Out and About
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
NEW YORK -- "Are the eyes too much?"
Mary Cheney is peering into the makeup artist's mirror in the early hours of the morning, getting "done" for her appearance on "Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer. Taped to the mirror is the list of today's guest stars. The name Nick Lachey -- aka the soon-to-be-ex-Mr. Jessica Simpson -- she recognizes. Totally clueless on actress Emmy Rossum. Needs some prompting on Josh Lucas ("Sweet Home Alabama"? Hottie who ends up with Reese Witherspoon?).
Let's say she's a little bit out of her element. Mary Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, had made it her business to fly under the radar. She's a pro at shunning the limelight. As the openly gay daughter of a man running for office in a party opposed to gay marriage, she took the hits and let them slide off her as if she were coated with Teflon. Kind of like daddy.
Alan Keyes refers to her as a "selfish hedonist"? No response. Gay-rights activists lampoon her by putting her face on a milk carton ("Have you seen me?")? No response. Her sexual orientation becomes fodder for a presidential debate? No response.
Protesters show up in her hideout home town of Conifer, Colo., and plant a "Bride of Satan" sign outside her house? Nope, not a word.
Until now, that is. Cheney's self-written story of life as a political daughter, campaign strategist and happily partnered gay woman is out this week, with a carefully planned media campaign surrounding its release. At 37, she's trying out the Washington life -- swapping snowboarding in the Rockies for commuting on the Dulles Toll Road -- and heading out on the publicity trail while longtime partner Heather Poe rips up pink shag carpet in their new Great Falls home and consults with Lynne Cheney, Mary's mom, about redecorating plans.
Called "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life," Cheney's book is primarily an insider's story on campaign politics, a primer for those outside the D.C. political bubble on what life is really like in the midst of a presidential campaign -- with the added insight of what it's like to be a candidate's child. (Cheney served as her father's personal aide in 2000, then as director of vice presidential operations on the 2004 campaign).
It's the other 10 percent of the book, though, that the title speaks to -- and that has earned early public focus, from Vanity Fair to People to Sawyer, which is why she's moving through the hallways of the "GMA" studio on this particular morning, dressed in a tasteful gray suit with a splash of color -- turquoise -- added by the shirt underneath. She is the essence of understatement. Hasn't she always been?
Lucas goes by -- also in gray, but with that early-morning sexy stubble he's perfected -- and neither bats an eyelash of recognition. Lachey's bandmates look up as her Secret Service entourage passes the greenroom and they have that "huh?" look of "who was that?" Rossum glides by in a cascade of gorgeous brown curls, getting briefed by an assistant on the other boldface names gracing the hallways on this particular Monday morning.
"Oh, Mary Cheney is here," she's told.
Her eyes light up for an instant.
"Mary J. Blige?"