Friday, October 15

Extra! Extra! Cheneys Mad! - The Mary Cheney outing meme really caught on late Thursday afternoon, as the AP's "Kerry Lesbian Remark Angers Cheneys" article cracked the wire service's top-5 news list. It is a little incongruous how Dick let the comment slide when Edwards said it, but then Kerry's delivery Wednesday night was more ham-handed and, well, gratuitous. Rush Limbaugh explored the topic extensively on his show. And James Taranto decided the ploy was somehow intended to gain votes from conservative Democrats. (Huh?) I'm still convinced it was aimed squarely at keeping the bigot brigade vote home on Election Day.

McCain now says Kerry didn't appreciate the "sensitivity" of the issue. But isn't that exactly the point? Much of middle America -- which suffers from its own milder form of homophobia -- is still uncomfortable hearing about gays and lesbians in anything but the most abstract way. They may even bear a grudge against the person who had the ill-manners to mention someone's homosexuality in polite conversation. That's unfortunate, but then Kerry was the one who played the "L" card. Hope he factored collateral damage into his strategy.

Update: What, is the WSJ editorial page reading Beaverhausen now? Their analysis today (via Steve Miller) is the same as ours yesterday, except that I don't agree that

gay marriage issue motivates [so-called "tolerant traditionalists"] not out of hostility to gay Americans but because of what they believe is its challenge to a vital and venerable cultural institution.

No, it still really is all about the "ick" factor. The Journal also is too quick to dismiss Elizabeth Edwards spot-on psychological analysis. Ask yourself: would there be any uproar if Kerry had said the exact same thing to Dick Gephardt? The touchiness of Cheney and his political allies on the subject is the real issue. Kerry unpolitely poked a sore spot. See how the beast roars.