Suzanne Fields

You could call it the "Catfight at Cheney Corral" (but if you do, you should expect feminist outrage). When Liz Cheney moved from the suburbs of the nation's capital to Wyoming to run for the U.S. Senate, she knew she was asking for trouble. She risked being called a "carpetbagger," but that has a sharper sting in Virginia than in Wyoming. She pulled intimate and sensitive family laundry out for a public airing by emphasizing her conservative roots.

Acknowledging that her sister was in a gay marriage, which isn't recognized as a true marriage in either Virginia or Wyoming, she said it was just "an area where we disagree."

That message could have been lost had it been sent from Wyoming by Pony Express, but in the age of Facebook, Twitter and email, fighting words are bathed in adrenalin and dispatched for instant arrival. Mary, her lesbian sister, and Heather Poe, Mary's wife, as recognized in 15 states and the District of Columbia, responded quickly with anger. Mary said Liz was "on the wrong side of history." Heather said it was "offensive" to hear that Liz doesn't "support" their union and called attention to Liz's recent change of address: "I can't help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other."

With neither Wyatt Earp nor Doc Holliday in sight, Papa Cheney, who knows what it feels like to be caught in the crossfire of politics, jumped on his not-so-high horse to ride to separate his daughters. Alas, he didn't have much to offer beyond paternal affection and his own moderate position on same-sex marriage. Dick and Lynne Cheney released in writing a statement that Liz "had always believed in the traditional definition of marriage."

Feuds in famous families make juicy copy, but this one has few national portents. The seat is now held by Mike Enzi, a Republican, and short of a tsunami (rare in Wyoming) or a colliding planet, it will remain Republican. Liz is the longest of long shots; one Republican poll shows her trailing Mr. Enzi by 53 points. Her call for a "new generation" to represent Wyoming smacks more of attempted opportunism and "ageism" (her opponent is 69 and she is 44) than policy differences, but with daddy's assistance, she raised more money in her first quarter than the incumbent, who looks like he won't need it.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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