Feeling Cheney’s Pain

For me, the single most striking moment in last night’s debate was this one:

EDWARDS: …Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. 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.

IFILL: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds.

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.

IFILL: That’s it?

CHENEY: That’s it.

IFILL: OK, then we’ll move on to the next question.

One might conclude from this that Cheney simply did not want to talk about the issue of gay marriage. Which probably makes sense, since it’s an area of policy on which he disagrees with Bush.

But this exchange reveals something else, I think: Cheney truly did deeply appreciate hearing Edwards’ kind words about his family and his daughter. The fact that Cheney didn’t use his alotted 90 seconds to do anything but give Edwards what seemed to be his heartfelt thanks served to emphasize his gratitude.

Perhaps that’s unsurprising; Cheney certainly never hears such a strong and public acknowledgement of his daughter from his Republican friends and colleagues. The only time Cheney’s relationship with his daughter is ever publicly lauded (she wasn’t even allowed on stage with the rest of Cheney’s family at the RNC in NY, after all) is by a Democrat.

It almost made me feel kinda sorry for him.