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Out and About

Mary Cheney devotes much of her new book to an insider's view of politics. About coming out, she says:
Mary Cheney devotes much of her new book to an insider's view of politics. About coming out, she says: "If I wrote a whole chapter . . . I think it would be pretty boring." (By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post)

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Um, no, not exactly.

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Only a woman with Mary Cheney's gift for understatement could write a book that essentially says she thinks the president of the United States -- that would be her father's boss, mind you -- is trying to "write discrimination into the Constitution" and that this effort is a "gross affront" to herself along with gays and lesbians everywhere.

That would be in that "10 percent of the book"-- Cheney's own description -- where she writes about coming out to her parents, how she felt about John Kerry and John Edwards bringing up her sexuality in campaign debates, and where she stands on the Federal Marriage Amendment Act, which would ban legal unions between same-sex partners. She opposes it and describes her own relationship as a marriage.

"I didn't sit there and think 'I can't really do 11 percent,'" Cheney says, in a classic moment of caustic wit. "If I wrote a whole chapter [about coming out] I think it would be pretty boring."

Actually, she manages to tackle a seminal issue in many gay people's lives in a handful of paragraphs. To summarize what she's already summarized:

She was 16. She and her first girlfriend had just broken up. She skipped school, crashed the car, came home and decided it was time to just do it. Mom cried ("Your life will be so hard") but quickly came around. Dad said he loved her and just wanted her to be happy. The end.

Only it's not the end, because now everybody wants to know about it. It is, she laughs, the most-cited passage in the book -- and here she thought her book was really about showing those millions of people who do not live in the political bubble what it's really like to be inside a political campaign. Ha!

Jokingly asked what kind of car it was, she immediately shoots back, deadpan: "It was a 1982 Toyota Starlet. Tan. Hatchback."

* * *

"She's like her father," says Mary Matalin, who acquired Cheney's book for Simon & Schuster through her new imprint, Threshold, and is described in the text as all but a member of the Cheney family.

Like her father, meaning that when she's getting attacked, Cheney deploys what she herself acknowledges is the Teflon gene.


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