Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Hypocrisy Is Rank -- As Well As Comic

Second Lady Lynne Cheney wrote a novel, "Sisters," in 1981 that according to Publisher's Weekly was only published in Canada, maybe by design, since it was a bodice-ripper about the Old West in which the bodice-ripping is mainly being done by proud lesbians who DO NOT go blind or die because of their forbidden loves.

What has brought all this back to mind is that Lynne Cheney herself was "surprised" to learn that a paperback version of the novel is about to be published in this country on April 6th. So surprised in fact that she lapsed into amnesia when confronted by a New York Times reporter. Cheney said she didn't remember the plot of her own novel. (See "Whopper of the Week" published today in Slate.)

Which got me Googling, and I found that Cheney's hypocrisy has been a hot topic in some quarters for weeks now, including a satiric dramatic staging of portions of Cheney's novel in New York City back in early March (covered in a Lloyd Grove column in the NY Daily News). And there was a hilarious "live chat" with Second Lady Cheney at on March 18th in which her impersonator said, "I have long stood as a pillar of feminine neoconservatism -- having dedicated my entire adult life to the preservation of an America in which white Christian women enjoy the privilege of never needing to question the 19th century status quo .... I have been a proud personification of the truism that if God had wanted the weaker sex working, he'd have made them pretty much indistinguishable from dudes in the first place."

According to Elaine Showalter in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Cheney does NOT list "Sisters" on her resume for the American Enterprise Institute, perhaps because it "displays a compassionate, indeed liberal, attitude toward a fraught issue of personal choice." Showalter continues:

"I first discovered Sisters in a used-book stall in Paris in the early 90's, and I brought it home to share with members of the Modern Language Association's Executive Council during the years when the M.L.A. was under attack from the right, and an official visit from Cheney [as head of the National Endowment for the Humanities] to M.L.A. headquarters felt like a visit from the queen of a hostile country. I found Sisters surprising and impressive then, very different from Cheney's public persona. Rereading it a decade later, I am even more struck by its narrative power and daring. Historical color, forbidden passion, female bonding, whips and fires, strong opinions, scenes of morbidity and madness -- Sisters is a real page-turner and would make a wonderful movie."

"Whips and fires" -- Courtney Love would be perfect for the role of Sophia!

(Daily Kos had a lengthy post on this developing story yesterday.)

What hangs over all this bizarre cultural baggage, as the CBC points out, is the sexual orientation of Cheney's own daughter Mary, and her husband's boss's declaration in favor of an anti-gay Constitutional amendment: " activists have noted that the novel's positive treatment of lesbian relationships is at odds with the Bush administration's stance against gay marriage. Cheney, whose daughter Mary is openly gay, has so far been silent about the issue."

So far, we haven't seen any mention of this on Drudge, who loves any hint of hypocrisy on the left, and we can't wait to see what Andrew Sullivan does with this story.

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