A reader criticizes me for my view of Mary Cheney flap, and for seeing everyone as “the enemy”

Here is an exchange I had with a displeased reader. As background, he had earlier been an ally of the Southern Partisan cause, but had abandoned it over their anti-war fanaticism and agreed with me as a traditionalist conservative who supported the war. But now he finds fault with me for my opposition to the neoconservatives and, as he sees it, for my being against everybody. Here is his e-mail, which he sent under the subject heading, “Sometimes you disappoint me,” followed by my reply.

Reader to LA:

I have pretty much decided I am a Neocon, and proud of it. I have come to this conclusion after reading your many diatribes against Neocons which make no sense to me. Like the Paleocons, you seem to not know [sic] which side you are on. Everyone, in every direction from the tiny spot on which you stand, is the enemy.

Likewise, you really don’t get it with regard to Mary Cheney either. I, like most everyone else besides you, found Kerry’s gratuitous remarks about Mary to be highly offensive, because he crossed over a theoretical discussion into something very personal to a specific family. It’s also obvious that he did so as a cynical political calculation, not to express anything sincere about gays or their lifestyle. (Yes, the Cheneys have the right to discuss their family with whomever they choose, but the reverse is not equally true.)

Sometimes you seem so cutting edge, but in other situations you seem so completely out of touch. With regard to Neocons (conservatives who actually want to do something to oppose the maniacs who want to kill us) and sundry topics like Mary Cheney, you are simply off the wall. Thank God for the Neocons! From now on, I will hold their standard high. I will embrace them, not apologize for them.

One more thing—I am voting for George Bush, and believe anyone who does not is a damned fool.

LA to reader:

Unfortunately, your e-mail is long on denunciation, short on even the appearance of argument. Telling me that I’m “out of touch” and “off the wall” is not criticism, but empty insult. Also, if my criticisms of the neocons never made any sense to you, then I would have disappointed you all along, not just “sometimes,” since opposition to neoconservatism is one of my main themes.

You say that I “don’t get it” with regard to Kerry’s comment about Mary Cheney, which you say was offensive. First of all, I said that the comment in itself—that is, if we don’t consider the context of the comment, which I will discuss below—was tasteless, inappropriate, and deserving of criticism. As a general matter, candidates in a presidential debate should not be discussing the private lives, let alone the sex lives, of their opponent’s relatives. But I strongly objected to the hysterical reaction of Republicans and conservatives who have been portraying the comment as some unprecedented descent into sleaze that marks Kerry as “not a good man” and utterly disqualifies him for the presidency. (There are plenty of other things that mark Kerry as not a good man and as not qualified to be president; to use this comment as the proof of it, rather than many other things he has said, strikes me as strange.)

You attack my position, but fail to reply to my argument: If Kerry’s comment was so extraordinarily offensive, utterly unacceptable, then why wasn’t Edwards’s earlier and similar comment (which everyone has forgotten about) not attacked in the same way that Kerry’s has been? I repeat once again the key point that you have ignored: Vice President Cheney thanked Edwards for his comments about his daughter. This renders the attacks on Kerry ludicrous.

Let me put it this way: Were you offended by Edwards’s comment? If you were, how did you feel when Cheney not only thanked him for it, but then declined to use his own allotted time to reply to Edwards’s smear that people who support the Federal Marriage Amendment don’t support it because they believe in it but because they want to “divide” the country?

Personally, I was put off by Cheney’s mealy-mouthed “thanks” to Edwards, and outraged at his refusal to defend the backers of the FMA (who include President Bush) from Edwards’s smear. As a result, a week later, when Kerry also mentioned Cheney’s daughter, I didn’t think much about it. Cheney had already legitimized references to his daughter’s lesbianism in national televised debates. So, for Republicans to go ballistic about Kerry makes them look very foolish. I think, however, that the outrage, at least as far as the Cheneys and the leading Republican opinion makers are concerned, is not entirely genuine. I think they are exploiting a situation they know they can use against Kerry. There is no other way to interpret their silence following Edwards’s comment compared with their outrage following Kerry’s comment.

Let us also remember that Mary Cheney’s sexual orientation has not only been previously discussed publicly by the Cheneys, which undercuts the “privacy” argument, but, much more significantly, that Mary Cheney is herself a professional homosexual, working as a spokesman for the homosexual point of view for her former employer, Coor’s Brewing Company, and currently, for the Republican party.

On another point, you write: “Everyone, in every direction from the tiny spot on which you stand, is the enemy.” I think that what you’re really referring to here is not my criticisms of “everyone,” but my criticisms of neoconservatives, and it is simply not correct that I regard them as “enemies.” I strongly oppose their ideology, which I think is wrong and dangerous. But I agreed with the neocons on the basic decision to go to war in Iraq, and I have consistently defended them from various outrageous and hateful charges coming from anti-war paleocons. If I simply saw neoconservatives as “enemies,” would I have defended them so much? Indeed, anti-war paleocons have on numerous occasions called me a “neocon” for my support of the war and for my rejection of the paleocons’ politics of paranoia and resentment.

It’s the same with Bush. I have never supported him, I disagreed with the main features of his 2000 platform, I saw him as basically a liberal, and didn’t vote for him. Yet I agreed with him on the decision to topple Hussein, and consistently defended him on it. If I were an “enemy” of Bush, I would have simply opposed him on everything and shown no quarter.

If you leave out the term “enemy,” and criticize me for being too critical of too many parties, that might be a plausible statement. It is true that my position is unusual, for example, in being both against the paleocons and against the neocons, as well as against liberals and leftists. However, that is not a matter of being “against everyone.” It is a function of my holding to fundamental principles of our civilization that are being violated in various ways by all those ideologies. Our society is in a profound, systemic crisis. It is of the nature of that crisis that every established faction of our current politics—leftist, liberal, moderate conservative, neoconservative, and paleoconservative—evinces beliefs that, in one way or another, are a part of that crisis and are contributing to it. My purpose in my own small way is to attempt to articulate a new perspective, a new kind of conservatism that is not reflected in any of the existing political and intellectual factions (though of course there are various partial overlaps between my views and those of other conservatives). In this sense it is true that, in relation to all the existing bodies of opinion in our current society, I stand on a “tiny spot.” But that is what it means to be a remnant, or perhaps a mustard seed.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 17, 2004 02:14 PM | Send

Move over just a little bit friend. I want to get on that same tiny spot. There have been many great men on that spot. You can find all their names on the Declaration of Independence.

Posted by: Neal Andrews on October 26, 2004 10:39 PM

The more I think about this issue, the more I am convinced that the Republican outrage is absurd and hypocritical.

Mary Cheney, as has been pointed out, is a public, activist homosexual working to purge the Republcian party of anyone who disapproves of her lifestyle. The day she became so is the day the sexual preference aspect of her private life becoame public - and therefore fair game for exploitation by the enemies of Mary Cheney, her parents, and the Republicans, especially the “big tent” idiots who support her.

Posted by: Carl on October 27, 2004 2:55 AM
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