The recent fight between the Cheney sisters raises an obvious debate over gay marriage, but there are plenty of people writing about that. And, besides, I can’t help being obsessed with a competing narrative — what this says about family loyalty.
Let’s begin with loyalty to one’s blood relatives — and the fact that Mary Cheney apparently has none. Let’s all let Mary in on a little secret here: YOUR SISTER IS PANDERING. That’s right, once safely ensconced in the U.S. Senate, Liz Cheney will probably “evolve” on the issue.
But Liz is also attempting to actually win a U.S. Senate seat in Wyoming. And to make that happen, Mary, Liz may have to say some things you won’t like. This is a short-term inconvenience. (When you run, Mary, maybe Liz will similarly bite her tongue?) But she needs you now. And you, Mary, are messing that up.
When people talk about the breakdown of the traditional family unit, I suppose this what they mean. It has nothing to do with gay marriage — but everything to do about putting selfishness and individualism ahead of the collective good of the family name.
Putting personal political views ahead of blood relatives (I get that Mary is now married — and this constitutes her new family) seems like a relatively new phenomenon. This is partly because of social media (all Mary Cheney had to do was get angry and sign on to Facebook), but, my guess is this has something to do with our new individualistic world — and the fact that expectations of familial loyalty are diminished.
Can you imagine RFK speaking out publicly against JFK during his Senate campaign? What would Joe Kennedy have done?
Here’s how it works. Inside the family, you can fight all you want. Outside the family? Not so much. You hold your tongue. Circle the wagons.
Yet, this public airing of dirty laundry seems to be a trend. Just last year, Ohio Sen. candidate Josh Mandel was stabbed in the back by wife’s family, who paid for an advertisement to slam him over his position on gay marriage. Here’s an excerpt of the open letter Mandel’s in-laws ran:
“Four years ago you came into our family. We still remember the excitement surrounding your wedding, and how happy our family members were as they described it afterwards,” read the letter. “So we were deeply saddened when you announced during your Oct. 18 debate with Sen. Sherrod Brown that you believe only some people should share this right to marry the person they love, while others should not.”
Talk about a house divided. With family like this … who needs family?
What should Mary Cheney have said? Maybe nothing. But if she felt she had to comment, what’s wrong with this?: “Liz is wrong on this issue, and I hope she comes to see that. But in America, we don’t always agree — and that’s okay. I love my sister and believe that on the vast majority of issues she would be a terrific U.S. Senator.”
That, of course, would have been prudent.