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Cheney's Best Moment

As noted in my previous entry, I thought the vice presidential debate was roughly a draw, each candidate having some good moments. Here was what I thought to be the Vice President's best moment, which came in response to a two-question sequence on gay marriage:

Mr. Edwards: [L]et me say, first, that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And and you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be happy.

And I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry. I also believe there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long-term committed relationships. But we should not use the Constitution to divide this country. No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage. This is using the Constitution as a political tool and it's wrong.

Ms. Ifill: As the vice president mentioned, John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts, which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage. Yet both you and Senator Kerry say you oppose it. Are you trying to have it both ways?

Mr. Edwards: No. I think we've both said the same thing all along. We both believe that, this goes to the end of what I just talked about, we both believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. But we also believe that gay and lesbians and gay and lesbian couples, those who have been in long-term relationships deserve to be treated respectfully. They deserve to have benefits. For example, a gay couple now has a very difficult time one visiting the other when they're in the hospital. Or, for example, if heaven forbid one of them were to pass away they have trouble even arranging the funeral. Those are not the kinds of things that John Kerry and I believe in. I suspect the vice president himself does not believe in that. But we do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

And I want to go back if I can to the question you just asked, which is this constitutional amendment. I want to make sure people understand that the president is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that is completely unnecessary. Under the law of this country for the last 200 years no state has been required to recognize another state's marriage. Let me just be simple about this. My state of North Carolina would not be required to recognize a marriage from Massachusetts, which you just asked about.

There is absolutely no purpose in the law and in reality for this amendment. It's nothing but a political tool. And it’s being used in an effort to divide this country on an issue that we should not be dividing America on. We ought to be talking about issues like health care and jobs and what's happening in Iraq. Not using an issue that divides this country in a way that’s solely for political purposes. It's wrong.

Ms. Ifill: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

Mr. Cheney: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.

Mr. Edwards: You're welcome.

Ms. Ifill: That's it?

Mr. Cheney: That's it.

I can't think of a more effective response that Cheney could have given. Most people generally understand that he has a personal and emotional reason for disagreeing with the President on this matter. So he thanked Edwards for his kind words and refused to contradict his boss in public.

In our sound bite, short attention span culture, it's easy to forget that sometimes silence can speak far more effectively than words.


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