Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

It's got all the elements of a satire along the lines of “Lysistrata” – sex, war, feminism, buffoonery, and hypocrisy.

By: MICHAEL EHRHARDT | If the Bush administration's hubristic foray into Iraq conjures up a scenario from the tragedies of Sophocles, the latest sitcom installment of the gang that couldn't shoot straight – no pun intended – could have been scripted by Aristophanes. It's got all the elements of a satire along the lines of “Lysistrata” – sex, war, feminism, buffoonery, and hypocrisy.

Judging from her attempts at squaring the circle during a Barnard College seminar last week in New York, the “ecstatic” bubble that Mary Cheney, now great with child, chooses to inhabit appears to be as sturdy as a double glazed bio-dome. But her arguments for living there are as thin as gossamer; meanwhile, her insistence that her pregnancy “is not a prop to be used in a debate” and should not be a political issue makes as much sense as arguing that the other Mary's immaculate conception isn't a religious issue!

The Barnard panel, which included Gloria Feldt, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and actress Kathleen Turner, titled “Success at 20,30,40,” was held to provide material for a future issue of Glamour magazine. In a brief interview after the panel, Cheney fielded the inevitable questions that she must have been prepared for. These included a query about controversial written statements made in December by James C. Dobson, founder of the ultra-conservative group, Focus on the Family, claiming that years of research indicates “that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father.” Two of the researchers Dobson mentioned have denied his conclusions.

The issue of Dobson's comments caused Cheney's father to react with a fit of high dudgeon, after CNN interviewer Wolf Blitzer confronted the snarling VP about his opinion of conservatives who express criticisms over his daughter's delicate condition. Although the question begs an intelligent response, as is fair enough, considering the paradoxical set of circumstances in the real world, Cheney père pronounced Blitzer's inquiry as “over the line”. Mary Cheney said she believed that Blitzer had attempted “to get a rise out of my father.” This is a typical Cheney passive-aggressive reaction whenever they find themselves with their backs against a wall, as during the campaign against the Kerry-Edwards ticket, when they called their opponents' references to Mary's sexual orientation “sleazy.”

In her million-dollar memoir, “Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life,” Cheney admits that she nearly abandoned her father's re-lection campaign when Bush declared his support for a constitutional ban on same sex nuptials. Yet, she argues, she remained onboard because the notion of John Kerry becoming president was “terrifying!” She also concedes that her mother, Lynne, expressed fears and tears that her daughter's life as a lesbian would be a difficult row to hoe.

Mary Cheney is either disingenuous or delusionary. Clearly, the Cheney family values are not the ones promoted by the Bush tenancy; nor are they those of the Christian fundamentalists who militantly organized to elect her father and also preach that homosexuality is a scourge. To them, the Cheneys' “blessing” is tantamount to “Rosemary's Baby.”

If the VP were still an executive at Haliburton, he would be right in claiming that questions about his daughter's pregnancy were “out of line.” If he had any sense of loyalty to his daughter, he would defend her more effectively by expressing his criticism of his boss' homophobic policies than by bashing the messenger Blitzer. Apparently, power and money trump logic when it comes to Cheney family values.

Discussing Cheney and her partner Heather Poe – who now reside in Virginia – Jennifer Chrisler of Family Pride, a group advocating the rights of gay and lesbian families, told USA Today, “Unless they move to a handful of less restrictive states, Heather will never be able to have a legal relationship with her child… The couple will quickly find that no matter how loved their child will be, he or she will never have the same protections that other children born to heterosexual couples enjoy. Grandfather Cheney will no doubt face a lifetime of sleepless nights as he reflects on the irreparable harm he and his administration have done to millions of American gay and lesbian parents and their children.”

Mary Cheney's sense of entitlement, on the other hand, is spectacular. Certainly, she is entitled to privacy on the grounds of how and why she became pregnant, who the sperm donor is, whether a turkey baster was employed, or whatever. No one is attempting to invade her privacy in that respect. But, considering that her father's boss, Dubya, is the chief executive of such a homophobic administration and persists in his endorsement of a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, Cheney's insistence that her decision has no political implications makes as much sense as throwing the baby out with the bathwater.