THE BLOG

Lynne Cheney's Anger Management Problem

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Marty Kaplan USC Annenberg professor and Norman Lear Center director

Move over, Naomi. Step aside, Hillary. The new queen of mean is Lynne Cheney.

Today, in a face-off with Wolf Blitzer worthy of inclusion in the Gender Stereotypes Hall of Fame, the nation's second lady used exactly the kind of rhetoric that led Republicans to cast Senator Clinton as (in Maureen Dowd's summary) "an angry woman, a she-monster melding images of Medea, the Furies, harpies, and a knife-wielding Glenn Close in 'Fatal Attraction.'"

Mrs. Veep was bitter about John King's "Broken Government" special on CNN. "A terrible distortion!" she lectured. She was petulant when Wolf cited VPOTUS's recent kind words for waterboarding. "A complete distortion!" she fumed. She was pissed when Wolf cited sapphic soft porn from her novel, Sisters. Lesbians? Rape? Brothels? "Lies, baloney" she seethed through clenched teeth. If there'd been a gun handy, Wolf might be spending the weekend picking buckshot out of his face.

I can't wait for the right to defend Lynne Cheney's appearance on CNN. Every quality that Republicans demonized in Hillary will be lionized in Lynne. Witchy? Bitchy? Don't be ridiculous -- she's displaying righteous indignation. Rage? Hysteria? Oh, no, that's standing your ground. And hey, she was set up: the booker said she'd be talking about her children's book.

I have no idea how this will play out in the Virginia Senate race, or in any other campaign. No one does. But you can count on the Republican noise machine to claim that this confrontation will help them. That's their master narrative: everything, no matter what, helps them. If people understand that Cheney is for torture, that's a plus: it's ballsy, it rallies the base and it draws a contrast with the terrorist-lovin' pussies. If Cheney's wife takes on CNN, that's perfect: attacking the liberal media never fails to GOTV.

If Democrats fail to retake both chambers of Congress, no doubt this confrontation will be billed as a moment the tide began to turn, along with the Allen/Drudge attack on Webb's novels, and a host of retroactively assessed blunders and genius moves. But the truth is that such claims will be baseless, the reweaving of a narrative to fit whatever the end of the story turns out to be. No punditry, no polling, and no social science will ever establish the accurate inner tale of what happened to the American psyche during these fetid final weeks of electioneering. All there will be are claims and counterclaims, and the eventual hardening of a conventional wisdom written mainly by the winners.

Meantime, though, you can't wish for a nicer sendoff for Mrs. Cheney's children's book. When Wolf teased the next hour of The Situation Room by using the word "ferocious," it's sweet that the word applied equally well to the raging California wildfire, and to the raging author of Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, for ages 4 to 8.