The many faces of outrage

Senator Kerry’s reference to Mary Cheney’s sexuality in the third debate is still making headlines this morning, with the Cheney family (sans Mary) filling the screens with talks of indignation. Their displeasure isn’t focused on just the Senator, however – Mary’s sister Elizabeth talked with Paula Zahn last night and denounced Elizabeth Edwards’ comment that her mother must be “ashamed” of her gay daughter to be angry at the mention.

The major problem with the entire debate is that everyone is debating a different angle and their own perspectives. Jack Cafferty‘s question of the day on CNN’s American Morning asked “Is it appropriate for Kerry and Edwards to be talking about the sexuality of Dick Cheney’s daughter?” The responses were generally anticipated, save one from “J.R. in Florida”: “What do you think the Democratic reaction of [sic] obesity instead of being gay was the social issue and Bush used Edwards wife as an example?”

This perfectly circles back to the importance of the original question in this debate: “Is homosexuality a choice?” It’s clear that Bush’s answer signals that he either: A) believes that it is a choice, but is hedging his answer to avoid offending the moderates, or B) can’t afford to say it isn’t a choice for fear of backlash from his right-wing base.

J.R. in Florida is the type of folk Bush is speaking to with his non-answer to this central question – people who feel that obesity is a perfect analogy to homosexuality; that who someone is attracted to is as much a choice as whether or not to supersize your value meal.

Regardless of the propriety of Kerry’s comment about Mary Cheney, he succeeded – wittingly or not – in keeping the eye off the ball. The President’s non-answer to this important and central question has been completely glossed over, and we’re focused instead on the fallout of a point Kerry could have made in a number of other ways.

Kerry gave the right answer – it’s an immutable characteristic. Bush gave the answer that protects his base and their crusade to make sure that their discrimination and bigotry is protected. If you admit that it’s not a choice, your case to fight equal rights becomes harder; the right-wing has to be able to hide behind the Bible and their specious “data” that prayer can save the devilish gays.

In the long run, the Bible didn’t protect mono-racial marriages, and it likely won’t protect the viciousness of the right-wing for much longer; but Bush’s answer gives them a little more time.

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