Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kerry: Can He Admit Mistakes?

This was not my immdidate reaction to the Mary Cheney thing, but now in retrospect I think I agree with Joan Vennochi in the Boston Globe:
There is no way to prove it, but I agree with conservatives who argue there was nothing accidental about Kerry's reference to 'Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian' during the last debate. It followed an earlier mention by his running mate, John Edwards. Whether the intent was to discourage evangelicals who oppose homosexuality from turning out in large numbers for Bush or to remind voters in general of GOP hypocrisy on the topic, two mentions of Mary Cheney are not political accidents. They are political calculations.

Unhappily for Kerry, voters did not appreciate the second reference. Even in ugly presidential campaigns, there are lines of human decency involving family members. Bush probably does not want to talk much about his twin daughters' hard-partying ways any more than Kerry wants to discuss the see-through dress his daughter wore to the Cannes Film Festival.

Kerry could have moved past the Mary Cheney controversy with a simple apology: 'I did not mean to offend Mary, Dick, or Lynne Cheney; if I did, I'm sorry.' Instead, his campaign escalated the rhetoric. This gives voters a chance to reconsider whether they want a new president who is not only taller and better-spoken than the current president, but one who coldly considers an opponent's daughter 'fair game,' as Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill argued after the debate. It undercut the message Kerry told voters he took from his mother from her hospital bed: 'Integrity, integrity, integrity.'

It also draws a picture of yet another presidential candidate who won't admit when he is wrong.
My friend Jay had this to say:
I wasn't able to get to the Sullivan article with that link, but I'll give you my thoughts. It's all a question of motive. It is obvious that Kerry had some reason for using Cheney's daughter as an example for his point, and I feel that his motive was political. Nothing he said was offensive, in fact, it was quite respectful. But the question is, what point was he trying to make by mentioning Cheney's daughter as an example? Was it to point out that the President and Vice President were in disagreement on the issue? Was it to make sure that the radical Christian right wing was aware that Cheney had a gay daughter? I do believe that he had a political motivation for saying what he said, and even though his words were respectful, I don't think it's appropriate for him to use his opponents family members in such a way as to give himself an advantage. But I would catagorize it as a minor breach of decorum, not a major insult to the Cheney family.
I think that is going to far. Kerry may have been unwise, but I don't think family members are off-limits completely. This was my response to Jay:
I must admit the whole motive thing (that Kerry might be trying to convince bigots to stay home) had not occurred to me until I read about it in the conservative press. Of course nobody why except Kerry (and even if he told us I'm sure most people wouldn't believe him anyway). But my first thought was that a) he was trying to put a more "human" face on the constitutional amendment issue, and b) it was a continuation of his "I am a uniter" type of arguing where he constantly quotes Republicans in support of his views (like he does all the time with Senators Lugar and Hagel on Iraq).

Personally I doubt he was speaking to the bigots, I honestly think he's a better man than that. Also, I don't think he would be that stupid. I find it more likely that he figured it would be a) safe and b) a "good point" for him since Edwards and Cheney talked about it already (and Edwards probably scored some points since Cheney appeared to disagre with Bush).

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