a pre-programmed pull-string doll, mindlessly regurgitating Karl Rove's greatest hits. At his worst, Bush looked like a bumbling bungler who was too arrogant to admit that he had made a single mistake in four years.
Indeed, Bush was aptly compared to a lost driver who refuses to ask for directions. Afraid Bush's stubborn-streak would scare off women, Republican honchos had to devise a way to make Kerry look as intransigent and pig-headed as Bush.
Their answer: "Marygate."
Having read copious commentary on this issue, I have concluded that there are two real goals behind this concocted charade: 1) To narrow the gender gap by portraying Kerry as a man, like Bush, who is unable to apologize. 2) To impugn Kerry as a politician with poor character who will say anything to win.
Even a cursory look reveals how Republican Party talking points have permeated the columns of supposedly independent conservative writers. It seems they are transparently singing from the same Bush song sheet, urging Kerry to say he's sorry.
** William Safire: "Kerry will, I hope, assert his essential decency by apologizing with sincerity."
** Robert Novak: "Instead of an apology, the [Democrats] rhetoric escalated."
** David Brooks: "You use somebody's daughter to attack the father and his running mate. The parents are upset. The only decent thing to do is apologize."
Political parrots with their poison pens want Americans to believe their synchronized screeds are mere coincidence. But we are informed by the striking uniformity of the columns that Marygate is probably not an organic reaction to what Kerry actually said. Instead, it is likely a revolting example of coordinated and calculated character assassination by conservative columnists shilling for the GOP.
Sadly, the GOP's talking points have been repeated so often that even fair-minded journalists are now portraying Kerry's answer as a gaffe, and suggest it might help if he apologizes.
Buried in the GOP's snow job is the cold truth: The Cheney family has consistently humiliated and betrayed Mary. They have been dishonorably derelict in their primary parental duty, which is to protect a child from harm.
When Bush announced support for a Constitutional Amendment that would deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry, making Mary a second-class citizen, where was Dick and Lynne's moral outrage?
When Bush expressed his support for sodomy laws that could imprison their daughter, where was the "angry father"?
When hapless Illinois Senate hopeful Alan Keyes called Mary a "selfish hedonist" at the GOP Convention, where were her parents when her honor truly needed defending?
Of course, Mary has given us a lot of insight on these questions.
"...............", said Mary.
That's right, Mary was mum as she has been for four long years. She didn't even have the nerve to show up this week at her own "contrived-versy"!
Marygate is political arson that Republican spinners are trying to pass off as a legitimate firestorm. And the Cheney family has shamefully fanned the flames of bigotry to keep the base happy. The only person who can stop this madness is Mary Cheney. But instead of Proud Mary we've got Cowed Mary, and we keep getting rolled and sold down the river. Lynne Cheney is right. I've never seen anything so tawdry in my life.
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