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Friday, December 08, 2006

Political wombs and the perfidy of the New York Times 


On the question of the pregnancy of Mary Cheney -- who is at once a lesbian, the daughter of the Vice President of the United States, and a supporter of her father -- Kathryn Jean Lopez strikes me as exactly right:

Unless Mary Cheney asks to be part of a political debate about this, there is no need to have a public discussion about her life. The New York Times raises the question of how/who, etc. That just seems outrageous to me. She is not the vice president. She is not the president. That's just uncalled for from anyone in the media/commentariat. I could be wrong but the media/commentators seem to be making it — Mary Cheney's pregnancy — a political issue, not the Cheneys.

Yes, I think fatherhood is crucial and am opposed to redefining marriage and all the rest. And my "deafening silence" on the Mary Cheney "issue" (what nonsense) doesn't change that. But unless Mary Cheney asks to be a spokeswoman on this issue, folks ought to leave her alone.

The linked Times article quotes Family Pride, a gay rights group, which issued a statement about Virginia's lack of recognition of same-sex marriage (Mary Cheney lives in Virginia) and the usual corresponding criticism of out-of-wedlock conception by Focus on the Family. Then the Times says this:
In 2004, Ms. Cheney worked on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, which won in part because of the so-called values voters who were drawn to the polls by ballot measures seeking to ban same-sex marriage.

Er, no. A very academic no (that is otherwise quite interesting on the impact of same-sex marriage initiatives). Sadly, no. No. A big old Pew Research no. All of these studies and many more can be found by Googling the words *Bush election 2004 gay marriage ballot*. It is hard to find stories with any actual data that make the opposite argument. The New York Times is not only dead wrong in its allegation, it is so wrong about a widely-studied and publicized "urban legend" that we are forced to choose between two explanations: (i) the reporter (Jim Rutenberg) just didn't do the most basic reporting, and his editor didn't ask him the most obvious questions, or (ii) the Times (either the reporter or the editor) deliberately inserted the legend about same-sex marriage initiatives to fabricate evidence in favor of one of the left's favorite arguments, that "so-called" values voters are easily duped. What could be the third explanation?

16 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 08:53:00 AM:

Spot on observation. I would love to see the editor's reaction to being confronted with this failure of factchecking, layers, etc...

I think it would be a little more animated than Jimmah Cahtah's on C-SPAN.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 09:13:00 AM:

Let's change that last sentence:

"In 2004, Ms. Cheney worked on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, which *has for years been trying to win elections by appealing to* so called-values voters *by drawing them* to the polls by ballot measures seeking to ban same-sex marriage *and by running campaigns based on that issue*."

That should satisfy your desire for accuracy, although I'm not sure how it makes the Republicans look better. If anything it makes them look worse; they're not only appealing to bigotry against gays, but they're doing so needlessly and pointlessly.  

By Anonymous BIRD OF PARIDISE, at Fri Dec 08, 10:08:00 AM:

Leave it to the New York Sewer to be as much of a ofensive liberaal rag as its alays been these last few years  

By Blogger Svolich, at Fri Dec 08, 10:09:00 AM:

If the Times just can't contain it's curiosity about Ms. Cheny's life, the least is could do is print some information that's useful.

For example, I'm willing to bet that her partner is able to visit her in the hospital, though they are not married. That, should Ms. Cheny die, her parter will have custody of the baby. That they've exchanged durable power of attorney.

In other words, how are *they*, powerful members of the establishment inner circle, getting past the fact that they can't get drunk beyond all recognition and get a quickie marriage in Vegas? 'Cause it's probably a model for a few hundred thousand other people that want to do the right thing, live well and take care of their children.

Just a thought. But I know the Times isn't interested in actually serving it's readers, it's really just looking for a way to rabbit-punch the administration.  

By Blogger Andrewdb, at Fri Dec 08, 12:23:00 PM:

Svolich raises an excellent point.

Many of the recent Defense of Marriage things on the ballot have outlawed a state recognizing "the incidents" of marriage unless on is in a male-female marriage. THis is widely beleived (at least by those against such efforts, and some in favor) to be an attempt to prohibit the state from allowing private arrangments that would mimic the state established "rights and responsibilities" of maile-female marriage.

I fear that Mary's partner is a legal stranger to Mary in the Commonwealth, although she probably does have the right to visit in the hospital with the appropriate power of attorney.

In the event of Mary's death, I beleive her will could nominate someone as the guardian of the child, but the court would usually use the "best interests of the child" test to decide if that is the right person.

If Mary's partner were allowed to adopt the child then she would be the other/surviving parent and there is no question she would have custody of the child. There are many states that do not allow second parent adoptions by same-sex partners (I live in the People's Republic of California, and we generally do - Florida, for example, does not - I beleive the Commonwealth does not). Until she is allowed to adopt (and that is recognized in the state where they live) the partner would be nothing but a suggestion to the court.  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Fri Dec 08, 12:26:00 PM:

I'd be all for closing the pandora's box of the exposure of politician's private lives. But I fear that box was opened by Republicans when Clinton was president. Where were all of your objections when that was happening?

Now, granted, Clinton was acting like a slimeball (and eventually perjured himself); I'm not trying to defend his actions here, or argue that he somehow deserved to be spared his humiliation. It seems that the Cheneys would just like to live in peace, and I'd be happy to see them be able to, without being subjected to the condemnations of such delightful organizations as the Concerned Women for America. But when you Republican types were eating up the Clinton scandals, and making your incensed comments about it, you really should have seen this coming. Thanks to you, it's all fair game now.  

By Blogger Clayton, at Fri Dec 08, 12:38:00 PM:

"If anything it makes them look worse; they're not only appealing to bigotry against gays, but they're doing so needlessly and pointlessly."

You are confused; the Republican Party has not been much interested in the same-sex marriage question; the people have, however.

As the item above points out, the supposed reasons that gays need to be able to get married simply aren't true. This is really about making homosexuals feel normal--something that is never going to happen.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 01:02:00 PM:

There's i always thought that there was nothing worse than having to listen to the lies from the left about being a Republican. now i know there is. it is actually believing these lies. we must again thank the Legacy Media for insulating self satisfied liberals from the reality of conservative thought. if the "Gay Rights" groups really wanted same sex marriage, they never would have dealt with the issue as they have. they would have tried a nice, warm, fuzzy, soft sell approach. they would have said (and with justification!) that "gays are normal people just like you." they would have appealed to the goodness of their fellow Americans. instead, they tried to get it shoved through the courts. they also aided and abetted the Mayor of San Francisco in his self serving publicity stunt. one gets the impression that their real intention was to piss off as many people as possible.

As for AndrewDB, only a moron would believe that a standard contract, that could be freely entered into by any two adults (Durable Power of Attorney, In Loco Parentis, Medical Power of Attorney) could be nullified in court because the two adults in question were of the same sex AND were having a sexual relationship. the basic legal principle is, if there are two ways to read a law, and one is CLEARLY unconstitutional, then the legislature meant the other one. the wording of the law is strictly intended to prevent a legal umbrella that is basically marriage from being enacted and called something else, like "Domestic Partnership."

now, those who are in favor of same sex marriage, or domestic partnership, go and advocate for it. get your neighbors to vote for it. stop trying to get around democracy and start trying to win at the ballot box. if you didn't start from the premise that Americans are ignorant bigoted baboons then you might win an election once in a while.

meanwhile, the rest of us will send emails of congratulations to

vice_president@whitehouse.gov

congratulating him and his wife for their 6t grandchild. don't bug Mary Cheney. she is a private citizen.
sean s  

By Blogger Milhouse, at Fri Dec 08, 01:21:00 PM:

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign "has for years been trying to win elections"? Really? In what universe? AFAIK that campaign existed for less than 3 years (including winding-up time after the election), and is no longer doing anything.

And it has been doing so "by drawing them to the polls by ballot measures seeking to ban same-sex marriage, and by running campaigns based on that issue"? The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign did all that? Please point to some evidence that it ever did that, even once, let alone "has been" doing it "for years"? Which ballot initiatives, in which states, were initiated or promoted by the Bush-Cheney campaign? Which ad by the campaign was based on the issue?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Dec 08, 01:41:00 PM:

Reactions from the hip:

1. First Anon guy: As regular readers know, I rarely defend Republicans on any subject other than foreign policy and I support legalizing gay marriage. This post is about picking at the New York Times, which I love to do. Whether your edits are perfectly true (and there is room to argue), they certainly would have been better journalism than the shoddy stuff the Times served up.

2. Phrizz11, I was not blogging during the Clinton years, so there is no record of my opinions at the time. I *almost* voted for him both times, and did not think that Starr investigation was worthy. However, on the question of which side "started it," I suggest you take a look at Lanny Davis' book Scandal, which quite reluctantly concludes (without being too explicit about it) that Democrats got the latest round going with the Bork and Thomas hearings.

Resume.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 02:04:00 PM:

Why is it okay for the NYT to say "so-called values voters" when no way would the paper say "so-called pro-choice voters" or "so-called equal rights supporters"?

The values voters are at least as sincerely voting values as pro-choice voters are voting for choice. In both cases, the other side disapproves of the values or the choice they are voting.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 02:10:00 PM:

There's a difference between sloppy reporting and deliberate misinformation. This applies to most criticisms of the MSM I see on both left and right-leaning blogs. You can find just as much "biased deliberate misinformation" on articles having nothing to do with politics. Just read the sports pages.

Also, while it's true that the values voter theory of 2004 was way over the top, I don't see why it's necessarily a left-wing myth. It's a myth that also seems to appeal to homophobes like Clayton.

As for Svolich's point, it's not clear her partner would automatically get custody without a legal adoption. I'm not a lawyer, but the more likely issue is, if after 10 years of raising this child together Mary Cheney and her partner were to split up, without a legal adoption her partner would almost certainly have zero parental rights.

JK  

By Anonymous Phrizz11, at Fri Dec 08, 02:32:00 PM:

Fair enough, TH - I was 7 years old when Bork was nominated, and my political consciousness hardly extended beyond the decision of whether to root for the Yankees or the Mets. 10 years ('87 to '97) seems a large gap, although I suppose it's already almost '07 now...  

By Blogger Matt Laswell, at Fri Dec 08, 05:46:00 PM:

Phrizz, I would point out that there is a very real difference between attacks on the character of a politician or policy-maker and attacks on their kids. First and foremost, the politician has chosen to step into the process. The politician's kid has not. While it would be disingenuous for a candidate for office to claim that they want privacy, it is clearly not so for the politician's child to make the same claim.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, a politician's character is important in a participatory democracy. It weighs into every policy decision they make and it ultimately effects their ability to make policy at all.

I believe both conservatives and liberals would agree, for example, that W's character has been a driving force in the American response to September 11th (I'm equally sure that liberals and conservatives would disagree as to whether this is a good or bad thing). Clinton's character mattered in his administration as well, both in terms of the proposals that he supported and rejected, and in terms of the difficulty the Lewinsky affair presented him when it came time to govern. The character of a politician's kid, however, says relatively little.

To put a finer point on it, Bill Clinton's philandering said something about Bill Clinton that is relevant to American voters. Mary Chaney's sexual orientation says nothing similarly relevant about Dick Chaney.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Dec 08, 07:26:00 PM:

In the mid-90s, I did some pro-bono legal work for clients of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which is a Washington DC-based organization that helps people with HIV/AIDS. As a lawyer admitted to practice in VA, I saw clients on that side of the Potomac. Sad to say, but our best advice to gay and lesbian couples on many issues -- especially child custody, was that they should move out of Virginia, lest the courts decide that regardless of the wishes of the deceased parent, the surviving partner would potentially lose custody based on the "best interests of the child" analysis that really meant "gay people should not be parenting."

I am surprised to hear that Mary Cheney and her partner live in VA. Good luck to them.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Fri Dec 08, 11:10:00 PM:

Phrizz, Davis says this round started in 87. It ran pretty continuously during the 90's. No gap. I would like to appear open-handed and say that the "politics of personal destruction" comes from both sides. But the evidence would not bear that out.

Television, radio, and magazines were fairly even-handed until the 70's. But I could make an argument that the major newspapers have sought conservative scandal and buried liberal scandal as far back as the 50's.  

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