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Two Audiences

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I understand the impulse to be uncomfortable with Edwards and Kerry highlighting Mary Cheney’s sexual orientation. As discussed in comments to Scott’s post below, it stems from the notion that they are intentionally reminding the worst of the bigots that the GOP ticket doesn’t really share they’re values. On the other hand, I’m not persuaded by any principled argument against it that I’ve heard. No one has a right or reasonable expectation to not have their contradictions highlighted by others.

In the end, I think why I’m inclined to be uncomfortable is that I’d simply rather not acknowledge or engage in any kind of discourse with people this bigoted. That sort of bigotry ought to be sufficient to keep them out of the conversation of reasonable people. In one’s personal life (at least in my own) it’s easy enough to avoid such bigotry in my personal life, and I intend to continue to do it. If the GOP were to stop pandering to these people. Electoral politics is a different game, of course. The GOP is trying—very hard—to straddle a line with reasonable moderates and a group of extraordinary bigots they call their base. It’s not just reasonable to try to upset that balance, it’s a necessity.

What’s interesting, though, is that the GOP noise machine has taken this up with such vigor. Mary Matalin called this the most despicable slimy political attack she has ever seen on Wolf Blitzer’s show today. They’re all over this. This continues to remind the bigots that Cheney does indeed have a gay daughter. Are they trying to send the message that they’re ashamed of this daughter as a mitigating factor, without actually saying it? Do they really think this will have traction against Kerry?

The Occam’s razor answer is that they’re desperate and grasping at straws. I certainly hope that’s correct.

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