Mary Cheney at Dick Cheney's second inauguration by By White House photo by Susan Sterner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Liberals have been having a field day over the recent rift between the Cheney sisters - Liz Cheney, running for the Senate, disavowing her sister Mary's right to marry on Fox; Mary & her wife taking offense. It would be easy - for supporters of marriage equality - to say that Liz is the only one in the wrong here, with Mary and her wife as the victims. And many have accused Liz of throwing her sister under the bus, for political reasons. Even uber-liberal Chris Hayes described Dick Cheney's stance on gay marriage as on of "integrity," and criticized Liz for throwing her sister under the bus for political gain. (Others have even suspected a family orchestrated hoax, with all members of the Cheney family pushing for LIz to be seen as a true conservative.) However, taking the Cheney's words at face value, I think Mary has an equal amount of explaining to do.
Several people paying attention have pointed out that Mary Cheney had no problem supporting the Bush-Cheney ticket, while it worked against gay rights, So her outrage towards her sister is hard to take. And suspicious. I can't say for sure whether it's all orchestrated to help Liz in her senatorial bid, but I wouldn't put it past the Cheney family. As AmericaBlog put it:
" Mary Cheney has now decided she's shocked and offended that her sister Liz has the same anti-gay positions, on gay marriage in particular, as the Bush Administration, which Mary herself spent years campaigning for.
However, the moral bankruptcy here goes beyond mere hypocrisy. Consider Dick Cheney. Due to the fact that someone in his own family happens to be gay, he's lauded as some kind of brave trailblazer, for having spoken up for her rights, as a Vice Presidential candidate (with full knowledge that the president's policies would win out after election). But it's easy to have empathy towards people you love. Where was Dick Cheney's empathy for Gitmo prisoners who may have been wrongly accused, deprived of a trial? Where was his "tolerance" for victims of torture under his watch, and approval? Where was his remorse for lying the U.S. in the Iraq War, resulting in thousands of U.S. deaths and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths? All this from a man who avoided the draft himself? Where was his empathy for those who went in his place?
This is the difference between liberals and conservatives. A liberal member of a privileged group (i.e., male, white, straight, etc.) can look beyond their own experience to that of someone who is not privileged. Back when Dick Cheney "courageously" supported his own daughter's family, it was not the sign of integrity Chris Hayes supposed. It merely highlights the blind eye he turns to those in other disempowered situations. The fact that Mary Cheney can accept that parental act of kindness, and turn around and pull the rug out from other LGBT families, is a further outrage. If the Cheney family is now capitalizing on that ambiguity in order to get one of their own elected to the Senate - well, then that is really chutzpah beyond words.