Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Saturday, October 16, 2004
What Kerry Should Have Said About Mary Cheney, to Live Up To The High Standards of George Bush's Previous Campaigns

Glenn Reynolds has a
round-up of why John Kerry is a bad, bad man for saying that Mary Cheney is a...lesbian (campaign manager) (former corporate gay-outreach director). Typical is this reader's take:

UPDATE: Reader Keith Rempel gets at the heart of what's wrong here, and articulates what I couldn't: "Kerry was using Cheney's daughter to harm her father. How many kids want to be used to harm their parents? Did anyone ask her if she wants to have her sexual practices used in the campaign?"

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here: "thou shall NOT speak of another's kid in any way that could POSSIBLY be construed as negative."

Rather than refer (relevantly) to Mary Cheney as a lesbian, the classy way for Kerry to use her would have been to call undecided voters and insinuate that Mary was the result of her father's interracial extramarital affair. I mean, if we're going to be held to Bush campaign standards.

It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

Thus, the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. In the conservative, race-conscious South, that's not a minor charge.

(I like how in the Boston Globe you can't call the South "racist", but you can refer to "the conservative, race-conscious South".)

By the way, the linked story informs us that this tactic sometimes went beyond sleazy, into comical:

Some aspects of this smear were hardly so subtle. Bob Jones University professor Richard Hand sent an e-mail to "fellow South Carolinians" stating that McCain had "chosen to sire children without marriage." It didn't take long for mainstream media to carry the charge. CNN interviewed Hand and put him on the spot: "Professor, you say that this man had children out of wedlock. He did not have children out of wedlock." Hand replied, "Wait a minute, that's a universal negative. Can you prove that there aren't any?"
Maybe someone should mention all this to poor Dick:
CHENEY IN FT. MYERS, FL: "You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen."

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