What A Campaign Year

Throw the Truthiness Bums Out
By FRANK RICH
Published: November 5, 2006

EACH voter will have a favorite moment from the fabulous midterms of 2006. Forced to pick my own, I’d go for Lynne Cheney’s pre-Halloween slapdown of Wolf Blitzer on CNN. It’s not in every political campaign that you get to watch the wife of the vice president of the United States slug it out about lesbian sex while promoting a children’s book titled “Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America.”

The pretext for this improbable dust-up was a last-ditch strategy by the flailing incumbent Republican senator of Virginia, George Allen. Desperate to resuscitate his campaign, Senator Allen attacked his opponent, Jim Webb, for writing sexually explicit passages in his acclaimed novels about the Vietnam War. Mr. Webb fought back by pointing out, among other Republican hypocrisies, Mrs. Cheney’s authorship of an out-of-print 1981 novel, “Sisters,” with steamy sexual interludes suitable for “The L Word.”

When Mr. Blitzer brought up “Sisters” on live television, Mrs. Cheney went ballistic, calling Mr. Webb a liar. The exchange would have been a TiVo keeper had only the CNN anchor called Mrs. Cheney out by reading aloud just one of the many “Sisters” passages floating around the Internet: “The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage — no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.” But you can’t have everything.

Even without Eve and Eve, this silly episode will stay with me as a representative sample of this election year. It wasn’t just that the entire Cheney-Blitzer-Webb-Allen fracas had nothing to do with the issues that confront the country. It was completely detached from reality. Mr. Allen, who has been caught on video in real life spewing a racial epithet, didn’t attack Mr. Webb for any actual bad behavior, but merely for the imaginary behavior of invented characters in a book. As if it weren’t enough for Mrs. Cheney to regurgitate Mr. Allen’s ludicrous argument, she fudged the contents of her own novel, further fictionalizing what was fiction to start with. Then she turned around and attacked CNN for broadcasting nonfiction — a k a news — like her husband’s endorsement of waterboarding in a widely disseminated radio interview.

Read all of it here.

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