Stupid Girls

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Lesbian love lit. Lynne Cheney

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LAURA FLANDERS: The Lynne Cheney players are taking to the stage and I think they will be coming to the conventions. They did an extraordinary job, Maggie Moore, Lois Weaver.

People may remember, after 9-11, somebody was drawing up a list of who was patriotic and who wasn't; it was the American Association of Alumna, a group founded by Lynne Cheney, keeping with her history as a culture warrior, since the 1990's, when she headed up the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has been the moral arbiter of who receives government funding and who is accepted politically correct, politically incorrect and part of the campaign to belittle political correctness and complain that feminists were taking over campuses and that people of color were destroying the cannon. How did she get this standing of culture warrior and arbiter of morality in the United States? On the basis that she was a published author.

We went to look at what she had actually published; it turns out, at the time she was appointed to the N.E.H., she published two novels. One "Executive Privilege," a not very good suspense novel set in Washington. The second was this book "Sisters" that came out in 1981 in kind of Gothic paperback, Signet classic. I found a copy after much searching and it is a romance set in late 19th century Wyoming that looks at, you know, the close relationships between women and there are women in the book that articulate, you know, why are our relationships not taken seriously, that talk about the passion they have for one another.

The other more interesting character is really the Lynne Cheney character in the book. The protagonist has run away from the church school, run away from the convent to go and join the musical theater and she travels the country with a musical theater troupe led by a charismatic woman who is a big advocate of free love and who takes her aside and says you are very beautiful. You are going to have a lot of relationships with men, but don't be caught by men, don't be trapped by them. This is how you can avoid being trapped and she presents her with a laquered box filled with condoms, basically and other preventive devices. And there is a strong message in the book that women can enjoy sex without getting pregnant and having children if they can have the protection that comes with contraception.

That is the Lynne Cheney position in 1981. Now she is part of an administration that is denying condoms to people who need them for HIV prevention in countries all around the world. She is part of an administration that is making the argument -- the opposite argument for what her character Sophie made in 1981. She may want to come forward and say I've completely changed my views, but don't just drop this book off your official White House biography as you have done. Don't pretend you didn't once hold those views and explain how you've changed those views. If you were then an advocate of free love and of condoms and if you understood the importance -- and her novel is not beautifully written -- but the message is pretty clear that condoms can liberate women from this sort of war of the sexes as she describes it, it's --

AMY GOODMAN: It's also a steamy lesbian love novel.

LAURA FLANDERS: It is hysterical. It is hysterical, it is silly. She says no more than 50 people ever read it. It is worth reading to realize these people who now cough themselves up as having this strong moral compass right v left -- right v wrong and right v left, perhaps, have a far more checkered past.

AMY GOODMAN: It's not just that does she -- is she painted with the same brush as the administration.

She herself is one of the leading conservatives. When you have someone, she recommends the right wing of the Republican party.

LAURA FLANDERS: The two wives perform that function. Lynne Cheney represents the right. She is the culture warrior for the hawks.

Laura Bush represents the social moderates and they send her on the campaign trail to woo the social moderate voters in this election.

AMY GOODMAN: I was fascinated to read about George Bush Sr. in your book and Barbara and their view on abortion before they were against it.

LAURA FLANDERS: When he was a congressman, he was called rubbers.
He was in favor of government distribution of contraception. She was a big funder of planned parenthood. The point here is that these people are cynical, hypocrites after power. They will change their position for political reasons. And their policies are driven by interests in profit, in self-advancement, not necessarily the good of the country. In many cases they have completely switched their views, when it comes to what serves the public interest, and that is one good example. When he was up against Ronald Reagan in the presidential campaign of 1980, he needed to be as right wing as Reagan was, and he abandoned pro-choice Republican women who had brought him to that point in the campaign and they're still steaming over that.