Preachers' kids and children of politicians don't have a lot in common, but they all learn early how a child must sometimes bear more than mere witness to his father's interests.
A friend of mine, the son of a Baptist preacher, tells how he once had to pay for the sins of others in his father's behalf. "I was no more than 5 or 6 or so, in a front pew with my mother, sitting up straight and paying close and quiet attention to my father. A child several rows behind us began crying, squirming, banging his feet on the pew, demanding his mother's attention, and generally being a brat. At first my father ignored it, and so did the congregation. But the kid seemed determined to break up the meeting. Finally, my father stopped in mid-peroration of one of his finest sermons, and turned to my mother and said: "Can't you please make our son behave himself?" The mother of the misbehaving child behind us quickly got the point, and took him out to deal with him under the trees. I learned at a tender age what John F. Kennedy meant when he famously said, 'Life is unfair.'"
Mary Cheney, daughter of the vice president, might appreciate this story. Like the preacher's kid, she obviously loves and admires her father, but on one memorable campaign occasion she had to stand as a surrogate for her father, to take abuse from his critics and enemies, most of them more lethal than a bratty child. She has titled a lively memoir of her brief career as her father's campaign adviser, "Now It's My Turn."
Her memoir is not exactly payback, at least not to her father, but she pays her "respects" to others, notably John Kerry and John Edwards, who attempted to reduce the most intimate aspect of her private life to campaign fodder, when they cited her acknowledged homosexuality in debates with both the president and the vice president. John Edwards, she writes, making no attempt to hide her contempt, was "slime," John Kerry "a total sleazeball."
The mainstream-media reviews have been mostly respectful, sort of, but usually in the vein of "how could a perfectly nice gay girl like Mary be a part of the evil Bush-Cheney conspiracy against civilization as we know it?" And why did she devote only "10 percent" of her book, as she calculates it, to her life as a lesbian? Gays and lesbians are angry that she hasn't made their political cause her life's work.