Cheney Follies Redux

Following on the schadenfreude of this morning, a couple of larger points about the Cheney clown car ride in the Wyoming senate race.

The first is that I don’t buy the reflex assumption of many here — and, I think, Liz Cheney’s camp — that Wyoming is fertile ground for gay-baiting and a bolted-horse-barn-door take on same-sex marriage.

It’s not.

In a poll from last summer with a sample that identified itself as 55% somewhat or very conservative, 62% Republican vs. 22% Democrat (and, in a marked display of either bravery or foolhardiness, in which 54% of respondents would accept an invitation to go hunting with Dick Cheney), 28% of Wyoming-ites support gay marriage, while 36% support civil unions.  Only 32% opposed any recognition of same-sex relationships.

Mull on that for a moment:  politically Wyoming is just about as red as it gets.  Hilary Clinton doesn’t get within 20 points of any Republican in 2016 matchups.  There’s nothing of Montana’s purple hue spreading over the Grand Tetons (except when sunset hits just right).  But still 64% of that very conservative electorate isn’t bothered about the idea of gay folks forming legally recognized households.  I get that civil unions are either a fig-leaf for and/or an unacceptable diminution of same-sex marriage…but I don’t see how you can look at those numbers and not see the fact that increasingly, most folks in Wyoming seem to have figured out that gay couples and families are here, they’re ordinary, they’re not going anywhere, and their legal status will in short order match that of opposite sex relationships and families.


I give it a year before the “opposed” group hits 27%

More, the trend in Wyoming is exactly what it is everywhere else.  A group doing a poll analysis has both attempted to determine the level of support for gay marriage state by state as of 2012 — and to look back at 2004, to see how things have moved.  By their method, Wyoming support for same-sex marriage hit 41% year ago, up fifteen points since 2004.

Also of note:  the real hold-outs on gay civil rights live (no surprise here) in the deeper-south neighborhoods of the old Confederacy. Even there, though, the trends tell the story, with double digit moves in favor over eight years.To the point of the Cheney race, Wyoming is only the 30th state out of fifty in same-sex marriage support.  It leans against the tide of history on this one, but not with much conviction.

Which is what makes the Cheney family fight so damn odd, as well as hateful.  Increasingly, it appears that outside of the hard core religious right redoubts of the south, the zest for the fight on this one is waning, even if there is still some unease (that 36% civil union number) with invoking the word “marriage” in this context.  What I take out of all this is that the Cheney family record of fail is in no danger of ending here:  Liz C. has chosen an issue to break up her family over about which her (alleged) state seems not to be terribly bothered.

Hence my other take-away:  I’ve read the murmurings of a rat f**k here, the notion that this is all a put-up job, that the Cheney sisters have agreed to a public feud to bolster Liz’s capital with the bigot wing of the Wyoming GOP.

Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned to get how things get done these days, but I can’t see any upside to that.  This seems more an evil-stupid thang here, not anything Machiavelli would have approved.  It takes a particularly honed tone deafness to think this would play well to non-insane people:

“Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage,” the vice president and his wife said in a statement on Monday according to The Hill. “She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.”

“Compassion?” “Kindnesses?” Is Mary Cheney some kind of whipped mule for which her sister must care?  Not quite human, but still worthy of Liz’s to-be-granted-or-withheld kindness?

Again: however “culturally conservative” (“conventional” in Richard-Cohen-speak) one may be, I just don’t see how one sister on the make referring to her hale and seemingly happy sister as in need of compassion sits well.

Mary, it seems, agrees:

Mary Cheney later told the New York Times that she would not be seeing Liz Cheney at Christmas.

Yup, nothing says family values like making sure on sibling and her kids don’t feel welcome at the holidays.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. One thing we can all be thankfull for (while offering Mary our compassion on this one point alone):  We’re not related to Dick, Lynn, or Liz.  Hoseannas!

Image Li Gonglin, Beauties on an Outingbefore 1106, after an 8th century handscroll painted by Zhang Xuan.

68 replies
  1. 1
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Let’s ask Matthew Shepard how gay-friendly Wyoming is.

  2. 2
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Yeah, the deep-red square-state West is different territory from Dixie: there’s much more of a sense of space setting the terms of personal freedom.

    If Liz Cheney wanted to become a moral crusading carpetbagger, she’d be better off trying to primary Lindsay Graham out of his job.

  3. 3
    scav says:

    Wrong event (turkey deficient or over-endowed) but Dayenu.

  4. 4
    Tokyokie says:

    To make a broad point, the South is full of religious conservatives, who are also economic conservatives. (And, OK, racists.) Wyoming is full of economic conservatives, who aren’t particularly religious. (They, too, may be racists, but with an extremely low minority population, they have few nearby targets for their racial hatred.) When I lived in Utah 20 years ago, I enjoyed making the occasional day trip to Wyoming, to get away from the oppressive religious atmosphere, finding solace in the presence of taverns with electronic beer signs in the windows — and I don’t even drink. I found Wyoming residents to pretty much be live-and-let-live types who didn’t get into others’ business and expected others to act likewise. So I’m guessing this will just piss off the denizens of Liz’s pretend home state even more.

  5. 5
    BGinCHI says:

    Rooting for catastrophic injuries.

  6. 6

    @scav: There is no horse so dead that it can’t be beaten just a bit more.

    Or rather, (and rather less horribly) we do have months more Cheney entertainment to enjoy. You would kill such innocent fun so soon?

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    Well, I said a bunch below in that thread but I’ll say it here in a different way: Liz clearly doesn’t really have an anti gay strategy as such. She was specifically trying to appeal to a broad class of Republicans by going for the “I’m ok with all kinds of civil rights and even not killing them–can we move on and talk about something else where I think I might have a shot at distinguishing myself from Enzi?” The problem for Liz is that she simultaneously tried to run an “in Wyoming” local campaign and an outside wyoming national campaign using her ability to get on TV as Cheney’s daughter to push/pull votes inside Wyoming and bring pressure on Enzi. Unfortunately for her what seems potentially both radical and mainstream in Wyoming–Liz’s stated compassionate conservative position–is now so behind the times for Washington and for her own family (heather and mary) that she got an enormous blow back.

    She’s like a society matron who makes a little money on the side as a prostitute and discovers that she can’t walk back into her house in the evening and pretend it didn’t happen. She went on national tv with her nouveau not entirely homophobic story and pissed on her national cred, while reminding Wyoming (her john) that she was just doing what she had to do to get over on him and get the money. Insincere and fake in two places at once? Thats hard to manage politically.

  8. 8
    scav says:

    @Tom Levenson: The blessings keep coming, if I remember my few passovers correctly. We’ve got verses yet.

  9. 9
    eric says:

    @scav: It’s verses all the way down

  10. 10
    Tom Levenson says:

    @scav: ‘Zactly so.

  11. 11
    scav says:

    @eric: getting verser and verser, yes.

  12. 12
    Cacti says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:

    Let’s ask Matthew Shepard how gay-friendly Wyoming is.

    Wyoming is 9-10% Mormon, and Mormons are very politically active in voting their anti-gay preferences. Appealing to the homophobes is a sound strategy in WY.

  13. 13
    hoodie says:

    Seemed more like an act of desperation because Enzi is going to beat her like a rented mule. Looks like running in Wyoming was a bad career move.

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    I suspect that, at some point, the Cheneys all had their hearts removed. It worked for Dad, after all.

  15. 15
    Belafon says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: We should always keep him in mind, but 15 years ago, when he was killed, we had exactly zero states contemplating same-sex marriage, or civil unions. It would be another five years before sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court.

  16. 16
    Petorado says:

    There’s no win in this for Liz’s middle of the road stance. To some she looks like a backstabbing sister ready to sell out her sibling in the service of political shrewdness. To others, Liz is insufficiently pure to cause of homophobia and should have disowned her sister by now. Lots of crash and burn out there for Liz. Should have let that sleeping dog lie.

  17. 17
    Jay C says:

    So, IOW, Liz Cheney is trying to make points with a voter demographic that basically is a bare plurality even of Wyoming Republicans (i.e. those who really give a shit about [other peoples’] gay marriages) in order to try to rope off a few more voters in her quixotic quest for Mike Enzi’s Senate seat.

    OK, Liz: knock yourself out….!

  18. 18
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    Liz Cheney is an asshole.

    Occam’s Razor is your friend.

  19. 19
    the Conster says:

    Maybe Brokeback Mountain hit close to home if you know what I mean and I think you do.

  20. 20
    Gene108 says:


    She has a career?

  21. 21
    Yatsuno says:

    FORMER Vice-president please and thank you. Jeebus that irritates me.

  22. 22
    Suffern ACE says:

    Does she differ from Enzi on ANY issue? Perhaps she should come right out and say “I’m rich and I’m buying this seat.” At least she’d be honest.

  23. 23

    From The Onion

    “If the Cheney sisters switched spouses for a week, I think we’d all learn a little something about love.”

  24. 24
    Gus says:

    Ah, but we’re talking about the primary, not the general. Primary Republican voters will tend to be the most conservative of conservatives, so it’s not as bad a strategy as those poll numbers make it sound. Not that Cheney has a prayer.

  25. 25
    Disco says:

    Liz Cheney’s an asshole? Hell, they’re ALL assholes. They’re the very epitome of conservative hypocrisy. Fine, so Papa Cheney doesn’t hate gays, but that’s only because Mary’s one of them. He still hates everyone else.

    On the other hand, Republican primaries bring out the very worst of humanity. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this daughter of a bitch win it.

  26. 26
    Suffern ACE says:

    It’s kind of sad, really. Had she won, we could have looked forward to 40 years of using her as a lightening rod for everything that’s wrong with Conservatism. Just by saying her name. She’d bring back instant memories of the Bush era. Kind of the way that you could get conservative hackles up just by mentioning Ted Kennedy. We’d could have had the Chenies as our pet peeve as we prepared to shuffle off into the retirement home and our great grandkids would no longer understand our poltical touchstones.

  27. 27

    @Belafon: There’s a pretty long highway between ‘allowing gays to marry’ and ‘tortured and left for dead’. A lot longer than 15 years.

    That said, was that act representative of Wyoming? Maybe. Worth noting that Brokeback Mountain is also set in Wyoming, which was not particularly well received there.

  28. 28
    celticdragonchick says:


    Some of the assholes at Rod Drehers blog are already piling on Mary Cheney for tsk tsk-ing her sisters “loving Christian admonishments” and making it all about her being offended.

  29. 29
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Belafon: Good call. Those folks that tortured and killed Shepard are 15 years older than they were when they did it, and doubtless filled with regret.

  30. 30
    eric says:

    Being conservative means never having to say you are sorry, even to your sister.

  31. 31
    eric says:

    @Suffern ACE: i have not seen any evidence that Enzi is willing to publicly shit on his family for votes….but the primary season is young

  32. 32

    @eric: Well, normally you don’t start shitting on your family until you’re behind in the polling. So, this may not be disprovable.

  33. 33
    Yatsuno says:

    @👾 Martin: Annie Proulx based her short story on people she met while she was assembling that anthology. I can imagine it wasn’t taken well because it makes most of the residents of the state look like assholes. The story is actually much more devastating than the movie is in that regard. It’s also fecking brilliant, as is the whole anthology.

  34. 34
    RSA says:

    “Compassion?” “Kindnesses?” Is Mary Cheney some kind of whipped mule for which her sister must care? Not quite human, but still worthy of Liz’s to-be-granted-or-withheld kindness?

    I don’t understand the compassion part either. Maybe it’s to be translated, “Liz doesn’t hate Mary because she’s gay.” But what voters would care about that? And the Cheneys aren’t the kind of family who thinks Mary will be going to hell, which might be worth some compassion, if they had any to give out.

  35. 35
    Betty Cracker says:


    Fine, so Papa Cheney doesn’t hate gays, but that’s only because Mary’s one of them.

    Could be true, but I suspect Cheney and many other fat cat Beltway Republicans don’t really give a shit about god, gays and guns: It’s just a handy way to rile the rubes so they can get their grift on. Looks like at least one leg of that wobbly three-legged stool is losing its utility. Good.

  36. 36
    Elizabelle says:

    Any chance that Liz Cheney will use this episode, and the importance of healing relations within her birth family, to drop out of the Wyoming race?

    She ain’t going anywhere there, and cannot even enunciate a (plausible) reason for running.

    Does anyone see her improving her chances in the primary (granted, it’s next August)?

    Maybe she will want to preserve her options for running in some other state, wherever those lucky people live.

  37. 37
    Belafon says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader: And a lot of the people that were 3 at the time are now old enough to vote. Those who were 8 are old enough to run for office.

    It’s always a mixed blessing when new people come along that don’t remember the past, but the people who have grown up with gays being an open part of society are starting to have their say.

    My point is that things are changing, even in Wyoming. I’m still working on Texas, one person (parent) at a time.

  38. 38
    Turgidson says:

    I think Liz was just a latecomer to the “the GOP incumbent is assumed to be a RINO traitor until proven otherwise” trend and thought she could ride that wave to a Senate seat. But her brand of crazy is not the teabagger brand. And she chose to run in a state with so few people that they could all theoretically know each other, where her ties to the state were in the distant past and tenuous. And Enzi may not be a carnival barker type, but he votes the far right line on everything, so it’s not like he has some high-profile defection to explain.

    Some previously unknown, well-financed teabagging wacko who talked about ending the Fed and goldbuggery and mandatory-gun-ownership would have had a better chance to primary Enzi than the highly unpleasant national figure-via-nepotism warmongering dolt Liz Cheney.

    So now she’s like…uhh, i need to look really right wing to get some attention. I know, I’ll do some gay-bashing! I’m sure Mary won’t mind. But this helps her less in Wyoming than it would in, say, Mississippi. And regardless, has Enzi ever said anything nice about the LGBT community? Not that I know of. So it isn’t even a wedge issue in the first instance.

  39. 39
    danielx says:

    The Cheney family – putting the diss in dysfunctional. And I always thought my family had the most fucked-up holiday gatherings to be found anywhere in the universe; I’d pay to be a fly on the wall at that Thanksgiving dinner.

    Liz Cheney is delusional to begin with, since she hasn’t figured out that anybody with the last name Cheney is, um, damaged goods – let’s just say unelectable – until every last person with living memory of the Cheney Regency has gone to their reward.

  40. 40
    scav says:

    Random set of lessons I’m pulling from the parables of the book of Cheney and companions.

    Kindness is seen as a vulnerability that not only can be but likely will be used against you.

    It is an extreme and yet unreasonable kindness shown by Xians and conventional ‘mercans to stifle their gag reflexes when seeing people unlike themselves not only freely walking the weaponized sidewalks, but worse, doing so possibly in positions on equality or power.

    It is an assault worse than lynching to vocally disagree with said pious gaggers.

    Thus sayeth the moral monopoly, for truly, only they may make judgements.

  41. 41
    piratedan says:

    @Suffern ACE: yeah, if she’d come out and campaigned stating that she is a handmaiden of the 1% and taken the position of vote for me, I’m part of the Conservative Aristocracy and therefore you should sustain my family’s political legacy, it would have at least had the expediency of being honest. Call it the “why, vote for a lackey when you can have the real thing?” theory

  42. 42
    Elizabelle says:

    OT, kinda, but in keeping with Tom’s beautiful illustration:

    Another epic featuring sex and political corruption, this from the 16th century:

    U of Chicago professor emeritus, David Tod Roy, just published the last volume of his annotated English translation of a 16th century Chinese classic, “The Plum in the Golden Vase.”

    3,000 pages in five volumes.

    But the “Chin P’ing Mei,” as the novel is known in Chinese, is about far more than just sex, scholars hasten to add. It was the first long Chinese narrative to focus not on mythical heroes or military adventures, but on ordinary people and everyday life, chronicled down to the minutest details of food, clothing, household customs, medicine, games and funeral rites, with exact prices given for just about everything, including the favor of bribe-hungry officials up and down the hierarchy.

    “It’s an extraordinarily detailed description of a morally derelict and corrupt society,” Mr. Roy said.

    … Scholars credit Mr. Roy (whose brother, J. Stapleton Roy, was United States ambassador to China from 1991 to 1995) with rescuing “The Plum in the Golden Vase” from its reputation in the West as merely exotic pornography and opening the door to a more political reading of the book.

    It’s one that already comes easily to commentators in China, where the novel is seen as holding up a mirror to the tales of political and social corruption that fill newspapers now.

    The more things change….

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m still more than half convinced that Liz was a-okay with her gay sister before said sister starting having children who are going to inherit Mary’s half of the Cheney fortune that the sisters are living in daily expectation of getting someday. Even worse, Mary’s marriage is now legal, which means there’s not going to be a way to keep the Cheney money out of her wife’s hands if Mary dies before Liz.

  45. 45
    eemom says:

    One thing we can all be thankfull for (while offering Mary our compassion on this one point alone): We’re not related to Dick, Lynn, or Liz. Hoseannas!

    Simpering twat Mary may be less of an unmitigated spawn of Satan than her sister, but she deserves no compassion on that or any point. Know what she’s done to advance the cause of marriage equality in her home state for gay people who aren’t rich enough to be able to afford not to give a shit? 0.

    “This is a baaaaaby,” she simped when asked about that during her first pregnancy. “It’s not a political agenda.”


  46. 46
    JPL says:

    It’s so unfortunate that the news media wants to make this an issue. Private family matters should stay in the closet. (I’m paraphrasing Dick)
    Mary was suppose to spend Thanksgiving with her parents,wonder what happens now that they sided with the Liz because of her kindness.

  47. 47
    eemom says:


    Mary’s marriage is now legal,

    Not unless they’ve moved from Virginia.

  48. 48
    Baud says:

    We’re not related to Dick, Lynn, or Liz.

    But Barack Obama is.

    P.S. Click the link for one of Obama’s best lines.

  49. 49
    Gravenstone says:

    @Yatsuno: I think former shadow president is more accurate.

  50. 50
    Mandalay says:

    @👾 Martin:

    That said, was that act representative of Wyoming? Maybe.

    I’m calling bullshit on your suggestion that “maybe” the attack on Matthew Shephard was representative of Wyoming. What evidence do you have to back that up?

    Here is a very detailed account of how those in Wyoming reacted to his death. Sometimes the simplistic stereotypes in our heads aren’t justified.

  51. 51
    Mandalay says:


    And regardless, has Enzi ever said anything nice about the LGBT community? Not that I know of. So it isn’t even a wedge issue in the first instance.

    Not that I can find, but a while ago his supporters tried to depict Liz Cheney as being gay-friendly, with some success. So the current hooha is not about Cheney going after Enzi; it’s about Cheney proving that she is just as anti-gay as Enzi, and those who believed that Liz would not shit on her sister to gain some politicial advantage were mistaken.

    Yet it seems that the media in Wyoming are underwhelmed by it all…

    Jim Angell, the executive director of the Wyoming Press Association, said the battle between the Cheney sisters “seems to be an unimportant piece of the debate,” the kind of fodder that could find its way to “a gossip column” but wouldn’t have any real effect on how people vote.

    It’s Enzi in a landslide unless he gets caught behaving inappropriately in a restroom.

  52. 52
    Origuy says:

    I’ve been to Laramie several times for week-long events before and since Matthew Shepard’s murder. While Laramie is not what you’d call liberal compared to San Francisco, I thought the people there were pretty diverse and tolerant, thanks to the university. Mandalay’s link depicts the Laramie I’ve seen.

  53. 53


    I’m calling bullshit on your suggestion that “maybe” the attack on Matthew Shephard was representative of Wyoming. What evidence do you have to back that up?

    None. That’s why I used the word ‘maybe’. I don’t know one way or another. I doubt that either JSF or Belafon do either. Wyoming is notably libertarian in nature – so legislatively they’re pretty decent over the long haul on the issue, but that doesn’t mean shit for how people there act.

    The problem with Wyoming is they have the population of a mid-sized city, and they have a long history of keeping things quiet. Statistically, there’s just not enough coming out of the state to say what the prevalent attitudes there are.

    Your article is helpful, but Sheppard isn’t a terribly good case study. It was too outrageous. A whole host of people could come out against the act who would have otherwise been perfectly happy to discriminate against gays (so long as they didn’t die as a result). A lot of racists have expressed outrage at lynchings.

  54. 54

    Laramie is home to the only US Forest Service ranger station at which I have ever been refused service. It’s unclear whether that was due to my family’s racial mix, my gender presentation or some combo…but I ain’t never had to call the law enforcement ranger to get the lady at the counter to sell me a map before or since.


    Liz was trying to set herself up as just as anti-gay as Enzi, but nobody shivs a git, per data above.

  55. 55
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    FORMER Vice-president please and thank you. Jeebus that irritates me.

    So I’m guessing that hearing people address Princess Snookie Snowbilly of the Tundra as “Governor Palin” really really REALLY pisses you off.

  56. 56
    Joel says:

    Cheney should have run on banning Sharia law. She’s totally behind on the times.

  57. 57
    tybee says:


    ok. i laughed. out loud.

  58. 58
    Elizabelle says:


    Reasonable theory.

    Not like there’s not enough Cheney daddy money to go around. He’s grifted off the government most successfully, for administration after administration.

    And she has a UChicago Law degree, but I do not think Liz is that smart.

  59. 59
    Mandalay says:

    @👾 Martin:

    That’s why I used the word ‘maybe’. I don’t know one way or another.

    Right, you don’t know. And maybe Cole is actually a giant aardvark who is planning a sex change so he can become Miss Universe, and maybe he will soon be posting recipes for cooking dog to make tasty desserts. Maybe. I don’t know one way or another.

    But in the total absence of any supporting evidence, maybe I shouldn’t engage in irresponsible speculation. Likewise for your comments about Wyoming.

    ETA That said, your link is awesome. What a story.

  60. 60
    Yatsuno says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Do. Not. Get. Me. Started.

  61. 61
    tk says:

    Born and lived in WY most my life. The people there are generally pretty much like any other benighted backwater. Younger generation has loosened up a bit and the older generation hates everyone not in WY unlike their parents, who hated everyone not in their county. Couldn’t wait to leave and won’t go back. Made me tough, though. Gotta give it that.

  62. 62
    flounder says:

    As someone who was born and lived 30+ years in Wyoming, I think this is another example of how little she knows Wyoming. The exact same people who would move her a notch up on Enzi for hating on the gays will move her down 5 notches for helicoptering into Jackson Hole –a town “real”* Wyoming thinks is an overpriced gay freakshow– and buying her kids effing rodeo lessons and thinking she is salt of the Earth because of it. She should have moved to Casper, waited 10 years, served on a school board, and not lied on her fishing license if she wanted to get elected Senator.
    * – I say this as someone who ski bummed in JHole for six year and love the place.

  63. 63
    Trinity says:

    Just terrible people really.

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @danielx: Why hasn’t she taken her husband’s last name, as any upright, moral, God-fearing woman should? (Wingnut thought).

  65. 65
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think you are on to something there. Darth Cheney has alot of ill-gotten dough.

  66. 66
    Paul in KY says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Those idiots elected her governor & she ‘served’ for awhile, so she can be called that.

  67. 67
    boctaoe says:

    Tom, Please..when referring to political parties, it is Democratic not Democrat.

  68. 68
    Larkspur says:

    @Mandalay: Thanks to you and Martin, for some good conversation and links, and for a positive approach to conflict.

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