The third and last in the series of "presidential debates" went unwatched and unmissed by this columnist, there being no question -- as we've insisted now for what seems like two or three decades -- that the "contest" on November 2 will be decided not by the people, but by the press.
We are so sure of this, indeed, that our head didn't leave the pillow last week until it learned that "homosexuality" got talked about in the final episode of the beauty pageant.
Specifically, after George W. Bush had just remarked with typical clarity, "Whoo! Let me start with the Pell grants," the "moderator" of that evening's debate, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, responded sharply, "Mr. President, let's get back to economic issues. But let's shift to some other questions here."
If you can figure out what that means, bully for you. Schieffer's brother Tom is not only Ding-Dong's current ambassador to Australia, one of our stauncher allies in the Coalition of the Willies -- excuse me, the Willing -- but was formerly also his business partner when he (Dumbo) "ran the Texas Rangers," according to Time magazine.
None of this was officially disclosed, of course, before, during or after the debate. Addressing both candidates, brow furrowed and heart aflame, Schieffer pressed bravely on: "Both of you are opposed to gay marriage. But to understand how you have come to that conclusion, I want to ask you a more basic question. Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?"
Dimwit answered first. "You know, Bob," he said, "I don't know. I just don't know." And, indeed, he doesn't. Neither does he care: "I do know that we have a choice to make in America, and that is to treat people with tolerance and respect and dignity. It's important that we do that. I also know, in a free society, people, consenting adults, can live the way they want to live. And that's to be honored."
Bush then went on to dishonor the way lots and lots of people in this free society want to live by spouting a lot of blather about "the sanctity of marriage" and how "important" it is "that we protect marriage as an institution between a man and a woman." Words very easy to say, and which no one can really contradict, provided you realize that "a man and a woman" means one man and one woman at a time. You can have as many as you want if you do it in order. There's nothing sacred about it, I'm afraid, as long as any "heterosexual" idiot can marry on a whim and divorce at the same level of thought.
Well, all right -- this is old news. The kicker didn't come from anything Ding-Dong had to say, but from Kerry's perfectly straightforward comment that Dick and Lynne Cheney's daughter Mary is, you know, a lesbian.
"We're all God's children, Bob," is what this Massachusetts liberal actually said. "And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you she's being who she was; she's being who she was born as. I think if you talked to anybody, it's not [a] choice."
Well! Judging from the response of the Bush campaign and a raging horde of right-wing bigots, bloggers and blow-hards, you'd have thought Kerry had accused Mary Cheney of stealing Christian babies and drinking their blood, as well as having little horns growing out of her head. Certainly, the response of the Cheney family and their minions would suggest that they think the label of "lesbian" amounts to really, really bad news. Listen to Mama Cheney, post-debate.
"I [had] a chance to assess John Kerry once more," she said. "And the only thing I could conclude is that this is not a good man. And I'm speaking as a mom and a pretty indignant mom. This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."
Of course, Mrs. Cheney might well have asked if Bob Schieffer's original question to the candidates that night was itself somewhat "cheap and tawdry," there being no way for anyone with a brain to answer it; the question was posed in the first place only for shock value and to highlight such minuscule differences as exist between Bush and Kerry on an issue that doesn't touch them personally, or really concern them at all.
Mrs. Cheney might even have considered Kerry's deft evasion of the whole gay-marriage flap by mentioning Mary instead to have been "cheap and tawdry." But she wouldn't want to repeat the phrase too often, lest "cheap and tawdry" bring to mind the essence of her own 1981 "lesbian romance novel," Sisters, a steamy potboiler reportedly slated for republication this year, that "celebrates" Sapphic love, according to The New York Daily News, promotes the use of condoms and other "preventative devices" and features a woman character "who has unmarried sex with the widow of her sister."
Wait -- hold everything. How can a woman have sex with her sister's widow unless the sister and the widow were married to begin with? Hmm.
Well, let's not look too closely at that. Sisters isn't the kind of book an indignant mom would want to see passed around at the next Republican soccer meet. It was, however, recently adapted for a satirical staging at the New York Theatre Workshop as part of a celebration of Laura Flanders' scathing new book, Bushwomen: Tale of a Cynical Species. Lines like these nearly brought down the house:
"Let us go away together, away from the anger and the imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement."
And even better, one of the dykes in Sisters reflecting on a letter from her lover: "How well her words describe our love -- or the way it would be if we could remove all impediments, leave this place, and join together... Then our union would be complete. Our lives would flow together, twin streams merging into a single river."
I won't contribute any further to the moral degradation of this great land by singling out other, similarly depraved quotations from Mrs. Cheney's chef d'oeuvre. If homosexuality really is "a choice," Mrs. Cheney's high-romantic tastes -- not to mention her writing style -- might easily have changed over the years, just as the whole Cheney clan, I'm sure, is looking forward to the day that Mary comes to her senses and marries an oil man somewhere. Or becomes a nun, if being gay isn't a choice.
Suffice it to say, in Kerry's defense, Mary Cheney is a "known lesbian," that is, an "openly gay" person, who has previously worked for the Republican Party in an effort to drag other queers and faggots into the fold. And who did the same thing for a while for the Coors' beer factory in Colorado. And didn't seem to mind at all last summer when Dick Cheney told a crowd of Republican proto-fascists in Iowa, "Lynne and I have a gay daughter." Mary was even mentioned by name and, um, preference at the ensuing vice-presidential debate, when Democrat John Edwards complimented Cheney pere for his "wonderful" willingness to talk about his daughter's sexual orientation without dropping dead in his tracks.
Still, this big, swollen, throbbing non-issue won't be going away anytime soon. Last week, the worldwide Anglican Church, under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a 93-page report that chastised its American branch, the Episcopal Church (USA), for having "caused deep offense" last year when it approved the ordination of "openly gay" Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.
"By electing and confirming such a candidate," says the Anglican decree, "in the face of the concerns expressed by the wider communion, the Episcopal Church (USA)" should be sent to bed without its supper, or something. It's hard to tell what this lunatic document really means. Certainly, it recommends that the U.S. Church "express its regret" for such a colossal misdeed; that anyone who took part in the consecration of Robinson should think about withdrawing "from representative functions in the Anglican Communion"; that a moratorium should be placed at once on Church blessings of same-sex unions; and that Episcopal clergy, if they happen to find themselves "living in a same-gender union," whether celibate or not, should knock it off, pronto.
As might be predicted, none of this will happen. Conserv-atives in both the American and worldwide Communion were "disappointed" by a report that failed to come down harder on the queers among them, and are currently stomping off with their dolls and going home. Those who "took part" in Robinson's ordination are standing as firm as ever on his fitness for the job. The Archbishop of Canterbury is wringing his hands, saying there are no "simple answers" to be had.
The only two people who kept their mouths shut last week were Robinson and -- you guessed it -- Mary Cheney, both of whom seem to think that the world will go on spinning, one way or another. Amen to them.