Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Isn’t That Special?

The Washington Post gives Mary Cheney the shy-star treatment.

Let’s say she’s a little bit out of her element. Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, had made it her business to fly under the radar. She’s a pro at shunning the limelight. As the openly gay daughter of a man running for office in a party opposed to gay marriage, she took the hits and let them slide off her as if she were coated with Teflon. Kind of like daddy.

Alan Keyes refers to her as a “selfish hedonist”? No response. Gay-rights activists lampoon her by putting her face on a milk carton (“Have you seen me?”)? No response. Her sexual orientation becomes fodder for a presidential debate? No response.

Protesters show up in her hideout home town of Conifer, Colo., and plant a “Bride of Satan” sign outside her house? Nope, not a word.

Until now, that is. Cheney’s self-written story of life as a political daughter, campaign strategist and happily partnered gay woman is out this week, with a carefully planned media campaign surrounding its release. At 37, she’s trying out the Washington life — swapping snowboarding in the Rockies for commuting on the Dulles Toll Road — and heading out on the publicity trail while longtime partner Heather Poe rips up pink shag carpet in their new Great Falls home and consults with Lynne Cheney, Mary’s mom, about redecorating plans.

Called “Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life,” Cheney’s book is primarily an insider’s story on campaign politics, a primer for those outside the D.C. political bubble on what life is really like in the midst of a presidential campaign — with the added insight of what it’s like to be a candidate’s child.

It would be really easy to be cynical about Ms. Cheney’s public appearance and suggest that it’s political opportunism at the expense of gays and lesbians — Hey, lookit us! We Republicans can be (ish) tolerant, too! — but if there’s anything that can be done to make the tightie-righties and the Religious Reich a touch uncomfortable about their borderline Phelpsian demonization of anything gay, I’ll take it. Not all Republicans treat queer issues as if they were the temptations of Satan, and if this book and the shilling thereof opens some eyes, it’s better than the alternative.