Inhabitants of the blogosphere know that Hugh Hewitt was way ahead of the curve in foreseeing the impact of John Kerry’s gratuitous swipe at Mary Cheney in the third debate. The issue continues to resonate. This morning William Safire (“The Lowest Blow”) and Robert Novak (“Mistake Could Be Costly for Kerry”) weigh in. Novak writes:
Democrats at debate-watching parties gasped in surprise. Wired focus group members across the country displayed an instant negative reaction. Old Democratic political hands, in disbelief, tried to convey their unhappiness to Kerry. Even Kerry’s Republican friend, Sen. John McCain, publicly criticized the Democratic nominee.
Instead of an apology, the rhetoric escalated. Democrats outside the campaign were stunned by the words that followed. Kerry’s usually serene campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill referred to Mary Cheney as ”fair game.” The peak in meanness was attained by Elizabeth Edwards, the motherly wife of vice presidential nominee John Edwards. She contended the outburst against Kerry by Mary’s mother, Lynne, ”indicates a certain degree of shame” toward her daughter. It is difficult to exaggerate Lynne Cheney’s outrage over Elizabeth Edwards’ suggestion.
Most of the Kerry camp, desensitized by political combat, saw nothing wrong with all this.
Actually, I think the Dems have been done in by their own bigotry here. The only way their strategy made sense is if they thought that Republican evangelicals would be shocked by the knowledge that one of the Cheneys’ daughters is gay, and would therefore abstain from voting. What this shows is their misunderstanding of, and misplaced contempt for, their political opponents.