POLITICS
11/19/2013 11:47 am ET | Updated Nov 19, 2013

Mary Cheney Assailed For Not Understanding How Her Sister's Brand Of Cynical Politics Works

So far this week, our precious news cycle has come front-loaded with hot news out of the GOP primary in the Wyoming Senate race, which features incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi sitting back and chilling out with a gigantic lead in the polls while his opponent, Liz Cheney, endures the self-inflicted melodrama of having publicly rebuked her sister Mary's same-sex marriage. Mary, for her part, has fired back, because she is married and that's what one does in a marriage when someone insults it.

Over at the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis wants to write something different from everything else everyone has written about it. That's great! How many more people have to observe that the Cheney family is destined to have an awkward family Thanksgiving dinner before we remember that none of us want to ever spend Thanksgiving with the Cheneys, anyway? Instead, Lewis wants to talk about how one navigates being a member of a family, when one of those family members is running for office. Should blood relations stay true to one another, or should venal politics hold sway? Lewis prefers the venal politics:

Let’s begin with loyalty to one’s blood relatives — and the fact that Mary Cheney apparently has none. Let’s all let Mary in on a little secret here: YOUR SISTER IS PANDERING. That’s right, once safely ensconced in the U.S. Senate, Liz Cheney will probably “evolve” on the issue.

Well! At least this is honest, I guess? Why doesn't Mary Cheney understand that Liz is working so hard to pull the wool over the eyes of Wyoming voters?

"Liz is also attempting to actually win a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming," Lewis has noticed. And for Liz to succeed, he suggests, Mary is going to have to sit back and let her sister castigate her relationship and her home. "This is a short-term inconvenience," says Lewis, practically calling out for karma to visit a similar inconvenience upon him.

"She needs you now," Lewis beseeches Liz's sister, "And you, Mary, are messing that up."

Yes, Liz Cheney is down something like 50 points to Enzi and this is Mary Cheney's fault for getting married that time.

Lewis hypotheticals like so, "Can you imagine RFK speaking out publicly against JFK during his Senate campaign?"

I guess we'll never know, because John Kennedy never said anything like, "My brother's marriage goes against everything I believe in, and I want the voters the voters of Massachusetts to know that and vote for me," and now they are both dead.

Obviously, this whole "defame my sister's same-sex marriage and evolve on it later" strategy largely leaves aside the idea that the LGBT community at large ends up slightly damaged by it. But this wasn't always the Cheney family way. This whole internal family battle over Mary Cheney's sexual orientation is a relatively new thing. Dick Cheney, in fact, beat Barack Obama to the position of supporting marriage equality by about three years.

And back in 2004, when John Edwards made note of Mary's sexual preference in the vice-presidential debates, Dick Cheney recognized it as the cynical ploy it was, and shut down the discussion by simply saying, "Let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much." Later, when John Kerry attempted the same thing in his debate with President George W. Bush, Cheney let loose a little bit, excoriating Kerry thusly: "You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected."

You know, just like Liz Cheney is doing now, in Wyoming? I wouldn't have bet too much money on the idea that Matt Lewis would come to stand behind the sort of thing that John Edwards would do while campaigning, but there you go.

At any rate, Lewis thinks that Mary Cheney should have done something more like gently explain that she and her sister Liz have friendly disagreements about the issue of marriage equality but that she'd "make a terrific Senator" and then go home to her spouse and explain how "pandering" works and that their relationship would from that moment on be based on political convenience and not love and trust. There would still be all sorts of hard feelings and resentment, but they wouldn't be the sort of hard feelings and resentment that affect electoral outcomes. Obviously, that didn't happen, and now the Cheney sisters are on the outs with each other.

That's okay, though! After Enzi clobbers Liz Cheney in the Wyoming primary, I'm sure everyone will agree that it was all worth it.

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