"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Friday, October 15, 2004
There were no laughs but gasps in the press room when Kerry noted that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, was a lesbian. It came during a discussion of gay marriage. Now, of course, everyone knows something about Mary — she is open about her sexual orientation and has worked in outreach programs to gays and lesbians, and even brought her partner to the vice presidential debate in Cleveland.
Still, what was Kerry's point in hauling her into a discussion of the pros and cons of gay marriage?
Just for your reference, here's the question to which Kerry was responding, and the relevant portion of his answer:
Schieffer: Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
Kerry: We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as....
The president and I share the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe that. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman....
Now, with respect to DOMA and the marriage laws, the states have always been able to manage those laws. And they're proving today, every state, that they can manage them adequately.
Let me say this slowly, so that even Feeble Fineman can grasp it: This was not a discussion of gay marriage, except in the most tangential way. It was a discussion about gay Americans. In particular, it was a discussion about whether gay Americans are gay by choice - that is, whether they are merely engaging in "selfish hedonism" (to use the words that Alan Keyes used to describe Mary Cheney, met by nary a peep from Keyes' fellow Republicans or from Howard the Hack) - or if they are born gay, the same way that some of us are born tall, or born black, or (in Fineman's case) born dumb as a sack of hammers.
Yes, Bob Schieffer introduced the question with a quick reference to gay marriage, only to note that both candidates oppose it. The Naked Emperor mentioned gay marriage in his answer, which preceded Kerry's answer excerpted above, but only to obscure the facts that (1) he admittedly doesn't know whether gay Americans actually choose their sexual identity, and (2) he wanted to use his answer to obfuscate Kerry's actual record on gay rights. Similarly, Kerry mentioned gay marriage (and again, only obliquely - the excerpts quoted above reflect only a small portion of Kerry's complete answer to the question) in response to Chimpy's thinly veiled and deeply dishonest attack. This was not a discussion of gay marriage - it was a discussion of gay humanity.
The distinction matters. Had the question been about gay marriage, Kerry's answer would have been gratuitous; as it was, his response was spot-on. It was also smart, because it tied into the Vice Presidential debate, and because it underscored what a bunch of hypocritical twits the Republican party has nominated to govern our country.
It also matters because it illustrates something that any casual observer already knows about Fineman: He is blissfully untroubled by the truth. He had a point he wanted to make - that he doesn't like John Kerry, and doesn't want him elected - and so he made stuff up in the service of his personal agenda. That's not journalism, Howie - that's propaganda. It's "cheap and tawdry" - but it's what you do so very well.