November 18, 2013

The public ordeal between Mary and Liz Cheney is painful to watch. The Post reports:

Mary Cheney, left, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her partner Heather Poe at the Republican National Convention on Sept. 1, 2004 (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Mary Cheney, left, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, and her partner Heather Poe at the Republican National Convention in 2004. (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Liz Cheney reiterated her opposition to same-sex marriage, telling host Chris Wallace that she disagrees with her younger sister, Mary, a lesbian who married her longtime partner Heather Poe in 2012.

“I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree,” Liz Cheney said.

That prompted a swift rebuke from Mary Cheney and Poe, who took to Facebook to voice their disapproval in strikingly personal terms. “Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children, and when Mary and I got married in 2012 — she didn’t hesitate to tell us how happy she was for us,” wrote Poe. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least.” Mary Cheney shared Poe’s message on the social networking Web site, adding, “Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree — you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history.”

This is not the first incident during Liz’s brief Senate race. In August a similar public back-and-forth occurred. There plainly is an element of surprise, if not shock, on the part of Mary. The New York Times reports:

Mary Cheney, 44, said in a phone interview Sunday that she presumed her sister shared her father’s views on marriage, and that view was reinforced because Liz Cheney “was always very supportive” of her relationship with Ms. Poe and the couple’s two children. She learned otherwise in August when Liz Cheney declared, shortly after announcing her Senate candidacy, that she was opposed to same-sex marriage rights. Mary Cheney said it is now “impossible” for the sisters to reconcile as long as Liz Cheney maintains that position.

Whatever your views on gay marriage, one feels like an inadvertent eavesdropper on a conversation made all the more embarrassing because it is playing out in the national media. The Senate and country will do fine whatever the outcome in the GOP primary in Wyoming; it’s certainly not worth sacrificing a familial relationship. (Most poignantly, we learn, “As for Mary Cheney, she said that when she gets together with her parents these days, they know which subjects not to bring up. ‘They come over for dinner and we don’t talk about Liz or the race,’ she said. ‘There is so much more to talk about.’ The Cheneys have tried to be ‘as neutral as they can,’ added Mary Cheney. ‘My parents are stuck in an awful position.’” Oh, my.)

It then struck me that while the effort to unseat Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) might not have been the best idea, the Senate should have the benefit of a Cheney woman — tough on defense, strong on the Second Amendment and with a no-nonsense attitude toward liberal elites. Well, why not Mary? Here are 10 good reasons why she may be the Cheney for the Senate.

1. Mary and her family live in Virginia, where the GOP is in disarray and without a good candidate for the 2014 Senate race against Sen. Mark Warner, who has never really been tested by a capable opponent and who, like all Democrats, has an Obamacare problem.

2. Mary is an experienced campaigner and strategist, having assisted her father most ably in 2000 and 2004.

3. Mary certainly would represent a new generation of conservatives — tolerant, diverse and able to shatter the image of the GOP as the party of older, richer, white males. (The Times quotes Mary: “What amazes me is that [Liz] says she’s running to be a new generation of leader. I’m not sure how sticking to the positions of the last 20 or 30 years is the best way to do that.”)

4. Mary has roots in Virginia (along with her parents, having lived most of her life here), and won’t have the carpetbagger problem to worry about.

5. Mary is articulate and deals adeptly with the media, as seen from the sympathetic coverage in two of the biggest national newspapers.

6. She has her father’s tell-tale bluntness. (The Times: “Reminded by a reporter that such criticism could complicate her sister’s Senate campaign, Mary Cheney offered a clipped answer reminiscent of her father’s terse style. ‘O.K.,’ she said, before letting silence fill the air.”)

7. Having worked for both the Colorado Rockies and Coors Brewing and now for AOL, she has solid private-sector experience in the business world, something in short supply in the Senate.

8.  She has a ready-made slogan voiced by her father in 2004: “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”

9.  As a working mother she can talk to quality-of-life issues (health care, flex-time, education) that Republicans are struggling to address.

10. She has a supportive spouse. In politics that is crucial these days.

UPDATE: Dick and Lynne Cheney have weighed in as gingerly as possible. One longs for the era in which none of this was anyone’s business but the family’s.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.