In his new memoir Decision Points, President George W. Bush says that when he approached Dick Cheney about being his running mate in 2000, Cheney reminded him that he had a gay daughter, Mary. Here’s the passage from the book:
By the time Dick came to the ranch to deliver his final report, I had decided to make another run at him. As he finished his briefing, I said, “Dick, you are the perfect running mate.”
While I had dropped hints before, he could tell I was serious this time. Finally, he said, “I need to talk to Lynne.” I took that as a promising sign. He told me that he had had three heart attacks and that he and Lynne were happy with their life in Dallas. Then he said, “Mary is gay.” I could tell what he meant by the way he said it. Dick clearly loved his daughter. I felt he was gauging my tolerance. “If you have a problem with this, I’m not your man,” he was essentially saying.
I smiled at him and said, “Dick, take your time. Please talk to Lynne. And I could not care less about Mary’s orientation.”
If Cheney really said this, clearly it was because he was worried how the Republican Party’s right-wing base would react to having a vice presidential candidate with a gay daughter. But this obvious fact seems completely lost on Bush. When Matt Lauer asked Bush about the passage last night (video above), he insisted that Cheney was testing his own personal tolerance for gay people. WTF? Here’s the exchange:
LAUER: Wasn’t he gauging the tolerance of the base of the Republican party?
LAUER: Wasn’t he saying, “Isn’t this– will this be an issue?”
BUSH: No. He was gauging my tolerance.
As Salon.com notes, after selecting Cheney as his running mate Bush proceeded to repeatedly use his opposition to gay rights to galvanize the Republican base. But we suppose this was nothing more than a sign of Bush’s own personal intolerance, as opposed to some carefully orchestrated political strategy. Whatever.