No Second Act for Cheney’s Pulp

No Second Act for Cheney’s Pulp

Subject: Lynne Cheney’s dyke desire

I’m baffled by Lynne Cheney’s 20-year-old novel about lesbian lovers.

Who decided it was going to be published again and how did it get stopped? Also, why did she ever write this novel if she is so uncomfortable with her daughter being a lesbian? Doesn’t she have to have some understanding of lesbians to be able to write about lesbian sex and does this mean it turns her on?

She has written another book recently for children, about being a patriotic Americans, and it looks like she just wants to sweep the carpet munching under the rug. None of this makes sense, except that she has a past she is hiding.

Re: Lynne Cheney’s dyke desire

Lynne Cheney is an opportunist who would sell her daughter into bondage if she thought it would get her somewhere.

My hunch is that she has no problem at all with lesbianism, and, as you suggest, may even find it rather titillating. That would seem to be indicated by lines like this, which appear in the novel: “Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl.”

The book, “Sisters,” was published in 1981, long before Cheney probably thought she’d be heading the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)––which she did under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the latter of whom her husband served as Secretary of Defense––and before she thought she’d be married to the vice president of the United States under a conservative administration.

“Sisters” was set in the Victorian era, and included tales of whorehouses, attempted rapes, and lesbian affairs. Reviews from the time when it was published indicate that the book upholds the values of feminism and women’s’ independence during the 19th century––and that includes sexual independence and Sapphic desire.

It seems to me that Cheney thought the book was racy enough that it would get her some attention and establish her as a novelist. Instead, it bombed big time.

Nothing wrong with that except that several years later she would surface as the NEH head, railing against permissiveness – and multiculturalism and “political correctness”––on college campuses, helping draw blood for Reagan and Bush in their attempts to court the religious right. During the same time, Bush exploited attacks by North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms, who railed against the NEH’s sister agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, for funding artists who were gay and who produced art with gay sexual themes, such as the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Then, during the campaign in 2000, Lynne Cheney squirmed on ABC’s This Week when questioned by Cokie Roberts about her own daughter Mary, who is a lesbian. Lynne tried to imply that Mary, who’d worked as a gay liaison for Coors beer, wasn’t really out and that asking about her sexual orientation was appalling, invasive, and disgusting, once again playing to the religious right base. And a year later, when the story of her novel came up in the media, Cheney incredulously told a reporter that she couldn’t remember the plot!

The idea to issue “Sisters” again was the publisher’s, Penguin Books, which has the exclusive right to publish the book.

“We felt interest was growing because it was an election year and we decided it could be a timely book,” Liz Perl, executive director of publicity at New American Library, the Penguin imprint that was set to republish Sisters, said. In other words, the company was making a purely business decision.

But Lynne Cheney, doing what her husband has done to those who challenge him––he once had a lawyer send a threatening letter to the owner of a web site that satirized him––seems to have let her lawyers loose on the company. The publisher announced last week that though it has the right to publish the book, it has decided not to because the author wasn’t happy.

“I told them that she did not think the book was her best work,” Robert Barnett, Cheney’s lawyer, told the Associated Press.

Surely Cheney now believes her best work is “America: A Patriotic Primer,” a children’s book she published two years ago and which—surprise, surprise—happens to push the Bush administration’s agenda.

The squashing of the Sisters re-issue isn’t Lynne Cheney’s only censorship-laced dust-up in recent months. In late February, three students who challenged her on the issue of same-sex marriage and on her daughter’s lesbianism were dragged out of a talk Cheney gave at the University of Maryland by campus police. They were charged with “disorderly conduct,” official action that incurred the wrath of the American Civil Liberties Union. The idea that Cheney used to rail against “speech codes” on campuses as “political correctedness” and now watched, unperturbed, as students were dragged away for exercising their free speech at her talk was beyond hypocritical. But actually, it was consistent with opportunist Cheney’s entire career.

Email Mike Signorile at

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