Friday, October 15, 2004


Did Kerry Cross a Line?

The story today has been about the outing of Mary Cheney. After Kerry brought her into the picture, and Liz Edwards remarked about how ashamed the Cheneys were of her, there has been a furor of buzz, like a disturbed nest of bees.

Someone I saw yesterday said that Kerry had been able to do the possible: turn Dick Cheney into a sympathetic character.

Buzz is still going on today.

ABC News Note gave us this morning wrap up:

7:00 am packages or segments (not in the news blocks) about Iraq, debt, gas prices in the morning shows: 1/4 (part of a 2-way on NBC covered gas prices).

NBC dedicated an entire Mary Matalin/Dee Dee Meyers/Katie Couric chat to Kerry's debate mention of Mary Cheney and the reaction to it preceded by the graphic "OVER THE LINE?"

ABC opened its Begala/Carlson chat with the topic. (GMA's coverage was much more extensive yesterday.)

CBS dedicated a package to it by Jim Acosta, who said that "for an experienced politician he seems to have made a rookie mistake" but also included sound very critical of the Administration from both the Log Cabin Republicans and the Human Rights Campaign.

Don Imus slammed both Kerry and Edwards for what he characterized as a concerted effort to bring up Mary Cheney, calling it "repulsive behavior." Imus said he was disappointed in what he saw was a "fundamental" problem with Kerry's "character." Imus said that Bush and Cheney will say anything to get elected — "now it's clear that Kerry and Edwards will do and say anything to get elected as well."

Fox News raised the issue in the beginning of a Steve Schmidt / Chat Clanton chat, although with less of the outrage than it did yesterday.

CNN dedicated much of an interview with Tad Devine to it.

CNN's Jack Cafferty said he received 1,200 emails in an hour to his question of the day about whether Kerry was right to raise Cheney's name.

Some of it has been quite angry:

Mention a gay Republican, that's fair game.
You're not supposed to talk about how Kerry won't release all his military records, or the fact that his billionaire wife won't release her tax returns, or the fact that he confessed, under oath, to being a war criminal.
All that stuff is below the belt.
Mary Cheney, though, is ``fair game.''
God forbid Kerry should have mentioned Dick Gephardt's lesbian daughter Chrissy, or Gov. Jim McGreevey, who put his own personal Hot Bottom on the New Jersey state payroll for more than $100,000 a year.
They're all untouchable. They're liberals. Mary Cheney campaigns for her father, so she's . . . fair game.

Howie Carr, Boston Globe

New York Daily News calls it:

There's little argument that the gambit of making Mary Cheney's lifestyle a high-visibility issue is what the adviser calls "obviously highly calculated."

Mary Beth Cahill called Mary Cheney fair game, but all the uproar in both the conservative and the MSM says something more is going on.

Did Kerry cross a line of political decorum? One yet not fallen to the barbarism of our current day?

Hugh Hewit thinks so. He says:

When John Edwards lamely tries to claim innocent or even noble motives for the Kerry-Edwards low blows, keep in mind that "fair game" is a hunting term, a clear giveaway that the Kerry-Edwards campaign planned the attack as an attack. As most of the stories admit somewhere along the line, this was a malicious attempt to hurt Bush-Cheney with fundamentalist Christians. It was gay baiting of the worst sort, as James Taranto branded it yesterday, but the real anger in America is over the exploitation of children by Kerry-Edwards. My post here explains that the widespread anger and revulsion isn't about the particulars of using Mary Cheney's sexuality at all. It is the product of the "leave the kids out of it" sentiment that nearly all Americans hold and which until this campaign was respected by both parties and all candidates. Anger at the breach of that rule was compounded by the churlishness of Elizabeth Edwards' "a certain amount of shame" comments, which was a direct attack on the Cheneys' relationship with their daughter.


And if you think it is just Republicans, here's presidential scholar Stephen Hess of the liberal Bookings Center (in the Philly Inquirer):

"Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, and author of The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette, said he was 'absolutely startled' by Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney.

Hess said Kerry crossed the line of political decorum - even though Mary Cheney is open about her sexual preference and her parents have talked publicly about her in the past.

'To make it about an opponent's daughter struck me as such poor taste,' Hess said."

It will be interesting to see all the fall out. But one thing is clear, it's just another example of how John Kerry needs to learn what the word Integrity really means.

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