Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Where Credit Is Due

Yesterday, Dick Cheney did something right. He kept his mouth shut about something he knows little or nothing about—the upcoming Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor. He also restated his support for gay marriage—a position that prompted one commentator to say that on that issue, he is “left of Obama.”

These most recent public statements by the once reclusive and silent former vice president help to clarify his apparent motives in his recent rash of public appearances. Evidently Cheney isn’t emerging as a dogmatic right-wing apologist for the General Opposition Party (GOP). He’s merely interested in protecting the interests of his own family.

Cheney has a daughter who is in a long-term partnership with another woman; hence, his empathy for gay couples. He has grandchildren; hence, his interest in justifying his actions during his time in office. (Who wouldn’t be daunted by the notion of great-grandchildren reading in school that their progenitor made history by sanctioning torture in America?)

One might wish that the Cheneys of this world could exercise enough imagination to empathize with those who are not close blood relations. (The only prominent member of the GOP who has personal, visceral, real-life experience with torture—John McCain—is against it.) However, a little empathy and respect for the rights of others is better than nothing.


Anonymous said...

I too was quite impressed with Cheney's comment. As I understood it, he wanted make it a State's Rights issues. On the other hand, it gives one some conflicted emotions. I want so bad to reduce to Cheney to a purely evil blot on our political landscape. Then, he does this and makes you think he may have some humanity.

Citizen Jane said...

Lol. I know exactly what you mean! It seems that, despite his "Darth Vader" image, Cheney might--in his own way--care a little about what people think.

Sue said...

Your comments remind me how hard it is to separate people from the positions they hold. A person who accepts a position that requires him/her to support and enforce the policies of others is obligated to do just that or resign the post. But that doesn't mean that those policies define the person. Look at Pope Benedict. As Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican department that was charged with protecting doctrine, he was very strict in his execution of duty. As pope, he is able to let what turns out to be a very caring and pastoral personality show at times. Again, the man was not the office. When Dick Cheney chose to serve as Vice President, he committed to upholding the values of the administration -- which he did so admirably that he sometimes got credit for being the mastermind behind them. But it didn't define the entire man. His family relationships were obviously still important to him even when they conflicted with the party line. Now he has a chance to show his more human side.

It's a good thing to reflect on as we await confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice, too. We shouldn't be as concerned with the candidate's personal views as with her proven (or not) track record in upholding and interpreting the Constitution of the United States. That's the duty of a Supreme Court justice. The candidate's personal views on abortion, the death penalty, torture, public funding of church-based charities, or any other controversial issue may influence interpretation of the constitution, but shouldn't override the obligation to interpret the document fairly in the light of tradition for all citizens.

Citizen Jane said...

Hi, Sue,

I wouldn't go too far in humanizing and identifying with Dick Cheney. After all, one of the worst monsters of the modern world was a tea-totaling vegetarian who went ga-ga over dogs and little blond babies.